Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (SportsNetwork.com) - Lexi Thompson fired a 5-under- par 66 on Saturday to grab a 3-stroke lead entering the final round of the LPGA Malaysia.
Thompson, who is seeking her second LPGA Tour win and first since the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic, sits at 17-under-par 196 through 54 holes on Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club's East Course.
"The last few events have actually been a lot better with my putting," said Thompson. "I went back to my old-style of putting and just went to how I was putting when I was really little. Hitting them a little firmer and staying a little farther away. So I'm feeling really confident with my putter, and mainly that is what putting is all about. It's just getting over the putter and saying you're going to make it."
Ilhee Lee held a 1-stroke lead through each of the first two rounds, but she carded a 1-under 70 on Saturday and dropped into second place at 14-under-par 199.
World No. 2 Suzann Pettersen shot 4-under 67 to move into a share of third place alongside last week's Reignwood LPGA Classic winner Shanshan Feng (70) at 11-under 202.
Anna Nordqvist tallied the low round of the day, a 65, and moved into a tie for fifth place with Karine Icher (68) at minus-9.
I.K. Kim (72), Pornanong Phatlum (68), So Yeon Ryu (70) and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (69) share seventh at 8-under.
Defending champion and world No. 1 Inbee Park, a six-time winner this season, is tied for 28th place at 3-under 210.
Thompson began the third round one shot behind Lee, but found herself tied with the overnight leader when Lee bogeyed the par-4 second and dropped to 12- under. After both players parred then next, lightning promptly cleared the course, and Thompson wasted little time taking the lead when play resumed nearly an hour later.
Thompson jumped on top at minus-13 with a birdie at the par-4 14th, matched Lee's birdie at the sixth to stay ahead by one, then doubled her advantage with another birdie at the par-3 seventh.
The margin continued to swell, as Lee again dropped to minus-12 with a bogey at the ninth and Thompson birdied the 10th to reach 16-under.
Lee bounced back with a birdie at the 12th, but Thompson rolled home a 12- footer for birdie at the next hole to quickly re-establish her 4-stroke lead
At the last, Lee dropped in a short birdie putt to get within three strokes entering the final round.
"I think this game is all about momentum," stated Thompson. "Once you make a few birdies you feel good and just try to keep that going. But I'm just trying to focus on my game, not the other players I'm playing with. Ilhee and Shanshan are great players, so I had a really fun day today. Like I said, just focusing on my own game. That's all I can do. Just trying to make birdies when I can and pars on the holes that have difficult pin locations."
NOTES: Thompson has five top-10 finishes this season ... Lee earned her first career victory at the weather-shortened Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic in May ... Of Park's six wins this season, three came in major championships ... World No. 3 Stacy Lewis is tied for 13th place at 6-under-par 207 ... This is the second of five consecutive events in Asia for the LPGA Tour. There is no cut at this tournament.