Chicago (AFP) – Lee-Anne Pace and Anna Nordqvist shot almost identical bogey-free 64s on Saturday to share the 54-hole lead at the LPGA Tour’s Meijer Classic.
South Africa’s Pace and Nordqvist, of Sweden, started the third round with four birdies in the first five holes then closed with birdies on 18. Pace did one better on the final hole as her birdie came from off the green to finish as the co-leader at 18-under 198.
Nordqvist, 31, will go for her ninth career win on Sunday at the Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while Pace is aiming for her second career victory.
“I love this golf course, it reminds me a lot of home, I feel so comfortable on the course,” said Pace, who was born in Paarl, 65 kilometres (40 miles) northeast of Cape Town.
“I’m hitting my irons really well. I’ve been striking the ball really well. I changed clubs earlier in the year and I’m feeling well.”
Second round leader Ryu So-yeon of South Korea is just two shots back and alone in third after shooting a three-under 69
Pace and Nordqvist finished with eight birdies each, by going toe-to-toe on the back nine.
The 37-year-old Pace’s only other victory on the US Tour was four years ago at the Blue Bay tournament. She has a half dozen career top 10 finishes on her resume.
She is primed for by far her best result of the season, which is currently tied for 39th at the Kia Classic.
Nordqvist earned her seventh birdie of the round on the par-five 16th to take the outright lead. On 18, she rolled in a 20-foot putt and celebrated with a fist pump.
“It feels good playing good golf, it has been a couple solid days here,” said Nordqvist. “When you struggle this year and you know what bad golf feels like, I’m just happy to feel more like myself and hitting better shots.”
Nordqvist has made just one bogey through the first three rounds and hit all 18 greens in regulation on Saturday. Pace has made just a trio of bogeys all week.
“I’ve been in the position before, but I’m just happy to be playing good golf,” said Nordqvist.
“I feel like a veteran a little bit, but right now I’m just trying to keep learning, keep getting better every day, and it’s been a little bit of a process this year, but pretty happy with how far I have come so far.”
Ryu finished birdie-birdie-birdie to move into third place at 16-under while Caroline Masson and Angela Stanford are in a tie for fourth at 15-under.