Paradise Island, Bahamas (SportsNetwork.com) - Na Yeon Choi birdied three of her last four holes on Saturday to grab a 1-stroke lead entering the final round of the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.
Choi, a seven-time LPGA Tour winner, carded a 7-under-par 66 during her third round at Atlantis Resort's Ocean Club Golf Course to reach 15-under 204 for the event.
"I think the last three rounds I had a really good swing," she said. "I had so many solid shots out there. I missed two greens today. Only two, but I hit a putt from the fringe, so obviously I haven't chipped the last two rounds."
Lizette Salas, who is seeking her first win on the circuit, also shot 66 to move into second place at 14-under 205.
"I was working really hard during the offseason with my coach. Seeing results this quickly, I've been feeling really good about it," said Salas.
Overnight leader Jessica Korda and her playing partner Paula Creamer both eagled the par-5 18th to grab a share of third place at minus-12.
Korda shot 72, opening with birdies at Nos. 4 and 6 before tripping to consecutive bogeys from the seventh and later, a double-bogey at the 13th. The 20-year-old birdied the 14th, then dropped her second shot within two feet at the last, just inside of Creamer's ball, and tapped in for eagle.
Creamer was in the hunt for much of the third round, mixing an eagle, three birdies and a pair of bogeys over her first 14 holes before driving into the water at the 15th and stumbling to a triple-bogey. Like Korda, she converted her short eagle putt at the last for a 71.
World No. 3 Stacy Lewis, the highest-ranked player in the field, carded a 68 and jumped into a share of fifth at 11-under. She stands alongside Amelia Lewis (66) and Monday qualifier Jenny Suh (71).
"I actually like where I am and I like that I'm going to get out tomorrow a couple groups early and hopefully can make a couple putts early and then kind of put some pressure on the leaders," stated the world No. 3.
Michelle Wie shot 72 to grab a share of eighth place with five others at 10- under. The former prodigy is tied with current teenage star and first-round co-leader Lydia Ko (71), who is playing her first LPGA Tour event as a member. Ko, 16, won twice on the LPGA Tour as an amateur before turning pro in October and being granted tour membership shortly thereafter.
Choi and Salas both went bogey-free on Saturday.
Both players notched three birdies on the front nine, but Salas briefly jumped into sole possession of the lead when she birdied four of her first six holes after the turn. She cooled from there, however, closing with three straight pars just as Choi heated up.
Choi, ranked seventh in the world, birdied the 11th, parred three straight, then birdied two in a row from the 15th to reach 14-under. She parred No. 17, then birdied the last to grab the outright lead entering the final round.
NOTES: After Stacy Lewis, Ko is the next-highest ranked player in the field at world No. 4 ... Korda, 20, was the last player before Ko to successfully petition LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan for early membership ... Karine Icher recorded a hole-in-one at the par-3 fifth ... This marks the first time in 13 years that the LPGA Tour season kicked off in January ... Last year, this event was staged in May and was competed over three, 12-hole rounds after heavy rains soaked the course.