Rose Zhang holds 1 stroke lead at Maybank Championship

League: Golf

Posted on: 28 Oct, 2023 at 02:43 PM

Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

Rose Zhang birdied the 18th hole to card a 7-under-par 65 on Saturday and seize a one-stroke lead after three rounds at the Maybank Championship at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The 20-year-old rookie sensation resides at 18-under 198 on the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club course, just ahead of Thailand's Atthaya Thitikul and Jasmine Suwannapura. Thitikul shot a tournament 18-hole record 62 on Saturday, while Suwannapura -- the leader after both the first and second round -- carded a 67.

As for Zhang, she holds a 54-hole lead for the first time since she walked away a first-time winner and the newest LPGA Tour member following her professional debut at the Mizuho Americas Open in June.

"I just feel like being able to have this opportunity to come into the final round with a little bit of a lead is really great," Zhang said. "I think that going forward it's just making sure I'm having fun, having that game plan."

Zhang recorded six of her eight birdies over her first 10 holes. She overcame a bogey on the par-4 14th hole by notching a birdie on Nos. 15 and 18. She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens during the third round.

Thitikul, 20, kept the heat on by recording her lowest round of the year. She had 10 birdies during her bogey-free round on Saturday, including six on the back nine.

"Yeah, it's good when you're not making a bogey, but everyone out here can make a birdie, which is like kind of strategy," Thitikul said. "Like you can make a bogey but also you have to make a lot of birdie. Instead of if you have bogey-free but just you only have one birdie like I did yesterday, it's not going to work."

Suwannapura, who had six birdies against one bogey, is bidding for her third career LPGA Tour victory.

"Today was really fun to play with Rose," Suwannapura said. "She played really well today. It's kind of remind me of like, you know, couple years ago when I go offseason in Thailand and I play with the guys. They play on Asian Tour and European Tour so we play like money game. You know, it's like they can shoot 10-under every day, so even though you make birdie you might lose money. So it's really fun to battle with Rose the front nine. Definitely she played well today."

Kim Sei-young of South Korea carded a bogey-free 65 on Saturday to sit in fourth place at 15-under. Megan Khang (65), Taiwan's Peiyun Chien (68) and Japan's Nasa Hataoka (64) reside in a three-way tie for fifth place at 14-under.

Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa made a hole-in-one on the par-3 4th hole. She sits in a tie for 46th place at 4-under.

--Field Level Media