Suzann Pettersen fired a 6-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead heading into the final round at the Manulife LPGA Classic. Pettersen, who is bogey-free through 54 holes at Whistle Bear Golf Club, leads Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe (67) by one shot and is playing for her 15th LPGA Tour victory. 17-time LPGA Tour winner Cristie Kerr (67) sank a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole to get to 17-under par and sits in solo third and two shots back.
Pettersen’s round of 66 tied four others for low round of the day and she said her aggressive mentality on Sunday will be front of mind. She said she intends to continue to set the pace with a large group of pursuers behind her.
“Oh, I can only look upwards, only I can set the pace,” said Pettersen. “Yeah, there’s a lot of people in the hunt for this and the course is playing great. I think it’s fun for the fans to see us shooting low scores and I’m excited to go back out there tomorrow and fight it to the very end.”
Pettersen has made it easy for herself with impeccable ball-striking this week and leads the entire field in greens in regulation (90.74%). The last time Pettersen held the lead heading into the final round was last season at the Portland Classic where she would close with a 74 and finish in a tie for 16th. She said she’ll feel comfortable out in front tomorrow and won’t feel any different than a practice round at home. She’s historically been solid on Sundays and has claimed eight of her 14 career victories when leading or co-leading before the start of the final round.
“Not really,” said Pettersen when asked if she’ll feel a difference with the lead on Sunday. “Probably be like a shootout at Bay Hill in Orlando. No, I’m playing good, I’m making putts and giving myself a lot of opportunities. I’ve had a couple of small mistakes, but I’ve managed to save myself. Overall pretty happy.”
Uribe, who won the unofficial HSBC Brasil Cup in 2011, is looking for her first official victory on Tour. The Colombia native said the scoreable setup this week has suited her assertive style of play.
“I’m a pretty aggressive player, so luckily I didn’t have to change my strategy here,” said Uribe. “On 13 today, Suzann and I both went for it. We didn’t birdie it but it’s just the way to go here. Eagles are going to come out, birdies are going to come out. I feel really confident right now, my driver’s pretty straight, so I like it.”
She’s coming off of two top-20 finishes (T20 at Kingsmill Championship and T16 at ShopRite LPGA Classic) and said her confidence has been riding high. Her best finish this year (T13) came in the first event at the Coates Golf Championship in February.
“I’ve been playing well this year but my putting has been on and off,” said Uribe. “So I’ve been coming from two top 20s, so obviously I know my game’s getting there, and coming into the summer I really want to peak right now. So it would be great to get a win or second place before the second major of the year and I’m really looking forward to Westchester.”
Defending champ Inbee Park (70) sits in a tie for 32nd alongside Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko (68). After three rounds, Alena Sharp (68) is the low Canadian at T15 and 11-under par.