Stacy Lewis takes 3rd round lead in Navistar LPGA Classic
Stacy Lewis is No. 3 in the world — and No. 1 in Alabama.
Lewis shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead over Angela Stanford in the Navistar LPGA Classic, while second-round leader Lexi Thompson fell five shots behind.
Lewis is trying to complete an Alabama sweep after beating Thompson by a stroke in the Mobile Bay LPA Classic in late April. The former Arkansas star also won the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June in New Jersey.
Lewis birdied four of the first five holes in her bogey-free round and had a 15-under 201 total on The Senator course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Capitol Hill complex.
"I think going into today I knew I needed to make birdies just the way the scores had been all day, and you don't know if you're ever going to start off like that," Lewis said. "You can kind of hit it good warming up, but you never really know what you're going to take to the course."
She worked overtime on her putting Friday after a second-round 70.
"I wasn't happy with the way I played the back nine yesterday," Lewis said. "Putts weren't going in. They were going to the edge and not going in, so I worked on some basics yesterday."
It worked Saturday, with Lewis making birdie putts of 18 feet on No. 1, 6 feet on No. 2, 3 feet on No. 4 and 2 feet on No. 5. She missed making it five in a row when she barely missed a 10-footer on No. 3.
"I think coming back out and getting birdies on the first two holes really gave me some momentum and confidence," she said.
Lewis made another birdie on No. 9 to make the turn at 5-under 31, then made another birdie on No. 11. She sank a 20-footer for her final birdie on No. 16.
The 17-year-old Thompson had a 74 to drop into a tie for sixth at 10 under. Thompson won the event last year at 16 to become the youngest champion in LPGA Tour history, a mark broken last month by 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko in the Canadian Women's Open.
Thompson opened with a career-best 63 on Thursday to match the tournament record, and followed with a 69 on Friday. She made a double bogey on the par-4 12th Saturday, and offset two birdies with two bogeys.
"I just struggled a little bit," Thompson said. "I'm definitely not out of it. I shot 63 the first day, so if I have a round like that, I can be in contention. I'm just going to go out and free swing and try to make birdies. Hopefully, a few more putts drop."
Hamilton's Alena Sharp shot a 73 and sits tied for 21st at 7 under. Charlottetown's Lorie Kane (76) is 5 under in a tie for 33rd, while Samantha Richdale (74) of Kelowna, B.C., is tied for 66th at 1 over.
Stanford shot a 68. She won the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore in February.
"To win early in the year and late in the year would be pretty big, because I think it's such a long year that there's so many ups and downs," Stanford said. "It would be nice to have another."
Lizette Salas with third at 12 under after a 70, and Haeji Kang and Mi Jung Hur followed at 11 under. Kang shot a 67, and Hur had a 72.
"Tomorrow, nothing changes," Salas said. "Game plan is to stay patient and just play with confidence. I think that's the main thing for me. Just keep it keep rolling the rock, that's what I've been told this whole week, and just to stay positive."
Sarah Jane Smith and Hee Young Park joined Thompson at 10 under. Smith had a 68, and Park shot 72.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng was 5 under after a 70.