Kim, in the hunt for her first LPGA major, was part of a three-way tie for the lead late in the day with Lewis and Morgan Pressel but moved ahead as her American rivals faded over the closing holes.

The South Korean carded a 69 for a 10-under-par total at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, while Lewis (68) was alone in second on seven-under after two late bogeys.

Pressel (71) also had two late bogeys to fall four shots off the pace, equal third with compatriot Brittany Lincicome and Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn.

Kim was more steady than spectacular for most of the day, using her reliable cross-handed putting stroke to brush in a 20-foot birdie from the fringe at the 16th hole and a 10-foot birdie at the 17th to gain the three-shot cushion.

Lewis, on the other hand, bogeyed two of the final four holes, though it could have been worse.

Her drive at the 15th was headed out of bounds until it hit a palm tree and ricocheted back into a fairway bunker. She bogeyed the hole but avoided complete disaster.

The 2011 champion said she would focus on her driving on Sunday.

"I didn't hit many fairways today," she told Golf Channel. "Other than that I felt good with the irons, good with the putter. I've just got to keep hanging around."

Kim, 22, has already won once this year in her rookie season as an LPGA member, at the Bahamas Classic in February.

A victory on Sunday would make her the seventh South Korean-born winner in eight LPGA events this year.

Strong winds are forecast for the final round.

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