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- 26. February 2011.
Focused Arimura eyes firts LPGA Victory at HSBC Women's Champions
LPGA Legend Webb One Shot Back In Singapore, With Tseng, Choi, Yoo in Top Five
Singapore, 26 February 2011 - Chie Arimura of Japan is closing in on her first LPGA victory after the diminutive star's third round of one-under 71 gave her a one-shot lead over Australia's Karrie Webb after 54 holes at the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore.
The overnight leader is at 11-under 205 after three days, but the ominous shadow of Hall of Famer Webb, who recorded a two-under 70 today, will loom large over Arimura at Tanah Merah Country Club in what is sure to be a thrilling last-day duel for HSBC's 'Champions of Champions' title.
The world's top-ranked player Yani Tseng of Chinese Taipei (69 today), world number four Na Yeon Choi (71) and fellow Korean Sun Young Yoo (73) share third on five-under 211, with In Kyung Kim, also of Korea, who had the day's low round of 67 (-5), another shot back in sixth position alone.
The 23-year-old Arimura, a seven-time winner on the Japan LPGA, made a solid start to the third round with eight straight pars, before birdies at the ninth and 11th holes at the Garden Course extended her lead to three shots.
However, short birdie misses at 15 and 16 and then the final two holes of day three - including an Arimura bogey at 17 and a Webb birdie at 18 that quickly cut the lead to one - proved pivotal.
Said Arimura: "That (the missed putts) is part of golf. You can't win easily. I learned that again today, so I just need to play my game tomorrow and focus on each shot and not try to give up at the end of the round and see what happens.
"I am surprised to be in the final group (tomorrow), competing against one of the great players, Yani, and Karrie. I might be nervous, but, at the same time, I think I'm not expecting a lot from myself so I can focus on my game that way. Just competing against those great players is even hard for me to believe - it's like a dream," she added.
Amongst the other stars in the HSBC Women's Champions' powerhouse field, Morgan Pressel is in seventh on her own and Cristie Kerr and defending champion Ai Miyazato are in equal eighth. The world's second-ranked player Jiyai Shin, the 2009 HSBC Women's Champions winner, is tied 14th with Suzann Pettersen sharing 17th. Paula Creamer is 22nd and Michelle Wie is in a group at 35th.
Webb, the winner of 36 LPGA events throughout her remarkable career, posted a round that included four birdies against three bogeys. However, it was the final-hole birdie, which came when she holed a 15-footer, that has her confident in her chances tomorrow.
Said Webb: "Chie missed a few putts coming in and it was nice to grab a birdie on the last. She really could have separated herself from all of us, so I feel pretty fortunate to only be one shot behind. I knew that I just had to keep plugging away and stay patient.
"It's a great opportunity for Chie, never having won on the LPGA but she's won plenty of times in Japan so she knows how to win and how to get it done. If she plays like she did today, it's going to be a battle right down to the end," she added.
Featuring 63 of the best players in the world, the final round of the HSBC Women's Champions will tee off tomorrow (Sunday) at 8.20 am at the Garden Course at Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore.
The leading group (Arimura, Webb and Tseng) will play at 10.10 am, with the 72-hole championship offering a first prize cheque of US$210,000 to the winner.
Marquee names Choi (9.59 am), Pressel and Miyazato (9.48 am), Kerr (9.37 am), Shin (9.26 am), Pettersen (9.15 am), Natalie Gulbis (9.04 am) and Creamer (8.53 am) will all play from the first, while Wie (8.42 am) will play from the 10th.
For further information, please visit http://www.hsbcgolf.com/womens/
Karrie-Webb, photo by Getty Images for HSBC