By Lynn Burke, email@example.com | 757-247-4961
7:58 PM EDT, May 4, 2013
WILLIAMSBURG — Cristie Kerr goes into Sunday's final round of the LPGA's Kingsmill Championship with a two-stroke lead. She is a two-time tournament champion here, the unofficial ambassador for the all things Kingsmill and, with her picture plastered at various locations around the resort, does anyone think she has the inside track on winning?
No — despite her 66 on Saturday that was the second-best round of the day.
"Two shots on this golf course can be gone in one swing," said Stacy Lewis, who is in second place, two strokes behind Kerr, who is at 10-under with her 203 score.
"I don't think that's a massive advantage right now," said Suzann Pettersen, the 2007 Kingsmill winner. "I mean we're all going to go out tomorrow trying to shoot as low as we can. It should take more than 10-under to win."
Said Kerr: "I've got to look at it like I'm two back tomorrow because that's when I play my best golf"
Behind Kerr, Lewis and Pettersen is Angela Stanford is 7-under, Ilhee Lee at 6-under and Lizette Salas and second-round leader Ariya Jutanugarn at 5-under. Salas' morning-round 65 was the best of the day and the only bogey-free round.
Inbee Park, the current No. 1 in the world rankings, is 4-under.
The winner of the tournament earns $195,000 of the $1.3 million purse.
Kerr, who won in 2005 and 2009, started Saturday two strokes behind 17-year-old Jutanugarn, then emerged from a front nine when eight players held or shared the lead.
"I've got to keep doing what I've done, you know, the last three days and that's really focus on the process of the shot," Kerr said. "I know it sounds kind of boring, but that's when I do my best. If I do that and I start rolling the rock, I'm going to be hard to beat."
Besides Jutanugarn, seven other players held or shared the lead on the front nine: So Yeon Ryu, Sandra Gal, Lee, Lewis, Stanford, Pettersen and Kerr.
Kerr, ranked 12th in the world, made the turn at 7-under. Pettersen, a group behind, was 8-under at the time and Lee, a group ahead, was 9-under.
The wheels fell off quickly for Lee, who bogeyed 10 and double bogeyed 12 and 13.
When Kerr birdied 10 and Pettersen bogeyed 9, Kerr took her first lead of the day at 8-under. Pettersen drew even with a birdie on 11. But Kerr birdied 13 and 15, while Pettersen finished with seven straight pars.
"Very steady round hitting a lot of good shots," said Pettersen, who was in a twosome with Lewis. "I played good golf, we both played good, gave ourselves a lot of chances."
Lewis, the top-ranked American at No. 2 in the world, parred holes 8 through 14, then birdies at 15 and 16 to reach 8-under.
"I started to get into a rhythm on the back nine. … So it was nice I hung in there and made a few birdies at the end, though, to keep myself in it for tomorrow," said Lewis.
Kerr's lead also means Jutanugarn can't be a wire-to-wire winner. The 17-year-old from Thailand led the first two rounds, but had troubles at the start Saturday. She bogeyed Nos. 1 and 2, had a birdie on 3, then another bogey on 4.
After that, she didn't factor into the leaderboard, finishing with a 2-over 73.
"I tried to trust my putting, but I still miss it a lot," Jutanugarn said.
Kerr is 18 holes away from her third Kingsmill championship, but she knows is facing some of the best players in the world in Lewis, Pettersen (No. 5), Stanford (No. 18) and Park (No. 1).
Still, she knows what lies ahead on Sunday.
"I have to focus on playing like I'm behind tomorrow and not protecting because I don't play well when I protect," she said. "You've got to run through the finish line and you've got to keep going because you can't win a tournament after three days."
Copyright © 2015, Newport News, Va., Daily Press