GALLOWAY, N.J. — Mel Reid is in the middle of a stretch of excellent golf, a ride that has put her in position to win her first tournament on the LPGA Tour.
Reid, who gained LPGA Tour status in 2017 after a fine career on the Ladies European Tour, fired a 5-under-par 66 Saturday to hold a 1-stroke lead over Jennifer Kupcho and Jennifer Song after three rounds of the ShopRite LPGA Classic at Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.
The 33-year-old Englishwoman followed up her season-best 64 Friday with an eagle, three birdies, and some solid pars down the stretch. She improved her streak of consecutive holes without a bogey to 37 over the 6,132-yard Bay course at Seaview while breaking par for the ninth time in her last 10 rounds.
“It’s obviously good,” said Reid, who won five tournaments in Europe and played on three Solheim Cup teams. “It’s always nice to be shooting low numbers. So you can only take confidence away from that. If you’re shooting 77 every week you’re not going to feel pretty good about yourself. Yeah, it’s just nice to be shooting low numbers. My game just feels in a good place.”
Kupcho, the 2018 NCAA individual champion, and Song each matched the low score of the day, 65, to share second place at 199. Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, the 36-hole leader, had a 70 for 201 and sole possession of fourth. Kelly Tan also shot a 65 for a fifth-place tie at 202 with Ryann O’Toole (67).
Reid’s shot of the day came at the par-5 ninth hole where she hit a cut 3-wood for her second shot. The ball caught a slope on the green and rolled back to the hole, stopping 9 feet away. She drained the putt for eagle and took a 2-stroke lead at the turn.
Reid sank a 6-footer for a birdie at the 10th to boost her lead to three. Her 6-foot par putt at No. 11 caught enough of the left lip to spin into the hole, and she made another good save at 15.
“It’s tricky in the afternoon on these greens,” she said. “They kind of get a bit bumpy, and they don’t quite roll as nicely as they do in the morning. But hopefully I’ll have a little left for [Sunday]. I definitely feel like there’s room for improvement.”
Kupcho, 23, battled upper back pain the entire day but still had enough resolve to card six birdies, including a 40-foot sidehill bomb at the 13th. She and Song both birdied the 18th to draw to within one.
“I came out here not knowing if I could go and play,” Kupcho said. “I was in so much pain. Luckily I was able to fight through it and really just focus on making every swing the best I can. I’m going to just go out and do that” Sunday.
Song also notched six birdies to come within striking distance of a personal milestone. The winner of both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links championships in 2009, she is looking for her first career LPGA Tour victory in her 10th season and her 220th event.
“It would be awesome to go home with a victory,” said Song, a resident of Orlando, Fla. “To be honest, nothing is done until I finish that final putt in the final round, so I’m really not thinking about that. I’m just going to focus on my game.”