Park grabs LPGA lead as Davies chases historic win


Los Angeles (AFP)

South Korea's Park In-bee fired a nine-under par 63 to seize a one-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the LPGA Founders Cup, where Britain's 54-year-old Laura Davies chased a historic triumph.

Park, a seven-time major winner, opened with four birdies and an eagle in the first five holes and vaulted atop the leaderboard at 14-under 202.

That was one stroke ahead of Colombia's Mariajo Uribe with Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn third on 204 at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona.

Davies shot a 63 for the first time since 2005 in jumping into a share of fourth with South Korea's Chella Choi on 205.

The Englishwoman would become the oldest champion in LPGA history by winning Sunday in the first event of the season on US soil.

"I'll certainly have a crack at it," Davies said. "I've given myself a chance."

The sizzling start had Park pondering the all-time LPGA record low 18-hole score of 59 fired by Sweden's Annika Sorenstam in 2001.

"For a little bit I think a 59. I got off to a really good start," Park said. "On the back nine, it was different, a little bit more boring golf."

But after the fantastic start, Park only birdied the par-4 ninth and par-5 11th until she closed her bogey-free round with a birdie at 18.

"To finish with a birdie on the back nine was a big relief," Park said. "The front nine felt great. The back nine I was hitting pretty solid but the putts didn't drop like they did on the front nine. If they did I would've had a 59."

Park, who has won nine times in 15 prior attempts when leading entering the final round, matched Davies for the day's low round.

Davies, who has not won since the 2001 Rochester Invitational, would break the oldest LPGA winner mark held by Beth Daniel, who was 46 when she won the 2003 Canadian Women's Open.

Davies, in her 32nd LPGA campaign, birdied five of the last six holes on the front nine, eagled the par-5 11th and birdied the par-5 15th and par-3 17th holes.

"I hit a lot of fairways and that gives you a chance to get relatively close to the hole," Davies said.

"I haven't been holing the putts but today I did. The no bogeys part for me is the biggest key because that is what has been letting me down.

"I know I can still play great golf. My short game is really coming around and a day like this tells me that we are really doing the right things."

Davies is struggling to walk with a sore left calf and Achilles tendon.

"It's a struggle," she said. "It's just walking. Swinging is fine. I can swing as hard as I want to. But every step is just misery."