Creamer, Recari retain Marathon Classic lead

Paula Creamer and Beatriz Recari carded matching 4-under 67s on Saturday to stay on top through three rounds of the Marathon Classic.

Playing together in the final group, Creamer led for much of the third round before Recari closed with back-to-back birdies to pull even at 12-under-par 201 through 54 holes.

"This is what I want," said Creamer, who is seeking her 10th career LPGA Tour victory and first since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open. "I've never made a secret of how much I like to win and be in contention. But at the same time, I haven't given myself this opportunity too many times. So it's here, and we'll see how I can handle it tomorrow"

Lexi Thompson shot 67 and moved into a tie for third place at 9-under 204. She sits alongside LPGA Tour rookie Chie Arimura (68) and Jacqui Concolino (69) at Highland Meadows Golf Club.

Chella Choi (66), Jennifer Johnson (66) and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (68) share sixth at 8-under, one shot ahead of Hee Young Park (67) and Mo Martin (68).

Alison Walshe shared the overnight lead with Creamer and Recari, but she tripped to a 73 and dropped into a tie for 11th place at minus-6. Defending champion So Yeon Ryu (70) and 16-year-old amateur standout Lydia Ko (71) are also 6-under.

World No. 1 Inbee Park, who has won six LPGA Tour events and all three majors this season, is tied for 23rd at 4-under after a third-round 73.

"I just putted really bad today," said Park. "Inside of that everything else was really similar, but nothing seems to be going. I gave myself eight birdie chances out of nine holes on the back nine and nothing went in. So just a bad putting day, nothing else."

Recari, a winner at the Kia Classic in March, opened with a birdie to briefly snare the outright lead before Creamer pulled even with a birdie at the fourth and moved ahead courtesy of a 15-foot birdie putt at the ninth.

The duo matched birdies at both the 13th and 17th, with Creamer holing out from the fringe there to maintain a 1-stroke advantage.

"I played with her today, and she's a real fighter and a great competitor, so it's not a surprise to see that chip-in for birdie on 17," Recari said of Creamer. "I know that she's always going to give herself good chances and she played great."

At the par-5 last, Creamer landed her approach on the front of the green and executed a long 2-putt for par, while Recari capitalized, draining a straightaway, 6-foot birdie putt to pull even entering the final round.

"I had a great day too," said Recari. "I started with a birdie which is great to start your round with, and then I hit my irons really well and gave myself chances all the time. I had some putts that just went by the hole. But I stayed patient, and it was really good to get that birdie there on 17 and 18."

NOTES: Creamer won this Toledo-based event in 2008 ... This is the first time Creamer has held a third-round lead since the 2012 Kingsmill Championship ... Recari is a two-time LPGA Tour winner ... Creamer is currently ranked 14th in the world, while Recari is No. 26.