MIYOSHI, Aichi Pref. (Kyodo) Nozomi Kawahara closed in on his first career victory on Saturday by shooting his second 3-under-par 69 in three days for a 10-under 206 total, taking sole possession of the lead with one round left to go in the Georgia Tokai Classic.

Kawahara overcame a three-stroke deficit with seven birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey to maintain his consistency at Miyoshi Country Club in Aichi Prefecture and put behind his poor form this season in which he missed the cut seven times.

Overnight leader Daisuke Maruyama could only produce two birdies and went over-par for the first time in the 120 million yen event with a 1-over 73, having to settle for second at 207 along with Shingo Katayama and Ryoken Kawagishi, who both holed out with 69s.

Kimura stays ahead

NIISATO, Gunma Pref. (Kyodo) Toshimi Kimura held onto her first-round lead Saturday at the 60 million yen Sankyo Ladies Open.

Kimura could not match her opening 65, shooting a 1-under 71, which was still good enough for a two-shot lead over Mari Nishi, who fired a 68 for a 36-hole total of 138.

Lee Ji Hee of South Korea was a further shot off the pace after a 67.

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