Top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Han Na Jang of South Korea were tied for the lead at 7-under-par when darkness halted play in the third round of the rain-delayed Coates Championship at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club in Ocala, Fla.
Playing alongside Jang, Ko made a birdie on the fourth hole to tie for the lead before darkness halted play after they finished six holes. Earlier in the day, Ko finished off a second straight 69 in round two and Kang followed her 65 with a 72.
Ko backed off her putt in near-darkness on the sixth hole because she thought her ball might have moved while she was at address, which would have been a one-stroke penalty, but TV replays showed the ball did not move.
“Yeah, I wasn’t sure because it’s obviously getting a little dark, and with the steepness of the greens, you never know if it does move or not, and I kind of was hovering over it going back and forth, so I don’t know if that action was making it look like it moved or not,” said Ko, who won five times on the LPGA Tour last season.
“The rules, we cleared everything, so now I can just go to bed and have a good dinner and come out here early, but this happened to me last year at this tournament, the second round or something, and it happened at KPMG, too, so I just wanted to clarify it so it wouldn’t be a problem tomorrow.”
Lexi Thompson was 1-under for round three and one stroke back at 6-under overall in a tie for third with Sei Young Kim of South Korea, Kim Kaufman, Jessica Korda and Haru Nomura of Japan.
Candie Kung of Fountain Valley and USC was 2-under for her round through 12 holes and another shot back in a tie for eighth with In Gee Chun of South Korea.
Alison Lee of Valencia and UCLA had five birdies in her first 15 holes of round three and was three strokes behind in a tie for 10th with Mo Martin of Pasadena and UCLA, Lizette Salas of Azusa and USC, Brooke Henderson of Canada, Suzann Pettersen of Norway, Paula Reto of South Africa, Amy Yang of South Korea and Xi Yu Lin of China.