CARLSBAD, Calif. – Mirim Lee took the Kia Classic lead Saturday, while top-ranked Lydia Ko easily increased her LPGA under-par streak to 27 rounds but dropped two late strokes and ended up four shots behind.
Lee shot a 6-under 66 to reach 16-under 200 at Aviara, leaving her a stroke ahead of former UCLA player Alison Lee in the final event before the first major of the season next week at Rancho Mirage.
The 17-year-old Ko shot a 67 to move within two rounds of matching Annika Sorenstam's LPGA record for consecutive rounds under par of 29 set in 2004. Ko pushed her worldwide streak to 30.
Mirim Lee had five birdies and a 6-foot par save on the par-4 18th in a back-nine 31. The 24-year-old South Korean player won LPGA events last year in Michigan and China.
The 20-year-old Alison Lee had her second straight 66. She's making her fourth LPGA start as a professional. Last year, she won the Pac-12 title as a freshman at UCLA and was co-medalist at Q-school.
Ko eagled the par-4 seventh and birdied Nos. 8, 11, 13 and 14 to take the lead at 14 under, but hit into the water and made a bogey on the drivable par-4 16th and lost another stroke on 18.
The New Zealander has two worldwide victories this year, winning the tour's Women's Australian Open and the Ladies European New Zealand Women's Open in consecutive weeks. She has 10 straight top-10 finishes in LPGA events. Ko has six career LPGA victories, has never missed a cut in 48 career starts and has 10 worldwide wins in pro events.
Cristie Kerr and Japan's Sakura Yokomine were 13 under. Kerr bogeyed the final hole for a 68, and Yokomine eagled the 16th in a 67.
Se Ri Pak matched the course record with a 64 to join Ko, Paula Creamer and Jennifer Song at 12 under. Creamer closed eagle-birdie-birdie for a 66. Song also had a 66.
Lexi Thompson, preparing for her title defense in the ANA Inspiration, was 11 under after a 65.
Morgan Pressel, tied for the second-round lead with Mirim Lee after matching the course record with a 64, had a 72 to fall into a tie for 10th at 10 under.
Second-ranked Inbee Park also was in the group at 10 under after a 68. She took last week off after winning in Singapore and finishing second in a Ladies European event in China.