CLIFTON, NJ — Minjee Lee seemed to be more worried about finishing her third round on a dreary, rainy day than keeping the lead at the Cognizant Founders Cup.
The 25-year-old LPGA Tour scoring leader did both Saturdays, moving within a round of posting her first win of the year and seventh of her career.
Lee had an eagle-birdie run on the back nine and shot a 3-under 69 to take a one-shot lead over Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden on a day Upper Montclair Country Club showed some teeth with the wind picking up early and rain falling on the leaders for the final 11 holes.
Lee, who had a three-shot lead at the halfway point, was at 17-under 199 after 54 holes.
“You know, I’ve been striking it really well pretty much this whole year,” said Lee, who has two top-three finishes this year. “I’ve been working hard on my putting and working hard on everything, so it would be really nice just to see the result of a win.”
Sagstrom, the Swede who had the first-round lead after a 63, had the best third-round with a 67. The 29-year-old is seeking her second win.
“I shot a good score today, and if I just keep playing my game, keep hitting good putts, giving myself good chances, you never know,” Sagstrom said. “But I’m just have to stay in the present. That’s really what I have to do.”
Sagstrom briefly moved into a tie for the lead with a birdie at the par-5 12th as Lee bogeyed No. 11 after an errant tee shot.
Lee re-took the lead with the eagle on No. 12 and the birdie on No. 13 on putts ranging from 15-to-18 feet.
“I think everybody can get there in two on that hole,” Lee said.
Lexi Thompson started the round tied with Sagstrom at 11 under, and was alone in third, three shots back after a 69. She might have been closer to her first win since 2019 but she just missed at least five or six putts.
“I’m not even thinking that far ahead,” Thompson said of winning. “Just going to come out tomorrow, take it one shot at a time. I know I put in the work, so coming out here, being relaxed, and committing to my golf shots; that’s all I can do.”
Angel Yin shot a 68 and moved into fourth place at 11 under. She had five birdies and a bogey.
“I actually left a lot out there,” said Yin. “I hit it pretty good so gave myself a lot of looks. That was really good. Actually I left like at least four out there that I felt like I could have made.”
Full-field scores from the Cognizant Founders Cup
Ally Ewing, who was tied for second after two rounds, never got anything going in posting a 74. She was tied for fifth at 9 under with Paula Reto of South Africa and Megan Khang.
Nasa Hataoka of Japan, who won in Los Angeles last month, was in a group nine shots off the lead. Jennifer Kupcho, the winner at Mission Hills in the first major of the season, was also 8 under.
Two-time defending champion and No. 1 ranked Jin Young Ko of South Korea was far back at 5 under.
Anna Davis, the 16-year-old lefty who won the recent Augusta National Women’s Amateur, remained at 4 under after shooting par.