The 38-year-old, who has three LPGA Tour victories and one runner-up finish in her previous 59 appearances in major championships, is just two strokes behind leaders Brooke Henderson, of Canada, and American Nelly Korda.

Kirk (pictured above) opened with two quick birdies – including a long putt from 35 feet at the 1st hole – and did enough to think about what it would be like to win the ANA Inspiration and take the plunge into Poppy's Pond around the 18th green.

"It's so stinking hot out here and it would be great to cool off," said Kirk, who is tied third with American Lexi Thompson (69) and South Korean Mirim Lee (71).

"I have a lot of hard work, and there are a lot of great players on the leaderboard so I'm probably going to have to go low tomorrow and it's going to take a really good number.

"But anything is possible in this game."

RIGHT: Nelly Korda watches a putt late in her third round. She shares the 54-hole lead. PHOTO: Getty Images.

Kirk’s playing partner, Victorian amateur Gabriela Ruffels also remains in the mix after posting a one under 71 to be six strokes from the lead in a tie for 14th place.

“She's got phenomenal talent and obviously a really lovely young lady,” Kirk said of Ruffels after the third round. “She's going to be great when she comes out here.

“Super happy I got to play with her. That's the first time actually. I watched her play in the US Women's Am a couple weeks ago. I knew she was good. She's impressive.

“I'm excited for her and her career, and we'll welcome her with open arms when she gets out on the LPGA for sure.”

Minjee Lee is tied for 21st after an even-par round of 72 left her eight behind the leading pair. Fellow West Australian Hannah Green had a disappointing two over 74 and heads into the final round at one over.

But it took a special round from Henderson to climb to the top of the leaderboard.

Canadian Brooke Henderson has a second major championship in her sights. PHOTO: Getty Images.

Henderson tied a Mission Hills record with a 30 on the front nine and did just enough the rest of the round for her seven-under 65 to claim the best round of the day and a share of the lead with Korda.

Henderson started the weekend six shots behind and wanted only to get as close to the lead as possible. Now she goes into the final round with a second major championship in her sights.

Korda began with a two-shot lead and fell three shots back with a rough stretch on the front nine, particularly the 6th hole by hitting a 5-wood through the fairway into the gnarly rough and not getting over the water, leading to double bogey.

However, she rallied with three birdies on the back nine for a 71, which allowed her to join Henderson at 12-under 204.

"Sort of an easy start which was nice, and relaxed a little bit," Henderson said. "Being moving day, I wanted to get a solid round out there and try to climb the leaderboard as much as possible.

"Still a lot of golf to be played, but nice to see my name up there. And hopefully, tomorrow I can post a similar round."

It was the hottest day of the tournament, the temperature climbing just past 40 degrees late in the day, which was accompanied by a mild haze from the California bushfires.