Catriona Matthew four off lead in California

Catriona Matthew shot a two-under 70 in the third round at Mission Hills in California. Picture: Getty Images
Catriona Matthew shot a two-under 70 in the third round at Mission Hills in California. Picture: Getty Images
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Catriona Matthew is clinging to the coat-tails of the leaders heading into the final round of the ANA Inspiration at Rancho Mirage in California.

The 45-year-old sits joint-12th, four off the pace, after carding a third-round 70 at Mission Hills Country Club for a six-under-par total.

American Lexi Thompson eagled the last to lead outright on ten-under, one ahead of Kiwi world No 1 Lydia Ko, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and In Gee Chun from Korea.

England’s Charley Hull is a shot further back along with Ai Miyazato from Japan.

On a crowded leaderboard, a total of 14 players, including six major champions, are within four shots of the lead with just 18 holes to play.

Four-under at the halfway stage, Matthew birdied the second and third before repairing a dropped shot at the fourth with her third gain of the day at the ninth.

She fell back to five-under following a bogey-5 at the 15th before finishing with a birdie.

Thompson, who won her first major in this event in 2014, walked to the 18th tee trailing Ko and Jutanugarn, who were both in the clubhouse at nine-under par, by one shot.

With the tee moved up on the par-5 for the third round, the American hit her second shot to 15 feet and converted on her eagle putt to shoot 69 and to get to 10-under par.

She played her final four holes in four-under, having picked up back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th.

“That was definitely big to finish that well on the third day,” said Thompson, who has gone on to win five times on the eight occasions she has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

“I don’t really think it’s too much different mentality-wise,” she said on going into the final 18 holes with the lead.

“I’m just trying to focus on my own game. That’s all I can control is my attitude, my game on the golf course, and going into tomorrow I’m just going to have the same mindset, be positive, focus on doing my routine on every shot, take it slow, and just try to visualize my shots out there.”

Ko is trying to become the youngest two-time major winner, man or woman, since Young Tom Morris in 1869.

She won her first major title at the Tour’s last major, the 2015 Evian Championship. Ko’s best finish at the ANA Inspiration was T25 in 2013 and said she definitely feels more comfortable at Mission Hills this time around.

“I think obviously winning last week helps with the confidence coming into the first major of the year,” said Ko.

“But I’ve been trying to just have fun out there, enjoy being out there with the girls, and I think that’s a big key for me, and obviously in a major but any event, just enjoy it, just enjoy being here.”