Nasa Hataoka is joined by Amy Yang at the top of the leaderboard as they head into the final day of the LPGA season ending CME Group Tour Championship in Florida
With a third-round score of 64, Amy Yang moved up the leaderboard to join Nasa Hataoka in the lead headed into the final day at the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburón Golf Club.
Hataoka has been the resident player in the lead this week, co-leading each day with different players including Ruoning Yin (first round) and Alison Lee (second round). Both Hataoka and Yang would earn a pair of firsts should they win on Sunday; Hataoka would earn her first victory of the 2023 season, and Yang would earn her first victory on the LPGA Tour in the United States.
Yang, not making a bogey since her first hole of the tournament, followed up her bogey-free 63 on Friday with another bogey-free round of 64 on Saturday. She came out on the course quick, making a birdie on the par-5 1st hole. The LPGA Tour veteran would then have a string of three pars from holes two to four before making back-to-back birdies on five and six.
Yang made one more birdie on the par-3 8th hole to make the turn at four-under-par for the day, and 17-under for the tournament. From the Republic of Korea, she made another three pars, and then a string of three birdies from 13 to 15. She made one last birdie of the day on the par-5 17th hole to wrap up her Saturday with an eight-under round.
“You know, I've been hitting the ball really solid and that really gave me lots of chances out there. My putting has been working so well, and just, yeah, was just everything worked out together well,” said Yang.
“I mean, I feel quite nervous being in contention, but I never thought like I have to follow the nine-under-par yesterday, because golf you never know. But I did try my best just to stay like present, and when I decide to hit one shot and just commit to it and go for it.”
Watch Third Round Highlights of the 2023 CME Group Tour Championship
Six-time LPGA Tour winner Hataoka also had a bogey-free round of 65 on the third day. She made her first birdie of the day on two and followed it up with another birdie on the par-4 3rd hole. A pair of pars on holes four and five, the Japanese player made her last birdie of the front nine on six to make the turn at three-under par.
Hataoka came out on the back nine hot, making back-to-back birdies on two par 4s, 10 and 11. She made her last two birdies of the day on holes 14 and 17, both par 5s. On her third day in Naples, she took clear advantage of the par 5s, birding three of the four at Tiburón.
“I learn lots of thing this year, so I just need stay aggressive and I will do my best tomorrow,” said Hataoka, who looks to make 2023 her third consecutive season with a win on the LPGA Tour. “My swing feel really comfortable. Tomorrow, I have a couple keys, so I will focus on my keys, good rhythm and good targets.”
The chasing pack
Three shots behind both Yang and Hataoka sits another player with a bogey-free round on Saturday, Alison Lee. Lee followed up her stellar rounds of 66 and 64 to turn in a four-under 68 in the third round. The 28-year-old seeks her first win on the LPGA Tour since joining in 2015 and would assist in breaking the record of Rolex First-Time Winners in a single season.
Xiyu Lin could also break the record with a win on Sunday, sitting just one shot behind Lee and four shots behind the leaders.
Rounding out the top-5 spots are Aussie Minjee Lee and the People’s Republic of China’s Ruoning Yin. Both players sit at 16-under-par headed into the final round, both looking to secure their third wins of the season and sit behind Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lilia Vu (4) and Major champion Celine Boutier (4) with the most wins this season.
VIiw the full CME Group Tour Championship leaderboard here.