SAN FRANCISCO • After making sweeping changes, Lydia Ko relived a familiar feeling on Saturday - sleeping on a 54-hole lead on the LPGA Tour.
The former world No. 1 last headed into the final round atop the leaderboard 658 days ago, when she went on to win the Marathon Classic. That title in July 2016 was her most recent upon returning to the Lake Merced Golf Club, and she could hardly have picked a better place to try and end her drought.
"I love San Francisco and I'm a member here, so sometimes I get some friendly member bounces," said the South Korea-born Kiwi after firing a five-under 67 in the third round of the LPGA Mediheal Championship for an 11-under 205 total, one shot in front of American Jessica Korda.
"It brings back a lot of good memories for me."
Victories at Lake Merced in 2014 and 2015 were part of her meteoric rise. She turned 21 last Tuesday with 14 LPGA titles on her resume, including two Majors, and 104 weeks at No. 1.
"Coming into the week, I knew that no matter how I was going to play, I knew I was going to have a great time," added the world No. 18, who changed her caddie, coach and equipment during a challenging spell. She hit 14 greens in regulation on Saturday and needed just 27 putts.
Days since former world No. 1 Lydia Ko last headed into the final round of a tournament with the lead.
The friendly bounces? She holed out from a bunker at the par-four 11th for her fourth birdie of the day, which came on the heels of her lone bogey.
She added two more birdies at the par-five 15th and par-four 16th with a sand save and a 12-foot putt that broke so sharply late that she looked astonished when it dropped into the side of the cup.
Overnight leader Korda, who carded a 71, said: "Today was definitely tough. The wind was picking up in the afternoon. I'm not sure what golf course Lydia was playing, but she played great."
Australian Minjee Lee was alone in third after a 68 for 208.