DALY CITY, Calif. – Canadian teen Brooke Henderson lost some momentum Saturday afternoon. She at least kept the lead in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
Henderson led by as many as five shots early in the third round at tough, chilly Lake Merced Golf Club. It all changed on the final two holes when the 17-year-old made a pair of bogeys and had to settle for an even-par 72 and a one-shot lead over Morgan Pressel and Min Seo Kwak of South Korea.
''If someone told me at the beginning of the week I would be leading going into the final round, I would've taken it,'' Henderson said.
Even so, two holes changed the dynamics of the final round.
Henderson had looked unflappable even in conditions so tough - cold air and soft turf - that Pressel (67) and Kwak (69) were the only players to break 70. She didn't miss a fairway until the par-5 14th, and she converted that into a birdie from a greenside bunker for a three-shot lead.
But she didn't recover from a tee shot into the rough on the 17th. She pulled her approach left of a bunker and didn't realize there was ''something really hard'' under her ball until the wedge bounced off the turf and sent her shot over the green. She had to get up-and-down to limit the damage to bogey.
Then, she pulled her wedge left of the green on the par-5 18th and failed to save par. She was at 9-under 207.
Pressel birdied four of her last six holes for a 67 on a day when the average score was 74.6.
Also very much in the mix is defending champion Lydia Ko, who turned 18 on Friday and now is chasing someone even younger. Ko took a bogey on the par-5 seventh and fell as many as six shots behind until a pair of birdies on the back nine brought her back to a 71. She was three shots behind.
Henderson, who won three times on the Canadian Women's Tour as an amateur, was denied a waiver to the LPGA Tour's minimum age requirement of 18. Commissioner Mike Whan has granted two exemptions to the age requirement - Ko and Lexi Thompson, both having already won on the LPGA.
Perhaps a victory by Henderson will change his mind, though she has a lot of work left.
She will be in the final group with Pressel, whom she refers to as her role model in women's golf. They met nine years ago in Ottawa, and Henderson says she still gets a little nervous around her. Sunday will be filled with plenty of pressure, though Henderson is used to that even at her age.
She has been a starlet of Canadian golf for several years now, a winner of the Canadian Women's Amateur, a finalist in the U.S. Women's Amateur and the medalist at the World Amateur Team Championship.
Pressel, who won an LPGA major when she was 18, has gone some seven years without a win and missed a playoff at the first major of the year by one shot earlier this month. She feels close, and thanks to Henderson, she is a lot closer to the lead than when she finished her round.