Inbee Park’s 7-iron tee shot Saturday on the 168-yard 17th hole turned left on a perfect line at the back-left pin, landed softly and rolled to 21/2 feet for yet another birdie at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The 24-year-old South Korean player, three strokes ahead with a round to go in the first major championship of the year, admitted it wasn’t quite the way she planned it after watching playing partner Lizette Salas’ ball sail too far left and into a bunker.
“It was actually a little bit of a mis-shot,” Park said. “I aimed a little more right, but I slightly pulled it and it ended up perfect.”
Bogey-free in her last 22 holes at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Park shot her second straight 5-under 67 in tricky wind conditions to reach 12 under.
She’s in position for her second major title and second victory of the year. She won the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open and added her fourth LPGA Tour title in February in Thailand when Ariya Jutanugarn closed with a triple bogey to blow a two-stroke lead.
“This one would mean a lot,” Park said. “It’s just been a tournament I always wanted to win and, with the special ceremony jumping in the water, everybody just wants to do that.”
Salas, a stroke behind Park entering the round, had a 69 to remain second.
“I’ve just got to stay patient and just trust my putter and just keep it simple,” Salas said “I’m just going to stick to my game plan. I can’t control what she does. I can only control my swing thoughts and my routine.”
Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, the tournament winner in 2000 and 2006, was five strokes back at 6 under along with Suzann Pettersen (67), Angela Stanford (66), Jessica Korda (68), Karine Icher (68) and Pornanong Phatlum (70).
Top-ranked Stacy Lewis (71), the 2011 champion, was 1 under along with Michelle Wie (73).
HORSCHEL HOLDING ON
Billy Horschel held off an experienced leaderboard to shoot a 2-under 70 and take a two-shot lead entering the final round of the Texas Open in San Antonio.
Horschel, who also held the lead after the second round, battled through the gusting San Antonio wind to reach 10 under overall — two shots ahead of Jim Furyk and Charley Hoffman.
The Florida native was second at last week’s Houston Open and extended his PGA Tour-best streak of consecutive cuts made to 21 this week.
Rory McIlroy shot a 1-under 71 and is four shots back. McIlroy tied for the low round on Friday with a 67, but he was inconsistent off the tee on Saturday and had four birdies and three bogeys.
CHILEAN TOPS IN BRAZIL
Chile’s Benjamin Alvarado fired a 5-under 66 to take a three-shot lead at the Web.com Tour’s Brasil Open in Sau Paulo. Alvarado was at 17-under 196.
University Place’s Michael Putnam (1-over 72) was at 5 under. Brother Andrew Putnam (143) and former University of Washington golfer Alex Prugh (141) missed the cut.