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He maintains lead at Pinehurst; Noh in position to gain LPGA membership

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Yealimi Noh moved closer to realizing the dream that escaped her in a pair of runs at winning LPGA titles as a non-member this summer.

The good news is that she doesn’t have to win Q-Series this week to gain tour membership. All she has to do is finish among the top 45 and ties in the final stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. That’s looking more than likely with her 3-under 69 Thursday moving her into solo third place through six rounds with just two rounds to go.

Muni He continued to set the pace at Pinehurst No. 9 in North Carolina, with a 70 moving her to 18 under overall, two shots ahead of Hee Young Park (66) and seven ahead of Noh.

Noh, 18, who turned down a scholarship to UCLA and turned pro earlier this year, made a big impression this summer playing her way into LPGA events through Monday qualifying. She tied for second behind Hannah Green at the Cambia Portland Classic and tied for sixth at the Thornberry Classic. A victory in either of those events would have earned her LPGA membership.

The Q-Series field was cut to the low 80 and ties (with 81 advancing into the weekend).

All five collegian amateurs made the cut: USC’s Jennifer Chang (T-6), Stanford’s Albane Valenzuela (T-8) and Andrea Lee (T-27), Florida State’s Frida Kinhult (T-51) and Florida’s Sierra Brooks (T-65).

Q-Series is being contested over 144 holes. The first 72 were played at Pinehurst No. 6.