OTSU, JAPAN (AFP) – Momoko Ueda maintained her one-shot lead yesterday heading into the final day of the LPGA Japan Classic, as new world number one Atthaya Thitikul’s challenge faded.
Japanese veteran Ueda – ranked 85th in the world – carded a 68 to move to 14-under and keep her nose in front of Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh at Seta Golf Course in western Shiga Prefecture.
Thai teenager Atthaya, who started the day four shots off the lead, hit three bogeys and two birdies to drop back to five-under, nine shots adrift of Ueda.
Atthaya is playing her first tournament since becoming the second-youngest world number one in women’s golf history this week, following a stunning debut year on the LPGA Tour.
Ueda hit seven birdies and three bogeys and kept her cool despite a furious charge up the leaderboard from Dryburgh.
“I tried to stay calm today even though I made a bogey, and tried not to regret it during the round,” said the 36-year-old Ueda.
“I will try to be as steady as possible tomorrow – not too aggressive, not too conservative.”
Dryburgh, who is ranked 199th in the world, reeled off four birdies in a row and eight overall to go with her one bogey.
The 29-year-old said that “everything was working pretty well” for her as she looks to hunt down Ueda on the final day.
“Obviously the aim is to win, but anything that happens, just go with the flow,” she said.
“Just do my best and see where it ends up.”
Dryburgh was one shot in front of Japan’s Miyu Yamashita, who had a two-shot cushion ahead of Japanese trio Yuna Nishimura, Saiki Fujita and Sakura Koiwai, and Sweden’s Linn Grant and South Korea’s Lee Jeon-geun.
Grant said she was spurred on by tension.