On a day when many of the top players in the world of women's golf moved backwards in a big way, Lexi Thompson took a great leap forward, making 3 birdies on the front and 2 on the back as she extended her bogey-free run to 33 holes and counting and leapfrogged Ilhee Lee to take a 3-shot lead into the final round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. Lee had been -14 through her 1st 33 holes, endured a stretch of 12 holes in which she made 3 bogeys and only 1 birdie, and fought back with a bogey-free 34 on the back to return to -14. The only other players in any position to deny Thompson her 2nd LPGA victory are Suzann Pettersen and Shanshan Feng, who each have made only 1 bogey through 54 holes (Feng's came on her 51st hole), but still sit 6 shots behind the young American.
Sure, Anna Nordqvist shot a fine 65 to move to -9, but like Karine Icher, she's 5 shots behind Lee and 8 behind Thompson with only 18 holes left to play. What they need is for the leaders to fall apart Sunday like so many great players did today: Chie Arimura (77), Ya Ni Tseng (76), Jessica Korda (76), Ji-Yai Shin (75), Paula Creamer (75), Mamiko Higa (75), and Amy Yang (who followed up yesterday's 62 with a 74). Just getting stuck in neutral, more or less--as happened to Feng (70), So Yeon Ryu (70), Brittany Lang (70), Hee Young Park (70), Stacy Lewis (70), Beatriz Recari (70), Caroline Masson (70), Morgan Pressel (70), Ai Miyazato (71), Se Ri Pak (71), Chella Choi (71), Michelle Wie (71), Carlota Ciganda (71), In-Kyung Kim (72), and Caroline Hedwall (72)--won't do much to bring Thompson and Lee back to many players in the field. With Lewis at -6, Inbee Park at -3, and Na Yeon Choi at -1, they don't have a hope of winning tomorrow.
So let's see if this becomes a victory lap for Thompson, a shootout between her and Lee, or a huge come-from-behind charge from Pettersen or Feng, or a miracle win for someone else....
[Update 1 (7:55 am): Here's Ruthless Mike's report on what he was watching last night!]
[Update 2 (6:30 pm): Here's bangkokbobby!]