Ariya Jutanugarn, the number two player in the world and the leading money winner on tour this year, will take a four shot lead into the final round of the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek, Alabama tomorrow. Jutanugarn, who is from Thailand, had six birdies and only one bogey on her way to a 5-under par 67 in the third round today and is at 12-under par for the championship . Australian Sarah Jane Smith, who began the third round with a three stroke lead, was unable to make a birdie today, and finished the third round with a 2-over par 74 to fall to four stokes behind Jutanugarn. Su-Hyun Oh, who was in third place at 6-under par though two rounds, shot a 78 and fell to even par, out of the top ten and into a tie for fourteenth.
Jutanugarn Takes Control
Starting the third round at 7-under par and three strokes behind leader Sarah Jane Smith, Jutanugarn made two birdies in the first three holes to climb to within one shot of Smith’s lead. Smith would make bogey at the eighth hole to fall back into a tie with Jutanugarn at 9-under par, and then followed that with a bogey at the ninth to give Jutanugarn the lead alone. Jutanugarn would extend her lead with a birdie at the 11th, then reeled off three consecutive birdies at 13, 14 and 15 to get to 13-under and extend her lead to five strokes. A bogey at the 16th hole dropped Jutanugarn back to 12-under par, where she would finish and Smith made all pars on the back nine to end up at 8-under par, four strokes behind.
Hyo-Joo Kim of Korea shot a 4-under par round of 68 that included five birdies to finish the third round in third place, six strokes back at 6-under par. Jihyun Kim, also from Korea, finished in fourth place at 5-under par with a third round, 2-under par 70. A three-way tie for fifth at 4-under par includes Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden, who shot 2-under par 70, number one player in the world and seven-time major champion Inbee Park, and Carlota Ciganda of Spain, both of whom shot 1-under par 71.
A Long Day
78 players had to finish their second rounds starting at 6:45 am this morning, including the leader Jutanugarn, who played 28 holes in total for the day. Defending champion Sung Hyun Park missed the cut, as did 2016 champion Brittany Lang, 2010 champion Paula Creamer, 2017 Evian Championship winner Anna Nordqvist, and 2012 LPGA Championship winner and number two player in the world, Shanshan Feng. Two-time major champion and former number one player in the world Stacy Lewis also missed the cut, along with Jessica Korda, Amy Yang, and LPGA legend, seven-time major champion Karrie Webb.