Pinehurst,NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Michelle Wie stumbled to a 2-over 72 on Saturday and fell into a tie for the lead with Amy Yang after three rounds of the U.S. Women's Open Championship.
Yang carded a 2-under 68, one of eight under-par rounds on Saturday. Wie and Yang ended 54 holes at 2-under-par 208 at Pinehurst No. 2.
Wie will go for her fourth LPGA Tour title on Sunday, but first on mainland United States. Her wins have come in Mexico, Canada and Hawaii. Yang claimed her lone LPGA Tour victory last year in South Korea.
Juli Inkster fired the low round of the week with her 4-under 66. The two-time Women's Open champion, vaulted into a tie for third at 2-over-par 212. She was joined there by Stephanie Meadow (69), 2012 winner Na Yeon Choi (71) and amateur Minjee Lee (72).
Meadow is making her first start as a professional, and Lee is the top-ranked amateur in the world.
Lexi Thompson, who played in the final group with Wie, faltered to a 4-over 74 and dipped into a share of seventh place at 3-over 213. She stands alongside Pornanong Phatlum (69), 2011 champion So Yeon Ryu (70), two-time winner Karrie Webb (70) and Sakura Yokomine (71).
The third round started with Wie and Thompson being the storyline. It looked as though the championship was theirs to lose, and both lost ground in round three.
Wie bogeyed the first, but atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the third from just over 10 feet out. Thompson also birdied No. 3 to remain two back. Thompson inched within one with a 2-putt birdie on the par-5 fifth.
The eighth and ninth proved to be the turning point for Wie and Thompson being in a two-player race for the title.
Thompson came up short of the eighth green with her approach. Her chip shot also rolled back off the front edge. She then slammed a putt some 50 feet past the hole. Thompson 2-putted from there for double-bogey.
Wie rolled in a 7-foot birdie try on the ninth to move to 5-under, where she was three clear of Yang. Thompson made a mess of the ninth as well and walked off with a second straight double-bogey, which dropped her to plus-1 for the championship.
Thompson carded four bogeys and two birdies on the back nine to fall even further back.
Wie 2-putted for birdie on the par-5 10th to move to minus-6, where she was four clear of Yang. Things started to fall apart for Wie from there. She drove into the trees on the 11th and was forced to pitch out.
That led to a double-bogey, which trimmed her lead to one as Yang birdied the 12th from about 18 feet out to move to minus-3.
Wie again found trees with her 12th tee shot. She chipped her third onto the green, but 2-putted from about 30 feet out for bogey. That created a tie for the lead at minus-3.
Yang parred five in a row from the 13th to remain at 3-under. Wie missed the 14th green and failed to get up and down. That bogey dropped her one behind. Wie closed with four pars in a row to end at minus-2.
"The front nine was great. I just didn't drive it well on a couple of holes on the back nine. It's hot out there, I think I need to maybe warm up a little less tomorrow, because I felt like I was really tired," Wie admitted. "It's definitely a grind, it's not an easy golf course. Still 2-over today, I still can't complain. Obviously, there were a couple of shots I wanted back, and I felt I could do better, but at the same time I really grinded out there and I tried my best. I'm happy with that."
Yang, who had four birdies and three bogeys over the first seven holes, birdied 10 and 12 to get to 3-under. After five pars in a row, she came up short of the green at the last. Yang putted 13 feet by the hole, then 2-putted from there for bogey, which left her tied with Wie.
"It was really hot, but I was able to strike the ball really solid. I had good speed on the greens," Yang said. "I had great speed on the greens."
NOTES: Wie has a piece of the third-round lead for the seventh time in her career. She has won two of the previous six, but finished second the last two times she was in this position ... Yang shares the 54-hole lead for the second time in her career in 72-hole events. She finished second at the 2010 Tour Championship the last time she was in this position ... Defending champion Inbee Park posted a 3-over 73 and is tied for 37th at 10-over 220.