KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum birdied seven of the first 10 holes Saturday and finished with a 6-under 65 to take a three-stroke lead in the LPGA Malaysia.
Phatlum, winless on the LPGA Tour, had a 14-under 199 total at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
“Well, the front nine was amazing. Like I make everything.” Phatlum said. “Back nine, I just feel a little bit nervous.”
She three-putted for bogey on No. 12 and also dropped a stroke on No. 16.
Japan’s Ayako Uehara was second after a 69.
South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu, the second-round leader, had double bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18 for a 72 to drop into a tie for third at 10 under with compatriot Chella Choi (68), China’s Shanshan Feng (69) and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (70).
“Today, the pin position was quite tough,” Ryu said. “Obviously, my game wasn’t really bad. Just last two hole weren’t really strong finish. Really bad finish. Still I have one more round for tomorrow.”
The 17-year-old Ko can take over the No. 1 ranking from Stacy Lewis if she wins and Lewis ties for 12th or worse. Lewis, the first-round leader after a 65, had a 72 to fall into a tie for 20th at 5 under. She had a double bogey at the par-3 seventh, where she also dropped a shot in the second round.
“I’m going to be aggressive in places I need to be.” Ko said. “I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well and stroking it well with the putter. All I got to do is give myself a lot of opportunities, and hopefully the balls will drop in the hole.”
Choi had a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 14th hole.
Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand had the best round of the day with a 64. She was five shots off the lead as she chases an LPGA Tour card for next season.
“If I win, it would mean a lot because I can get the card and I don’t have to go to final stage,” she said. “Just do my best tomorrow.”
Defending champion Lexi Thompson eagled the sixth hole and finished with a 69. She was 14 shots back.