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Elusive birdie keeps Feng in lead

Reuters

Feng Shanshan lines up a putt on the third hole during the third round of the U.S. Women's Open in Bedminster, N.J., on Saturday.

ReutersBEDMINSTER, N.J. (Reuters) — Feng Shanshan snapped a run of 23 consecutive pars with a birdie on the 18th hole to reclaim a one-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round at the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club.

Feng, trying to complete a wire-to-wire victory, was caught late in the round by South Koreans Amy Yang and 17-year-old amateur Choi Hye Jin, but the 27-year-old Chinese stuck an approach at the par-5 finishing hole to three feet and made the putt to happily end the par streak.

The birdie gave Olympic bronze medalist Feng a 1-under 71 for a 54-hole total of 9-under 207, one shot better than Yang and Choi, who both shot 70 among a wave of Korean challengers.

Yang, a top-four finisher in the last three Women’s Opens, rolled in a 20-foot left-to-right birdie curler at the 17th, while No.2-ranked amateur Choi sank a long birdie putt at the par-3 16th.

Feng, who has just one bogey in the tournament, could not buy a birdie in the ideal conditions until the last, failing to convert earlier birdie chances from 10 feet and twice from 12 feet in the closing holes.

Long-hitting Park Sung Hyun of South Korea was three shots back after tearing up the closing nine with six birdies for a 67.

Three other Koreans, world No. 1 Ryu So Yeon (71), Lee Mirim (67) and Lee Jeong Eun6 (73), were another stroke back at 5 under.

Former champion Cristie Kerr shot 70 to stand as the leading American player at 4 under.

Rodgers keeps lead at Deere

In other action, Patrick Rodgers moved closer to his first PGA Tour victory, and a place in the British Open, when he retained a two-stroke lead after the third round at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.

The former world No. 1 amateur was not at his very best, but a 3-under 68 left him with the same advantage at the end of the day as when he started.

Rodgers posted a 16-under 197 score at TPC Deere Run, while fellow Americans Daniel Berger (63) and Scott Stallings (64) rocketed into second place at 14 under.

Sixteen players are lurking within five strokes of Rodgers, who will continue to play with an attacking mindset.

“This is a nice course to play with the lead because you have to keep the pedal down all day,” Rodgers told CBS television after his eight-foot par putt at the last sneaked in.

“Sixteeen-under’s not going to win tomorrow, so I need to go out and make a lot of birdies. It was nice to have that mindset today. You’re not really holding on, you’re still trying to be aggressive and make birdies.”

The winner on Sunday will earn a spot in next week’s British Open.

World No. 20 Berger, already exempt for Royal Birkdale, continued his sizzling form, moving into contention for the third time in four starts.

He won the St. Jude Classic in Memphis five weeks ago, before losing a playoff to Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

He has not played since that second-placing and did not want to go into a major without a tune-up under his belt.

“I love playing the week before a major so this fit into my schedule quite well,” he said after matching his career-low round on tour.

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