Southport, England (SportsNetwork.com) - Inbee Park was handed the third-round lead at the Women's British Open on Saturday after Sun Ju Ahn was penalized for building a stance in a bunker.
Park carded a 4-under 68 to reach 4-under-par 212 for the championship. She was in the fifth-to-last group and went to the clubhouse tied for the lead with Ahn.
Ahn, in the penultimate group, birdied three of four holes from the 13th to grab the lead at 5-under par. At the 18th, she found a greenside bunker.
As she took her stance, Ahn dragged her left foot down away from the lip more than once to create a stance for herself. Officials deemed her movements to be excessive and she was given a 2-stroke penalty.
"It's disappointing, but it was my mistake. It's part of the rules of the game, but I still have a day to go so I have to refocus and try my best tomorrow," Ahn said through an interpreter. "I didn't know about the rule. All I was trying to do was build a stance. I'm surprised by it. If that's a rule, I have to abide by it."
Ahn's par changed to a double-bogey, and changed her score to 1-under 71. That left Ahn tied for second at 3-under-par 213. She was joined there by reigning Evian Championship winner Suzann Pettersen (68) and 2012 LPGA Champion Shanshan Feng (69).
Amelia Lewis managed 1-under 71 in round three at Royal Birkdale Golf Club and she shares fifth place at minus-2 with Julieta Granada (72).
Defending champion Stacy Lewis posted a 2-under 70. She is at 1-under 215 and stands alongside two-time major champion Eun-Hee Ji (71), Amy Yang (72), second-round leader Mo Martin (77), Beatriz Recari (74), 2011 U.S. Women's Open champ So Yeon Ryu (74) and Charley Hull (66). Hull's 66 was the low round of the day by two strokes.
Ahn played the first 12 holes in even-par with a birdie on the third and a bogey on the fifth. She began to make her move with a birdie on the 13th.
She reached the par-5 15th in two and 2-putted for birdie to move to minus-4, which gave her a share of the lead with Park. Ahn made it two in a row as she birdied the 16th to take the lead by herself.
Ahn made par on the par-5 17th and found sand at the last. As she dug in, Ahn dragged sand away from the lip to give herself a better stance. She blasted out and made par, but the moving of the sand was deemed too much and the penalty dropped her from the lead.
Park, who celebrated her 26th birthday on Saturday, flew up the leaderboard early. She had three birdies in the first four holes to move to minus-3. A birdie on the par-5 sixth moved her to minus-4 and into a tie for the lead with Martin.
At the eighth, Park stumbled to a bogey to slip one back. Around the turn, she birdied the 12th, but gave that shot back when she bogeyed No. 14.
Park made a pair of pars before a birdie on the 17th moved her to 4-under. She was one clear of the field at that point, and ended there as she parred the last.
"I still left a couple out there, but a very good ball-striking day. Today gave me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow because the first two days I didn't feel like my ball-striking was there enough, but today gave me confidence going into tomorrow," Park said. "The last couple tournaments I had, I didn't really putt well ... I'm missing short ones, but I'm also holing 10-, 15-footers. So just trying to avoid 3-putting tomorrow."
Martin, who has one career top-10 finish in 63 LPGA Tour starts, struggled to bogeys on the first and second to dip into a share of the lead at minus-4. She fought back with a kick-in birdie on the fifth. That again gave her a piece of the lead as Ryu birdied the second and sixth to reach minus-5.
After four pars in a row, Martin poured in a 35-footer for birdie to get back to 6-under for the championship. She was three clear of the field at that point as Ryu bogeyed the seventh and 11th.
However, Martin struggled over the next four holes. She 4-putted for double- bogey on the 11th, but still led by one. She followed with a bogey on 12, which left her tied for the lead with Park and Ahn.
Martin also bogeyed the 13th and 14th to drop to minus-1. She ended there by closing with four pars in a row.
NOTES: Park owns the 54-hole lead for the eighth time in her LPGA Tour career. She has won four of the previous seven times in that position, including her last three in 2013, all of which were major championships.