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Pace, Diaz share lead through 54 holes

SYLVANIA, Ohio -- South Africa's Lee-Anne Pace, seeking a breakthrough win in the U.S., shot a 3-under 68 to grab a share of the lead with Laura Diaz in the Marathon Classic on Saturday.

Pace, an eight-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, bounced back from bogeys at holes 11 and 12 to join Diaz at 11-under 202. She can barely express what a breakthrough win on the LPGA Tour might bring.

“It'll mean quite a lot to be able to come out here and play well,” she said. “It already has made my week. I was so tired in the beginning of the week and now this has happened, so I'm very excited.”

Pace could have foundered after losing the two shots to par. But she came right back to birdie the next two holes and then added another at the par-5 17th to join Diaz at 11-under 202.

The 33-year-old, in her 10th year as a pro, wants to keep it simple in the final round at Highland Meadows.

“I play a very similar type of game every time I go out there: Hit the fairways and try to hit the green and make the putt. And so far it's been working,” she said. “Hopefully, coming down the stretch it's going to be enough.”

It was a day of highs and lows for Diaz, the leader since birdieing her first five holes in an opening 62. She led by four and then three strokes after the first two rounds.

Chasing her first win since 2002, she could have regained the outright lead but left a 7-foot birdie putt short on the 18th to finish with a 71.

Up by three shots on the fourth hole on Saturday, the 39-year-old faltered with a double-bogey.

After pull-hooking her drive under a pine tree, she and caddie Pete Smith moved away some twigs and the ball moved. The gallery around her let out a collective gasp. She quickly assessed herself a one-shot penalty and ended up punching back to the fairway, hitting to the green and two-putting for the double.

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Lee-Anne Pace, of South Africa, acknowledges the gallery after making a birdie putt on the 17th green during the third round of the Marathon Classic LPGA golf tournament at ...

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