Shin and Gal separate themselves from pack after 54 holes at Kia Classic

sandra gal
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Sandra Gal played 27 holes Saturday, and finished the long day one mere shot behind leader Jiyai Shin.
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Associated Press

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Published: Saturday, March 26, 2011 | 10:38 p.m.

Second-ranked Jiyai Shin shot a 3-under 70 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead over Sandra Gal after the third round of the Kia Classic.

Shin, the South Korean star who has eight LPGA Tour victories, had a 15-under 204 total on the Industry Hills Golf Club course at Pacific Palms. Gal, from Germany, also shot a 70.

2011 KIA CLASSIC

The inaugural Kia Classic is the LPGA Tour's first stop in the Los Angeles area in six years.

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"I think the course is a good match with me," Shin said. "I can't wait. Maybe it will be a really great day. I think so."

South Korea's Na Yeon Choi was third after a 65, the best score of the round.

"I changed my putt after the second round," Choi said. "My putter was cold. I couldn't make it the last two days, so I changed the putter. I felt really good."

Michelle Wie shot a 71, leaving in tie for eighth at 5 under. Returning to the tour after finishing finals at Stanford, Wie had five birdies and three bogeys in the round.

"I've really got to shoot light out," Wie said about her chances in the final round. "I've got to make a lot of birdies and make no mistakes. Hopefully, I can do that."

Gal returned to the course early to finish the final nine holes of the rain-delayed second round. She shot a 68 in the round to begin the third a stroke behind Shin.

"I know it was 27 holes, but to be honest I thought it was to my advantage to come out early and get a feel for the course and the conditions," Gal said. "So I didn't quite mind it."

In the third round, Gal birdied the first hole to tie for the lead, then pulled ahead on No. 2 when Shin made only her third bogey of the tournament. Gal made another birdie on the third hole and kept the lead until the back nine. Shin broke a tie with a two-stroke swing on the par-3 15th, hitting her tee shot to 3 feet to set up a birdie. Gal bogeyed the hole.

Shin also birdied the 17th, but bogeyed 18 after hitting her drive into a pond.

"It was getting dark so I hurried myself a little bit," Shin said about her drive on 18. "I missed on my timing and hit a big hook."

Gal also birdied the 17th and finished with a par.

The tournament is the tour's first in the Los Angeles area in six years.