GOLF NEWS - Japan's Hinako Shibuno, the 2019 Women's British Open champion, clung to a one-stroke lead over American Amy Olson after Saturday's third round of the 75th US Women's Open.
The 22-year-old nicknamed "Smiling Cinderella," trying to win her US Women's Open debut, fired a three-over par 74 to stand on four-under 209 after 54 holes at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.
Shibuno, who led by three strokes when the day began, managed only one birdie against four bogeys, starting and finishing her round with bogeys.
"It was a little shock that I dropped a couple of shots but I will do my best tomorrow and try to play my way," Shibuno said through a translator.
Olson, seeking her first LPGA title, shot 71 to grab second with the only others under par being Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn and South Korean Kim2 Ji-yeong, both on 212.
"Definitely pleased," Olson said. "It's not easy. It was really a grind out there. I'm pleased with how I played."
Moriya, whose only LPGA title came at the 2018 Los Angeles Open, fired a 72 while Kim2 matched the week's best round with a bogey-free 67, leaping into contention after making the cut on the number.
"So far I'm happy. I'm playing pretty solid," Moriya said. "You can't really be aggressive and you just have to be patient out there."
The event was rescheduled from June due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which also kept spectators from attending.
Shibuno opened with a three-putt bogey but birdied the par-5 fifth after blasting out of a bunker to three feet, stretching her lead to four strokes.
At the seventh, a mud-ball approach rolled off the back of the green. Shibuno pitched to five feet but missed the par putt.
Shibuno, who won four times last year on the Japan LPGA Tour, found a bunker at the 14th, blasted out to 30 feet and two-putted for bogey, and another on 18, missing an eight-footer for par.
Olson, who aced the par-3 16th on Thursday, made bogeys at the third and sixth and another to start the back nine after a birdie at the par-5 ninth.
But the 28-year-old responded with birdies at the par-5 13th and par-4 17th and just missed a 15-footer to settle for par at 18.
"Got off to a rough start out there but I played really well closing out and anything can happen out there tomorrow," Olson said.
"It's all about staying patient and not getting caught up in what anyone else is doing."
Moriya, 26, birdied the par-5 fifth but then made a bogey at six before making a charge with birdies at the par-3 eighth and par-5 13th to reach 4-under, two behind Shibuno.
She stumbled with a bogey at 14 and suffered a plugged lie in a greenside bunker at the par-4 17th on her way to a double bogey and a round of 72.
"I got one bad break and just one bad hole and everything's pretty solid," Moriya said.
Back-nine starter Kim2 birdied the 10th and the par-3 16th and fourth holes, then chipped in for birdie at the ninth to share third.
"In the first half of the round I wasn't keeping up, but later as the day went on I did look and was surprised to see how far I've come up on the scoreboard," she said.
"I really didn't expect to be performing so well and I'm just glad to be here."
Ko in fifth-place pack
New Zealand's Lydia Ko was in a pack in fifth on level par 213 that included a US trio - 19-year-old Yealimi Noh, amateur Kaitlyn Papp and Megan Khang.
Swedish amateur Linn Grant, three back at the turn, found the water on her approach at the 10th and her chip rolled back into the water on the way to a quadruple-bogey eight on the way to a 78 that dropped her out of the hunt.
The only amateur to win the US Women's Open was France's Catherine Lacoste in 1967.
South Korea's Chella Choi aced the par-3 12th from 180 yards.