Sylvania (United States) (AFP) – South Africa's Lee-Anne Pace, seeking her first LPGA title, fired a three-under par 68 Saturday to match Laura Diaz for the lead after the third round of the Marathon Classic.
Pace stood on 11-under 202 after 54 holes at Highland Meadows, level atop the leaderboard with US veteran Diaz, who fired a 71 in quest of her first LPGA victory since 2002.
South Korean Ryu So-Yeon & 20-year-old American Jaye Marie Green shared third on 203 with New Zealand's Lydia Ko fifth on 204.
p>Pace, an eight-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, hopes a strong showing will assist her jump to the US tour.
"I unquestionably want to be in America. Hopefully this week will assist me obtain here full time," Pace said.
"I'm very confident. I felt so relaxed today. It came naturally."
Pace birdied the third & ninth holes yet stumbled with bogeys at 11 & 12.
She responded with birdies at the par-4 13th & par-3 14th & another at the par-5 17th.
"I like the greens," Pace said. "They are quite receptive to my shots. I'm confident approximately my iron play. I'm hitting it in there very well. Hitting really good."
Diaz, who led when the day began, birdied the third hole yet followed with a double bogey at the fourth.
On the par-4 ninth, Diaz drove the ball eight feet beyond the cup & made the eagle putt, yet took a bogey at 12.
Green, with her teaching-pro father serving as caddie, fired a 63.
"I actually dyed my hair last night. I don't know if that had anything to do with it," the brunette said.
Green opened with a birdie, added another at the par-3 sixth & closed the front nine with back-to-back birdies.
After a birdie at the 12th, Green took her lone bogey of the round at 14, then responded with four birdies in a row & closed with par at the par-5 18th, needing only 25 putts to complete off the day's low round.
"I'm just going to hit driver on every hole tomorrow & go for everything," Green said. "I'm not going to think approximately it."
Green said that she made a return to basics in recent weeks after trying to pattern her game after US star Michelle Wie & world number one Stacy Lewis.
"I'm trying to obtain back to what 'Old Jaye' would have done," she said. "I was just trying to alter my swing to be like Michelle Wie & putt like Stacy Lewis & I was changing everything. I was changing who I was. It wasn't me. I didn't know how to be someone I'm not."
Ryu ran off three birdies in a row, finishing at the par-5 17th, to fire a 68 & join Green one off the pace in Sunday's penultimate group.
Ko birdied the par-5 17th & 18th to close within two of the leaders.
Sports & RecreationGolfLee-Anne PaceLaura Diaz