PATTAYA – Anna Nordqvist of Sweden stretched her lead to four shots in the third round of the $1.5 million Honda LPGA Thailand tournament on Saturday with an impressive five-under 67.
Nordqvist, whose last tournament victory was back in 2009, moved to 11-under for the tournament — four ahead of defending champion Park In-Bee of South Korea who also shot 67, and American Michelle Wie who hit 69.
Alone in fourth place at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya was Paraguay’s Julieta Granada with a 71.
A further shot behind in joint fifth were Americans Lexi Thompson and Kristie Kerr, along with New Zealand’s 16 year old Lydia Ko and two-time champion in this event Tseng Ya-ni from Taiwan.
16 year old Lydia Ko has recovered from a slow start to shoot an even-par 72 and reside six shots off the lead
The best round of the day came from Scotland’s Catriona Matthew who shot up to joint ninth after a sparkling seven-under 65.
Nordqvist said she was delighted to be leading the tournament for the third straight day.
“To be in contention on the final day is all you can ask for,” she said.
She admitted her third round took a while to spark. “I played solid but was on even-par at the turn and knew I had to remain patient.”
The Swede’s patience was rewarded with a magnificent second shot on the 10th which left her little more than a tap-in for a stunning eagle.
“I hit a perfect fade,” she said. “The 10th gave me the momentum I needed.”
She went on to sink three more birdies on the back nine including the difficult 18th.
World number one Park admitted she had been nervous in her first tournament of the year, but felt a lot more comfortable after shooting 67 which featured six birdies and one bogey.
“I hit a lot of great shots today, but I left four or five birdies out there,” she said. “My putter wasn’t as hot as my ball-striking.”
Park said that winning the event last year set her up for a great season.
“If I can win this week, it would be a good lucky charm,” she added. Wie was happy to be in the mix for the final day. “It’s great to be in contention. That’s what you work for in the first three rounds,” she said.
“I had a really fun day. I didn’t really take advantage of the par-fives, but I hope to do that tomorrow. There are birdies out there.”
Concerning her improved form, Wie said she believed it was partly due to the off-season break.
“I took a very nice mental vacation. I went home for five weeks and didn’t take my clubs.”
Earlier in the day, with a brilliant round of seven birdies and an eagle at the 15th, Matthew looked like she would equal the course record of 63, but she was thwarted by a painful double-bogey at the tricky 18th.
“I gave myself a lot of chances and just holed them all today,” she said.
“It’s unusual to come off disappointed after a 65, but the last hole obviously hurt a bit,” said the 44 year-old veteran. “Still at least I am in the hunt.”
It was not such a good day for world number two Suzann Petterson of Norway and third-ranked Stacy Lewis of the USA.
Lewis struggled with a 73 which put her eight shots off the pace, while an even-par 72 saw Pettersen slip to joint 23rd place, nine shots back.