Lizette Salas carded a 3-under-par 69 and was tied for the lead with Cristie Kerr heading to the final round of the Kia Classic at Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.
The 24-year-old Salas, from Azusa and USC, made her first bogey of the tournament when she missed a 10-foot par putt on the 15th hole, but she collected her fourth birdie of the day at the par-5 17th to grab a share of the lead.
“Just because I haven’t won doesn’t mean I can’t win out here,” said Salas, who is seeking her first professional victory. “To have my family and friends and my community come and wear the T-shirts and cheer me on, whether I’m up or down, that’s an advantage for me.”
Kerr, who has won 16 times on the LPGA Tour including two majors, bounced back from a bogey on the 17th hole and a shot into the water on the 18th to sink a 55-foot par-saving putt that gave her a 70.
Said Kerr: “I wasn’t thinking about anything except getting it close and moving on to tomorrow, and it went in.”
Surprise second-round leader Dori Carter followed her course-record 64 with a 74 and was two strokes back in a tie for third with Anna Nordqvist of Sweden, who had a 67, Shanshan Feng of China, who carded a 69, and Ayako Uehara of Japan, who came in at 67.
Stacy Lewis carded three bogeys on the last five holes to post a 73 and was another shot behind in a tie for seventh Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea, who shot 65, Lexi Thompson, who totaled 70, and Chella Cho of South Korea, who also had a 70.