A victory at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia event would make Cristie Kerr just the third LPGA golfer to break the $19 million mark on tour, joining Annika Sorenstam ($22.5 million) and Karrie Webb ($20.1 million). It’s all well and good, but the 40-year-old has a different number: 20. As in her 20th tour title.
With a third-round 65 at TPC Kuala Lumpur, Kerr has that in sight as she holds a one-stroke lead over defending champion Shanshan Feng. Kerr built off a Friday 63, in which she made nine birdies, by making seven more on Saturday, including five over her first nine holes.
“I found a feel in my swing yesterday and it has made a big difference,” Kerr said. “I made some big par saves on the back. I definitely hit it better and when I give my putter chances, usually I do OK with that. So it’s been fun the last couple days.”
It’s the first time that Kerr has played in the event since 2013. After winning the Lotte Championship in April and then claiming her first Ladies European Tour title last month in France, a third victory in 2017 would be the most in a single calendar year since she was a three-time LPGA winner in 2006.
“I’m just going to enjoy it. I’m really blessed,” said Kerr, who would become the 27th player to win 20 or more LPGA titles. “I’m just going to try to not put too much pressure on myself. I didn’t hit it great coming in on the back, but I didn’t stress about it. I just tried to do the best I could. That’s where I play my best golf from; I try to do the best on every shot, so that's my mantra tomorrow.”
She’ll have a fair amount of work to do, however, on Sunday given Feng’s prowess in this event. In addition to taking the title in 2016, she also won in 2014 and finished runner-up in 2013 and 2015. Moreover, with rounds of 66-65-68, Feng has yet to make a bogey this week in Malaysia.
“My ball-striking wasn’t as accurate, but I think overall, 3-under, bogey-free round is still a very good score for Saturday,” Feng said. “I’m just feeling comfortable here. I’m not really trying to think about that bogey-free thing. I just want to keep the good playing going.”
Four strokes back of Kerr is Sei Young Kim in solo third place, with Americans Stacy Lewis and Jacqui Concolino tied for fourth, five behind the leader.