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Minjee Lee takes three-stroke lead entering final round at Toto Japan Classic


Minjee Lee shot an 8-under 64 to take a three-shot lead after the second round of the Toto Japan Classic on Saturday.

Lee, seeking her second LPGA title this year, had eight birdies in a bogey-free round at the Seta Golf Club to improve to 13-under 131, three-strokes ahead of local favorite Sakura Koiwai, who offset a long bogey with seven birdies for a 66.

“I had no bogeys today and so obviously no bogey round is always a solid round,” Lee said afterward.

Asked about her strategy on the final day, she said she would “play smart and aggressive at the same time.”

Said Koiwai: “I’m surprised as I never thought of this result.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s round, she added: “Since tomorrow is the final day, I want to concentrate on the game hit by hit so that I can have no regret.”

Nasa Hataoka shot a 69 and was tied for third with compatriot Momoko Ueda and South Korean golfers Jiyai Shin (69) and Bae Hee-kyung (67) four strokes back.

Overnight leader Ryu So-yeon struggled with her game and shot a 73 that included three bogeys and a pair of birdies.

Nelly Korda, who won last week’s Taiwan Championship, had a 69 and was tied for 19th place.

China’s Feng Shanshan, the two-time defending champion, shot 71 to be tied 22th, and newly crowned world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn was at tied 25th after also carding a 71.