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Teen Takes over Lead in Honda LPGA Thailand


Ariya Jutanugarn carded a 2-under 70 to take over the lead from Stacy Lewis in the Honda LPGA Thailand. The $1.5 million LPGA Tour event began Thursday at Siam Country Club's Pattaya Old Course.

The 17-year-old Thai, last year one of the top-ranked amateurs in the world, got into the tournament on a sponsor's invitation and is playing as a pro, making her eligible for prize money this week. If she wins the Honda LPGA Thailand, she'll become the third-youngest winner in LPGA Tour history after Lydia Ko (2012 Canadian Women's Open) and Lexi Thompson (2011 Navistar LPGA Classic).

Jutanugarn, who won the Ladies European Tour Q-school in December, stands at 11-under 205 through 54 holes, three strokes better than South Korean Se Ri Pak (71), Spain's Beatriz Recari (72) and Lewis, who ballooned to a 4-over 76 after opening with rounds of 63 and 69.

On Saturday, Jutanugarn got off to an unimpressive start, carding a birdie on the par-5 opener, carding seven pars and ending the front nine with a double-bogey for a 1-over 37. On the home half, however, she got hot, reeling off five straight birdies to begin the home half. But she stumbled coming home, with three bogeys and a bogey on the final four holes for a 3-under 33.

"I should do better than a 2-under," Jutanugarn said of her erratic round. "But I am happy with my overall result."

As for playing in front of her home fans, the teenager responded, well, as a teenager. "I did feel a lot of pressure early on. I felt the whole Thai people hope was on my back. After a few holes, people starting to cheer me up, and that made all the pressure gone away."

As for the troubles of playing partner Lewis, Jutanugarn said, "Stacy did not play her best game today and my score was not bad. I have nothing to worry about. I have the game plan and have to focus on it."

World No. 4 Inbee Park (71) is fifth at 7-under, while Lizette Salas (73) and So Yeon Ryu (74) are at 6-under.

Two-time defending champion Yani Tseng stands at 1-under 215 after a 72. She's tied for 24th with, among others, Americans Paula Creamer (68) and Brittany Lincicome (71). Michelle Wie is another stroke back after shooting a 71.

For all the scores, visit http://www.lpgascoring.com/public/Leaderboard.