Amy Yang still 3 strokes up entering final round of U.S. Open

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Amy Yang still 3 strokes up entering final round of U.S. Open


Amy Yang

LANCASTER, Pa. - Amy Yang is back in the final pairing at the U.S. Women’s Open, and this time she’s prepared for the daunting challenge ahead.

The 25-year-old Korean beat back all of Stacy Lewis’ challenges in the third round at Lancaster Country Club on Saturday, and the day ended as it started: with Yang three strokes ahead of Lewis.

On Sunday, for the third time in four years and fourth time in six, she’ll be in the final group at a U.S. Open. This time, she’ll have a three-stroke cushion over her nearest competitor and plenty of experience to draw on.

``It was good experience, the last two ? the final group experience,’’ she said. ``Me and my coach, we prepared. We practiced hard. I’ll go out there and I’ll just do my best, like what I practice.’’

Yang shot a 1-under 69 Saturday, the same as Lewis, as the last pair off went toe-to-toe, giving the pairing a match-play feel.

Yang pushed her lead to four strokes at the 13th before Lewis capitalized on a two-stroke swing at the 14th, closing within two. But Lewis’ struggles with putting carried over to the 17th, where she made a three-putt bogey, sending Yang’s advantage back to three.

Yang’s three-day total of 8-under 202 is the second-lowest in championship history behind Julie Inkster’s 201 in 1999. Lewis was at 5-under 205.

On ``moving day,’’ all the action was outside the top two spots.

Chun In-gee, playing in her first U.S. Open, shot a second 2-under 68. The 20-year-old from Korea is alone in third place at 4-under 206. Japan’s Shiho Oyama is fourth at 3 under after a 71.

Defending champion Michelle Wie played with nagging hip and ankle pain, firing a 68. She is in a four-way tie for fifth at 2-under 208, along with two-time winner Park In-bee (70).

History was made in the third round when Korea’s Chella Choi shot the first nine-hole score of 29 for the championship. But the 24-year-old missed a three-foot putt on her final hole that would have tied the championship’s single-round scoring record. She settled for a 6-under 64, shooting up the leaderboard into the pack at 2 under.

On Sunday, Yang will again be one of the last to tee off in the U.S. Open. She has been in the last grouping two of the last three years, and in 2010. At Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014, she played with Wie, was overtaken by eventual runner-up Lewis and settled for fourth. In 2012, she finished second to Choi Na-yeon, and placed fifth in 2010.

Lewis, a two-time major winner, figures she needs to solve the slippery, sloping greens of Lancaster Country Club if she’s to overtake Yang.

``It’s just the severity of these greens,’’ said Lewis, who is tied for 26th with 96 putts over three rounds. ``And the moment you do try to hit one of those down the hill, that’s when you knock it five feet by. I don’t think the speed of the greens is that inconsistent; I just think it’s the slope within the greens.’’

Chun is enjoying her run through her first U.S. Open. She was paired with two-time champion Karrie Webb on Saturday, saying she was 4 years old when the seven-time major winner turned pro. She offset three bogeys with five birdies in her round to stay in contention, albeit four strokes off the lead.

``Everything I experience here, it is new, completely new,’’ she said. ``So this is an adventure to me. So tomorrow it’s going to be the same thing. Everything is going to be very fun. I just want to be enjoying every bit of the time.’’

The hilly course in the heart of Amish country is taking its toll on the hobbled Wie. At one point Saturday, the 25-year-old, four-time winner was kneading her hip and thigh, trying to loosen her muscles. ``I just feel like there’s a knot in it sometimes and just trying to get it to go,’’ she said.

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