Thompson uses flawless round to take lead at US Women's Open

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Lexi Thompson watches her shot from the 14th fairway during the third round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at The Olympic Club, Saturday, June 5, 2021, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO – Lexi Thompson needed to get her mind right before she could get her game back and now is in position to win her second career major.

Thompson shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Saturday to take the lead into the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open for the first time in her career with a one-shot edge over teenager Yuka Saso.

“I haven’t played to my standards and what I need and I just realized that I needed to change my mindset,” Thomson said. “It was only hurting me. Obviously, I needed to work on some technical things in my game and everything, but the mental side was really getting to me. I was just taking it way too seriously and thinking that Lexi depended on my score.”

Thompson said she's been working again with performance coach John Denney about not dwelling on mistakes, although she made few Saturday when she was the first player all week to make par or better on every hole in the round.

That had her in the lead at 7 under heading into the final round of a major for the first time since 2017, when her edge after 54 holes at the ANA Inspiration was erased on Sunday when she was penalized four strokes after a viewer saw that she had misplaced her marked ball during the third round.

Thompson still managed to make it into a playoff against So Yeon Ryu, but she lost and was unable to add to the 2014 ANA Inspiration title she won for her first major.

Thompson played a nearly flawless round Saturday in search of her first U.S. Women’s Open title in her 15th try after first competing as a 12-year-old amateur in 2007. She has four-top 10 finishes at the U.S. Women’s Open, including a runner-up two years ago in Charleston.

Thompson has been lurking around the leaderboard all week, shooting 69 on Thursday and 71 in the second round before shooting the low round of her career at this tournament on Saturday.