Ariya Jutanugarn will once again sleep on the lead heading into the final round of an LPGA Tour event.
Saturday at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, Jutanugarn maintained her 36-hole lead despite a charge from playing partner In Gee Chun, who hung with her throughout the round. With two bogeys in her final three holes, Jutanugarn carded a five-under par, 67 to enter the round at 17-under par and open the door for Chun, who sits just two-strokes back. Sei Young Kim and Stephanie Meadow are T-3 at 12-under par, five-back of Jutanugarn.
The four-time winner on the LPGA Tour held the 54-hole lead in each of her four victories this season, including most recently the RICOH Women’s British Open where she captured her first major title. In her recent work with Vision 54, Jutanugarn has focused on changing the mental outlook of her game, making sure to smile during her pre-shot routine and staying focused on what only she can control on the course.
"I keep the eye on me. I'm not really care like who the leader is, like what I say yesterday. I really want to play my game and be happy on the course." Jutanugarn told the media. "Tomorrow I really want to have fun, and I really want to be happy on the course. That's all I want for tomorrow."
Jutanugarn’s playing partner, Chun started her round three-back of the lead in a share of second with Meadow. Chun quickly made up ground, making birdie on her first two holes to pull within one-stroke of Jutanugarn, but the Thai player caught fire, making birdie on four of her next nine holes to pull away from Chun and extend her lead to as many as four. But the South Korean hung in and made three birdies on her inward nine to remain within striking distance of the lead. Chun posted a six-under par, 66 to better Jutanugarn by a stroke and enter the final round just two-strokes behind the leader.
"Today I could see the putting lines very well, and I was so good at rolling the ball on those lines, and I made really good up-and-downs today. Those really got my game going," Chun told the media. "Tomorrow I'm going to just focus on my game against the golf course and see where I am later."
Meadow played in the final group along with Jutanugarn and Chun but got off to a slower start, making the turn at Even par to trail by eight-strokes as her playing partners pulled away. But the 2015 rookie caught a spark on the back, making birdie on three of her last four holes to shoot a three-under par, 69 to sit five-strokes back of the lead heading into Sunday.
World No.1 and defending champion Lydia Ko struggled to get any momentum going during her round despite an eagle at the par five, seventh hole. But Ko couldn’t get any putts to drop on Saturday, making it around in 31 putts. Ko posted a two-under par, 70 to sit at 10-under par, seven-strokes back of the lead.
"You know, I hit the ball really solid and I gave myself so many looks at birdies, but really not one of them dropped," Ko told the media. "You know, when you're having those kind of days, it's really hard for you to go low. It was a little bit of a struggle with the putter, but I feel like there's still a lower round in me tomorrow. All I've got to do is just be confident and trust my game."
Morgan Pressel carded the low round of the day on Saturday with a seven-under par, 65 for her lowest round since June’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. The round launched Pressel from a share of 56th to a share of 16th at nine-under par for the week.