Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg birdied the final hole Saturday to complete a 2 under par round of 70 and build a three-shot lead entering the final round of the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Lindberg, in her ninth year on the LPGA Tour and ranked No. 95 in the Rolex World Rankings, is at 14-under as she seeks her first career victory as a professional. Lindberg is inside the top 10 after 54 holes of a major for the first time in her career, and she has done it in record-breaking fashion, besting the previous 54-hole event record of 13-under 203 shared by Amy Alcott (1988) and Dottie Pepper (’99).
The 72-hole record of 19-under 269 was also set by Pepper in 1999.
“I felt calm out there,” Lindberg told the Golf Channel. “I had fun. I went out there today and said, ‘how often do you get this chance?'” I’m just going to enjoy it, and that’s what I did.”
Lindberg will be paired in the final round Sunday on the Mission Hills course with Amy Olson, who shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday.
Olson was a 20-time winner at North Dakota State, but her best result on the LPGA Tour was 63rd at the 2015 Evian Championship. She will enter Sunday at 11-under, three shots back of Lindberg.
“I think the big thing is about perseverance,” said Olson. “It’s just finishing what you start, and never giving up. I think those are the things I take away mostly. Obviously it was a lot of fun to win 20 times on the collegiate level. And you have to learn to win on every level, so I’m excited to be in the position I’m in and give myself a learning opportunity.”
South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park shot an 8-under 64 on Friday, and the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion was leading at 15-under through 11 holes when she and Lindberg got put on the clock by a rules official. Clearly attempting to speed up her play, Park missed a short par putt on the 12th hole, bogeyed the 13th, double bogeyed the 15th when she needed two shots to get out of a green-side bunker and bogeyed the 16th to drop into a six-way tie for third place.
Lindberg played the back nine Saturday in 1-under, while Park played it in 5-over. Park’s 74 was the highest score of any player in the top 40 in the third round.
Others at 10-under include former No. 1-ranked player Inbee Park from South Korea, Jennifer Song, Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn and Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Charley Hull from England. Japan’s Ayako Uehara is another shot off the pace, while Jessica Korda and current No. 1 Shanshan Feng are tied at 8-under.
The round of the day was turned in by New Zealand’s Minjee Lee, who shot an 8-under 64 to vault from 1-over to a tie for 12th place at 7-under. No. 2 Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr are among a group of five players at 6-under.
They will all be chasing Lindberg, who holds her first career 54-hole lead on the LPGA Tour.
“You know, I’ve been on Tour long enough to still be in a lot of heated moments, and I just keep collecting experience each and every year out here,” Lindberg said. “I’ve played a lot of golf in my life, and I just feel like the pieces are kind of falling together. I’m just letting it happen, and as everyone watching today could see, my putter really saved me a few times. I’m going to try to keep that putter hot.”
–Field Level Media