Shanshan Feng birdied the final hole to retain the outright lead following the third round of the US Women’s Open in New Jersey.
The 27-year-old from China, who had started the day with a two-shot advantage at Trump National – where President Donald Trump was once again watching from his purpose-built box alongside the 15th green – ended a run of 23 successive pars by making a three-foot birdie putt at the 18th.
That gave her a one-under 71 to move to nine-under 207 after 54 holes.
Feng was below her best as she missed a number of birdie putts by pushing her efforts to the right of the hole, and she looked set to end the day in a three-way tie for the lead when she was joined on eight under by Korean duo Amy Yang and Hye Jin Choi with one hole to play.
However, Feng – a bronze medallist on golf’s return to the Olympics at Rio in 2016 – recovered from a wayward drive to the left on the 18th with a superb approach shot to edge ahead.
“Putting didn’t really work today,” said Feng, winner of seven LPGA Tour events including the 2012 LPGA Championship. “I just couldn’t get the line and the speed together. And then I was like, ‘let’s go to Plan B.’
“Plan B … I try to hit the ball closer to the holes so I don’t need to worry about making the putts. And 16 and 17 I hit great shots into the green but I guess they weren’t close enough so I still missed them.
“Then on 18th I was like, ‘let’s hit them little more closer’ and I hit it to three feet and finally I made a putt. That birdie made my day.”
Amateur Choi, 17, made a nervy start with a bogey at the opening hole but then played some solid golf with birdies at the eighth, 11th and 16th which secured her a two-under 70.
Yang, chasing her first Major title following a number of near misses, is alongside her compatriot on eight under, after bouncing back from a bogey at the second and a double bogey at the third with four birdies for a 70.
American Stacy Lewis was within one shot of the lead when she moved to seven under thanks to five birdies in her first 10 holes, but she came unstuck with a triple-bogey seven at the par-four 11th.
A nightmare finish then saw Lewis post a five-over 10 at the 18th to leave her with a four-over 76 and back down the field on two over.
England’s Charley Hull heads into the final round in a tie for 18th place on one under following a one-over 73 which featured birdies at the second and 15th, a bogey at the 13th and a double bogey at the 11th.