(Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images)

West Australian Minjee Lee will need to break her own major championship record to complete a successful defence of her US Women’s Open crown at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

The 27-year-old will begin the final round in a tie for ninth and eight strokes back of Japan’s Nasa Hataoka (66), her world-class iron play coming to the fore as her putter faltered in a round of even-par 72.

Only Hataoka went lower in Round 3 than Gabriela Ruffels, the Victorian continuing her love affair with major championships with a round of 2-under 70 to move into a share of 14th. Sydney’s Grace Kim also made a positive move up the leaderboard with a round of 1-under 71, Hannah Green falling into a tie for 45th with a 4-over 76 in windy conditions on Saturday.

No player has come from more than five strokes back to win the US Women’s Open although amateur Barbara McIntire did come from eight strokes back in 1956 before losing in a playoff to Kathy Cornelius.

Lee will need to better that to win a third major championship but can call upon her own experience two years ago as inspiration.

She began the final round of the Evian Championship seven strokes off the lead yet forced a playoff with Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 and sealed her breakthrough major at the first playoff hole.

Jiyai Shin and Hyo Joo Kim are the only players ahead of Lee to have won a major championship and, given the challenge posed by Pebble Beach this week, it is not inconceivable that an eight-stroke deficit can be reeled in.

Particularly given Lee is paired with the hottest new player on tour, Rose Zhang.

Round 3 scores 
1 Nasa Hataoka          69-74-66—209
T9 Minjee Lee             72-73-72—217
T14 Gabriela Ruffels   78-71-70—219
T29 Grace Kim            74-76-71—221
T29 Lydia Ko (NZ)       76-71-74—221
T45 Hannah Green     76-71-76—223
MC Amelia Garvey (NZ)  78-75—153
MC Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (a) 78-80—158

Round 4 tee times AEST
2am Gemma Dryburgh, Hannah Green
3.13am Patty Tavatanakit, Lydia Ko (NZ)
3.35am Minji Park, Grace Kim
5.14am Gabriela Ruffels, Leona Maguire
5.36am Rose Zhang, Minjee Lee