ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Yani Tseng made the mistake of grabbing the trophy before the end of a major tournament once already this year – and lost.
With a five-shot lead after the third round of the LPGA Championship on Saturday, the top-ranked Tseng doesn't intend to make the same mistake again.
'When I see a trophy, I just figure I want to grab it,' Tseng said, recalling how she might have jinxed herself at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April. That's when she grabbed the trophy as she stepped to the first tee upon opening the final round, and then proceeded to squander a two-shot lead in finishing second to Stacy Lewis.
'It just did not work out at Kraft, so I better not touch it this time,' Tseng said, smiling. 'That's how I learn.'
The way she's playing, Tseng has reason to be patient in a bid to win her fourth career major, and eighth tournament. She essentially ran away from the field with a 5-under 67 that has her at 13-under 203 at Locust Hill Country Club outside Rochester.
Americans Morgan Pressel (70) and Cindy Lacrosse (69) were tied for second, and Hee Young Park (72) was seven shots behind Tseng. Defending champion Cristie Kerr matched Tseng with a third-round best 67 to join Lewis (70), Meena Lee (70) and Paula Creamer (72) at 5 under.
Tseng, who turned 22 in January, is a round away from becoming the youngest to win four major golf tournaments. She also won LPGA Championship during her rookie-of-the-year season in 2008, when the event was played at Bulle Rock in Maryland, and took the Kraft Nabisco and Women's British Open last year.
'That sounds pretty good. I'm working on that,' Tseng said, when informed of the elite company she has a chance of passing. 'Tomorrow, I'm just going to go there and smile all day and then play smart.'
Tseng has seven career LPGA Tour wins, and has already won twice this year, including the State Farm Classic two weeks ago. She also has three international victories this year, sweeping the Women's Australian Open and Australian Ladies Masters.
Tseng is roaring through the course much like Kerr did a year ago, when she finished at 19-under 269 to win by a whopping 12 strokes.
Kerr liked her chances when she finished her round four shots behind Tseng, who was still on the front nine.
'They will notice that I fired a good round to kind of get back into position,' Kerr said, referring to her competition. 'I think I will be within striking distance, but I would have to put up another round like this tomorrow.
Kerr might have to reconsider, given how Tseng was hardly affected by the intermittent rain and gusts of winds that picked up in the afternoon, making it difficult to navigate the tight fairways and reach the small greens.
Opening the day with a one shot lead over Pat Hurst and with six others within three shots, Tseng ran away from the pack by closing with five birdies and bogey over her final 10 holes. It was a round in which she hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 greens.
A day after she twice missed from within 3 feet, including an 18-incher for bogey on No. 18, Tseng was more consistent with her putting.
On Saturday, she sank a 6-foot putt for birdie on No. 9, and then scrambled to save par with a pair of 4-footers on Nos. 10 and 11. Then came a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 12th and a 14-footer on No. 13 to go to 12 under for the tournament, and extend her lead by five shots at that time.
Her only real miscue was an errant tee-shot into the left rough on No. 14 that led to a bogey 5. Tseng responded on the next hole, with a 4-foot putt for birdie. She also birdied Nos. 2 and 15 and 17.
No one else could make up any ground.
LaCrosse scrambled to shoot 3 under in a round that featured six birdies and three bogeys. In her second year on tour, her best career finish was a tie for 11th at the Shop Rite Classic three weeks ago.
At Louisville, she was a two-time Big East champion. And she also won three times on the Futures Tour.
'My game plan's kind of the same. I'm still trying to hit the fairways and greens,' said LaCrosse, who will be paired with Tseng in the final round. 'You never know what (Tseng) is going to do. She's an amazing player. I just kind of have to focus on what I'm going to do.'
Pressel is still in the hunt in seeking her third career win and first since 2008.
'I'm five back no matter who it is,' Pressel said. 'Has she had any bogeys this week? I think she has made some mistakes and people are human. You never know what's going to happen tomorrow.”