Morgan Pressel of the United States advanced to the top of the leader board on moving day at the Evian Masters presented by Société Générale with a five under par round of 67 in fine conditions.
After a busy third round which saw eight different players either lead outright or tie for the lead, Pressel finished at 11 under par, two strokes ahead of South Koreans Jeong Jang and Jiyai Shin.
The world No.4, Shin, had a 68 while Jang shot 70 to move to nine under par. Shin was the world number one for seven weeks after Lorena Ochoa retired earlier this season and could regain the top spot with a victory at Evian.
Pressel, who has two official victories on the LPGA Tour, including the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship, shared a three-way tie for the lead after her opening 66 but slipped back into a share of fourth after a round of 72 on a stormy second day.
She rebuilt her lead with four birdies, a bogey and a final-hole eagle at the Evian Masters Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, France, on Saturday.
She said: “I got off to a good start: birdied the first hole; made a little bit of a mess on three, more of a mental error than anything. I just shouldn’t have hit driver off the tee and made bogey. I mean, I had chances. I had chances on five, six, seven, I made birdie. Chances on eight and nine, ten was a short chance that I missed. On 11 I had a great up and down: that was probably the best hole of the day. That was only the second green that I missed and got up and down from a short to a back left tough pin. And then 12, I was I kicking myself because I missed another short birdie putt. And 13 and 14, managed to roll a couple in. I mean, I hit it good. I was close and had a lot of chances. 18 was a nice cap there.”
Pressel’s best finish from 12 starts on the LPGA this year was sixth, although she won the Salonpas Cup in Japan.
American Brittany Lincicome’s eventful round of 65 started with a bogey at the first hole after a spectator picked up her ball from the left hand rough, but she said, “I think we scared the lady more than anything.”
She had six birdies and an eagle at the par four 16th hole, where she hit a hybrid off the 16th tee into the left rough and then a gap wedge which landed short of the hole and hopped in.
At eight under in total, Lincicome tied for fourth with 15-year-old American Alexis Thompson, who is playing in her third event as a professional after tying for tenth at the US Women’s Open a fortnight ago.
Thompson, whose father Scott is her caddie, has the opportunity to become the youngest ever winner on the Ladies European Tour, a record currently held by South Korean Amy Yang who won the ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia aged 16 years and 191 days.
She will have work to do with Japan’s Mayu Hattori and Mika Miyazato, as well as Koreans Na Yeon Choi and MJ Hur all poised to strike a stroke behind in equal sixth position.
Germany’s Anja Monke and Norwegian Suzann Pettersen are a shot further back in a five-way share of tenth place after rounds of 70 and 71 respectively. They are paired together for the final round and will start at midday.
Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera started the day in second place but slipped back into 21st place after a 76, while first round co-leader Melissa Reid shot 71 to tie for 27th.
The final round begins at 7.04am on Sunday, with the leading pair of Pressel and Shin out at 12.40pm.