Stephanie Meadow’s challenge took a back seat after a struggling 74 on moving day of the Kia Classic at Carlsbad.
The Jordanstown professional had burst into contention with an opening 67 in California but she followed an even par round on Friday with a two-over par effort on Saturday to drop into a share of 35th at three-under par.
Meadow found 14 out of 18 greens in regulation but will point to needing 34 putts around Aviara Golf Club as a source of frustration ahead of tonight’s final round.
At the top, Inbee Park curled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th for her second straight 5-under 67 and the third-round lead at the Classic, the final event before the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration.
Winless in 12 months, the seven-time major champion from South Korea had a one-stroke advantage over Nasa Hataoka after a low-scoring day in perfect conditions in California.
“I think just a combination of consistency and the putting,” Park said. “I holed some good putts, especially on the back nine.”
Seeking her 20th LPGA Tour victory, Park had a 14-under 202 total.
“Just the feel on the greens is really good this week and I really want to keep that going tomorrow. Hopefully, I can hit a lot of fairways and greens.”
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