Michelle Wie steadied herself with pars over the last four holes on a wild Saturday in the U.S. Women’s Open, leaving the former teen prodigy from Hawaii one round away from winning her first major.
Wie made back-to-back birdies to build a four-shot lead, only to give it all back with drives all over Pinehurst No. 2. She salvaged a 2-over 72 for a share of the lead with Amy Yang, who didn’t make a par until the eighth hole in her roller-coaster round of 68.
They were at 2-under 208, the only two players still under par on a Pinehurst No. 2 course that was crispy and brittle. The USGA set the course up relative to what the men faced last Saturday in the U.S. Open short but tough because of the pin positions.
“It’s tough out there,” Wie said. “My system got a little overheated. You can’t be in the trees here. But I felt like I grinded out there.”
The big surprise was the tournament-best 66 from Juli Inkster, the 53-year-old Hall of Famer who has said this will be her 35th and final U.S. Women’s Open. Inkster birdied the opening hole and played like she did when she won a pair of Women’s Open more than a decade ago.
Inkster, who hasn’t made the cut in this championship in five years, was tied for third just four shots behind. She will be in the penultimate group.
Lexi Thompson, who won the first LPGA major of the year in a final-round duel with Wie, pulled within one shot with a pair of early birdies. It fell apart on two holes. Thompson missed the green to the left on No. 8 the worst spot at Pinehurst and her first chip fell down the slope, leading to double bogey.
On the next hole, she went long over the green at the par-3 ninth, and chose to take relief she really didn’t need from a white line marking the TV tower. Thompson went to the drop zone, and her ball rolled a back into a divot. Worst yet, she still used her putter, and it hopped high out of the divot and had no chance to reach the green. She made another double bogey, then made three straight bogeys on the back nine.
Thompson shot 74 and was five shots behind.
Moore leads Travelers: Ryan Moore had an eagle and two birdies Saturday in a bogey-free 4-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Aaron Baddeley in the Travelers Championship.
The 31-year-old Moore had a 13-under 197 total at TPC River Highlands after opening with rounds of 63 and 68. He won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia at the start of the season in October for his third PGA Tour title.
Baddeley had six birdies and a bogey in a 65.
Sergio Garcia and K.J. Choi were tied for third at 11 under. Garcia had a 65, and Choi shot 69.
Masters champion Bubba Watson was nine strokes back after a 67. He won in 2010 at River Highlands.
Ilonen still up at Irish Open: Mikko Ilonen of Finland birdied the last hole to stay on top of the Irish Open leaderboard after three rounds. Ilonen, who has led from the outset, carded a 2-under-par 69 to move to a 12-under total at Fota Island.
The leader by two shots overnight, Ilonen will take a one-shot lead into the final round over Danny Willett of England, who eclipsed Ilonen’s own course record by a shot with an 8-under 63 that included a hole-in-one at the seventh.
Cappelen ahead at Web.com event: Sebastian Cappelen shot 5-under par to take a two-shot lead at the Air Capital Classic on the Web.com tour. Cappelen is at 14-under par. Washington native Steve Wheatcroft missed the cut.