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Lydia Ko carries slim lead into final round of Lotte Championship


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New Zealand’s Lydia Ko birdied four of her last five holes Friday, and she will take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Lotte Championship in Kapolei, Hawaii.

Ko shot a 7-under-par 65 at Kapolei Golf Club on the island of Oahu, leaving her at 21-under 195.

Nelly Korda, who matched the day’s best round with a 63, holds second place at 20 under.

Second-round leader Yuka Saso of the Philippines managed only 1-under 71 on Friday, leaving her in third place at 17 under.

Ireland’s Leona Maguire (third-round 65) is in fourth place at 16 under, one stroke ahead of South Korea’s Amy Yang (64).

WATCH | Ko in driver’s seat at Lotte Championship:

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko shoots 7-under 65 in the 3rd round of the Lotte Championship, leads American Nelly Korda by 1 stroke. 1:18

Lexi Thompson (67) and South Koreans Sei Young Kim (67) and Hyo Joo Kim (69) share sixth place at 14 under. Seven players are tied for ninth at 13 under, including Taiwan’s Wei-Ling Hsu, who also carded a 63 on Friday.

Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who won at Kapolei in 2018 and 2019, shot her third consecutive 68 to sit 12-under for the tournament. Alena Sharp, of Hamilton, Ont., was even to stay 7-under while Canadian Anne-Catherine Tanguay improved one shot to 4-under.

Ko, 23, owns 15 career LPGA wins, but none since the Mediheal Championship in April 2018. Her bogey-free round featured two birdies on the front nine and five on the back nine thanks to her superb finish.

Korda, 22, already is a four-time LPGA champion, most recently having won the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in February. She produced six birdies on the front nine, including three in a row from Nos. 7-9. Following her lone bogey at the par-4 10th hole, Korda added four more birdies, including two at Nos. 17 and 18.

Saso, 19, fell out of the lead by bogeying four of her first eight holes, with two birdies mixed in during that span. She steadied herself with three birdies and no bogeys the rest of the way.

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