Record-chasing Kirk in the box seat

Katherine Kirk driving at Thornberry Creek. The front runner has a chance to snap the Tour's 72-hole record of 27 under.
Katherine Kirk driving at Thornberry Creek. The front runner has a chance to snap the Tour's 72-hole record of 27 under.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • Katherine Kirk drained a 12-foot putt to save par on her closing hole as she fired a 65 on Saturday to grab a four-shot lead after the third round of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.

The 35-year-old Australian sits at 20-under 196 as she aims for her third career LPGA title in the final test before this week's US Women's Open in New Jersey.

"I know I can putt well, but I think I'm like pushing the limits right now," said Kirk, who has not won on the Tour since 2010. "It's fun. I made, I think, a 19-footer on 17 and a 19-footer there for par. It's unexpected, but you certainly take them when you can."

The Brisbane-based player holds a solid lead over South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai, who also shot a 65 in the third round.

Japan's Ayako Uehara and Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England are tied for third at 203 after shooting 65 and 66 respectively.

Suzann Pettersen (66) and Cristie Kerr (67) headline a group of seven golfers at 204, eight shots back of Kirk.

Several golfers had to finish second-round play on the Thornberry Creek course in Wisconsin on Saturday morning after storms disrupted play on Friday.

This marks the inaugural Thornberry Creek tournament as it features a US$300,000 (S$414,000) top prize and is sandwiched between two Major championships.

Kirk rolled in nine birdies in her round, including five on the back nine. She strung together four-straight birdies beginning at the par-three eighth, where she rolled in an 18-foot putt to get to 14 under.

A couple of nice approach shots on No. 10 and No. 11 allowed her to make it four consecutive birdies. She made a long 20-foot putt on the 17th hole for birdie and then another long putt on the 18th hole to save par and preserve her four-stroke lead.

Int the final round, Kirk will have a chance to break the LPGA Tour's 72-hole record of 27 under set by Annika Sorenstam in 2001 and equalled by Kim Sei Young last year. Both players did it in Phoenix.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'Record-chasing Kirk in the box seat'. Print Edition | Subscribe