Sylvania, Ohio — Hyo Joo Kim had five birdies in a six-hole stretch and shot a 7-under 64 on Saturday at Highland Meadows to open a three-stroke lead in the LPGA Tour’s Marathon Classic.
Kim had shares of the lead the first two days, opening with a 66 on her 21st birthday and shooting a 68 on Friday. The South Korean player won the season-opening event in the Bahamas for her third career title.
“I just feel happy right now,” Kim said. “I will be happy again tomorrow. Every day I’m happy.”
Kim began the birdie run on the par-4 fifth, parred the par-3 sixth, then ran off four straight on the par-5 seventh, par-3 eighth and par-4 ninth and 10th holes. She added birdies on the par-3 14th and par-5 17th and parred the par-5 18th to finish at 15 under.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko and Alison Lee were tied for second.
Ko, the 2014 winner, had a bogey-free 67. She missed a short birdie putt on the final hole.
“I let one — it was a very dumb one — slip on the last hole,” Ko said. “I’ve got to take the positives. There were so many putts that were so close but didn’t end up falling, so hopefully a few more fall tomorrow.”
Ko won in consecutive weeks in Southern California this year, the second the major ANA Inspiration. The 19-year-old New Zealander tied for third last week in the U.S. Women’s Open in California.
Lee, the 21-year-old American who has struggled in her second season on the tour while still attending classes at UCLA, birdied Nos. 15-17 in a 66.
“Feels like I’m playing golf again,” Lee said. “I’m actually having a great time out there and committing to the shot and watching the ball go where I want it to go.”
Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn were 11 under. Lewis birdied six of the first 13 holes in a bogey-free 65.
“I played really solid today,” Lewis said. “It was probably one of the most solid rounds of the year, just ball-striking-wise. I felt like I could hit any shot I needed to, was killing my driver.”
Brittany Lang, coming off a playoff victory over Anna Nordqvist in the U.S. Women’s Open, was tied for 13th at 6 under after a 68. Nordqvist was 2 under after a 69.
Jhonattan Vegas’ lead was down to three strokes when rain finally stopped third-round play in the Barbasol Championship.
Six shots ahead after a course-record 11-under 60 on Friday, Vegas was 1 over for the round and 16 under overall playing the par-4 14th when play was stopped on Grand National’s Lake Course.
The 29-year-old Venezuelan Olympic qualifier failed to qualify for the British Open and has only past champion status — he won the 2011 Bob Hope Classic — on the PGA Tour. The winner Sunday will get a two-year exemption and a spot in the PGA Championship, but won’t be exempt for the Masters.
David Toms and Aaron Baddeley were 13 under. The 49-year-old Toms was 4 under for the day with four holes left. Baddeley shot a 64, chipping in on the par-4 18th for his third straight birdie.