Naples, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Julieta Granada fired a 2-under 70 in Saturday's third round and she is in sole possession of first place heading into the final day of the CME Group Tour Championship.
Granada was alone atop the leaderboard after round one and she was joined in first by Carlota Ciganda at the conclusion of the second round. Granada finished 54 holes at 9-under-par 207.
"I thought I played pretty consistent today," Granada said. "I didn't get it up-and-down a couple greens that I missed, but overall I'm happy. Tomorrow is 18 holes so we'll see."
Morgan Pressel holed a big birdie putt on the last at Tiburon Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort to jump into a tie for second with Ciganda. Pressel carded a 70, while Ciganda shot a 71 and they are tied for second at 8-under 207.
Sandra Gal also fired a 2-under 70 and she is alone in fourth at minus-7. Lydia Ko, the 17-year-old Rookie of the Year, vaulted into a share of fifth at 6-under 210 after a 4-under 68 Saturday. Ko is tied with So Yeon Ryu (70).
U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie was up-and-down in her third round. She finished with an even-par 72, putting her in seventh place at 5-under 211 with Angela Stanford (67).
World No. 2 Stacy Lewis (70) is at 3-under 213. Lewis is currently projected to beat out Ko by just 50 points in the season-long Race to the CME Globe. Lewis, Ko and world No. 1 Inbee Park (73), who is at 2-over 218, can win the CME Globe and the $1 million prize with a straight up win.
On another windy day that also featured spots of rain throughout the third round, Granada held strong on the front nine and was able to maintain her lead.
Granada opened things up with a birdie at the first before rolling in six straight pars from No. 2. Granada then made her second gain of the day on the par-3 eighth, getting her to minus-8 for the week.
After making the turn with pars on nine and 10, Granada kept rolling with another birdie on No. 11, pushing her advantage to two shots. Granada gave one of those shots back, however, as she tripped to her first bogey on the par-4 13th.
Two holes later, Granada got back to minus-10 with a birdie on 15, but that did not last long as she dropped another shot with a bogey on No. 16. Still with a 1-shot lead, Granada closed with a pair of pars on 17 and 18 to keep her name atop the leaderboard.
"There's really not much thought going into anything so I'm just playing some golf," Granada said. "It feels really good actually so a lot of that tomorrow."
Pressel did not get off to a great start with a bogey on No. 1, but she stayed strong and showed a lot of resolve as she was flawless the rest of the way. Two holes later, Pressel got back to even par for the day with a birdie on No. 3.
Following a trio of pars, Pressel got into red numbers with a gain on No. 7. Ten straight pars from No. 8 separated birdies as Pressel ended her day by making a 10-foot birdie putt at the last.
Ciganda went bogey-free on Friday, but she started off with back-to-back bogeys on two and three Saturday. Ciganda responded nicely, however, with birdies on six and nine.
Making the turn at even par, Ciganda made her third gain on No. 12, but gave a shot back with another bogey on 15. Ciganda got back into second place with a birdie on 17 and she made a nice putt to save par at the last to end at minus-8.
Ko had a huge front nine with four birdies on one, four, six and seven to go along with a bogey on nine. A bogey on 12 was canceled out by a birdie on 14. Ko tripped to her third bogey on No. 16, but she finished on fire with back- to-back birdies on 17 and 18 to get her name in the mix.
"The more zeros the better I guess," Ko said about the possibility of winning the $1 million prize that comes with winning the Race to the CME Globe. "To me it was so exciting that I could turn pro, to spend so much time on the tour with the other girls. That was kind of the goal coming into this year and to kind of have this opportunity, you don't get that many opportunities like that so I'm going to enjoy the moment."
NOTES: Granada's lone win on the LPGA Tour came at the 2006 ADT Championship ... While Lewis, Ko and Park would win the CME Globe with a win, Wie, Ryu, defending champion Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, Chella Choi and Karrie Webb could also win it with a victory and some help ... Feng (71) is tied for 16th at 2-under 214.