Amy Yang has spent half of her life on the LPGA Tour. The 34-year-old South Korean has played for 17 years on the domestic circuit, knocking on the door in several majors with 21 top-10s, but without a breakthrough. The five-time LPGA winner positioned herself to snap the streak at 75 major starts without a win in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, scrambling around Sahalee Country Club’s towering fir and cedar trees for a one-under 71 Saturday. Yang holds a two-stroke lead over Lauren Hartlage and Miyu Yamashita at seven under par.

“I grew up watching so many great players in the past, and I saw them winning all the major championships,” Yang said. “I dreamed about playing out here because of them. I work hard for this. It’ll mean a lot, but we still got 18 more holes out there and that’s a lot of golf left for major championship.”

Over Yang’s career, she’s held two 54-hole leads in majors. In the 2010 LPGA Championship, the past name of this event, she lost a one-shot lead to Maria McBride. Yang had a three-stroke, 54-hole edge in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open before In Gee Chun came from four behind to beat her compatriot.

Yang said she had retirement was on her mind last season, as she suffered from tennis elbow due to a rock-climbing injury. But then she captured one of the biggest tournaments of the season, the CME Group Tour Championship, for her first win on U.S. soil after her previous four LPGA wins came in Asia.

Yang said a big reason for still playing on tour is earning her first major title.

She has played very steadily in that pursuit in Sammamish, Wash. Yang got up and down in all 10 opportunities through the first two rounds, carding only one bogey from a three-putt on Thursday. She converted her first two up and downs Saturday on the first and seventh holes, but at the par-4 eighth—where only 21.9 percent of the field reached in regulation during the third round—Yang missed an uphill eight-footer for her first bogey in 30 holes. Yang immediately made up for the lost stroke with a birdie on the ninth. After her only other bogey of the round, on the par-4 16th, Yang responded with a birdie on the 17th to get back to seven under.

“I get nervous, really nervous out there, because it’s getting closer to final round,” Yang said. “Nothing I can do than just embrace the feeling and just being enjoy out there.”

Hartlage, the World No. 278, has put herself in a chance for a career-altering week because of her last two rounds. The 26-year-old American stood at four over par and a stroke ahead of the cutline through eight holes Friday, then went ballistic. She carded six under over her final 10 holes to charge into red figures. Hartlage followed up with a bogey-free 69 on Saturday, going 28 holes bogey-free to vault into contention.


Lauren Hartlage hits a shot on the 18th hole during the third round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Darren Carroll/PGA of America

Hartlage has had to save her card in the tour’s qualifying, Q-Series, after each of her two seasons on tour in 2022 and 2023. Majors haven’t treated Hartlage well until this week, as she missed the cut in all three others she played last year.

“Never been in this position before and this is something that I dreamed about growing up as a kid, so it’s really awesome to be in this position and just kind of see how it goes,” Hartlage said.

Yamashita, 22, is making only her third LPGA start in 2024. The Japanese native primarily plays in her homeland on the Japan LPGA Tour, but impressed stateside with a T-12 in the U.S. Women’s Open and a T-17 in the Chevron. This week is the final opportunity to make the Olympics, and Yamashita, at World No. 22, was in fourth place out of two positions for Japan, behind Yuka Saso (No. 8), Ayaka Furue (No. 20) and Nasa Hataoka (No. 21). Yamashita is in position to take the second spot, as Hataoka missed the cut and Furue is T-38.

Lexi Thompson, who announced her retirement from full-time play at the U.S. Women’s Open, shot 73 to fall into a tie for fifth, four shots off the lead.

“Might be my last one; might not,” Thompson said of the Women’s PGA. “Who knows. It’s just day-by-day. Just going to go out there, embrace the fans, love the walk and see where it goes.”

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