• Kyodo


Miki Saiki stayed on course for her first win in three years after a 2-under 70 on Saturday preserved her slim advantage heading into the final round of the Itoen Ladies.

Saiki, runner up at the Japan Women’s Open last month, offset a bogey on the fourth hole with three birdies at Great Island Club to reach 7-under 137, one stroke clear of South Korea’s Lee Na Ri.

“I was a bit nervous but I managed to limit myself to one bogey and I think that perhaps shows that I have improved,” said the 26-year-old, who has not won since claiming her first tour victory at the 2007 Fujisankei Ladies Classic.

Saiki bogeyed the final two holes in regulation and missed out on the title at this tournament in 2007 in three-way playoff against eventual winner Rui Kitada and Hiromi Mogi. The Hiroshima native admitted the emotional scars had still not healed.

“This course suits my game but I mess up at the end and that is a jinx I want to break,” said Saiki. “I want to forget those last two (regulation) holes. I was so disappointed it is hard to forget.”

“If I am standing at the 17th hole tomorrow and am in a similar position I will try to get revenge through all the hard work I have put in the last three years.”

Lee shot a 68 to stand alone in second place while Mie Nakata was two more shots adrift after putting together a 69.

Sakura Yokomine, the 2009 JLPGA money title winner, carded a 73 but stayed in the hunt, closing out at 3-under 141 alongside Yoko Inoue (69) and South Korean Song Bo Bae (69).

Current money rankings leader Ahn Sun Ju stumbled to a 73 and slid into share of 15th at even par 144.

Ishikawa climbs

GOTEMBA , Shizuoka Pref. (Kyodo) Ryo Ishikawa fired a bogey-free 65 to surge from eighth place into a share of the lead with Hiroyuki Fujita after the third round of the Taiheiyo Masters on Saturday.

Ishikawa made seven birdies en route to a 54-hole total of 9-under 207, while Fujita shot the day’s low of 63 at the Taiheiyo Club Gotemba Course.

Ishikawa birdied six of his first nine holes and picked up another shot on the par-5 11th before matching par the rest of the way.

The 19-year-old, who drew a jubilant crowd of over 10,000 in the gallery, chipped in for birdie from 10 yards on the eighth and rolled his third shot from a greenside bunker with a high lip down a sloping green and into the cup on the ninth.

“The cheers were amazing so I knew that it had gone in. I outdid myself,” said Ishikawa, who need just eight putts on the front nine for second best on the JGTO Tour. “I didn’t know how hard I hit it to go in but it was a good bunker shot,” he said.

Fujita, third on the money list, lit up his scorecard with 10 birdies against one bogey. The pair will face off in the same threesome in the final round on Sunday.

Shintaro Kai was one stroke back after a round of 66 left him in third while Australia’s Brendan Jones (65) and Kunihiro Kamii (68) were at 7-under 209. Masamichi Ito, a 15-year-old amateur junior high school student, shot a 67 to move into a tie for eighth place.

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