Park grabs LPGA lead

Park In-bee

LOS ANGELES — South Korea’s Park In-bee fired a nine-under par 63 to seize a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the LPGA Founders Cup, where Britain’s 54-year-old Laura Davies chased a historic triumph.

Park, a seven-time major winner, opened with four birdies and an eagle in the first five holes and vaulted atop the leaderboard at 14-under 202.

That was one stroke ahead of Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe with Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn third on 204 at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona.

Davies shot a 63 for the first time since 2005 in jumping into a share of fourth with South Korea’s Chella Choi on 205.

The Englishwoman would become the oldest champion in LPGA history by winning Sunday in the first event of the season on US soil.

But after the fantastic start, Park only birdied the par-4 ninth and par-5 11th until she closed her bogey-free round with a birdie at 18.

“To finish with a birdie on the back nine was a big relief,” Park said. “The front nine felt great. The back nine I was hitting pretty solid but the putts didn’t drop like they did on the front nine. If they did I would’ve had a 59.”

Park, who has won nine times in 15 prior attempts when leading entering the final round, matched Davies for the day’s low round.

Davies, who has not won since the 2001 Rochester Invitational, would break the oldest LPGA winner mark held by Beth Daniel, who was 46 when she won the 2003 Canadian Women’s Open.

Davies, in her 32nd LPGA campaign, birdied five of the last six holes on the front nine, eagled the par-5 11th and birdied the par-5 15th and par-3 17th holes.

Davies is struggling to walk with a sore left calf and Achilles tendon.

54-year-old Davies shoots

9-under 63 in Founders Cup

Laura Davies took a satisfying look at the scoreboard next to the 18th green. At 54 years old, and nearly 17 years since her last LPGA Tour victory, the Hall of Famer had a share of the lead halfway through the third round of the Founders Cup.

The Englishwoman shot a 9-under 63 Saturday at Desert Ridge, her best score on the tour since another 63 in the third round of the 2005 Wendy’s Championship for Children. She has shot 62 twice.

Davies birdied five of the final six holes on the front nine, made a 6-foot eagle putt on the par-5 11th and birdied the par-5 15th in the bogey-free round.

“Just solid golf,” Davies said. “Hit it close enough and hole some really good putts. On greens as beautiful as this, you have to be making your putts, and that’s what happened today.”

Davies is fighting Achilles tendon and calf problems in her left leg.

She was 11-under overall after opening with rounds of 73 and 69 in the event honoring the 13 women who founded the LPGA Tour in 1950.

Davies has more than 80 worldwide victories, four of them majors, and represented Europe in 12 Solheim Cups. She’s trying to win for the fifth time in Phoenix after taking the Standard Register PING at Moon Valley four straight years from 1994-97. — AFP