Gulbis, 2 others share Titleholders lead
Naples, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Natalie Gulbis fired a 7-under 65 on Saturday and that helped her soar into a share of the lead after three rounds of the CME Group Titleholders.
Gulbis finished 54 holes at 11-under-par 205. She was joined there by Gerina Piller and Pornanong Phatlum, who both carded 5-under 67s in round three.
Second-round leader Sandra Gal struggled to a 2-over 74 and dipped into a share of fourth at minus-9 at Tiburon Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.
Gal stands alongside Stacy Lewis, who fired a course-record 9-under 63, as well as Shanshan Feng and Lexi Thompson, who both shot 67s.
Michelle Wie used a 6-under 66 to end alone in eighth at 8-under-par 208.
Women's world No. 1 Inbee Park carded a 3-under 69 in round three. She was joined in ninth place at minus-7 by Cristie Kerr (71), Sun Young Yoo (73) and Azahara Munoz (69).
Gulbis, whose lone tour win was at the 2007 Evian Masters, tripped to a bogey on the par-5 first. She bounced back with three consecutive birdies from the third to move to 6-under, where she was three strokes off the lead.
After a pair a pars, Gulbis again made three straight birdies from the eighth, all from inside 10 feet, to gain a share of the lead.
Gulbis stuffed her approach shot a foot from the hole at the 14th. She kicked that in to take the lead at 10-under. Phatlum joined her there, but Gulbis answered with a 3-foot birdie effort on the par-5 17th. She parred the last to get in first at 11-under par.
"I had hit the ball well the last couple days and the very first hole I bogeyed, I hit a 5-iron into the water. From there, I just hit everything really solid and made eight birdies," Gulbis explained.
Piller started with birdies on the second and fifth. They gave her a share of the lead at 8-under. She was tied with Yoo, Lewis and Gal at the time.
After seven consecutive pars, Piller birdied the 13th and 15th to move within one of Gulbis. Piller, who is winless on the LPGA Tour, also birdied the 17th and parred the last to end at minus-11.
"Tomorrow, I think I'm just going to keep telling myself what I've been telling myself, when you stand on that first tee, just because you're nervous doesn't mean you're going to hit a bad shot," Piller said. "I feel like I'm striking it well and winning has always been a goal of mine and I've never won as a professional. So, for one, I'm excited that I put myself in this position to begin with and just have fun with it. It's the last round of the year."
Phatlum started with six pars in a row before converting a birdie try on the seventh. Around the turn, Phatlum birdied three of four holes from the 10th to join Gulbis in the lead at 10-under. Phatlum converted a 5-footer for birdie at 17 for her share of the third-round lead.
NOTES: Gulbis' low round this year before this 65 was 68, which she carded five times ... Unless Suzann Pettersen (minus-1) beats Lewis (minus-9) by nine strokes, Lewis will win the Vare Trophy for low scoring average this year.
11/23 17:48:45 ET