The top of the leaderboard at the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning & I-O is set up for a dramatic five-way shootout between South African Lee-Anne Pace, Americans Laura Diaz and Jaye Marie Green, South Korean So Yeon Ryu and New Zealander Lydia Ko. Only two strokes separate co-leaders Pace and Diaz from Ko, who’s holding a solo 5th place going into the final round at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Toledo. Among the five only Lydia Ko is a 2014 champion. And should there be any mistakes among the top five, there are six players at -8, among them Cristie Kerr and Mo Martin, trailing Diaz and Pace’s lead by three strokes and poised to take advantage of any opportunity to get to the top of the board.
Diaz & Pace on Unfamiliar Ground
Those moments of opportunity can come from shot well executed or an opponent’s mistake. Diaz, who started the third round holding onto three stroke lead she’d established on Thursday with a stunning, career-low 62 — still the best round carded at the Marathon — found trouble on the par 4 fourth hole after being assessed a one-stroke penalty when her ball moved from her caddie removing a twig from the area. She settled for a double bogey that cut her lead to one.
An eagle on the 9th hole gave Diaz a small margin but Pace was pushing hard for a piece of the lead and a bogey on the 12th opened the door again for Pace, who pulled even with Diaz when she birdied the 17th.
Now both Diaz, who’s ranked 241st, and Pace, who’s ranked 55th, are in unfamiliar territory. This marks just the second time in her 15-year career that Diaz has led or co-led after 54 holes. Her first and only other time came 12 years ago at the 2002 LPGA Corning Classic, where she won her second LPGA title. Pace, who recorded three victories on the LET last season, knows how to close out tournaments but finds herself holding a share of the third-round lead for the first time on the LPGA.
Rookies On The Top of The Board
Both Jaye Marie Green, who’s starting Sunday at -10, and Lydia Ko, who’s starting at -9, have a very good shot at the top of the board. They’ve both played solid rounds with very few mistakes and Sunday Green may have the opportunity to join Ko with a rookie year victory!
Beatriz Recari & Stacy Lewis
Defending champion Beatriz Recari and pre-tournament favorite Stacy Lewis, both starting the final round at -5 and sharing the 23rd slot on the board, are now unlikely to be able to close the gap to the top.
With a weather forecast calling for light rain and mile temperatures, players can anticipate slightly softened playing conditions Sunday, and with a closely packed leaderboard, we can all anticipate a tight finish at the Marathon Classic.
The Sunday round will begin at 7:13am local time, this time with Ashleigh Simon leading off solo. The co-leaders Laura Diaz and Lee-Anne Pace tee off at 12:55pm local time and Golf Channel will begin coverage of the round in progress at 3pm ET.