Cristie Kerr has been known to walk in a few putts during her sensational 20-year LPGA career. She confidently followed her 12-foot birdie roll on hole nine to assume the outright lead on Saturday at TPC Kuala Lumpur. After making just four birdies in round one, Kerr made nine on Friday and seven in round three at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. Kerr will take a one-stroke lead into the final-round at 15-under, 198. Shanshan Feng stands at 14-under while Sei Young Kim is in third place at 11-under.
"I found a feel in my swing yesterday and it has made a big difference," said Kerr. "I made some big par saves on the back. I definitely hit it better and when I give my putter chances, usually I do okay with that. So it's been fun the last couple days."
On the tenth hole, Kerr hit an excellent recovery shot from the right rough with her ball sitting on top of a tree root. Unfortunately, she had a rare three-putt bogey to drop back down to 13-under.
Kerr, 40, dueled with defending champion Shanshan Feng, 28, the rest of the back nine.
The 19-time winner reassumed the lead with a birdie on the par-5 12th. She hit her wedge from 76 yards to 6-feet and birdied to get to 14-under. Feng missed her birdie chance to the right from 10-feet to remain at 13-under.
Kerr hit a beautiful approach to 8-feet on 14 and rolled in another birdie to build a two-stroke lead at 15-under.
After ten straight pars for Feng, she drained a 17-footer for birdie on 16 to pull within one of Kerr. After hitting her second in the water on 16, Kerr made a critical 10-foot par putt to hold the lead.
My ball-striking wasn't as accurate, but I think overall, 3-under, bogey-free round is still a very good score for Saturday," said Feng, who still has not made a bogey this week. "I'm just feeling comfortable here. I'm not really trying to think about that bogey-free thing. I just want to keep the good playing going."
Both Kerr and Feng traded pars on holes 17 and 18.
"A one shot lead isn't even a lead," said Kerr. "I'm just going to go out and do my best tomorrow."
With a win, Kerr would become just the third player in LPGA history to cross $19 million in career earnings. Only Annika Sorenstam ($22,573,192) and Karrie Webb ($20,179,509) have earned more than Kerr.
Jacqui Concolino became just the second player to shoot a sub-30 nine-hole stretch on a par-35 in 2017. Jennifer Ha turned in 29 at the Meijer LPGA Classic. She made six birdies over the final seven holes on the front nine.
“This is the first time shooting 29, obviously something I will never forget,” said Concolino. “I feel really comfortable on Bermuda (grass). I’ve been having fun. I have good vibes here that started from the pro-am party when me, Jane (Park) and Mo (Martin) had a great time dancing and learning to DJ.”
The former Vanderbilt star stumbled a bit early on the back nine with two bogeys, but got one back on 15 and posted a 67 to stand at 10-under.
Concolino has six career top 10 finishes on the LPGA with three of them coming in 2017.
There were several others that took advantage of moving day in Malaysia.
Former world No. 1 Stacy Lewis closed with a 20-foot birdie putt on 18 to card a 66. Lewis moved to 10-under and is in a tie for fourth. Lewis made seven birdies on Saturday and turned in her second straight 66 to give herself a chance at a 13th LPGA win.
"It's nice to see your name on a leaderboard,” said Lewis. “I didn't get off to the best of starts this week, but I played really solid the past two days. Hopefully there's a low one out there tomorrow.”
Aussie Sarah Jane Smith went out in 30 on the front nine and posted a bogey-free 65 to climb from a tie for 23rd to a tie for sixth.
World No. 1 So Yeon Ryu made bogey on her first hole, but recovered with three birdies on the front and three on the back to post a 66. She moved up to a tie for ninth.