Leona Maguire of Ireland fired a two-under par 69 to grab a one-stroke lead after the third round of the Women's PGA Championship at Baltusrol

New York (AFP) - Ireland’s Leona Maguire closed with a birdie to grab a one-stroke lead over South Korea’s Jenny Shin after Saturday’s third round of the Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol.

Maguire fired a two-under par 69 to stand on seven-under 206 after 54 holes at the rain-softened Springfield, New Jersey, layout in the second major women’s golf tournament of the season.

“It was a little bit more of a mixed bag than the first two days but it felt like I hung in really well,” Maguire said. “I had a few really key up and downs out of bunkers to sort of keep me going out there.

“Always nice to finish with a birdie any time you play. Any time you break 70 in a round in a major championship golf course you are pretty happy, so nice to have done it for the third day in a row.”

Shin, whose only LPGA title came at the 2016 Texas Shootout, matched the week’s low round with a bogey-free 66.

“I went after the pins today and when I had the birdie chances I took advantage,” Shin said. “I’m going to play my game and keep it simple.”

Shin has two top-10 finishes in 57 prior major starts.

Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow was third on 208 after a 67 with China’s Yin Ruoning and South African Lee-Anne Pace on 209 and world number one Ko Jin-young of South Korea alongside American Lauren Coughlin on 210.

Maguire birdied the 15th to reclaim sole possession of the lead ahead of Shin but found the right rough and a greenside bunker on her way to a bogey at the par-5 17th.

Maguire reached the green in two at the par-5 18th, left a long eagle putt inches short and tapped in for birdie to again grab the lead.

“For the most part played really solid golf,” she said. “My game is in good shape.

Maguire captured her second LPGA Tour title last weekend and chases her first major crown.

“The game plan is the same as it was the past three days – try and execute really good golf shots,” she said. “And if it’s enough tomorrow it’s enough.”

Maguire also knows the impact it would have on Ireland to deliver her homeland’s first major women’s title.

“I know what it would mean and all but try not to get ahead of myself or think of things like that,” Maguire said. “It’s just another day on the golf course tomorrow. And whatever will be will be.”

Also chasing her first major crown is Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow, trying for her first LPGA victory in her 140th tour start.

“Today was a bit more go after it and I made some putts,” Meadow said. “If I can get a win, fantastic. I’m just going to give it all I have and we’ll see how it goes.”

Maguire opened with a birdie and added another at the par-5 seventh that stretched her lead to three strokes.

But Shin birdied 14, Maguire lipped out a par putt at 11 from just outside three feet for a bogey and Shin rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th to match Maguire at the top at 6-under.

Shin found water off the 18th tee but salvaged par to stay on Maguire’s heels.