PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Lorena Ochoa never plays safe, especially when she’s ahead.
“My way is being aggressive, so that’s what I’m going to do all the way to the end,” the 25-year-old Mexican star said after shooting a 5-under-par 67 Saturday to take a one-stroke lead over South Korean rookie In-Kyung Kim after three rounds of the Wegmans LPGA.
Ochoa, who tops the money list with $1.25 million, closed with two birdies and will enter the final round at 9-under 207.
“It was one of those days that everything is easy — hitting the driver good and giving myself a lot of birdie chances,” she said.
“Once you’re playing good, you just need to be aggressive. It’s bad when you start thinking too much and you try to play conservative. … I make mistakes when I don’t play aggressive.”
The 19-year-old Kim, whose best finish was a tie for fourth at last month’s Corning Classic, sank a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 17 for a 71. That kept her close heading into Sunday at the tree-lined Locust Hill course.
“If I play my best, I don’t think I’m going to have any regrets,” she said. “I don’t think I’m afraid to fail. … I just feel very calm.”
First-round leader Cristi Kerr rallied with a 70 to move into third place at 5 under.
“They have a saying in a four-day tournament — you play three days against the course and one day against your competitors,” Kerr said. “I like my position. And if I keep playing well, it’s going to be tough for them.”
Kerr was one ahead of Lindsey Wright (72), Mi Hyun Kim (75) of South Korea, A.J. Eathorne (69) and Angela Stanford (73).
Stanford, whose sole victory came at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in 2003, briefly took the lead at 9 under but closed with three bogeys and a double-bogey. Defending champion Jeong Jang shot a 71 to get to 1 under.
Ochoa won the Safeway International in March and the Sybase Classic in May, was the runner-up three times, and placed in the top 10 on five other occasions in 2007.
She picked up the first of her six birdies with a 12-foot putt on No. 2. A wayward drive on No. 6 produced her only bogey. She two-putted for birdie on the par-5 17th and took the outright lead when she left her 125-yard approach shot 2 feet away on the last hole.
“I always play to win,” Ochoa said. “I know I can win anytime I play. I have the confidence and trust and faith. I have nothing to prove. I enjoy very much what I do and it’s fun just to be out there and trying to make birdies.”
“I did everything I could today,” she added. “I’m very pleased and I can’t wait to be here (Sunday).”
Ochoa won here in 2005, rallying from five strokes back with just seven holes to go to beat Paula Creamer by four strokes.
Sandwiched between two majors, the $1.8 million tournament drew 47 of the top 50 money winners. Absent was Annika Sorenstam, who will open her defense of the U.S. Women’s Open on Thursday at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, N.C.