Kerr heads to final round at Kingsmill with two-shot lead

Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

JAMES CITY, Va. -- Success is no stranger to Cristie Kerr. Neither is winning after sleeping on a third-round lead.
While Kerr has 15 LPGA Tour victories to her credit, she has no interest in viewing herself as the front-runner. The 35-year-old has more moving to do.
Kerr shot a 5-under-par 66 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the Kingsmill Championship on the River Course at Kingsmill Resort.
Fellow American Stacy Lewis carded a 68 and is tied for second with Suzann Pettersen of Norway. Angela Stanford is alone in fourth at 7 under.
"I've always loved it here," said Kerr, the only two-time champion in the eight-year history of the event. "I played a great round today."
The 2005 and 2009 champion at the River Course started the day two strokes behind first- and second-round leader Ariya Jutanugarn, a 17-year-old from Thailand who entered on a sponsor's exemption. Kerr rolled in six birdies, three on each side and all coming after a bogey on the second hole.
"Saturday is definitely moving day, but I got to look at it like I'm two back tomorrow," Kerr said. "That's when I play my best golf. I'm looking at tomorrow as moving day as well because if you're not moving, somebody else is gonna."
That someone could be either of the two accomplished golfers sitting right behind her.
Lewis, the top-ranked American and No. 2 in the world, described her round as "pretty boring and pretty frustrating," but she moved back into the mix with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16.
"It was nice I hung in there and made a few birdies at the end to keep myself in it for (Sunday)," said Lewis, already a winner twice on tour this season. "I know that my best round is still out there and I think that's what encouraging going into tomorrow."
Pettersen won this event in 2007. The top three players each have at least one major championship victory on their resume.
If Kerr tacks on a third title at Kingsmill, her putter will have been the reason. It's the same putter she used to dominate the 2010 LPGA Championship and claim her second major title. That season, Kerr emerged as No. 1 in the world on three separate occasions, but she has since slipped to No. 12 in the rankings.
"Yeah, I love this putter, I've always loved this putter," Kerr said. "Hard not to love a putter that you won a major by 12 shots with, so it deserves another shot and it's going to get it."
Jutanugarn, the current leader on the Ladies European Tour money list, finished her round with a 73 after bogeys on three of her first four holes and six in all.
She shot a first-round 64 and dominated the front nine on Thursday and Friday but opened Saturday with a wayward drive on the first hole, leading to a bogey. She also dropped a stroke on the second and fourth holes.
"I (was) never nervous with my game today," Jutanugarn said. "Just have bad for putting and just miss my driver on first hole, that's it."
Ilhee Lee's third straight 69 left her four shots back in fifth, though her day was hardly formulaic. The South Korean's wild round included an eagle, five birdies and consecutive double bogeys.
Inbee Park of South Korea, ranked No. 1 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings and a three-time winner this season, shot 69 and is tied for eighth.
Lizette Salas turned in the day's low score with a 65, jumping from 40th overnight to a tie for sixth with Jutanugarn.
Overcast morning conditions gave way to sunny skies once the final groups hit the course, but chilly temperatures remained throughout, as did swirling winds.
With Jutanugarm dropping back, several players took turns atop the leaderboard.
Lee initially emerged from the pack with a 30-foot eagle putt on the seventh hole and started the back nine with a two-stroke lead.
Four holes later, her lead vanished after back-to-back double bogeys on 12 and 13, although Lee carded birdies on the next two holes.
Kerr, who last won at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November, led almost exclusively from there.
Briefly joined by Pettersen at 8 under, Kerr jumped ahead for good with a birdie on 13. She extended her lead with a birdie on the par-5 15th.
Now Kerr needs another strong round for a sweet 16th tour win. Those in the hunt make that goal far from a certainty.
Asked if the current leaderboard gives the final round a major-type feeling, Kerr said, "Absolutely. There's definitely no chickens to be counted."
NOTES: Park, coming off a victory in the North Texas Shootout, bounced back from a 1-over-par 72 in the second round. She carded a bogey on the first hole but played the last 17 holes in a bogey-free 3 under. She will start the final round six strokes behind Kerr, ... Playing in her first event as a member of the LPGA Tour, 23-year-old American Katie Burnett has posted rounds of 68-70-71 and is tied for eighth with Park.

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