Golf: Season-ending Tour Championship will go down to the wire with 4-way tie at the top

(Clockwise from left) American Kim Kaufman, Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn, American Michelle Wie and Norway's Suzann Pettersen reached 10-under par 206 heading into the final round of the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
(Clockwise from left) American Kim Kaufman, Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn, American Michelle Wie and Norway's Suzann Pettersen reached 10-under par 206 heading into the final round of the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.PHOTOS: AFP

(REUTERS) - American Kim Kaufman fired a third-round eight-under par 64 to join compatriot Michelle Wie, Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn and Suzann Pettersen of Norway in a four-way tie at the top of a crowded leaderboard for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Florida on Saturday (Nov 18).

Wie shot 66, Ariya 67 and Norway's Pettersen 69 as all four players reached 10-under par 206 heading into the final round at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida.

A group of seven golfers, including overnight leader Park Sung Hyun (75) were a shot behind on nine-under 207.

The 26-year-old Kaufman, who is seeking her first LPGA Tour victory, carded eight birdies to vault to the top.

Her performance in Florida is even more surprising given she has been unable to practice much recently.

Kaufman told LPGA.com that she had been resting at home for two weeks after a bout of mononucleosis and the cold weather in South Dakota made practice difficult.

Wie, who is seeking her first win since 2014, has not had the easiest of weeks.

After six weeks off to recover from an emergency appendectomy, she played five consecutive events in Asia, leaving her short on energy.

"I've been sitting as much as I can," said Wie. "Last week, I was like laying down on the golf course.

"Basically, I'm just a hermit crab this week. I'm just sleeping as much as I can and not leaving my room; just really trying to keep my energy levels up."

LPGA Rookie of the Year Park, who had a three-stroke lead heading into Saturday's round, blamed errant driving for her troubles.

"I think the tee shots were not quite solid, so there was something missing out there," she said.

"Over the course of four days, there is always a day when you are not in top shape and that was today. The key tomorrow will be keeping my focus."

A lot will be at stake for the South Korean.

Emerge victorious on Sunday (Nov 19) and she will also claim the Player of the Year, the money leader title and be the winner of the US$1 million (S$1.35 million) bonus.

She will likely also return to world No. 1, currently held by China's Feng Shanshan.