South Africa`s Pace grabs share of LPGA lead

South Africa`s Lee-Anne Pace, seeking her first LPGA title, fired a three-under par 68 Saturday to match Laura Diaz for the lead after the third round of the Marathon Classic.

Pace stood on 11-under 202 after 54 holes at Highland Meadows, level atop the leaderboard with US veteran Diaz, who fired a 71 in quest of her first LPGA victory since 2002.

South Korean Ryu So-Yeon and 20-year-old American Jaye Marie Green shared third on 203 with New Zealand`s Lydia Ko fifth on 204.

Pace, an eight-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, hopes a strong showing will help her jump to the US tour.

"I definitely want to be in America. Hopefully this week will help me get here full time," Pace said.

"I`m very confident. I felt so relaxed today. It came naturally."

Pace birdied the third and ninth holes but stumbled with bogeys at 11 and 12.

She responded with birdies at the par-4 13th and par-3 14th and another at the par-5 17th.

"I like the greens," Pace said. "They are quite receptive to my shots. I`m confident about my iron play. I`m hitting it in there very well. Hitting really good."

Diaz, who led when the day began, birdied the third hole but followed with a double bogey at the fourth.

On the par-4 ninth, Diaz drove the ball eight feet beyond the cup and made the eagle putt, but took a bogey at 12.

Green, with her teaching-pro father serving as caddie, fired a 63.

"I actually dyed my hair last night. I don`t know if that had anything to do with it," the brunette said.

Green opened with a birdie, added another at the par-3 sixth and closed the front nine with back-to-back birdies.

After a birdie at the 12th, Green took her lone bogey of the round at 14, then responded with four birides in a row and closed with par at the par-5 18th, needing only 25 putts to finish off the day`s low round.

"I`m just going to hit driver on every hole tomorrow and go for everything," Green said. "I`m not going to think about it."

Green said that she made a return to basics in recent weeks after trying to pattern her game after US star Michelle Wie and world number one Stacy Lewis.

"I`m trying to get back to what `Old Jaye` would have done," she said. "I was just trying to change my swing to be like Michelle Wie and putt like Stacy Lewis and I was changing everything. I was changing who I was. It wasn`t me. I didn`t know how to be someone I`m not."

Ryu ran off three birdies in a row, finishing at the par-5 17th, to fire a 68 and join Green one off the pace in Sunday`s penultimate group.

Ko birdied the par-5 17th and 18th to close within two of the leaders.

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