Chon Buri - The Jutanugarn sisters will tee off in the final round of the LPGA Thailand this morning still hoping to break the long wait for a Thai winner in the country’s top tournament.
They trail leader Jessica Korda of the US four and six shots respectively going into the final round at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya.
Elder sister Moriya recovered from an uneven front nine to walk off with four birdies and an eagle on the 14th to finish the third round with a seven-under 65 on 16 under-par-200, four behind leader Jessica Korda of the US, who is firmly in charge after a four-under 68 yesterday.
“At the beginning I hit the ball to the positions that made it tough to hole. Then on the back nine my shots just landed at the right places for birdie chances,” said world No 21 Moriya, who finished in a tie for eighth last year.
Thousands of fans defied the humid conditions and occasional rain to support their local players, something Moriya says spurred her on to do her best.
“I was hearing fans roar the whole time and knew it was either my sister or Pornanong [Phatlum] who shot scores as they were in front of my squad. When fans were having fun, it made me feel good,” added Moriya who will try to better the record of her sister Ariya who finished runner-up five years ago, the best finish by a Thai to date.
“In golf it depends who has a better day. Yesterday was not my day but today I was playing well. Everybody has the chance to win as all the top layers are here this week,” she said.
Ariya also carded a 65, containing eight birdies, three bogeys and a closing eagle to be on 14 under-par-202 and in sole possession of fourth place.
“It was up and down for me. I made bogeys at the beginning and was quite surprised to finish with an eagle. I actually wished for a birdie but I didn’t capitalise on my chances in the first two days,” said Ariya, who narrowly missed out in 2013, when she held a two-shot lead heading down the 18th, only to finish with a triple-bogey and fail to become the first home winner.
Asked about her chance of lifting the trophy this afternoon, Ariya said: “That’s still too far to think about now. I need to take it one step at a time and hope to do my best out there.”
The most likely contender to prevent a historic win by a Thai is the world No 26 Korda who produced a splendid back-nine performance in which she shot five birdies.
“Honestly, I'm nervous. I haven't been in this position in a couple of months. I knew was playing really well at the end of the season but I haven't been in this position,” said the 24-year-old, whose last win was at the LPGA Malaysia in 2015, her fourth career title.
“Being back, it just takes you a little bit of time. I was hitting okay shots and just the putts weren't falling.”
Australian Minjee Lee, with a 68, is third on 15 under-par, while 2016 champion Lexi Thompson (69) is two shots further back.