Austin Ernst fired a bogey-free five-under par 65 to seize a one-stroke lead in the LPGA Lorena Ochoa Invitational going into the final round.
With two birdies on the front nine and three on the back at Club de Golf Mexico in Mexico City, Ernst on Saturday built a 54-hole total of 10-under 206 and jumped in front of overnight leader Sarah Jane Smith of Australia and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda.
Smith, seeking a maiden LPGA title, had three bogeys and three birdies in an even par 72 for 207.
She was joined by Ciganda, who had shared the first-round lead with Smith, dropped back slightly on Friday and rebounded with a 68 that included six birdies and two bogeys.
France’s Karine Icher (70), American Angela Stanford (69) and South Korea Hur Mi-Jung (71) were a further stroke back on 208.
“I have been hitting my drive pretty well, and I have had a lot of good looks at birdie this week,” said Ernst, who hasn’t had a bogey in her last 47 holes as she seeks a second career LPGA title.
“Today I still made five birdies so I have just made it very easy when I haven?t been sure about myself.
“There’s still a lot of good players right there, but I have been playing very well this week. I have been hitting the ball well and putting-wise, I have felt like I hadn’t made a ton of putts but every putt that I have missed, it seems like the speed is really good or the line is barely off.”
Ciganda heated up early Saturday with four birdies in the first five holes.
“I felt really comfortable and then I slowed down a little bit. I made two bogeys on nine and 11, but still playing good — hitting lots of fairways, greens.”
Smith, who admitted Friday that she felt a few nerves as she took the halfway lead for the first time in her career, said she was pleased with the way she dealt with a bit of adversity.
“It was nice to have a day like today where it wasn’t very good and I kind of scrambled,” the Queenslander said. “I was pretty nervous most of the day, it was a position I’ve never been in before. I wouldn’t say I handled it well but I scrambled well, so that should give me some confidence for tomorrow.”
© 2016 AFP
Article source: http://www.france24.com/en/20161113-austin-ernst-grabs-lpga-lead-mexico