Choi takes lead at Titleholders even after three-putt bogey
By Doug Ferguson ,AP Monday, November 19, 2012, 12:04 am TWN
NAPLES, Florida -- U.S. Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi was steady after a careless three-putt bogey early in her third round at the Titleholders and finished with a 3-under 69 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the U.S. LPGA Tour season.
Choi limited her mistakes, even as those around her were dropping shots in a tough wind at The TwinEagles Club.
Ai Miyazato quickly gave up her one-shot lead at the start of the round when a chip rolled back to her feet beyond the par-5 second hole and led to double bogey. Brittany Lincicome missed a 3-foot par putt on the second hole and hit a chip that never came close to reaching the green on the third hole.
They all did well to stay in the hunt.
Choi hit a hybrid 5-wood to 15 feet for birdie on the par-3 17th and closed with a two-putt for par to reach 12-under 204. That gave her a one-shot advantage over Miyazato, who made four birdies on the back nine and salvaged a 71.
So Yeon Ryu, the tour rookie of the year and one of Choi's best friends, ran off four straight birdies on the front nine before cooling off for a 66. She was two behind.
Karrie Webb made her blunder late, but it was a big one.
She pulled her approach on the 18th to the left, and the ball bounced down a walkway and under a table. She had to stick four tees in the ground to get relief twice, from a picket fence and the corner of a grandstand. Her chip went through the green and next to the grandstand, leading to another free drop. Her next chip came out heavy and rolled back against the grandstand, and a third drop. Webb had to hole a 15-foot putt for double bogey, dropping her back to a 71, five shots behind.
Lincicome overcame her consecutive bogeys for a 70 and was at 9-under 207 with Karine Icher, who also had a 70.
Stacy Lewis, the tour player of the year, won't be winning the money title. The American has to win the Titleholders and its US$500,000 prize to have any chance of catching Inbee Park, but Lewis had a second straight 72 and was 10 shots out of the lead at 214.
Park was at 4-under 212 and likely sewed up the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average.
The only theater left is at the top of the leaderboard, with two good friends — Choi and Ryu — in the final group, both wanting to pass the time and calm the nerves with conversation about anything but golf. They will be alongside Miyazato, who spent Saturday bantering with her caddie.
Miyazato's lead was gone early when her third shot to the par-5 second went over the green down a steep slope. Her first chip came back to her feet, and she failed to get up-and-down, giving her a double bogey. Choi made birdie on the hole and suddenly had a two-shot lead.
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