Wie in tie for fifth at US Women’s Open, Yang maintains lead

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Womens US Open Golf_104649

Michelle Wie hits off the ninth tee during the third round of the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament at Lancaster Country Club, Saturday, July 11, 2015 in Lancaster, Pa. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Defending U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie played with nagging hip and ankle pain at Lancaster Country Club on Saturday, firing a 68. She is in a four-way tie for fifth at 2-under 208, along with two-time winner Inbee Park (70).

 Wie, 57th after the opening round, finally got into red numbers with a birdie at the second, but struggled to stay below par on the front nine. She gave a stroke back at the fourth before following consecutive birdies at the sixth and seventh with back-to-back bogeys closing out the side.

She finally got on track on the back side, posting birdies on the 10th, 12th and 13th to reach 3 under. But she gave another stroke back at the 16th and limped in with pars.

Wie is refusing to let the injuries that forced her to withdraw from Kingsmill earlier this year hamper the defense of her major title.

“It was a long day today,” Wie acknowledged. “I’m glad to be done … I’ve played with the pain for a while. I know what to expect, nothing is unexpected.

“I just feel like it’s coming together. I just want to keep the good feelings going and keep improving on them, gaining confidence in my good shots and learn from the bad ones.”

As for leader Amy Yang, she’s back in the final pairing at the U.S. Women’s Open, and this time she’s prepared for the daunting challenge ahead.

The 25-year-old South Korean beat back all of Stacy Lewis’ challenges in the third round, and the day ended as it started: with Yang three strokes ahead of Lewis.

On Sunday, for the third time in four years and fourth time in six, she’ll be in the final group at a U.S. Open. This time, she’ll have a three-stroke cushion over her nearest competitor and plenty of experience to draw on.

“It was good experience, the last two – the final group experience,” she said. “Me and my coach, we prepared. We practiced hard. I’ll go out there and I’ll just do my best, like what I practice.”

Yang shot a 1-under 69 Saturday, the same as Lewis, as the last pair off went toe-to-toe, giving the pairing a match-play feel.

Yang pushed her lead to four strokes at the 13th before Lewis capitalized on a two-stroke swing at the 14th, closing within two. But Lewis’ struggles with putting carried over to the 17th, where she made a three-putt bogey, sending Yang’s advantage back to three.

Yang’s three-day total of 8-under 202 is the second-lowest in championship history behind Julie Inkster’s 201 in 1999. Lewis was at 5-under 205.

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