SINGAPORE – Americans Katie Futcher and Angela Stanford and South Korea’s Jenny Shin all shot 1-under 71s on Saturday to stay tied for the lead after three rounds of the $1.4 million HSBC Women’s Champions.
Futcher led almost the entire day, jumping ahead with a birdie on the second hole. But a bogey on 18 – just her second of the tournament – allowed Stanford and Shin to regain a share of the lead at 9-under 207.
“I’m very pleased with the consistency of the way I’ve been playing,” Futcher said. “Hitting greens, hitting fairways, and making some putts. So I feel very good going into tomorrow.”
China’s Shanshan Feng shot a 69 to sit two shots behind the leaders while South Koreans Jiyai Shin (70) and Na Yeon Choi (71) were tied with top-ranked Yani Tseng (67) of Taiwan three shots back at Tanah Merah Country Club.
By her high standards, Tseng struggled during the first two rounds this week but managed four birdies on the front nine Saturday and two more during the rest of the round to put her in contention to win a tournament that has eluded her since it began in 2008.
“I was much better than the last two days,” Tseng said. “I make some putts today, I hit the ball better and I’m having fun out there.”
The 23-year-old Tseng dominated women’s golf last year and is off to a hot start in 2012 with her victory at last week’s LPGA Thailand.
“I think I’d have been more surprised if she (Tseng) hadn’t made a move,” Stanford said. “It’s not a three-person tournament. There are some really good names pretty close behind.”
Tseng solidified her hold on the top ranking with seven 2011 LPGA Tour victories last year, including major victories in the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open. She had 12 worldwide victories last season and the five-time major champion has 33 career worldwide professional wins.
Co-leader Shin, who moved to the Los Angeles area as a child, turned professional in 2010 and has yet to win a tournament.
“I’ve never been a co-leader going into a last round,” 19-year-old Shin said. “I wasn’t too nervous today but I can feel some nerves coming in.”
American Michelle Wie had another disappointing round with a 75 and is 28 shots behind the leaders.
The tournament featured a field of 63 golfers including 18 of the 20 top-ranked players when play started Thursday.
However, American Paula Creamer, the No. 5-ranked player, withdrew after the second round for family reasons. Pat Hurst of the United States also withdrew after the second round.