Lilia Vu had never held a lead or co-lead after a round of the LPGA Tour before Friday at the AmazingCre Portland Classic. Now she will start in the lead pack for the second day in a row after battling to retain her lead in round three at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. Vu got off to a rocky start with a bogey on the first hole, but turned it around on the back nine with four birdies in the first six holes. Her 3-under round was enough to keep the co-lead at -13, but the former UCLA knows she’ll need to calm her nerves and improve her tee shots to walk away with her first LPGA Tour win tomorrow. .
“This course demands a lot off the tee, and I didn’t feel good (at the start). I told you yesterday that I don’t really watch the scores, but you’re there in the lead group, so you can’t help but watch,” Vu said. “I’m just going to go out there and have a good time and let the golf do what it wants to do… I think the advantage is on the tee. If you step into the fairway, set yourself a good approach shot, you’ll have a good chance of birdie most of the time.
Joining Vu in the tie for first place are 2022 inaugural Rolex winner Ayaka Furue and Stanford alumnus Andrea Lee. Furue and Lee both fired 67 shots on Saturday, with the former earning five birdies in a bogey-free round by hitting all 14 fairways. A rookie in 2022, Furue won the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open in July and found success on the LPGA Tour by limiting her errors on the course.
“It’s very important to play bogey-free golf,” Furue said. “I think it’s more important than getting birdies, not getting bogeys. So I’m very happy with that today.
Lee took advantage of the scoring front nine on Saturday, earning three birdies after hitting every fairway there. The Epson Tour grad birdied at least one of Columbia Edgewater’s four par-5s in every round, and favored the No. 5 accessible par-5 in the last two rounds.
“I think this week so far I’ve played the front nine pretty well. Just birdie at one of the par-5s every day… I think the par-5s, you absolutely have to take advantage of that to get down,” Lee said. “I love golf. I’m not the longest player on the tour, so I think it’s one of the shortest courses we play here. I think that definitely played to my strengths.
Hianko Shibuno, Daniela Darquea, Paula Reto and Hannah Green tied for fourth at -12. Green, the 2019 AmazingCre Portland Classic champion, took advantage of her familiarity with Columbia Edgewater to shoot a 4-under 68, also making the most of the scoring front nine to sink four birdies.
“I made a good putt on the third hole. Probably like a 25 footer. I remember in 2019 a very similar putt on the same pin, so I kind of knew which way it broke,” she said. “I’m trying to (think back to 2019) because a lot of things went my way and obviously went well to win. So I just think to make sure I don’t get too carried away, but remember what I accomplished on this golf course.
The low round of the day belonged to Sweden’s Frida Kinhult, who shot -7 with six birdies and an eagle and a bogey. She is joined by fellow Swede Maja Stark and Oregon native Caroline Inglis tied for 10th. Just one shot ahead of that trio are second-round co-leader Esther Henseleit and American Ryann O’Toole, who sit in T8 and just two shots off the lead.