(Reuters) - South Korean Lee Mi-rim maintained her lead at the Kia Classic for the third successive day after a six-under-par 66 gave her a one-stroke edge on Saturday heading into the final round in southern California. Lee entered the third round tied with Morgan Pressel but blew past her with a sizzling five birdies on the back nine to push her to 16-under at the Aviara course in Carlsbad. The 24-year-old won twice in her rookie season on the LPGA circuit last year, but is looking for her first title in 2015. “To be honest, I didn’t even know what I shot until I signed my scorecard,” Lee told reporters.
Mirim Lee took the Kia Classic lead Saturday, while top-ranked Lydia Ko easily increased her LPGA Tour under-par streak to 27 rounds but dropped two late strokes and ended up four shots behind. Lee shot a 6-under 66 to reach 16-under 200 at Aviara, leaving her a stroke ahead of former UCLA player Alison Lee in the final event before the first major of the season next week at Rancho Mirage. ''I think comfortable,'' Mirim Lee said about the final round. ''I just think patience, patience, patience.'' The 17-year-old Ko shot a 67 to move within two rounds of matching Annika Sorenstam's LPGA Tour record for consecutive rounds under par of 29 set in 2004.
(Reuters) - Nine-times PGA Tour winner Stuart Appleby has undergone back surgery for a herniated disc and will be out of action indefinitely. Appleby, 43, who has not played since mid-February, has endured back problems for much of his career. "No idea when I'm back as I don't know or anybody knows how long it takes to get 100 percent," he told Reuters. The Australian is one of only six players to have shot 59 on the PGA Tour. He was not exempt for next month's Masters, after finishing 31st on the tour's points list last year. The top 30 clinched invitations to Augusta. ...
(Reuters) - American Jimmy Walker shot a three-under-par 69 to open up a four-shot lead as winds returned to vex players at the Texas Open in San Antonio on Saturday. Walker, who led by one after 36 holes, shared the lead with fellow Texan Jordan Spieth at the turn before a late surge took him to nine-under-par 207. "It's a tough golf course," said Walker, who won the Sony Open in Hawaii in January and is aiming for his fifth PGA Tour title. "You definitely want to find a way to extend the lead, but you have to be smart about it." Walker took a bogey at the par-four 12th when his tee shot buried into soft sand in a bunker left of the fairway and had to use his hands to dig around the left lip to find the ball.
Kevin Sutherland birdied three of the final six holes Saturday for a 5-under 67 and the second-round lead in the Champions Tour's Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. ''I didn't have a stance and the ball's plugged,'' Sutherland said. Just ended up in a bad spot but was able to make the best of it.'' Sutherland, the one-time PGA Tour winner who shot the first 59 in Champions Tour history last year in Endicott, New York, chipped in for birdie from behind the 12th green and birdied Nos. He had a two-stroke lead over 2011 MGRC champ Tom Lehman, but he doesn't have the ''hangover'' from a record round like he did the last time he took a lead into the final round.
Jimmy Walker opened a four-stroke lead over fellow Texan Jordan Spieth, shooting a 3-under 69 on Saturday in his hometown Texas Open. Walker, who lives 35 minutes away from TPC San Antonio, is looking for his fifth title in two tour seasons. ''It's a tough golf course,'' said Walker, the winner of the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. The 21-year-old Dallas player, coming off a playoff victory two weeks ago at Innisbrook, had a double bogey, two bogeys and two birdies on the final six holes.
By Bernie McGuire SAN ANTONIO, Texas, March 28 (Reuters) - Former world number one Tiger Woods will on Monday drop outside the top 100 in the rankings for the first time in more than 18 years. The 39-year-old American is down at number 96 and a world ranking official told Reuters that he is likely to slip to 102nd when the list is adjusted after this weekend's tournaments. Woods posted an 82 at the Phoenix Open in January, his worst round as a professional, as he slumped outside the leading 50 in the rankings for the first time in more than three years.
Romain Wattel of France produced a late charge Saturday to share the lead with Scottish pair Richie Ramsay and Andrew McArthur on 7-under par heading into the final round of the Trophee Hassan II. McArthur and Wattel shot 5-under 67s while overnight co-leader Ramsey had to be content with a 71 after hitting five birdies and four bogeys. ''I was two under quite quickly then I had a few mistakes ... You have to be patient here and on the good side every time.'' South African George Coetzee (71), who must win to secure a place at the Masters in less than two weeks, remains in the mix after a superb back nine at the Golf du Palais Royal.