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Sunday October 14, 2012

Choi still in the lead

Sydnee Michaels of United States takes a shot at the fairway. Sydnee Michaels of United States takes a shot at the fairway.

WORLD number four Choi Na-yeon of South Korea will have to dig deep into her reserves to hold off the chasing pack for a successful defence of the LPGA Sime Darby Malaysia title at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club today.

Na-yeon battled to a three-under 68 to keep her two-stroke advantage on 13-under 200 after a rain-interrupted third round of play but it looks set to be a thrilling Sunday as the top five are only separated by four strokes.

Trailing her closely is compatriot Park In-bee, who finished strongly with a superb six-under 65, draining six birdies on her back nine to leap into contention as bad weather caused a four hour and 14 minutes delay.

Joint first round leader Karrie Webb of Australia nailed a 40-footer on the last to cap a solid round of three-under 68, one stroke ahead of Japanese starlet Ai Miyazato (68) and Suzann Pettersen (70) of Norway, who were tied for fourth on eight-under 205.

The trio of American Paula Creamer (70), Scottish Catriona Matthew(70) and Japanese Mika Miyazato (71) were level on seven-under 206, one shot better than Brittany Lang (70).

Na-yeon, who turns 25 on Oct 28, had a tough day at the office. She birdied the first hole to go three shots clear but the weather conditions took a turn for the worse.

Na-yeon had to work hard to keep to the fairways, ending with four birdies against a bogey on the 10th.

Na-Yeon, who won the US Women’s Open in July for her first Major title, started the week in Malaysia with high expectations of retaining her title, and just 18 holes away from becoming only the second player this season to successfully break into the winner’s circle at the same event as in 2011.

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Tseng Yani of Taiwan won back-to-back titles at the Honda LPGA Thailand back in February.

“I think I had a pretty hard time today. It was raining all day. That’s why I play so long. We wake up like 12 hours ago and that’s a pretty long day.

“But I birdied the 12th and then got some good momentum from there. I’m really glad to finish today. I think it’s pretty the same like last year. The good thing is I know I cannot control other players’ score. I am going to watch the leaderboard because I have to know what is the situation but I cannot control the score.

“I have to focus on my game, play my game, just play one shot at a time. I think that’s my goal tomorrow,” said Na-yeon.

But determined to play the spoiler is Park Inbee, whose confidence will be bolstered after her superb flawless round, which turned out to be the best for the day.

“I think I played much better in the rain than when it is hot. The front nine was a little bit disappointing but knew the birdies would come. I just tried to believe in myself.

“This course is score-able and hard at the same time. I think I still need a lot of birdies tomorrow to win. I’ll just go out there and play aggressively and try to get myself a lot of birdies.

“I try to not think about winning and playing Na-yeon and stuff like that and just play my game and trust in myself,” said Inbee, who is currently No. 1 on the LPGA Money List.

Pettersen of Norway, who produced a seven-under 64 on Friday, could not repeat her form and finish the day with a 70 to slip to joint fourth with Ai Miyazato of Japan on eight-under 205.

She was still in contention and only a stroke behind Na-yeon at the turn but her chances faded after a double bogey on the 15th and another bogey on the 16th.

Yani put up her best effort so far of three-under 68 to improve to joint 53rd spot on five-over 218.

The tournament opens the Tour’s four-event Asian swing. The Hana Bank Championship is next week in South Korea, followed by stops in Taiwan and Japan.

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Third Round Scores

(Malaysians unless stated)

