SAN MARTIN, Calif. — Lydia Ko, the top-ranked player in the world, birdied the 18th hole to cap a 2-under 70 in the third round Saturday that put her in the lead of the U.S. Women’s Open, bolstering her chance for her third major title in less than a year.

Ko, 19, became the youngest woman to win a major last year at the Evian Championship and followed by winning the ANA Inspiration this spring. Now she’s in contention for her first U.S. Open title after failing to make the top 10 in her first four appearances.

Ko has a one-shot lead over the 2009 winner, Eun Hee Ji, and Sung Hyun Park. Brittany Lang and Amy Yang are two shots back at 5 under and Angela Stanford is in sixth place at 4 under.

Ko’s week at the Open got off to a shaky start when she was tied for 52nd after a 73 in the first round in the difficult afternoon conditions.

But Ko got into contention with a 66 in the second round and then got right back to work Saturday. She made a long downhill putt for birdie on No. 3 before losing a stroke with a bogey at No. 9. She made another birdie at No. 13 before her strong closing hole.

Even though the 18th is reachable in two shots, Ko opted to take three and it paid off when her approach stopped about 9 feet from the hole. She calmly sank the putt to give her sole possession of the lead. She then threw her ball into the stands in celebration.

There are several other golfers lurking close enough to make a push on Sunday. Danielle Kang is at 3 under and fellow Americans Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis and Kris Tamulis are among seven golfers five shots back at 2 under.

CHAMPIONS: John Riegger wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the second round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open because of a lingering case of shingles. The pain subsided long enough for him to show his first round wasn’t a fluke.

Riegger followed an opening 66 with a 5-under 67 and is tied with Paul Goydos (66) at 11-under 133 at Endicott, New York.

“It’s kind of gone away but the pain is still there and it’s just an after-effect of the attacks of the nerves,” Riegger said after his second straight bogey-free round.”

EUROPEAN: Alex Noren of Sweden birdied the last two holes to extend his lead to two shots at the Scottish Open after a third round that ended in heavy rain at Inverness.

Noren shot a 4-under 68 to move to 12-under 204, two clear of Tyrrell Hatton of England (66) and Matteo Manassero of Italy (68).