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Hedwall leads by one at CN Canadian Women's Open

Caroline Hedwall

Bernard Brault/Golf Canada

Caroline Hedwall equalled the course record with a 6-under 64 to grab a one stroke lead through three rounds of the CN Canadian Women's Open on Saturday.

Hedwall's 64 was the lowest third round score at the Canadian Open since Lorena Ochoa did it back in 2007, when she went on to win the title at Royal Mayfair Golf and Country Club as well.

"To be honest I don't really remember my round. I have no idea where I make birdies.  I just remember making a bogey," said the young Swede whose best career finish thus far is a tie for third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year.

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"I think I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities and I made quite a lot of them."

Hedwall opened with four birdies over her first six holes to put some early pressure on the leaders. A bogey at No. 8 stalled her progress momentarily before she surged into the lead with birdies over a four hole stretch starting at No. 12.

Playing alongside two former Canadian Open champions in Suzann Pettersen (2009) and Brittany Lincicome (2011), Hedwall did not show any signs of being indimidated, matching the duo shot-for-shot throughout the day.

"I shot 66 today and got beat badly by these two," said Lincicome, who ended the day two strokes behind Hedwall.

"Even from the first hole, from the very start of the day, we were draining birdies. We were 8 under after 8, 9 under after 9, and kind of playing match play with everyone else."

"It was definitely inspiring playing with Suzann and Brittany," added Hedwall, who finished tied for 23rd in her only other Canadian Open appearance back in 2011.

Petterson also got off to a quick start with four birdies over her first eight holes on her way to a round of 65. She finds herself tied with defending champion Lydia Ko at 9-under par.

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"Nice to play with aggressive players to kind of keep wanting it and kind of keep attacking the pins, like towards the end where you can get a bit tired and a bit worn out," said Pettersen.

Ko was the first to get to 10-under with a 31 on the opening nine before a rare stumble for the 16-year-old - back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13 - knocked her out of top spot. She recovered for a birdie on No. 14 and a round of 67.

"I was a bit disappointed in myself for making two bogeys in a row after playing so well, but then the birdie kind of got me confident again," said the South Korean-born New Zealander.

"You never know what's going to happen tomorrow, but up until now I'm pleased with where I am, just one shot back."

In seven total rounds at the Canadian Open, Ko has yet to shoot over par while six of her seven rounds have been in the 60s.

Joining Lincicome at 8-under par was I.K. Kim, who fashioned a round of 65 on Saturday.

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Three golfers - Gerina Piller (67), Paula Creamer (69) and Karine Icher (70) - are within three strokes of the leader.

Second round co-leaders Cristie Kerr and Inbee Park both struggled on moving day. Uncharacteristically Park had three bogeys, a double bogey and a birdie for a round of 74, leaving her six strokes behind the leader.

Kerr was in the mix for most of the day until dropping five shots over her final two holes with a triple-bogey, double-bogey finish and a round of 75.

On Sunday, Hedwall will be paired with former winners Pettersen and Ko as she attempts to win her first career LPGA title. She already owns three career wins on the Ladies European Tour.

"It will be exciting playing in the last group. I won on the European Tour, now I'm just waiting for my first LPGA victory," said Hedwall, who hopes to emulate Ko's feat from a year ago when she made the Canadian Open her first LPGA win.

"Hopefully it comes tomorrow."

For the lone Canadians to make the cut, moving day meant going in the opposite direction.

Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C. carded a round of 75 to sit at 5-over for the tournament while Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ont., shot 78 for a 9-over total through three days.

"Unfortunately it was just horrendous round of golf," said Shepley. "I normally play well at the Canadian Open and play well in my home country ...obviously expected to play much better than I did."


TURNING THE CORNER: Yani Tseng quietly gave a couple of fist pumps after knocking in the five footer on her final hole of the day. After finding a deep divot with her tee shot, Tseng's approach into the green caught the false front and rolled back, leaving her with a delicate up and down for a round of 66.

It was a small victory but these days it's the type of building block Tseng is using to help get her game back to the heady days of 2011 when she ruled the golfing world.

The 66 gave Tseng the temporary clubhouse lead - she eventually finished tied for 15th - and it marked just the fourth time in the last  time 14 rounds that she managed to break par.

"Finish at 4-under, bogey-free, I haven't done that in a long time and this gave me a lot of confidence," said Tseng, who posted the fourth lowest score of round on Saturday.

It wasn't that long ago that Tseng ruled women's golf.

In 2010, three wins including a pair of majors and eight top-10 finishes led to her first Rolex Player of the Year award. Then came 2011 - dubbed by many the Year of Yani. Seven wins including two more majors leading to Tseng becoming the youngest player ever - male or female - with five major victories to her credit at the age of 22. Not even Tiger Woods managed such a feat in his PGA career. Her lead atop the world rankings appeared insurmountable.

And then, just like that, it was gone.

While there were three more wins in 2012, there was three missed cuts over a three month span which equalled the entire total she had in the three previous years. Five top-5 finishes but also eight results outside of the top 20. This year, the struggles have continued, missing her last four cuts coming into the Canadian Open.

"A lot of tough times," recalled Tseng. "Sometimes it's mental, sometimes it's skill. Mental affects the skill and skill affects the mental so it kind of goes both ways."

"I've learned so many things from the last two years. I know my golf might not be right there but as a person, I feel like I've grown a lot - not just about golf, but about life as well."

"Now it feels like everything is coming back together again."

Returning to Royal Mayfair this week is kind of like a homecoming of sorts for Tseng. It was here in Edmonton in 2007, when the tournament was last held at this course, that Tseng got her first official LPGA start. After turning pro at the beginning of the year, the Taiwanese star played in and won a CN Canadian Women's Tour event in Vancouver, which in turn earned her a spot in the Canadian Open later that year. She would go on to finish sixth in her LPGA debut and later that year, earn her LPGA Tour card at qualifying school.

"I feel good with my swing and feel great about this golf course. And the crowd here is very nice and give me very good support."

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