Despite a two-hour rain delay Saturday at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, it was Lexi Thompson who took best advantage of the soft course conditions and once again heads into a final round on the LPGA Tour with a chance at winning.
Thompson lost in a playoff a week ago at the Manulife LPGA Classic, and made six birdies Saturday and just one bogey for a 5-under-par 64. She leads by one heading into Sunday.
“It was just a matter of staying patient,” Thompson said of her key for Saturday. “I knew I was hitting it well on the front nine, I just wasn't making the birdies. But I hit it well all day, so it was all a matter of hitting the shots closer and I guess just taking advantage of like No. 11, reaching that one in two, and making a few putts for birdie.”
The par-5 5th was converted to a par 3 Saturday due to standing water after torrential rain blew through the Grand Rapids area overnight Friday and into Saturday morning.
Thompson said she’s been focusing on staying positive and staying within her routine during these last few weeks. Clearly, it’s working, as she’s playing steadier than anyone else on the LPGA Tour.
“I’ve been making sure I'm fully relaxed over my shots and in between shots. You know, I sometimes overthink things and I'm just trying to have more fun with my caddie in between shots and he does great with just helping me relax out there,” she explained.
Thompson leads by one over a myriad of golfers including Sung Hyun Park, Jenny Shin, Lee-Anne Pace, and overnight leader Brooke Henderson.
“It was kind of a tough day out there. I think with the two hour delay, I was kind of slow starting, but once I got going on the back nine, I felt really pretty great about my game,” said Henderson. “I would have liked to go a little bit further under par today, but just the course wasn't giving it to me. So hopefully tomorrow I can drop a few more putts and climb the leaderboard a little bit.”
Pace shot the round of the day Saturday, and 8-under-par 61, attributing it to her crisp iron play, a result of an equipment change a couple of weeks ago at the Shoprite LPGA Classic presented by ACER.
“The last few weeks I’ve struck my irons really, really well. I just changed the irons and it’s made all the difference,” said Pace. “I played really nicely (today). My irons were really good. I was looking at birdie on almost every hole, which was nice.”
Pace is in position for her best finish of 2017 this week. She was tied for 28th a week ago at the Manulife LPGA Classic, but, as she’s just one shot back of the lead, she’s eager to make a move Sunday.
“I set a goal for myself at the beginning of the week and so far I’m reaching it,” she said. “Hopefully I can reach it tomorrow.”
Hyo Joo Kim is a shot further back, alone in sixth at 12-under par.
Four golfers are at 11-under including Carlota Ciganda, Moriya Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko, and Michelle Wie – who is in position for her best finish of the year as well.
“It seems like everyone did really well today,” said Wie. “It’s exciting. I’ll just need to go out there and play well tomorrow.”
Ko, who lost her spot on the top of the Rolex Rankings this week after 85 weeks at No.1, said, overall, that she played ‘pretty solid’ Saturday.
“It was really solid. On a day like today when you don’t know if you’re going to have further rain delays or how the course is playing, I think it was really important to hit the fairways and I think that I was doing pretty well out there,” said Ko. “Hopefully I’ll keep doing that.”
Seven golfers, meanwhile, are one shot further back at 10-under, just five shots back of the lead.
Mirim Lee, Madelene Sagstrom, Stacy Lewis, Emily Pedersen, and 2017 winners Shanshan Feng and Cristie Kerr are at -10 through three rounds and in prime position for a Sunday charge.