With more than golf on her mind, Stacy Lewis has managed to keep a laser-like focus through three rounds at the Cambia Portland Classic presented by JTBC, and leads by three shots heading into Sunday’s final round.
Lewis, who announced prior to Thursday that she would donate her entire cheque this week to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston – where her husband is the women’s golf coach at the University of Houston, and where she moved when she was 11 – fired a 7-under-par 65 on Saturday.
“I've been motivated for one, but I've just been extremely calm. Anybody who has seen me play knows that's not normally me. There has just been a calmness about me this week. I haven't worried about anything and just played really solid,” said Lewis.
Lewis is looking for her first win on the LPGA Tour since 2014, and although this week carries with it something extra special, she knows she still has a job she needs to do.
“I know it's been a while since I won. Everybody talks about it. I really feel like the last few months I've been playing some good golf. I've just needed a couple good breaks here and there having good numbers into holes. There were a couple holes out there today I just had perfect numbers into and you can just fire at the flag. You need these little things to go your way,” she explained. “It's been close. I've been playing better. Just the scores haven't shown it always. That's why I was excited about playing here.”
Lewis was 5-under par through her first nine holes and made her lone bogey of the day on the par-3 16th. She bounced back immediately, however, with a birdie on the very next hole.
She was the runner-up in Portland a year ago and said the Columbia Edgewater Country Club is one of her favorite courses all year long.
“You have to hit shots. You have to hit a little fade or a little draw. Yu can't just get up there and bomb it. I played well in the past. My caddie has been here way more times than anybody probably in this field, and so I just think we have an advantage as far as knowing the golf course,” she said. “Always playing well on a golf course always helps you, too. Just good memories and just hitting good shots.”
Lewis goes into Sunday’s finale three shots ahead of Moriya Jutanugarn, who fired a 6-under-par 66 in the third round.
Jutanugarn, who was the 2013 Rookie of the Year, has never won on the LPGA Tour.
“I was feeling great. You know, I have been hitting solid and (gave) myself a lot of really good chances for birdie,” said Jutanugarn. “Make some, miss some, but it's still pretty solid round.”
A shot further back at 13-under through three rounds is In Gee Chun, who shot a 3-under-par 69 on Saturday. Chun has four runner-up finishes in 2017 but hasn’t yet cracked the winner’s circle.
“I had a lot of solid shots on the course. Much better than yesterday,” said Chun. “I think putter was good, too… I want to try keep (stay) patient tomorrow.”
Brittany Altomore sits at 11-under par through three rounds, and is alone in fourth heading into Sunday’s finale at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club. She’s looking for her best-ever result on the LPGA Tour, as she’s yet to notch a top-10 finish in her career.
“I started hitting my irons really well, which I kind of struggled with last week and the beginning of this week, which gave me more opportunities to make birdies,” said Altomore of the key to her success in the third round. “I knew I was putting well, so I just really needed to give myself some opportunities. I did that today.”
Gaby Lopez – who shot the round of the day Saturday, an 8-under-par 64 – Nicole Broch Larsen, and Chella Choi round out the top-5 at 10-under par.
Two-time defending champion Brooke Henderson struggled Saturday, shooting a 2-over-par 74, her first ever over-par round at the Cambia Portland Classic.
Ai Miyazato, who is playing in her final LPGA Tour event on American soil prior to retiring at the end of this year, was even par in the third round and sits tied with Henderson at 8-under par for the week.
Lexi Thompson, who is projected to move to the No. 1 spot on the Race to the CME Globe after this week, bounced back after firing a 3-over-par 75 on Friday with a 4-under-par 68.