Shanshan Feng holds a one-stroke lead at the Blue Bay LPGA tournament in Hainan, China. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Shanshan Feng shot a 1-over 73 in the swirling winds on Friday to take a one-shot lead after the third round of the Blue Bay LPGA tournament in Hainan, China.
The 28-year-old from China made three birdies and four bogeys to finish at 7-under 209 overall heading into Saturday's final round at the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club.
Feng captured last week's TOTO Japan Classic and seeks to become the first back-to-back winner of the 2017 season.
"Overall, I'm happy with my performance today," Feng said. "Given that today was actually very, very windy, I really held up ground, especially with my approach shots to the greens. Obviously I made a lot of mistakes, and I had a lot of recovery shots as well. But overall, I'm happy with the past three days' performance."
Feng bogeyed two of her last three holes but still holds a one-shot lead over Moriya Jutanugarn, who is looking for her first LPGA Tour victory.
Feng, who looks for her third win of the 2017 LPGA Tour season, can move to No. 1 on the Rolex Rankings depending on where current No. 1 Sung Hyun Park finishes.
If Feng wins and Park finishes in a tie for third with two other players or worse, then Feng is projected to move to No. 1. But if Feng finishes second or worse with Park in a tie for fourth with two others or worse, So Yeon Ryu is projected to jump back to No. 1.
"I think this is something. ... I really don't want to think about because this is something that could happen after the conclusion (of the tournament)," Feng said of her chance at getting to world No. 1. "All I can do is to do my best, play shot by shot and be focused and be concentrated. It's going to be a joy tomorrow."
Jutanugarn, from Thailand with 10 top-10 finishes this season, shot a 68 in the third round, which tied four other golfers for the round of the day. She managed to make seven birdies, including on three of her last five holes.
"It's been pretty solid so far this week," Jutanugarn said. "It just helps to be patient a lot on this golf course. Some lucky bounce and just ... it's golf. I'm really enjoying this week so far."
Second-round leader Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa struggled with a 76 and was in third place at 5 under.
"It was quite a frustrating day," Buhai said. "I felt like I actually hit a lot of shots like I wanted to, but the conditions just got really tough, especially on the back nine. The greens firmed up a lot. I know I didn't hit bad shots, so I can't be too disappointed. Just going to keep doing what I was doing."
Na Yeon Choi (68), looking for her first win on the LPGA Tour since 2015, and fellow South Korean Park (68) sit a shot further back at 4 under.
Park, who at the beginning of the week became the first rookie in the LPGA Tour's history to ascend to No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, is looking for her third win of the year.
A trio of golfers are at 3 under, including Americans Jessica Korda (70) and Lizette Salas (73). Korda is looking for her first top-10 finish since April, while Salas is riding a hot streak during the Asian Swing, where she has top-10s in three of her last four tournaments.
American Michelle Wie shot a 68 to match the low score of the day. She is tied for 17th at 1 over.
Saturday will mark the final round of the 2017 LPGA Tour season for many, as only the top 72 and ties on the Race to the CME Globe standings get to play next week at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla.