Looking to become the Tour’s fourth wire-to-wire winner of the season, Momoko Ueda grinded to the finish of the third round at the TOTO Japan Classic, capping off the day with a 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead heading into Sunday at -14. Ueda birdied two of her first three holes, but bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6 put the 34-year-old back to -10. She rebounded from the tough start with three birdies after the turn on 10, 12 and 13, and closed birdie-bogey-birdie to get one step closer to her third-career TOTO Japan Classic title.
“My shots were not so good like same as yesterday. I missed a short putt, and it made me unable to play well today. Then, I talked with my caddie about today's game plan and decided to get birdies as much as possible in Par 5 holes in the back 9,” said Ueda, who with a win would earn her 17th career JLPGA victory. “I will play as one of the Japanese players tomorrow and try to be as steady as possible. Not too aggressive, not too conservative.
Chasing the leader is Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh at -13 after an outstanding third-round 65, her lowest 18-hole score on Tour since the second round of the 2019 Meijer LPGA Classic when she carded a 64. Dryburgh started off with birdies on 1 and 2, and rebounded from a bogey on No. 4 with six birdies between Nos. 6-13.
“I hit a lot of good shots and had a couple where I hit to a foot, so always handy to do that. Putted well, so everything was working pretty well today,” said Dryburgh, who is looking to be the 11th Rolex First-Time winner of the Tour season if she is successful on Sunday. “Obviously the aim is to win, but anything that happens, just go with the flow. Just do my best, and see where it ends up.”
Four-time JLPGA winner Miyu Yamashita is -12 in solo third after a third-straight round in the 60s, a Saturday 69. She carded her first bogeys of the week on Nos. 11 and 12, but bounced back soon after with birdies to finish out the day on Nos. 15, 16 and 17. Five players sit in a tie for fourth at -10, including major champion Jeongeun Lee6 and four-time Ladies European Tour winner Linn Grant, whose five consecutive birdies on Nos. 12-16 helped lead to a 5-under 67 total on day three.
“It was good overall. I think the first nine was not where I wanted to be and kind of showed up on the last nine and put some birdies in, which made it more fun,” said Grant, who would be the fourth different Swede to win the TOTO Japan Classic in its history. “I tend to get better the more nervous I get. Like if I get in contention or I get a bit hyped up, I usually tend to hang onto that and do better.”
Four players are tied for ninth at -9, including 2021 champion Ayaka Furue and the 2019 co-sanctioned winner Ai Suzuki. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Atthaya Thitikul struggled on the third day and is T23 at -5 heading into the final round.