Golf: Miyazato leads LPGA Thailand tournament

PATTAYA, Thailand: Japan's Ai Miyazato fired a blistering seven-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead in a gripping third round of the $1.5 million Honda LPGA Thailand tournament on Saturday.

Miyazato is 14-under for the event, but hot on her heels is defending champion and world number one Yani Tseng from Taiwan who also shot a fine 65.

A further shot behind is second round leader Australia's Karrie Webb, who had to settle for a 71 on Saturday, and Korean Shin Ji-Yai who fired a 68.

Another Korean, Amy Yang is in fifth place after a 68, with world number two Suzann Pettersen from Norway another shot back.

Much cooler weather than the previous two days at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course brought out the best in Miyazato, who sank eight birdies against one bogey.

"I enjoyed the cooler conditions," she said. "The previous night's rain also made the greens more receptive."

Miyazato, who won the tournament two years ago, was brilliant around the greens and chipped in three times.

"My short game is in good shape, especially my putting," she said. "And my chipping was pretty good too."

Miyazato, who was in the same group as Tseng, was roared on by a large gallery of Japanese fans who also gave generous applause to the Taiwanese star.

The pair will be together again in the final round which will guarantee a huge gallery.

"It's great to have lots of Japanese people cheering me in Thailand," Miyazato said.

Tseng was pleased with her round, hitting 65 for the second successive day.

"I'm feeling good," she said after a faultless round of seven birdies and no bogeys. "The greens are very tough, so I am pleased with my score although I missed some birdie chances."

Tseng said she was looking forward to a great battle with Miyazato and the other contenders in the final round.

"I really want to win this tournament," she said. "After all, I am the defending champion."

Webb was not at her best but said it could have been worse.

"I was really struggling with my swing and it got worse as the round progressed, so I will take one-under," she said.

"In the end I made some good pars out there. I'm not out of it."

Thrilling the local fans was 16-year-old Thai amateur Ariya Jutanugarn who shot a superb 65, including two eagles and four birdies against one bogey, to move up into seventh place on nine under.

"When I suffered a bogey at the sixth I thought I'd be happy with an even-par round," said the calm Thai teenager. "But then came the two eagles in four holes and that gave me a big boost of confidence."

- AFP/de

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