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May 26, 2017

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S. Korea's Yang seizes share of US Women's Open lead with US' Wie

PINEHURST, North Carolina -- South Korea's Amy Yang fired a two-under par 68 on Saturday to seize a share of the third-round lead at the U.S. Women's Open alongside American Michelle Wie.

Wie, who held a three-shot overnight lead, fought to a two-over 72 at Pinehurst to join Yang on two-under 208.

They were the only players under par through 54 holes at Pinehurst, where Germany's Martin Kaymer won the second men's major of the year, the U.S. Open, last Sunday.

U.S. veteran Juli Inkster, who celebrates her 54th birthday on Tuesday, carded the low round of the day, a four-under 66, to lead a group sharing third on two-over 212.

Inkster was joined by Australian amateur Minjee Lee, South Korean Choi Na-yeon and Northern Ireland's Stephanie Meadow.

Meadow, playing her first event as a professional, inched up the leaderboard with a one-under 69, while Choi signed for a 71 and Lee posted a 72.

Wie shook off a bogey at the first with birdies at the third, ninth and 10th holes.

But she opened the door to Yang with a rough four-hole stretch that started with a double-bogey at the par-four 11th. She followed that with a bogey at 12, and dropped another shot at 14 as Yang briefly seized the outright lead.

"I just didn't drive it well a couple of holes — you really can't be in the trees here," Wie said. "I felt like I grinded out there (made a) couple of good par putts coming in. Overall, I can't complain."

This is the third time that Wie will enter the last day of the U.S. Women's Open either owning or sharing the lead.

In the other two instances, in 2005 and 2006, she finished tied for 23rd and tied for third.

Yang has played well down the stretch at the U.S. Open and has recorded three top-10 finishes in her last three starts including a runner-up finish in 2010.

"I'm much better at controlling my emotion and controlling the nervous feeling," Yang said of how she had matured. "I think it's going to be a fun round."

Yang's round included six birdies. She closed with her fourth bogey of the day at 18, but was satisfied with her day.

"I was hitting the ball really solid today, and I had good speed on the greens," Yang said. "I had a great round today."

Wie Under Pressure

Wie's lead was under pressure early and had shrunk to one shot after her opening bogey was followed by playing partner Lexi Thompson's birdies at three and five.

Thompson's challenge faded however with double-bogeys at eight and nine. The 19-year-old American finished with a four-over 74 that left her tied for seventh on 214 alongside Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum, 2011 champion Ryu So-yeon of South Korea, two-time winner Karrie Webb of Australia and Japan's Sakura Yokomine.

But Wie, who said the heat may have affected her on the back nine, couldn't hold off Yang. Her double bogey at 11 came after she hit her tee shot into the pine needles and her bogey at 12 left her tied with Yang.

She fell behind with a bogey at 14, before Yang's bogey at the last left them even at the top.

"It's hot out there," Wie said. "I think I need to maybe warm up a little less tomorrow, because I felt like I was really tired."

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