New Zealand teen Lydia Ko and American Stacy Lewis battled for a $US1 million season bonus on Saturday but Paraguay’s Julieta Granada was the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship leader going into the final round.
Granada fired a two-under-par 70 in the third round at Tiburon Golf Club in Florida to stand on nine under and one stroke ahead of Spain’s Carlotta Ciganda and American Morgan Pressel with German Sandra Gal at seven under.
But the season points title and the $US1 million ($A1.08 million) bonus prize – twice the event’s top prize – appeared set to come down to 17-year-old Seoul-born Kiwi Ko and second-ranked Lewis, points leaders who could clinch the crown by winning the tournament.
“I’m going to try and not think about everything,” Ko said.
“Tomorrow is a whole new day. Hopefully I can have a good round like I did today.”
Ko fired a round of four under to share fifth with South Korean Ryu So-Yeon, one stroke ahead of Americans Angela Stanford and Michelle Wie, the reigning US Women’s Open champion who is among those needing a victory and stumbles by Ko and Lewis to take the bonus prize.
“It could have gotten away from me but I’m proud I was able to stay in it,” Wie said after a 72 Saturday.
Lewis fired a two under to stand at three under, sharing 10th spot and clingomg to a slight edge on Ko in the points race.
Such riches were not Ko’s top goal when she was granted special permission to join the LPGA this year, ahead of the 18-year age minimum.
“The more zeroes the better I guess. I didn’t really think about it,” said Ko, twice a winner on tour this year.
Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith started the day two shots off the lead and tied fourth but a round of four-over-par has resulted in her slumping to one-under-par and eight shots off the pace.