Stacy Lewis moves to high ground at Open

Stacy Lewis of the U.S. waves to fans after finishing the 18th hole during the third round of the...

Stacy Lewis of the U.S. waves to fans after finishing the 18th hole during the third round of the LPGA Canadian Women's Open golf tournament in Coquitlam, British Columbia August 25, 2012. (Ben Nelms/REUTERS)

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:18 PM ET

COQUITLAM, B.C. - It seems Stacy Lewis was the only one to get the memo.

Moving Day: Load up the truck and move to higher ground.

And so the young American did just that, putting herself in prime position to capture the 2012 CN Canadian Women's Open championship.

While most of the other stars either held serve or suffered setbacks during the third round of the US$2-million LPGA Tour stop, the second-ranked female golfer on the planet moved up the leaderboard with a 6-under 66 Saturday at the Vancouver Golf Club.

"I knew this day was coming," said Lewis, who built her confidence back up during the first two rounds of the tournament after faltering at last week's tour stop in North Plains, Ore. "I kind of found something (during Friday's second round). I'm glad it showed up."

Perhaps just in time to rescue the event from the clutches of an amateur.

Yes, New Zealand phenom Lydia Ko, 15, still has one hand on the championship trophy after carding an even-par 72 Saturday.

Despite a first-hole birdie during a round that saw her go as low as 10-under, Ko three-putted three times to finish with an 8-under total, a slim stroke ahead of Lewis and a trio of South Koreans -- Jiyai Shin, Inbee Park and second-round co-leader Chella Choi.

"I think it is kind of (extra motivation)," said Lewis, 27, of chasing amateur Ko. "It is because we're working -- this is our job, and we're working full-time on it. It's not supposed to be her job, and yet she's beating us.

"She's obviously playing well. She won an Australian LPGA event earlier in the year, and I played with her actually in Australia. She's solid. She hits it good, she putts it good, and she's rolling with confidence."

So, too, now is Lewis.

But that hardly comes as a surprise.

Lewis is having an outstanding campaign, with two wins, 10 top-10 finishes and more than $1.22 million in earnings so far.

Then, there's the Great White North factor. She's running hot in Canada during the last calendar year with a runner-up finish at this event last year in Mirabel, Que., and a tie for fifth at the inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo last June.

"I've been right up there or a shot back," Lewis said. "I think I shot 66 in the final round last year (of the CN Canadian Women's Open). I seem to play well in Canada, so I like coming back here.

"Hopefully, I can keep that momentum going into (Sunday)."

Others such as Shin, who put up a 2-under third round, Park, who's been in contention all week, and Choi, who cooled off Saturday after a 6-under second round, may have other plans.

As well, LPGA veterans Angela Stanford, a steady performer, and Suzann Pettersen, the 2009 CN Canadian Women's Open queen, have held serve to lurk within striking distance of the championship victory.

And then, there's the kid, who's still taking all this in stride, despite being thrust into the public eye at every turn here in Vancouver.

"I don't think I was more nervous (Saturday) than other days," said Ko, insisting butterflies in front of thousands of fans lining the 18th green didn't contribute to a three-putt on the final hole dropping her one stroke closer to Lewis & Co. "There's a little bit of pressure because I know they're all great players and Stacy is second in the world.

"Yeah, it's nerve-wracking, but I'm really here for experience and fun, and I'm having fun at the moment. If I don't win, I don't think I'll be disappointed. If I do win, It'll take it like an honour."

todd.saelhof@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNToddSaelhof


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