CARLSBAD, Calif. – Hee Kyung Seo admits she tends to peek at the leaderboard more than she should.
It must have looked good to her after the third round of the inaugural Kia Classic on Saturday.
Seo shot a 3-under 69 to widen her lead to five strokes heading into the final round.
“Five shots is a big lead, but there are lots of great players,” Seo said. “I want to just play my game and not think about other things.”
She was at 10-under 206.
Seo, a South Korean who is not a member of the LPGA, received one of the three sponsor’s exemptions to get into the tournament. She is playing in her sixth LPGA tournament, and has won 11 times on the KLPGA Tour.
She said she would look back at her victories to help settle final-round jitters.
“In final rounds of every championship I have been a little bit nervous,” Seo said. “I know what I have to do to win. I think I will enjoy it.”
Taiwan’s Candie Kung was second after a 69.
Michelle Wie, who is trying to win her second LPGA event, shot a 1-over 73 and is tied with China’s Shanshan Feng for third place, six strokes back. Feng shot a 68, tied for best round of the day with Cristie Kerr and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist.
Wie had a chance to get closer to Seo, but struggled on the front nine.
“It was an interesting day out there,” said Wie, who had two bogies on the front nine. “The front nine was a bit tough for me. I was a bit unlucky in situations and I think I only hit one or two greens on the front nine.”
Kung has won four times on the LPGA and believes it is possible to catch Seo and win the first full-field tour event in Southern California since 2005.
“If you get lucky out there,” Kung said of her chances to win. “If you get the bounce that you need, the bounce in the hole, then you can catch her for sure.”
Seo began the day with a one-stroke lead, but started her round with her second bogey of the tournament. She came back with four birdies, including a 20-foot birdie on No. 16.
“I was a little nervous on the first hole, but was trying to get relaxed,” Seo said. “I started concentrating on my shots and played well on the back nine.”