SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Top-ranked Yani Tseng shot her second straight 6-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead over Mindy Kim in the LPGA State Farm Classic
Tseng reached 17 under, birdieing all four of Panther Creek’s par 5s in her bogey-free round. She won the season-opening LPGA Thailand for her sixth tour title in four years.
Kim, the leader after the first two rounds, bogeyed the final hole for a 69.
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Playing a group apart, Kim and Tseng battled through most of the day, with Kim maintaining at least a share of the lead until her final hole.
“My goal is to have fun and make birdies,” Tseng said. “You’re not going to shoot even and then wait for another player to miss. You need to be aggressive. I can’t wait to go out there tomorrow and make a lot of birdies.”
In addition to dominating the par 5s, she added birdied the par-4 12th and par-3 17th in tough afternoon wind.
“I just tried to be patient and hit the fairway and green and make two putt,” she said. “I feel really good. It was great even though I miss a putt on 18. I tried my best.”
Kim struggled with her ball-striking.
“My ball wasn’t going so straight,” she said, “but my round turned into a good round.”
She had six birdies on the day, including three in a row to start the back nine, but she also had three bogeys. Still, she’s playing in the final group with a chance to win her first LPGA Tour title.
“I’m excited about Sunday,” she said. “I’m playing with the No. 1 player in the world. I’m very excited to be playing with her. Hopefully it will be a good day.”
Brittany Lincicome, coming off a victory Sunday in New Jersey, shot a 66 to join Shanshan Feng (69) at 14 under. Defending champion Cristie Kerr (66) was another stroke back at 13 under.
Lincicome birdied five of the first eight holes.
“I was happy to be 3 under though four holes. I wanted to stop then,” she said. “I’d have taken 69.”
Kerr missed a 3-foot putt on No. 9, then birdied four of the next five holes en route to a back-nine 31.
“I got pretty mad that I three-putted,” she said. “I hit a perfect 5-iron into the green and just kind of hit (the par putt) a little thin and right. That putt kind of got me going. I started hitting it better.”