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Thai rookie leads Honda Thailand by four in bid to win in LPGA Tour debut


PATTAYA, Thailand – Thai rookie Natthakritta Vongtaveelap shot a bogey-free 64 to grab a four-stroke lead over fellow countrywoman Atthaya Thitikul after round three of the $1.7 million Honda LPGA Thailand on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Vongtaveelap began with an eagle and went on to notch six birdies, including three in a row from the 16th, to finish on 20-under-par 196 in front of thousands of jubilant home fans at the Siam Country Club.

Vongtaveelap will try to become the first player to win on her LPGA Tour debut since Japan’s Hinako Shibuno at the 2019 AIG Women’s Open.

Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

“This is a bit beyond my expectations but it’s not impossible,” Vongtaveelap said. “A bigger crowd is expected to turn up tomorrow and I will try to take that as an inspiration to do my best.”

Her longtime friend and two-time LPGA winner Thitikul also carded a 64. The world No.4 kicked off her round with three straight birdies and produced five more before stumbling with a bogey on the 16th hole. But she bounced back with a closing birdie.

Celine Boutier, the French national who has Thai parents, shot a 67 to take third place on 201.

American Lilia Vu, 2014 winner Anna Nordqvist of Sweden and compatriot Maja Stark were six shots off the lead on 202. Nelly Korda and world No. 1 Lydia Ko were seven back at 13 under.