Stephanie Meadow will head into the final round of the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii just four shots off the lead and in a share of fourth as she goes in search of her maiden LPGA Tour title at Ko Olina.
Four birdies and just one mistake on her scorecard saw the Jordanstown woman rise seven places on the leaderboard on day three and into the top-five with a three-under 69 to sit six-under-par for the week.
While she is only one shot off second place, she will need a big round on Saturday to chase down Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim, who maintained her three-shot advantage at the top with a level-par 72 in her third round to stay 10-under-par.
A former winner on the Epson Tour, Meadow has not yet translated that success onto the premier circuit but she has given herself a great chance to at least pick up her first top-three finish since the Pelican Championship in November 2020, and her second top-10 finish in her last three starts.
Her third round was one of resilience as she battled back from a potentially damaging early bogey at the par-three fourth, finishing her front-nine with back-to-back birdies at the eighth and ninth to turn in one-under for the day.
And she left her scoring late on the back-nine, too, rattling off six straight pars before picking up a shot at the par-four 16th and then taking advantage of the par-five 18th to give her a real boost going into Saturday’s final round.
If she is to win, though, she likely needs Kim to come back to her as well as having a good round herself, the Korean looking unflappable at the top as she steadily ensured she would take a lead into day four.
It looked like the leader had wobbled when she dropped her first shot of the week at the par-four seventh and then another at the par-three 12th to fall to eight-under, but two late birdies at 14 and 18 restored her lead.
“(The birdie on 18) was very important because it was a matter of (finishing) over-par or not. I had a chance at the 16th hole but I missed, so I was a little angry. Now I feel much better since I made a birdie on the last hole,” said Kim.
“It was very windy today. There was a lot of wind going back and forth. I think it was difficult because it was not specifically (in one) direction. The pin position was also difficult compared to the first and second rounds. I had a hard time in that regard.”
America’s Brianna Do and Japan’s Hinako Shibuno are Kim’s closest challengers at seven-under-par after rounds of 67 and 68 on day three, with Meadow joined at six-under by Korea’s Somi Lee, who has matched her shot for shot this week with rounds of 71, 70 and 68.
Meanwhile, Leona Maguire’s tough week continued as a four-over 76 in round three dropped her down to tied-68th at six-over-par thanks to seven bogeys and three birdies.