DANVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Michele Redman had gone so long without a victory that she contemplated retiring earlier this season. Rookie Ilhee Lee also questioned her future on the LPGA Tour this year.
Both are glad they stayed.
The 45-year-old Redman holed out from 126 yards for an eagle on the par-4 18th hole Saturday for a 4-under 68 and a share of the third-round lead in the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge with Lee and Spain’s Beatriz Recari.
Lee, a 21-year-old rookie from South Korea, also shot a 68, and Recari had a 70 to match Redman at 12 under on the Blackhawk Country Club course. Wendy Ward (69) and France’s Gwladys Nocera (71) were 11 under.
Redman, who had a double bogey on the par-3 16th, hit an 8-iron approach that landed 16 feet from the pin, then rolled into the cup as the crowd cheered. Redman pumped her fist and smiled, then retrieved her ball and tossed it into the crowd.
“I knew I hit it pretty good,” Redman said. “I mean, I don’t know, I just kind of knew I hit a pretty good shot. It was exactly what I visualized and what I felt. Fortunately, it went in the cup.”
The celebration was very different from how Redman felt a few months ago.
Redman hasn’t won since 2000 and has only a handful of top-10 finishes over the past four years. She was seriously considering retirement before deciding to continue playing.
“I actually applied for the coaching job at the University of Minnesota, so I was pretty serious about it,” Redman said. “But everything works out the way it’s supposed to. That’s how I’m looking at it right now. I mean, I knew I still wanted to compete. I don’t want to play 20 to 25 weeks a year. I know that. It’s just too much for me to be gone. And like I said, once I got through that and realized that I was OK with that and that things were going to be OK whatever I did, I think that really helped me out.”
Redman was tied for fourth after each of the first two rounds, then made her push to the front with two birdies and three pars on the back nine. After the double bogey on the 183-yard 16th, she came back two holes later with her eagle for a share of the lead
“Some of it for me was I didn’t know how much I wanted to play out here,” Redman said. “I maybe was a little burned out. It just took me a couple months to get back on track to see where I wanted to go.”
Lee, a rookie from South Korea, also thought about leaving the LPGA Tour after missing seven straight cuts in her first year on the tour.
“I started to wonder, ‘Can I really make it out here, can I really survive on this tour?'” Lee said. “Being away from home was very difficult. I challenged myself three tournaments ago, ‘Let’s give it all I got and see what I can do.'”
The choice has worked out well so far. Lee has rounds of 69, 67 and 68 this week after failing to break 70 all season. She was alone in first at 13 under with two holes left, but missed a 3-foot par putt on the 333-yard 17th.
Recari, also a tour rookie, shared the lead with Nocera after three rounds but had problems on a pair of par 3s. She made a double bogey on the 184-yard fourth and a bogey on the 155-yard 12th.
Nocera dropped out of the lead when she bogeyed the 18th,
Kerr can overtake Ai Miyazato for the No. 1 ranking by finishing second, though it seemed out of reach after her opening round 73 on Thursday.
“You always think about it but it has to reach a point where you have to be able to go out and play golf,” Kerr said. “Because playing my own game is good enough to beat pretty much everybody. That’s my fatal flaw, if I have one, is I try too hard sometimes.”
Karine Icher (66) is 10 under, Cristie Kerr (66) and Katherine Hull (69) followed at 9 under. Hull won the Navistar LPGA Classic last week in Prattville, Ala., for her second career LPGA Tour title.
Brittany Lincicome, the first-round leader after a course-record 61, is 8 under after a 71.