BEDMINSTER, US: China’s Feng Shanshan birdied the last hole after 17 consecutive pars to seize a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s (Sunday in Manila) third round of the US Women’s Open with US President Donald Trump in attendance.
The 27-year-old Rio Olympic bronze medalist missed her only fairway of the day at the par-5 18th, sending her tee shot into the deep left rough.
But she blasted out into the fairway, dropped her approach three feet from the cup then sank the putt to conclude a one-under 71 third round.
That left Feng on nine-under 207 after 54 holes at Trump National, with Trump among those watching her in the third major championship of the LPGA season.
“I was trying so hard to make putts,” Feng said. “My putting was really working for the first two days. Today my speed was not as good. My Plan A wasn’t working so it was Plan B which is hit the ball closer to the hole.
“At 18. I hit it really close and finally made a birdie. Made my day.”
South Koreans held the next six spots on the leaderboard, with 17-year-old world amateur number two Choi Hye-Jin and Amy Yang sharing second on 208 after third-round 70s. Park Sung-Hyun was fourth on 210 with world number one Ryu So-Yeon, Lee Mi-Rim and Lee Jeong-Eun6 all on 211.
“I was just trying to focus on my own game, trying to focus on doing what I did the first two days,” Feng said, saying she shunned watching scoreboards as rivals charged and faded.
“I did feel a lot of pressure. But I was happy to see a lot of Chinese fans come out. They were speaking Chinese to me and rooting for me. I was sorry I could only get one birdie for them.”
Feng could become the first US Women’s Open wire-to-wire winner since American Hollis Stacy in 1977.
“If Plan A doesn’t work I’ll go to Plan B,” Feng said of her final round. “If Plan B isn’t working I’ll go to Plan C, which is just knock them in the hole.
“I’ve always got a plan. Lets see what plan is working tomorrow.”
Trump watched in a special glass-enclosed viewing area near the 15th green for the second consecutive day, welcomed by most spectators despite outrage sparked by his controversial remarks about women during his presidential campaign.