A nervy Hannah Green may not have had her best stuff on Saturday but the 22-year-old Aussie still managed to cling to a one-shot lead at the Women’s PGA Championship.
Green shot a two-under 70 but saw her three-shot lead to begin the third round dwindle to just one with two-time major winner Ariya Jutanugarn poised to strike.
Green made three of her four birdies on the front nine but then stumbled to the finish with two bogeys in her final six holes to reach a nine-under 207 total at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.
“When I had more time to wait between shots that’s when I started to feel the nerves,” said Green, who three-putted for bogey on 18. “I need to just slow things down and take my time.
“I am disappointed with my putts on 16 and 18. I thought, ‘OK maybe I was nervous in that stretch.’”
Reigning US Women’s Open champion Ariya fired a sizzling four-under 68 and was alone in second at eight-under.
Nelly Korda, who won the Australian Open in February, shot a 69 and was tied for third with fellow American Lizette Salas who shot 68.
Defending champion Park Sung-hyun, who shot a second straight 71, and Kim Sei-young, who fired a 67, were in fifth at four-under.
Green is in just her second season and a victory on Sunday would be her first on the LPGA Tour and give her a wire-to-wire win. She has never held a 54-hole lead before.
She doesn’t expect it to be easy tomorrow.
“This is my first time in this position so I feel I will be a little nervous tomorrow,” Green said.
Green’s best previous finish at a major was a tie for 16th at last year’s ANA Inspiration.
Ariya, who made her LPGA Tour debut at age 11 in 2007, rolled in six birdies with the final one coming on the par-three 17th hole.
Ariya said she is trying to keep things in perspective this week.
“Every time I play bad I start to get unhappy and be angry. I have to learn and know that golf and life are different,” she said.
“Even if I play bad I still have the best family. When I know that, everything is just happy. If I don’t play well, I can still be happy.”
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