Choi takes lead at LPGA season finale
NAPLES, Florida (AFP) –
South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi bounced back from an early bogey to fire a three-under par 69 on Saturday and seize a one-stroke, third-round lead at the LPGA’s season-ending Titleholders.
Choi, the reigning US Women’s Open champion, moved atop the leaderboard early Saturday after overnight leader Ai Miyazato of Japan made a double-bogey on the par-five second hole.
Choi three-putted the third for a bogey, but that was the only blemish on a card that included four birdies and gave her a 54-hole total of 12-under 204 at TwinEagles.
“I’m just happy I have to play just 18 more holes and finish this year,” said Choi, admitting she was starting to feel the effects of a long season but was hoping to close out the campaign on a high note.
“I feel great right now and I have a lot of confidence,” said Choi, the only player to post three rounds in the 60s so far this week. “I’m ready to go.”
She was one stroke in front of Miyazato, who had a bogey at the par-five fifth but rebounded with four birdies on the back nine for a one-under 71.
That put Miyazato alone in second on 205.
Miyazato said the blustery winds made things difficult on her front nine, with gusts coming up between shots or dying down completely without warning.
“It was really hard to commit all the way through, so that’s why I think I shot three-over n the front nine,” she said.
South Korean So Yeon Ryu carded a 68 to lie third on 206.
Ryu, who has already secured Rookie of the Year honors, had six birdies, including four in a row from the fifth to stay in touch with the leader.
France’s Karine Icher and American Brittany Lincicome both carded 70s to share fourth place on 207.
Choi was looking forward to playing the final round alongside Miyazato and Ryu.
“Especially So Yeon, we grew up together in Korea since juniors,” she said. “We know each other very well, so I can talk about non-golf things … I think that’s going to help focus my game.”
Choi joked that her planned house-hunting expedition in Orlando on Monday was also added incentive, since the winner’s purse would increase her spending power.
“I need a good result,” she said.