Former champion Lexi Thompson fired six birdies in a five-under-par 67 to emerge from a marathon on Saturday with a two-shot lead in the LPGA ANA Inspiration.

Thompson is excelling under unusual conditions at the ANA Inspiration, the L.P.G.A. Tour’s first major championship of the year, and that has put her in prime position to play for her second major title.

Thompson, a 22-year-old American, claimed the tournament lead while completing a wind-delayed second round on Saturday before moving to two shots ahead of Suzann Pettersen of Norway with a third-round 67. After a long day of play in the wind and sun, Thompson was at 13-under-par 203 heading into Sunday’s final round of the year’s first major championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

Thompson was among some 50 players who had to return Saturday morning to complete the second round, the knock-on effect of the delays for high winds on Thursday.

The disruption did Thompson no harm as she produced back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth — her 16th and 17th holes of the second round en route to a 67 and the 36-hole lead.

Thompson won her only major title in 2014, and she simply excels at Mission Hills. Keeping her winning momentum going through, she smashed her drives and got great results from her inconsistent putter on the way to six birdies in the third round. Birdies at the second and third were followed by a bogey at the fourth, but she put together three birdies in a row at the ninth, 10th and 11th before picking up one more stroke at 16.

Pettersen nabbed her sixth birdie of the round at the 18th, capping a 68 for sole possession of second place on 205.

It was a further stroke back to South Korea’s Hur Mi-Jung, Ryu So-Yeon and Park In-Bee and Australian Minjee Lee on 206.

Mi Jung Hur rocketed up the leaderboard with a seven-under-par 65 that included eight birdies.

Rio Olympic gold medalist Park, whose seven major titles include the 2013 ANA Inspiration, had five birdies in a four-under 68. Lee also signed for a 68 while Ryu, playing in the last group, carded a 69.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Thai talent who has Lydia Ko’s world number one ranking in her sights, was in a group sharing seventh place on 208.

Thompson has worked really hard, and practiced a lot to strong her game. She has faced difficulties last year, went through many putters. But, now she has made an impressive comeback in the game.

The game, clearly, is in her favor.

Source: News 18

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