200: Choi Na-yeon (Kor) 65-67-68; 202: Park Inbee (Kor) 69-68-65; 204: Karrie Webb (Aus) 65-71-68; 205: Ai Miyazato (Jpn) 68-69-68, Suzann Petersen (Nor) 71-64-70; 206: Paula Creamer (US) 69-67-70, Catriona Matthew (Sco) 68-68-70, Mika Miyazato (Jpn) 66-69-71; 207: Brittany Lang (US) 69-68-70; 208: Ryu So-yeon (Kor) 68-73-67, Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha) (a) 69-72-67, Yoo Sun-young (Kor) 66-70-72, Lindsey Wright (Aus) 70-66-72; 209: Azahara Munoz (Spa) 71-71-67, Karin Sjodin (Swe) 70-71-68, Park Hee-young (Kor) 67-72-70, Kim I.K (Kor) 70-67-72, Ji Eun-hee (Kor) 70-67-72, Momoko Ueda (Jpn) 68-67-74, Sydnee Michaels (US) 69-65-75; 210: Shin Jiyai (Kor) 71-70-69, Lee Il-hee (Kor) 69-71-70, Chella Choi (Kor) 71-74-65, Amy Yang (Kor) 70-69-71, Karine Incher (Fra) 70-69-71; 211: Beatriz Recari (Spa) 72-66-73, Lizette Salas (US) 68-67-76; 212: Candie Kung (Tpe) 70-71-71, Jessica Korda (US) 68-71-73, Stacy Lewis (US) 70-69-73, Caroline Hedwall (Swe) 70-67-75; 213: Anna Nordqvist (Swe) 72-70-71, Cindy Lacrosse (US) 70-72-71, Feng Shanshan (Chn) 70-72-71, Sandra Gal (Ger) 72-71-70, Mo Martin (US) 70-70-73, Jenny Shin (Kor) 72-74-67; 214: Julieta Granada (Par) 72-72-70, Meena Lee (Kor) 73-68-73, Cristie Kerr (US) 68-77-69; 215: Katherine Hull (Aus) 70-71-74, Mina Harigae (US) 70-71-74, Gerina Piller (US) 70-74-71; 216: Han Hee-won (Kor) 67-75-74, Pornanong Phatlum (Tha) 74-70-72, Lexi Thompson (US) 69-71-76, Nicole Castrale (US) 78-67-71; 217: Brittany Lincicome (US) 71-73-73, Danielle Kang (US) 72-73-72, Sophie Gustafson (Swe) 71-74-72, Jennifer Johnson (US) 74-72-71, Michelle Wie (US) 75-72-70; 218: Jodi Ewart (Eng) 73-75-70, Tseng Yani (Tpe) 78-72-68; 220: Cheng Ssu-chia (Kor) (a) 75-72-73; 221: Alison Walshe (US) 71-72-78, Kang Hae-ji (Kor) 69-76-76, Aretha Pan (a) 73-73-75; 222: Vicky Hurst (US) 69-81-72; 223: Angela Stanford (US) 73-79-71; 224: Giulia Sergas (Ita) 76-72-76, Mariajo Uribe (Col) 81-73-70; 227: Jean Chua 75-73-79, Ainil Johani 73-80-74; 228: Amanda Blumenherst (US) 72-76-80; 231: Carly Booth (Sco) 80-75-76; 243: Morgan Pressel (US) 79-83-81; 246: Sarfina Vinota (a) 81-84-81.

Fourth Round Tee Off Times

From Tee 1

7.50am: Anna Nordqvist, Cindy Lacrosse, Feng Shanshan.

8.01am: Caroline Hedwall, Jenny Shin, Sandra Gal.

8.12am: Candie Kung, Stacy Lewis, Jessica Korda.

8.23am: Beatriz Recari, Lizette Salas, Karine Icher.

8.34am: Shin Jiyai, Amy Yang, Lee Ilhee.

8.45am: Momoko Ueda, Sydnee Michaels, Chella Choi.

8.56am: Kim I.K., Ji Eun-hee, Park Hee-young.

9.07am: Yoo Sun-young, Azahara Munoz, Karin Sjodin.

9.18am: Ariya Jutanugarn (a), Ryu So-yeon, Lindsey Wright.

9.29am: Catriona Matthew, Mika Miyazato, Brittany Lang.

9.40am: Ai Miyazato, Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer.

9.51am: Choi Na-yeon, Park Inbee, Karrie Webb.

n From Tee 10

7:50am: Mo Martin, Cristie Kerr, Julieta Granada.

8.01am: Meena Lee, Gerina Pillar, Mina Harigae.

8.12am: Nicole Castrale, Katherine Hull, Pornanong Phatlum.

8.23am: Han Hee-won, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie.

8.34am: Jennifer Johnson, Danielle Kang, Sophie Gustafson.

8.45am: Brittany Lincicome, Tseng Yani, Jodi Ewart.

8.56am: Cheng Su-chia, Aretha Pan (a), Kang Haeji.

9.07am: Alison Walshe, Vicky Hurst, Angela Stanford.

9.18am: Mariajo Uribe, Giulia Sergas, Ainil Johani.

9.29am: Jean Chua, Amanda Blumenherst, Carly Booth.

9.40am: Morgan Pressel, Vinota Sarfina.

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