Yang seizes two-stroke lead at Women's PGA Championship

Japan's Miyu Yamashita and American Lauren Hartlage are tied for second at 211

AFP June 23, 2024


South Korea's Any Yang, chasing her first major title, grinded out a one-under par 71 to grab a two-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the Women's PGA Championship.

Yang, who has 21 career top-10 major finishes without a victory, stood on seven-under 209 after 54 holes at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington.

Asked about the most crucial parts of her round, Yang said, "Just how much patience I need out there and how disciplined I have to be with my decisions -- I think I did really well."

Yang, 34, answered both bogeys on Saturday with birdies on the next hole. The two-time US Open runner-up won her fifth and most recent LPGA title at the 2023 Tour Championship.

She goes for a life-changing victory on Sunday.

"All I can do is the best I can do for the day," Yang said of the final-round pressure to finally win a major.

"It was tough out there but I did really well and I'm planning to do the same thing again tomorrow."

Japan's 22-year-old Miyu Yamashita, who 11 wins on the LPGA Japan Tour, fired a 70 to share second on 211 with Lauren Hartlage.

World number 272 Hartlage, a 26-year-old American who has never managed a top-five LPGA finish, shot a bogey-free 69.

"I've been hitting the ball pretty well and fairways are pretty tight so giving yourself good position on every hole is real important," said Hartlage. "Made a couple good par putts, stayed patient all day."

American Sarah Schmelzel, who shared the lead when the day began, was fourth on 212 despite a 74.

A fifth-place pack on 213 included Americans Caroline Inglis, Lexi Thompson and Lilia Vu plus South Korean Ko Jin-young and Japan's Hinako Shibuno.

World number 25 Yang sank a birdie putt from just beyond eight feet at the ninth to take a one-stroke lead over Schmelzel at the turn.

Yang reached the green in two at the par-5 11th and made a birdie putt from just inside five feet to reach seven-under and when Schmelzel missed a nine-foot par putt at 12, Yang's lead stretched to three shots.

Japan's Miyu Yamashita sank a 19-foot birdie putt at the 14th and American Lauren Hartlage birdied 16 to each pull within two of the lead.

Yang found left rough off the 16th tee and was short of the green on her approach, then missed a downhill seven-foot par putt to see her lead trimmed to one stroke.

But Yang answered at the par-3 17th with a 37-foot birdie putt that restored her two-stroke edge and she parred the last, missing a birdie putt from just inside six feet.

Schmelzel and Yang shared the lead on six-under when the day began and both opened with four pars before Schmelzel's three-putt bogey at the fifth briefly left Yang alone at the top.

Schmelzel, however, answered with a three-foot birdie putt at the par-5 sixth to regain a share of the lead.

Schmelzel took a three-putt bogey at seven and Yang made bogey at eight, ending her run of 30 consecutive bogey-less holes.

Thailand's Pajaree Anannarukarn aced the 153-yard par-3 13th hole, the first hole-in-one in the event since 2018. It was her second career LPGA ace after one at another major, the 2020 Chevron Championship.


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