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Yang seizes two-stroke lead at Women’s PGA Championship

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – South Korea’s Amy Yang, chasing her first major title, grinded out a one-under par 71 to grab a two-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the Women’s PGA Championship.

Yang, who has 21 career top-10 major finishes without a victory, stood on seven-under 209 after 54 holes at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington.

Asked about her round, Yang said, “Just how much patience I need out there and how disciplined I have to be with my decisions – I think I did really well.”

Yang, 34, answered both bogeys on Saturday with birdies on the next hole. The two-time US Open runner-up won her fifth and most recent LPGA title at the 2023 Tour Championship.

“All I can do is the best I can do for the day,” Yang said of the final-round pressure to finally win a major.

“It was tough out there but I did really well and I’m planning to do the same thing again tomorrow.”

Japan’s 22-year-old Miyu Yamashita, who 11 wins on the LPGA Japan Tour, fired a 70 to share second on 211 with Lauren Hartlage. World number 272 Hartlage, a 26-year-old American who has never managed a top-five LPGA finish, shot a bogey-free 69.

World number 25 Yang sank a birdie putt from just beyond eight feet at the ninth to take a one-stroke lead over Schmelzel at the turn.

Yang reached the green in two at the par-five 11th and made a birdie putt from just inside five feet to reach seven-under and when Schmelzel missed a nine-foot par putt at 12, Yang’s had a three-shot lead.

Japan’s Miyu Yamashita sank a 19-foot birdie putt at the 14th and American Lauren Hartlage birdied 16 to each pull within two of the lead.

Yang found left rough off the 16th tee and was short of the green on her approach, then missed a downhill seven-foot par putt to see her lead trimmed to one stroke.

But Yang answered at the par-three 17th with a 37-foot birdie putt that restored her two-stroke edge and she parred the last, missing a birdie putt from just inside six feet.

Schmelzel and Yang shared the lead on six-under when the day began and both opened with four pars before Schmelzel’s three-putt bogey at the fifth briefly left Yang alone at the top.

Schmelzel answered with a three-foot birdie putt at the par-five sixth to regain a share of the lead.

Schmelzel took a three-putt bogey at seven and Yang made bogey at eight, ending her run of 30 consecutive bogey-less holes.

South Korea’s Amy Yang. PHOTO: AFP