By Jerome Pugmire ,AP
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France — American Stacy Lewis rescued her day with a birdie on the last hole to share a one-shot lead with South Korea’s Inbee Park after the third round of the Evian Masters on Saturday.
Lewis, who is chasing her third U.S. LPGA Tour title of the year, posted a 1-over 73 to finish the day at 11-under. The overnight leader had a nightmare run on the back nine with two bogeys and a double bogey before sinking a much-needed birdie on the 18th.
“I feel like I’m still in the tournament, and just got to make some putts tomorrow,” said Lewis, who equaled the course record with a 9-under 63 in her opening round on Thursday. “I shot 63 the first day, so I know I can play good out here. I’m not too worried about it.”
Park, who was three shots behind Lewis in third place overnight, had four birdies and two bogeys for a patchy 2-under 70.
Sitting just behind Lewis and Park on the leaderboard are a trio of players, including 17-year-old amateur player Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea.
After making a birdie on 11, Lewis teed off into the rough on the next hole and could only make bogey.
“I was staying pretty patient, but then kind of struggled in the middle and left a few out there,” she said.
Things got worse, with another bogey on hole 14 and then a double bogey on the next hole pushing her out to 2-over on the day.
“I think I was trying to be a little too cute with my third shot and just really hit a bad shot,” Lewis said about her double bogey. “The first chip actually had a pretty good lie, but just the grass being wet from the rain obviously affected that shot.”
That setback made her even more relieved to get that crucial birdie on 18.
“I knew I needed to make birdie to get in the last group,” Lewis said. “It’s also nice just to see a putt go in.”
Former champions Karrie Webb of Australia and Natalie Gulbis of the United States are tied with Kim at 10-under.
“Amazingly it was my best round of the week, but probably not my best ball-striking day,” said Webb, the 2006 Evian winner, after making six birdies in her 5-under 67. “Today I made a couple of nice long ones.”
Gulbis, the 2007 champion, finished with a 68.
There seems more to come from the teenager, who qualified through the Rolex rankings.
Kim has won two pro tournaments this year, the Lotte Mart on the Korean KLPGA circuit and the Suntory Ladies on the Japanese JLPGA. She became the youngest ever winner on the JLPGA when she won the Suntory title, and won the Lotte Mart by a massive nine-shot margin.
Drizzle persisted throughout the morning, followed by a heavy downpour at lunchtime.
American Cristie Kerr matched Webb’s round and is only two shots behind the leaders at 9-under.
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda had the best round of the day with 66 to share seventh place with seven other players — including 2005 champion Paula Creamer of the United States and first-round leader Hee Young Park of South Korea.
But Ilhee Lee of South Korea, a shot behind Lewis overnight, had a triple bogey on hole 12 and three more bogeys to finish with 76 and drift four shots back from Lewis.