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Ko battles back up leaderboard in Hawaii

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/04/2017

Lydia Ko. © Christian Petersen/Getty Images Lydia Ko. Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko has scrapped her way further up the leaderboard at the LPGA Tour event in Hawaii to a share of seventh place after three rounds.

The world No.1 fired seven-under 65 in a flawless third round at Ko Olina in Oahu, but still sits eight strokes astray of outright leader Su-Yeon Jang of South Korea.

Jang leads American Cristie Kerr, who carded a superb 10-under 62, and Canada's Alena Sharp by three strokes.

Ko's opening round one-over 73 had left her languishing in 85th place, but the 19-year-old New Zealander fired a second-round 69 to improve to a share of 40th at the halfway mark.

An improved effort with her putter was key in Ko's third round.

"Putting was better the last few days, but I've been striking the ball really well coming up to this week," she said afterwards.

"It was definitely nice to be able to give myself more birdie opportunities today.

"I actually got some longer range putts to go in, which I haven't seen very often this season."

Ko's 76-week reign as world No.1 has been under threat for most of the season by both world No.3 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand and third-ranked So Yeon Ryu (South Korea).

A victory in Hawaii to either golfer would be enough to topple the Kiwi for her top spot.

Jutanugarn carded a third-round two-under 70 to sit two strokes ahead of Ko in fifth place while Ryu's 69 leaves her sixth, just one stroke ahead of the New Zealander.

But Ko said the rankings, and her No.1 spot, weren't occupying much of her attention.

"I don't really look at the rankings at all," she said.

"All the girls are playing so consistently - So Yeon's had all her finishes in the top seven I'd heard, and that's very impressive.

"I haven't been able to play as well as I would have liked but hopefully I'll have a good finish here."

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