KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Defending champion Na-yeon Choi of South Korea posted a 3-under 68 on Saturday to maintain a two-shot lead after the rain-interrupted third round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.
Choi birdied the first hole before rain halted play for more than four hours. She finished with four birdies and a bogey on the 10th hole for a 13-under total of 200.
Fellow South Korean Park Inbee is two shots back after putting up the day’s best score of 65, while Karrie Webb of Australia is another two shots back after a 68.
Choi, who won the U.S. Women’s Open in July for her first major title, is trying to become the second player this season to defend a title. Yani Tseng of Taiwan won back-to-back titles at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.
“I think I had a pretty hard time today,” Choi said. “It was raining all day. That’s why I play so long. We wake up like 12 hours ago and that’s a pretty long day.
“I have to focus on my game, play my game, just play one shot at a time. I think that’s my goal tomorrow.”
Inbee also put together a strong performance at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club
“I think I played much better in the rain than hot. The front nine was a little bit disappointing but I just knew the birdies would come out. I just tried to trust myself,” Inbee said. “I think I still need a lot of birdies tomorrow to win. I’ll just go out there and play aggressive and try to get myself a lot of birdies.”
Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who produced a 7-under 64 on Friday, shot a 70 in the third round and is tied for fourth with Ai Miyazato of Japan at 8 under.
Pettersen was in contention and only a stroke behind Choi at the turn but her chances faded after a double bogey on the 15th and another bogey on the 16th.
No. 2-ranked Stacy Lewis of the United States is tied for 28th after posting a 73.
The tournament opens the tour’s four-event Asian swing. The HanaBank Championship is scheduled for next week in South Korea, followed by stops in Taiwan and Japan.