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Ko snares one-shot lead at US Women's Open

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/07/2016

Lydia Ko is banking on patience and experience to carry her to a third major title on the final day of the US Women's Open in California.

World No.1 Ko sunk a tricky birdie on the 18th hole to snatch a one-shot lead after a testing third round at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin.

The brilliant 19-year-old from New Zealand kept mistakes to a minimum in difficult conditions to shoot a two-under 70 and improve from fourth to first on seven-under.

She is a shot clear of two Koreans, overnight leader Sung Hyun Park (74) and Eun-Hee Ji (70), with American Brittany Lang (68) and Korea's Amy Yang (73) a further stroke back.

Ko is unquestionably the player to beat, having won two of the last three women's majors and finished runner-up in the other.

She will call on her breakthrough wins at the Evian Championship and ANA Inspiration throughout her 18 holes on Sunday.

"Age is just a number but experience is another thing," she said.

"Winning the Evian championship gave me a lot of confidence to say that `hey, I can play well at these majors'.

"Winning at ANA, at a course where I hadn't played well before, gave me another boost."

Ko deliberately tried to stay out of trouble on Saturday, with the blustery wind and hard greens making it a challenge to get near the flag.

Typically, putting was a strength, as it was with her 66 on Friday which catapulted Ko from 52nd place.

"People do say it's moving day on Saturday but it was really tough out there," she said.

"I've just got to trust my putting read and put a good stroke on it."

The biggest fright of Ko's round came on the 17th fairway when she dropped an iron as she pulled it from the bag and nearly hit her ball, which would have resulted in a penalty.

"My heart stopped at that moment. You don't want something like that to cost you a penalty because that's a stupid mistake.

"I've just got to stay calm. In majors sometimes you're going to make those mistakes but there's always the next hole."

Ko's biggest threat could be world No.9 Yang, who is a two-time US Women's Open runner-up and has produced 13 top-10 finishes at majors without winning one.

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