AFP PHOTO

South Korea’s Kim Sei-young fired a five-under-par 66 to preserve a one-shot lead after the third round of the LPGA Tour’s Marathon Classic on Saturday.

Kim, who started the day one clear of the field after a dazzling seven-under-par 64 on Friday, produced a flawless charge on the back nine to stay on top of the leaderboard heading into the final round.

The 26-year-old from Seoul carded seven birdies and two bogeys to finish the day with a 16 under total after 54 holes at the Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio.

After reaching the turn at one under, Kim’s charge came down the stretch with back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th before another pair of birdies on 16 and 17.

A par five on the last left her one clear of Lexi Thompson of the United States as she chases a ninth career victory on the LPGA Tour and her second win of 2019.

Thompson vaulted herself into contention with a six-under-under par 65 which included a stunning eagle three on the par-five 18th to take her to 15 under for the tournament.

After a shaky start with a bogey on the first, Thompson motored up the leaderboard with five birdies from the remaining eight holes on the front nine to reach the turn at 13 under for the day.

It looked however as if the birdies had dried up coming down the stretch, with Thompson forced to settle for eight consecutive pars through the 17th.

But after reaching the 18th green in two, Thompson rolled in a perfectly-judged 15-foot putt for an eagle which leaves her perfectly poised for Sunday’s final round.

Kim and Thompson have put clear daylight between themselves and the chasing pack, which is led by Korea’s Lee6 Jeong-eun, who is four off the lead on 12 under after a two-under-par 69 on Saturday.

Three players are tied for fourth on 11 under, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda joining US duo Stacy Lewis and Jennifer Kupcho.