Choi 1 round closer to defending Malaysia title

8:40 AM, Oct 13, 2012   |    comments
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Sports Network) - Defending champion Na Yeon Choi shot a 3-under 68 on Saturday to retain the lead through three rounds of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Choi, who won the U.S. Women's Open for her first major title in July, endured a 4-hour weather delay and fired four birdies at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club to reach 13-under 200.

The South Korean has held or shared the lead through all three rounds and sits two strokes clear of Inbee Park, who tied the low round of the day Saturday with a 65.

"I think a lot of good players, they are behind me now," said Choi. "Actually, honestly, I don't like leading, that feeling. I like chasing better."

Karrie Webb, who was tied with Choi after the first round, carded a 68 on Saturday and resides alone in third place. The 37-time LPGA Tour winner recorded five birdies and a pair of bogeys to reach 9-under for the tournament.

Ai Miyazato also fired a third-round 68 and shares fourth place with Suzann Pettersen (70), who was one day removed from a tournament-record 64.

Paula Creamer, Catriona Matthew and Mika Miyazato are grouped in sixth place at 7-under 206.

World No. 1 Yani Tseng, who finished one stroke behind Choi at this event in 2011, had her best round of the week (68), but still sits at 5-over courtesy of a 78 and 72 in the first and second round, respectively.

Top American and World No. 2 Stacy Lewis sits at 1-under after recording a 73 on Saturday, while third-ranked Jiyai Shin is tied for 21st at 3-under. Shin is attempting to win her third consecutive event after capturing the Women's British Open and the Kingsmill Championship in her previous two tour appearances.

Choi dealt with the inclement weather ably and turned in a steady 18 holes to maintain the lead. The 24-year-old recorded birdies on the first, fifth, 12th and 16th, with her only misstep coming in the form of a bogey on the par-4 10th.

"Today, I think I played too much safely," said Choi. "So tomorrow I'm not going to think about my score, even 2-shot lead. I just go out there with a general score and play my game. I want to play lower than any day."

NOTES: Choi is seeking her second tour win of the year. She is attempting to become just the second player on the tour this season to successfully defend her title from a year ago. Tseng is the only other player to successfully defend her title this year...Michelle Wie shot a 70 on Saturday and is tied for 48th at 4-over 217.

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