Yuka Saso birdied the final hole to shoot a six-under-par 65 and put herself in good position to win her second title in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arizona Saturday.
For the second straight day, the 20-year-old Filipino-Japanese did not bogey a single hole but relinquished her overnight lead to red-hot Thai Atthaya Thitikul who shot a spectacular 61.
Thitikul fired an eagle and eight eagles to seize control on 14-under 128.
Saso is in solo second on 129 with nine other players just with four shots.
The former US Women’s Open champion, who had six birdies, missed the green five times, but each time she saved par.
Thitikul, the 19-year-old rookie chasing a second LPGA victory, had a 13-under par total of 128.
Former amateur number one Lilia Vu carded her second straight 65 for solo third on 130 heading into the final round of the 54-hole event.
Atthaya teed off on 10 and picked up three strokes in her first nine holes.
After birdies at the first, third, and fifth she picked up four shots in her last three holes.
She eagled the seventh, where her four-iron approach from 210 yards out left her two feet from the pin, and birdied the eighth and ninth.
“I think my mind was blank and just nothing there,” she said of her mindset as she picked up steam coming in.
“Just hit a shot, just tap it in, putt it in, just like totally blank.”
She said she plays her best golf when she keeps her mind clear and her plan is to “keep that blank mind for tomorrow.”
The 19-year-old has plenty of experience to draw on come Sunday.
Her 11 international victories include a win in the Ladies European Thailand Championship as a 14-year-old amateur in 2017.
Since winning her first LPGA title in March she has top-10 finishes in the Women’s PGA Championship, the Evian Championship and the Women’s British Open.
“I think (I’ll) just do my best out there and I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it,” she said.
“You’re not going to be in the same moment anymore so just keep trying my best.”
Nine players shared fourth place, four shots off the lead. The group included overnight co-leaders Megan Khang, Ryann O’Toole and Lee5 Jeong-eun.
But South Korean Kim Sei-young, who was also among the first-round leaders, faded with a one-under-par 70 that featured a triple-bogey at the par-four 14th.