Yani Tseng extended her lead at the Wegman's LPGA Championship on Saturday, putting the 22-year-old Taiwanese star a round away from winning her fourth major title.
The top-ranked Tseng shot a 5-under 67 to extend her lead to five strokes at 13-under 203 after the third round at Locust Hill Country Club outside Rochester.
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2011 WEGMAN'S LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP
The Wegman's LPGA Championship is the second-longest running tournament in LPGA history.
Americans Morgan Pressel (70) and Cindy LaCrosse (69) were tied for second, and Hee Young Park (72) was seven shots behind Tseng. Defending champion Cristie Kerr matched Tseng with a third-round best 67 to join Stacy Lewis (70), Meena Lee (70) and Paula Creamer (72) at 5 under.
Tseng, who turned 22 in January, was a round away from becoming the youngest to win four major golf tournaments. She also won LPGA Championship during her rookie-of-the-year season in 2008, when the event was played at Bulle Rock in Maryland, and took the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Women's British Open last year.
Tiger Woods and Se Ri Pak were 24 when they won their fourth majors.
Tseng has seven career LPGA Tour wins, and has already won twice this year, including the State Farm Classic two weeks ago. She also has three international victories this year, sweeping the Women's Australian Open and Australian Ladies Masters.
She also finished second at the Kraft Nabisco in April, losing to Lewis after taking a two-shot lead into the final round. It was a tournament in which Tseng might have jinxed herself by grabbing the championship trophy as she stepped to the first tee upon opening the final round.
Acknowledging that she's learned her lesson, Tseng joked that she has no intention of coming anywhere near the LPGA Championship trophy before the final round is over Sunday.
There was little she did wrong Saturday, in a round played under overcast conditions for much of the afternoon. Intermittent rain over the past couple days softened the greens, but the wind picked up in the afternoon, making it difficult to navigate the tight fairways and reach the small greens.
A day after she twice missed from within 3 feet, including an 18-incher for bogey on No. 18, Tseng was more consistent with her putting.
On Saturday, she sank a 6-foot putt for birdie on No. 9, and then scrambled to save par with a pair of 4-footers on Nos. 10 and 11. Then came a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 12th and a 14-footer on No. 13 to go to 12 under for the tournament, and extend her lead by five shots at that time.
Her only real miscue was an errant tee-shot into the left rough on No. 14 that led to a bogey 5. Tseng responded on the next hole, with a 4-foot putt for birdie. She also birdied Nos. 2 and 15 and 17.
No one else could make up any ground.
LaCrosse scrambled to shoot 3 under in a round that featured six birdies and three bogeys. In her second year on tour, her best career finish was a tie for 11th at the ShopRite Classic three weeks ago.
At Louisville, she was a two-time Big East champion. And she also won three times on the Futures Tour.
"My game plan's kind of the same. I'm still trying to hit the fairways and greens," said LaCrosse, who will be paired with Tseng in the final round. "You never know what (Tseng) is going to do. She's an amazing player. I just kind of have to focus on what I'm going to do."
Pressel is still in the hunt in seeking her third career win and first since 2008.
Kerr appeared to finally shake off the flu bug that was bothering her this week. Making the turn at 1 under on Saturday, she birdied four of her final nine holes, including 17 and 18.
"I scrambled my rear off," Kerr said of her first nine, which included 15-foot par-saving putt on the par-3 fifth hole. "I'm just proud of myself for the way I hung in there today and gave myself a chance to shoot a good score to get back in it."
Kerr isn't counting herself out after she ran away with the tournament last year in finishing with a 19-under 269 to win by a whopping 12 strokes.
"I think I will be within striking distance, but I would have to put up another round like this tomorrow," she said. "If I can hit a lot of greens, then I'll have a chance."
Pat Hurst, who opened the day in second, shot a 75 to drop into a tie for ninth