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Park heads towards U.S. Open title

Inbee Park of South Korea hits her 2nd tee shot during the third round of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open golf championship at the Sebonack Golf
Inbee Park of South Korea hits her 2nd tee shot during the third round of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open golf championship at the Sebonack Golf

(Reuters) - South Korean golfer Inbee Park forged to a four-shot lead after the third round of the U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in New York on Saturday, giving her the chance to win the first three major championships of the year.

Park fired a one-under 71 in the third round, the only player in the field to post a sub-par round in red figures in difficult winds, to move to 10-under 206, four shots clear of compatriot I.K. Kim (73) at six-under 210.

England's Jodi Ewart-Shadoff (74) appears the only other legitimate challenger at three-under with Korea's Ryu So-Yeon (73) and American Angela Stanford (74) the only other players under par, nine off the pace at one-under in a tie for fourth.

"The wind was a bit stronger than (Friday), so the conditions were tough." Park said. "The pin positions were tough, a lot of long irons hitting into the greens.

"It was just a very tough day, but I think I battled it really good out there.

"I had my tough times in the middle but ended up finishing very good, so I'm happy with that."

The 24-year-old Park is keeping the dream of a grand slam alive having already won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the LPGA Championship earlier this year.

Should she prevail she will not only claim a fourth major but will be just the second LPGA Tour player to win the first three majors in a season.

Mildred (Babe) Didrikson Zaharias won all three majors played in 1950, the Titleholders Championship, the Women's Western Open and the U.S. Women's Open.

"It's tough not to think about it ... I just try to think that's not a big deal," Park told reporters.

"If I want to do it so much, it's just so tough and it puts too much pressure on you. I try to not think about it so much.

I'm just going to try to do the same thing that I did for the last three days. It will be a big day, but it's just a round of golf, and I just try not to think about it so much. I just try to concentrate on whatever I'm doing on the golf course."

Park would be just the fourth woman to win three majors in a calendar year, joining Zaharias, Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986).

Only Ben Hogan (1953) has won the first three majors of the year in the professional era of men's golf and prior to that only Bob Jones has won what is considered the grand slam.

Jones won the U.S. and British Amateurs and U.S. and British Opens in 1930.

While Zaharias won every major on offer in 1950, from 1955-1966 and 1983-2012 the LPGA held four majors though this year a fifth was added.

For a clean sweep the current world number one will also need to win the Women's British Open in August followed by the Evian Championship in September.

(Reporting by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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