Sweden’s Sagstrom stretches LPGA lead to two strokes

SWEDEN’s Madelene Sagstrom fired a bogey-free five-under par 67 on Saturday, stretching her lead to two strokes after the third round of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.
Sagstrom, seeking her first LPGA title at the Florida event, followed up a career-low 62 on Friday with a solid effort to sit on 15-under 201 after 54 holes at Boca Raton.
“I didn’t make as many putts today but I rolled some nice ones in the beginning and I felt like I kept the momentum going,” Sagstrom said.
“I feel great. I’m really proud of myself. I’m really happy.”
Japan’s Nasa Hataoka overcame an opening bogey to also shoot 67 and seize second, with South Korean Kim Sei-young and American Danielle Kang sharing third on 204 and France’s Celine Boutier and American Cydney Clanton one shot further back.
Sagstrom birdied the par-5 opening hole, the par-3 third and sixth and the par-5 eighth to take command.
“I just wanted to let loose and see what would happen,” Sagstrom said.
She sank another birdie at the par-4 15th, but missed out on a concluding birdie for a third consecutive day when a 12-foot putt slid by the cup.
Sagstrom, 27, said she would be delighted to capture the title on Sunday but was thinking long term about simply being happy about how she handles the situation of playing with a final-round lead no matter how she fares.
“It would mean everything (to win),” Sagstrom said. “Tomorrow my goal is just to go out and make myself proud and be able to be proud of the way I handled myself.”
Hataoka, chasing her fourth career LPGA title, bounced back from her stumble at the start with three birdies in a row starting at the par-3 third, then added another to close the front nine.
Hataoka, who turned 21 earlier this month, birdied the 15th and par-3 17th as well to stay on Sagstrom’s heels.
Kang opened and closed with birdies among her seven in a bogey-free 65 while Kim fell out of a share of second with a closing bogey after opening with a birdie, running off three more in a row starting at the par-5 eighth and making back-to-back birdies at 15 and the par-5 16th.
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, who was second after 36 holes only one adrift of Sagstrom, struggled to a 75 with five bogeys against two birdies.