(Reuters) – Swede Pernilla Lindberg powered three shots clear at the ANA Inspiration on Saturday while South Korea’s Park Sung-hyun suffered a shocking back nine collapse in the third round of the first women’s major of the year.
The round began at sunny Rancho Mirage, California with Lindberg, who has never won an LPGA event, and U.S. Women’s Open champion Park sharing the lead three shots clear but ended with the rock steady Swede carding a two-under 70 for a 54-hole record total of 14-under.
American Amy Olson carded a four-under 68 to jump into solo second and the final pairing on Sunday, while Park fell back into a pack of six golfers, including compatriot Park Inbee, at 10-under and four off the pace.
“I felt comfortable out there,” said Lindberg, who has never held the 54-hole lead or won a tournament on any professional tour. “I’ve played a lot of golf in my life and I kind of feel like the pieces are coming together and just letting it happen.”
After storming through the turn with three straight birdies on nine, 10 and 11, Park looked poised to run away with it, surging to a two-shot lead, but instead an ugly back nine saw her stumble to a two-over 74.
Park had carded just two bogeys through the opening two rounds but had collected three more through 13 holes on Saturday.
But worse was to come for the Korean as she suffered a double bogey at the par four 15th and dropped another shot at 16 to fall further behind the leader.
Lindberg got her day off to the best possible start with a birdie on her opening hole but the Swede was unable to build any momentum, taking a bogey at five before getting the shot back at eight.
While Park was floundering, the Swede kept her cool on the back nine, mixing a birdie with a bogey before hitting a pinpoint approach at 18 that left her with a three-foot birdie putt, which she drained to pad her lead.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)