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'Don't tell me': Feng surges to grab Volvik lead

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Shanshan Feng talks over strategy with her caddie at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Ann Arbor – Shanshan Feng is going to do her best to stay in the bubble.

That’s because she makes it a practice to never look at the leaderboard until a tournament has ended. So, she’s hoping nobody breaks the news that she enters the final round of the Volvik Championship with a one-shot lead after shooting a 6-under 66 in the third round.

“I have a habit that I don't look at the leaderboards until Sunday night, so I actually don't really know where I'm at and I don't really know what the others are doing,” said Feng, who sits at 15-under for the tournament at Travis Pointe Country Club. “I actually tell my team, I tell them, the people around me, I say, ‘Don't tell me where I'm at. If I want to know something, I'll ask you, but don't tell me.’”

They’ll have to keep silent about the fact Feng birdied her final two holes of the round to overtake Lizette Salas, who held a two-shot lead after birdies at 13, 14 and 15. However, a pulled approach shot led to a bogey on 18 that dropped her out of a share for the lead with Feng.

VOLVIK CHAMPIONSHIP LIVE SCORING

“Finishing like that really just gets under my skin,” said Salas, who shot a 5-under 67 to sit at 14-under overall. “I think that is going to be an extra push for tomorrow, too. I had a two-shot lead and now I'm one back. You know, but that's golf. You hit great ones, you hit bad ones, and unfortunately that bad one was on my last hole today. I hit the ball amazing today, I putted really great.

“Just I think everything's coming together, and I think if I just stay patient and stay still for a little extra second, things will be great for me tomorrow.”

Things will start a bit earlier than originally planned as the potential for bad weather is in the Sunday afternoon forecast. To try and avoid in issues, the LPGA has decided to play in threesomes and will start on both sides with the final group set to go off No. 1 around 9:40 a.m.

Preceding that, however, was a wild Saturday, the day that’s typically described as moving day in any tournament. That was certainly the case at Travis Pointe as the lead shifted throughout the round. At one point midway through the day, 24 golfers were within three shots of the lead.

By the time the dust had settled, only three players were within three.

Suzann Pettersen was two back at 13-under after shooting a 3-under 69 on Saturday while Jeong Eun Lee and second-round leader Sung Hyun Park were both at 12-under.

Pettersen took the lead after birdies on three of the final four holes on the front nine but was even par on the back.

“I think I'm the same as I was starting the day,” said Pettersen, who was two back before the round. “Played really good, hit a lot of good putts. I got on a roll there around the turn and then I kind of went a bit dry with birdies. So overall a decent day. I would rather be two shots behind today than tomorrow.”

Three players were four shots back at 11-under, including Ann Arbor native Jennifer Song and Stacy Lewis, who shot a 4-under 68. Minjee Lee, who played in the final group, struggled on the front but rebounded with three birdies on the back for a 1-under 71.

Six more players were at 10-under, including defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn, while Marina Alex and Laura Gonzalez Escallon played together and each posted 6-under 66 early in the day to put some pressure on the leaders.

“We played really well, Marina as well, so it was a fun match, just making birdies all over,” Escallon said. “She said on 18, ‘If we played best ball, we would be 8-under on the back nine,’ and that was on 18, so that was fun.”

They’ll all be chasing Feng, the seventh-ranked player in the world who is still looking to break through for her first win in 2017. The six-time winner tied for 10th last week at the Kingsmill Championship after tying for fifth in the Lorena Ochoa Match Play.

She’s hoping a quicker start on Sunday puts her over the top.

“I started the round a little slowly,” she said. “I was only 1-under through like eight holes and then I made like two putts in a row on the ninth and 10h. After that I was just feeling like, ‘OK, I can start making birdies,’ and I was more comfortable also.

“But I'm feeling good about my condition right now and what I've done the first three days, so looking forward to the final day.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau