Japan's Mika Miyazato, seeking her first LPGA title, fired a four-under par 68 on Saturday to seize a two-stroke lead after the second round of the LPGA Safeway Classic.
Miyazato, who began on the back nine, birdied the par-3 11th and third holes and added birdies at the sixth and par-5 eighth holes to finish 36 holes on 11-under 133, two clear of South Korean So Yeon Ryu, who also shot a 68.
"I had so much frustration on the putting on the front nine, but I made three birdies on the back nine," Miyazato said.
Ryu and Miyazato, both 22, were playing partners in the first two rounds and will be again for Sunday's final round of the 54-hole event at Pumpkin Ridge, where Miyazato will try to take a solid season to the next level by winning.
"I have so much good experience the last four or five events, but I don't know how much closer I am to winning a tournament," Miyazato said. "I tried to focus on my golf game one shot at a time."
Ryu likes her chances even as she will be trying to deny her the long-sought crown.
"I think she's ready to make a win, but I think the problem is that golf is a mental game, so I think the final round gave a lot of pressure for her, but I think she can make it pretty soon," Ryu said.
"But I want to make another win this week. So I want to make a great competition with her."
Ryu was coming off a victory last week at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, her first since capturing the 2011 US Women's Open.
"It's really hard to keep focusing on my golf after my winning, but last week's tournament is finished so I'm just thinking about this week and that's why I played well," she said.
"I shot 5-under on the front nine, but the back nine I made one bogey and I missed a lot of birdie putts. I have to practice some of my utility shots and practice some putts. I'm ready to sink some putts tomorrow."
American Cristie Kerr and South Korean Inbee Park shared third on 136, both expressing confidence in their chances on Sunday.
"Whoever has won this tournament has gone low on Sunday so that's what you have to do," Kerr said. "You have to go low, get off to a really hot start and try to bring it home."
Kerr seeks her first victory since the 2010 State Farm Classic.
"It has been a while since I won and I'm really hungry for it," she said.