SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. (AP) — Lorena Ochoa moved into position for her second straight Safeway International victory and second win in three starts this year, shooting a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take the third-round lead.
After outdueling close friend Angela Stanford on Saturday, Ochoa will be paired with Jee Young Lee on Sunday at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
“It’ll be a fun day,” said Ochoa, a stroke ahead of Stanford and Lee.
“She (Lee) hits the ball very far. She jokes to me she beats me with the driver. (Sunday) will be a good laugh to see who hits farther.”
Stanford followed bogeys on 13 and 14 with two finishing birdies for a 70. Lee fired her third consecutive 67.
At 16-under 200, Ochoa matched the best 54-hole total since the tournament moved to Superstition Mountain five years ago. Annika Sorenstam also was 16 under in 2004 on her way to a course record 18-under 270 total, matched last year by Ochoa.
Ochoa, the HSBC Champions winner this year in Singapore, is seeking her 16th victory in her last 48 starts since 2006 and 19th overall LPGA Tour win.
The six players within six shots of her have a combined four LPGA Tour victories. The closest rival with similar experience was Sorenstam, seven strokes back after a 71.
But Ochoa dismissed talk that the tournament was over.
“It’s going to be a tough day (Sunday),” she said.
Nobody, however, owns Sundays like Ochoa these days. “It’s all about experience,” she said. “It’s the way you feel on Sunday. You like to be under pressure.”
Ochoa birdied four of the first five holes to steal the lead from Stanford, who shot a Prospector Course-record 62 Thursday to open a three-shot lead over Ochoa.
“It was a good day,” Ochoa said.
Stanford, a winner once in seven years on the tour, said she felt comfortable paired with Ochoa, who she regularly competes with in basketball and bowling.
“But you can get caught up with what somebody else is doing,” Stanford said. “Especially when she’s getting a boatload of birdies.”
She’ll play in the second-to-last pairing Sunday with Inbee Park, who tied Grace Park for the low round of the day, a 65, and was four shots back.
“If I can stir it up early, she’ll have to watch that all day,” Stanford said.
Lee lipped out a birdie putt at 18 that would have given her a share of the lead.
Her bogey-free round featured five birdies.
Asked if she felt pressure playing in the final twosome, she said, “Absolutely, but I like this course. I feel comfortable and confident here.”
Lee became the 14th non-LPGA member in history to win an LPGA Tour event in 2005 when she won the CJ Nine Bridges Classic as a member of the Korean LPGA. She had three runner-up finishes last year, but got off to a bumpy start this season.
She said she has played with Ochoa “four or five” times. “She’s really good. She has confidence.”