Phatlum shot a stellar round of six under par, including six birdies on the front nine followed by two birdies and two bogeys on the back, to card 65 on the par 71 course. She heads into the final round three shots clear of second placed Ayako Uehara who finished two under par for the day on 69.
Speaking after her round, the 24 year old fromChaiyaphum, said, "The front nine was amazing. Like I made everything.Back nine I just feel a little bit nervous and just keep concentrating on my game. My brother caddies for me. He just [told] me to keep calm and then be relaxed and just concentrate, and yeah, made some birdies."
Looking ahead to tomorrow, Phatlum, who has five top ten finishes to her name on tour so far this year added, "I think I just [will be] more confident on putting. I think I'm going to be a little bit nervous tomorrow, but I try to keep calm tomorrow and just play my game and go shot by shot."
Overnight leader So YeonRyufrom the Republic of Korea had dominated the leader board for much of Round Three before dropping a shot on the 13th and double bogeying the last two holes of the day to finish at one over par. She heads into the final round tied in third place alongside Shanshan Feng (China), Chella Choi (Taiwan) and Lydia Ko(New Zealand) at 10 shots under par.
Speaking after a frustrating finish, Ryu said, "Well, pin positions were quite tough. Obviously my game wasn't really bad, just the last two holes wasn't a strong finish. 17's tee shot was a really great shot, just unlucky in the water. Maybe 18 second shot was not bad, so it was kind of very unlucky but I still have one more round tomorrow."
Another player who had been contesting the top spot for much of the day was Lydia Ko. The New Zealander has looked so consistent all week but ended up in the trees after her second shot on the par five hole 12, requiring a drop shot on her way to a double bogey.
She certainly wasn't the only one to struggle in the hot conditions. Malaysia's overnight best placed player Michelle Koh had a disappointing round, posting seven over par for the day. The 23 year old got off to the worst possible start double bogeying the first two holes followed by a further three bogeys on the front nine. She recovered on the back nine hitting one further bogey and a birdie to finish the day in 65th place.
Kelly Tan picks up the baton of leading the local challenge, with an even par round to leave her tied in 55th place on three over. The only LPGA Tour player out of the six Malaysian Angels, Tan said, "I didn't start off how I wanted today but I managed to get a couple of birdies coming back. I still haven't got the speed of the green. I had a lot of good opportunities but I came up short a lot of times."
Asked if she was happy with her overall performance, she added, "I get a little frustrated. That's kind of how I am. I'm still trying to learn to be more happy and more relaxed on the golf course. I really take this seriously. But I don't think it helped. I really want to go out there tomorrow and enjoy myself. That's the goal for tomorrow."
Meanwhile defending champion Lexi Thompson saw a reversal in her fortunes from the first two days, hitting a two under par round of 69 to bring her back to even par on aggregate for the tournament and was visibly more comfortable out on course.
Speaking about her eagle on the sixth hole, she said, "Yeah, it definitely was big. It helps out with the Wounded Warrior program, too, donating to them. That means a lot to me.I definitely haven't played up to my standards, but it's always great to come back here. The course is in amazing shape. The tournament has definitely improved even since last year with all the festivities that they have going on off the course."
Touching on her pink attire - worn in support of the tournament's Pink Saturday - she added, "I've done a few Breast Cancer Awareness functions with Morgan Pressel's event, and I've donated a little bit to the foundation, and my mom is a five year survivor now.So I wear pink every Saturday for that. Dyed my hair pinkfor this month. It means a lot to bring awareness to breast cancer, and hopefully it'll find a cure."
The fifth edition of the US$ 2 million purse Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia concludes on the East Course at KLGCC tomorrow. 75 players are competing in the 72-hole stroke play, no cut tournament for one of the largest prize purses in Asia.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images