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He continues to lead Q-Series, but drama near top 45 with one round left

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The real drama in Saturday’s final round of LPGA Q-Series won’t be about who wins the two-week marathon at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.

It will be about who successfully navigated their way inside the top 45 and ties to earn LPGA playing privileges for next year.

Dramatic runs from the back of the pack to the middle of the pack will be as rewarding in the final round as anything that happens at the top of the leaderboard.

Muni He continued her strong run out front with a 1-under-par 71 in cold, tough conditions at Pinehurst No. 9, with only three players posting scores in the 60s. He is at 19 under, overall, through seven rounds, three shots ahead of Hee Young Park (72) and seven ahead of Yealimi Noh (71).

“This is not about who is going to win this event,” Park said. “I want to keep my card, and get done with this golf tournament . . . [that’s] my goal. I'm really happy with little less pressure than any other girls so far, and I’m going to keep playing safe. Fairways, greens, and if I make par, I'm just really happy with that every single hole.”

There were several big moves Friday inside the magic line of top 45 and ties. At day’s end, there were 48 players at 5 over or better.

Christina Kim, a three-time LPGA winner looking to improve her status next year, shot 70 to climb 23 spots, into to a tie for 28th. Kim is 117th on the LPGA money list this season. She can play out of Category 16 for LPGA tournament winners next year, but she’s looking to improve that status by moving up into Category 14, for players who advanced through Q-Series.

Louise Ridderstrom (69) and Alana Uriell (69) each climbed 27 spots into a tie for 28th.

Of the five collegiate amateurs in the field, three are sitting inside the top 45 going into the final round. USC’s Jennifer Chang (72) and Stanford’s Albane Valenzuela (71) are at T-5. Stanford’s Andrea Lee (77) is at T-35. Florida State’s Frida Kinhult (80) has some work to do at T-66, as does Florida’s Sierra Brooks (78) at T-69.

A complete list of scores can be found here