Lilia Vu had never held a lead or co-lead after any round on the LPGA Tour before Friday at the AmazingCre Portland Classic. Now, she will tee it off in the lead group for the second day in a row after fighting to keep her top spot during round three at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. Vu got off to a rocky start with a bogey on the first hole, but she turned it around on the back nine with four birdies in the first six holes. Her 3-under round was enough to maintain the co-lead at -13, but the UCLA alumna knows she’ll have to calm her nerves and improve her tee shots to walk away with her first LPGA Tour win tomorrow.
“This course demands a lot off the tee, and I just wasn't feeling good (at the beginning). I told you yesterday that I don't really look at the scores, but you're right there in the leading group, so you can't help but look,” said Vu. “I'm just going to go out there and have a good time and let the golf do what it will do… I think the advantage is off the tee. If you get in the fairway, you set yourself a good approach shot, you'll have a good chance at birdie most of the time.”
Joining Vu in the tie for first are 2022 Rolex First-Time Winner Ayaka Furue and Stanford alumna Andrea Lee. Furue and Lee both shot 67s on Saturday, with the former earning five birdies in a bogey-free round by hitting all 14 fairways. A 2022 rookie, Furue won the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open in July and has found success on the LPGA Tour by limiting her mistakes on the course.
“It's very important to play bogey-free golf,” Furue said. “I believe it's more important than getting birdies, not having bogeys. So, I'm very happy with that today.”
Lee took advantage of the scorable front nine on Saturday, earning three birdies after hitting every fairway there. The Epson Tour graduate has made birdie on at least one of Columbia Edgewater’s four par-5s in every round, and has favored the reachable par-5 No. 5 in the last two rounds.
“I think this week so far I've been playing the front nine pretty well. Just birdieing one of the par-5s each day… I think the par-5s, you definitely need to take advantage of those to go low,” Lee said. “I love the golf course. I'm not like the longest player on tour, so I think it's one of the shorter courses we play out here. I think that's definitely played to my strengths.”
Hianko Shibuno, Daniela Darquea, Paula Reto and Hannah Green sit in a tie for fourth at -12. Green, the 2019 AmazingCre Portland Classic champion, took advantage of her familiarity with Columbia Edgewater to shoot a 4-under 68, also making the most of the scorable front nine to sink four birdies.
“I made a good putt on the third hole. Probably like a 25-footer. I remember in 2019 a very similar putt to the same pin, so I kind of knew which way it broke,” she said. “I do try to (think back to 2019), because a lot of things went my way and went well obviously to win. So I think just making sure I don't get too ahead of myself but remember what I have achieved at this golf course.”
The low round of the day belonged to Swede Frida Kinhult, who shot -7 with six birdies and eagle and a bogey. She is joined by fellow Swede Maja Stark and Oregon native Caroline Inglis a tie for 10th. Just a stroke ahead of that trio are second-round co-leader Esther Henseleit and American Ryann O’Toole, who sit at T8 and just two strokes out of the lead.