Breaking news: Nasa Hataoka made a bogey on Kingsmill’s River Course Saturday afternoon. It ended a streak of 108 consecutive holes with par or better.
But thanks to an eagle on the very next hole, Hataoka also shot a 6-under-par 65 to take a share of the lead after three rounds of the Pure Silk Championship. She and Bronte Law, who has been a co-leader all three days, will tee off together Sunday afternoon at 13 under par.
Hataoka (68-67-65—200), who has three wins in less than three years on the LPGA Tour, finally made bogey on No. 14. But she came back on 15, the final par-5, by chipping in from behind the green.
“I wasn't thinking about where I was going to get a bogey, or anything like that, so when it came, it came,” Hataoka, from Japan, said through an interpreter. “Then I just cleared it.”
Her veteran caddie, Greg Johnston from Virginia Beach, expected her to recover.
“She’s been hitting it really solid,” he said. “On that hole (14), it just got in the rough and caught a bad break in the bunker. It wasn’t really a pin you could get aggressive with, anyway.
“But, yeah, she’s hitting it good. She hasn’t mis-hit too many shots this week.”
Hataoka’s eagle on 15 gave her the outright lead, but playing three groups behind, Law (65-68-67—200) was on the move. With a birdie on 15, she went to 12 under. On the par-4 18th, she hit her second shot to within six feet of the cup.
Law made the putt to go 13 under.
“That was massive,” she said. “I was trying to make one more birdie coming in. I didn’t quite make one on 15 or 17, so I had my last shot on 18 to make that final pairing.
“Staying ahead is something I’ve been trying to go for each day. I hit the ball really well today.”
Unlike Hataoka, Law has never won on the Tour. In fact, she’s never been a leader, shared or outright, going into the final round.
The two will tee off at 2:40 p.m.
“I’m hoping to go out there and have a good time with her,” Law said. “Hopefully we can push each other and have some fun out there.”
American Jennifer Song and Canadian Brooke Henderson are tied for third at 12 under. Spain’s Carlota Ciganda is at 11 under, and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom is 10 under.
Jacqui Concolino, who was a 36-hole co-leader, dropped into a tie for 37th with a third-round 76.
With eight birdies and a bogey, Henderson had the low round of the day at 64. In line for her sixth top-10 finish this year, if not her second championship, she ended her round with a birdie on No. 18.
Maybe as important, Henderson got started with a birdie on No. 1. That was the same hole she quadruple-bogeyed to begin Friday’s second round, which is the only reason she isn’t the leader going into Sunday.
“I’ve played that hole a bunch, and I know I can give myself a bunch of birdie opportunities,” she said. “I just tried to forget about yesterday and remember all the good shots I’ve hit on that hole. I think I was a little more determined to birdie it and get a good start.”
Song, who had co-led the first two rounds, fell a shot back with a bogey on No. 12. She then made par on her next five holes before a birdie on 18.
“Making that birdie on the 18th hole and being in a position where I’m one back, it’s a great way to go into the final round,” Song said. “It’s obviously great to have that score.”
A surprising name in the top 10 is Katherine Perry, a Monday qualifier. With a goal of simply making the cut, she’s tied for eighth at 8 under after shooting a 66 Saturday.
With the LPGA reshuffling its priority list next week, Perry’s timing couldn’t be better. Currently, she is No. 367, which places her in the 18th category. Because she will make money this week, she will move up to 13th, improving her chances of making events.
“Making the cut was huge for me,” she said. “I’m really excited to see what I can do tomorrow. I haven’t been in this position before, so it’s really exciting to give it a shot and see what happens.”
Dave Johnson, 757-247-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org, @DaveJohnsonDP