PHOENIX — Jiyai Shin moved into position for her second LPGA Tour victory of the year and fifth in eight months, shooting a 6-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead after the third round of the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International
The 20-year-old Shin — hailed as “The Final-Round Queen” in South Korea — had a 10-under 206 total on the Papago Golf Course. After winning three LPGA Tour titles last year, including the Women’s British Open, she won the HSBC Women’s Champions this month in Singapore for her first victory as a tour member.
“I made a few mistakes on my drives, but my putting and my iron shots were very good,” said Shin, who joked that her iron play was so good Saturday that her caddie told her she didn’t need him.
Im-Kyung Kim, another South Korean, who led after the first two rounds, still was in front by two strokes after 10 holes in the third round, but a bogey at 11 and a double bogey at 12 led to a 71 and dropped her into a second-place tie with Karrie Webb (69) at 9 under. Suzann Pettersen (70) was 8 under.
Two-time defending champion Lorena Ochoa had her first sub-par round, a 70 that left her 2 under, but was upset with herself and the course.
“I feel like I haven’t played too bad, but the score hasn’t shown anything,” Ochoa said. “It’s very disappointing.
“I’m frustrated because I feel I didn’t take advantage of the par 5s. It’s weird. In the middle of the fairway, next to the green, I don’t feel comfortable.”
Ochoa also said that the sand felt “heavy.” And “it seems like there is a lot of sand under it,” she added.
It will take a near-miracle Sunday for her to win the title for a third consecutive title.
“Maybe tomorrow (Sunday) I won’t hit any bunkers and I’ll make putts,” she said.
Michelle Wie, who barely made the cut Friday, struggled again, shooting a 74, her third straight round over par. Her 7-over par score was in sharp contrast to her only other tournament this year, when she finished second at 7 under in the SBS Open at Turtle Bay in February.
Webb, winner of seven majors, is seeking her first victory in two years. With her experience and success, she can be intimidating on the course, especially against some of her younger opponents.
But she said that when she was winning so many tournaments, she became a little complacent. Now, she has regained her drive and desire.
“It will be very important to win,” Webb said. “If I can pull it off tomorrow (Sunday), it would give me a big boost for the year. The problem now is I want it too badly. Before, I probably took it for granted and thought I was going to win.”
When she stopped winning, she “pressed and got down on myself,” Webb said.
Kim earned her first LPGA victory at the Longs Drugs Challenge in 2008, a performance that she said has eased the pressure when she’s at or near the top of the leader board.
“I need to have patience,” Kim said. “I had some frustration on some putts today. I need to be more flexible on those putts.
“But I finished strong (with a birdie on 18).”
Pettersen admitted she made one bad mistake, when she bogeyed the 12th. However, an eagle at the 544-yard 10th helped save her round.
The event lost its sponsor and home course after the 2008 tournament. The LPGA saved it, and moved it from Superstition Mountain Golf Club in Gold Canyon to Phoenix. Crews had only six weeks to get the municipal course in shape for this event.
The tournament is the final tuneup for next week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship at Rancho Mirage, Calif., the first major of the season.