CAMBRIDGE, Ontario – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday in the LPGA Manulife Classic, leaving her two strokes back in her bid to win three straight events for the second time this season.
The second-ranked Jutanugarn was chasing South Koreans Mi Hyang Lee and Hjo Joo Kim at Whistle Bear. Lee also had a 66 to top the leaderboard at 14-under 202, and Kim was a stroke back after a 68.
“I’m not really worried about like leader,” Jutanugarn said. “I feel like I want to be happy on the course, and tomorrow final day.”
Jutanugarn closed with a birdie to join Thailand’s P.K. Kongkraphan (69) at 12 under.
Using a driver in competition for the third straight day after shelving it for months, Jutanugarn had eight birdies and two bogeys. She has improved each day, following an opening 70 with a 68.
“I just missed like two tee shots and I had two bogeys,” Jutanugarn said.
After winning three straight events in May, the 20-year-old Thai player began the latest streak at the Women’s British Open. She rebounded from a knee injury that forced her to withdraw during the Rio Olympics to win the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open last week in Alberta for her fifth victory of the year.
Lee eagled the par-5 ninth and had six birdies and two bogeys. She won the 2014 Mizuno Classic in Japan for her lone tour title.
“I want to play my golf. That’s it,” Lee said. “I want to think my golf.”
Kim eagled the par-4 13th and had four birdies and two bogeys. She won the season-opening event in the Bahamas for her third LPGA Tour victory.
Australia’s Minjee Lee (66) and Germany’s Caroline Masson (68) were 11 under.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko had the round of the day, shooting a bogey-free 64 to move into a tie for seventh at 10 under. The 19-year-old New Zealander has four LPGA Tour victories this year.
“It’s a little calmer today than the past two days,” Ko said. “Especially around a course like this when the wind is calm, you know that there are going to be some low numbers out there.”
Marina Alex, the second-round leader after a 64, had a 73 to drop into a tie for 10th at 9 under.
Canadian star Brooke Henderson was tied for 29th at 6 under after a 69. The 18-year-old Henderson beat Ko in a playoff in June in the KPMG Women’s PGA for her first major title, and successfully defended her Portland Classic title in early July. She has attracted the biggest crowd at Whistle Bear.
“It’s really been so much fun to play in front of them,” Henderson said. “I just thank everybody for coming out.”