Stacy Lewis birdied five of the last seven holes for her second straight 5-under 67 and a two-stroke lead over friend Brittany Lincicome on Saturday after the third round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
Lewis, the Kraft Nabisco Championship winner last year, had a 14-under 202 total.
The long-hitting Lincicome, a two-time winner last season, also shot a 67.
"It's going to be very exciting," said Lincicome, the 2010 runner-up. "It's fun to play with a friend because it kind of relaxes you a little. So going into it, we'll still be chit-chatting like we always do and just play as if it were just a practice round on Tuesday and not hopefully be overly stressed ... and just go out there and have a good time."
Lewis had two bogeys on the front nine to fall behind Lincicome before making a late charge for the second straight day. The former Arkansas star had four birdies on the final six holes Friday, though she also closed with a bogey.
Her third-round run started with a fairway bunker shot to 8 feet on No. 12.
"Something clicked," she said. "Everything just seemed to slow down. My caddie told me I just seemed to relax more. I just had a lot of fun coming in."
Now, she gets a chance "just to kind of prove to people that the major meant something."
Lewis said she didn't check the leaderboard after the 13th hole, when she was still two strokes behind Lincicome.
"You kind of get in a zone where shots are good and they're going where you want them to go and the putts go in," she said.
Lincicome stayed in her zone by playing Sudoku during waits on the course, "just to take my mind off playing golf." Sun Young Yoo's caddie, Adam Woodward, helped her finish a puzzle she started in Hawaii at the last tournament.
Karine Icher was third at 11 under after a 68. Yoo, the Kraft Nabisco winner this month, and Lindsey Wright shot 69 to reach 10 under.
Icher, seeking her first LPGA Tour win, followed a birdie by holing a wedge shot for eagle on No. 13.
"It gave me good energy, and it was just after a birdie, so it was a nice couple of holes," said Icher, whose daughter, Lola, was born in August.
Six players, including 17-year-old Lexi Thompson, Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and Natalie Gulbis, were 9 under on The Crossings course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Magnolia Grove complex.
Webb shot a 64 to match the tournament record, Thompson had a 66, and Gulbis a 68.
Thompson teed off at No. 10 and bogeyed on her second hole. She birdied three of the next five and capped the round with four birdies on the final seven holes, including the par-3 eighth.
She shared the lead going into the finale last year, but closed with a 78 to finish 19th. Thompson built a much better memory in the state a few months later when her victory at the Navistar Classic at another RTJ course made her the LPGA Tour's youngest winner.
"The way I played last year will help me out with this year," she said. "Just go out and just free swing and take everything really slow, do my routine on every shot and just focus on that."
Thompson is hoping her success this week draws attention to another endeavor: Her "Take me to the prom?" contest on Facebook for young men serving in the U.S. military.
Her date in Fort Lauderdale will be chosen partly by online voting (25 percent) and mostly by lady's choice (75 percent). She's already practicing her diplomatic letdown for the ones who don't make the cut.
"There's not really a leaderboard," said Thompson, who had 60 candidates when her round ended. "Everybody that signs in or is entered is a great person and very special, so nobody's ahead of anybody."