Hyo Joo Kim is on course for a wire-to-wire victory after closing with a 70 to take a five-shot lead at 11-under into the final day at the Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America.
Strong winds that began late in the day on Friday gave the players a challenge on Moving Day. The scoring average for round three at Old American Golf Club was 73.505, nearly two strokes higher than Friday’s average and more than two and a half strokes over par. Only 19 players managed to shoot an even-par score or better on Saturday.
“Today was a lot chillier than the last two days and definitely windier too, so maybe because of that I made a few mistakes early on. But I saw the leaderboard and it seemed like everyone else was feeling the same difficulty as me,” said Kim. “Carding two bogeys wasn’t a good start for my momentum but I tried to not to look at the leaderboard much. I focused on creating birdie opportunities and making sure I converted them.”
Kim was 2-over through six holes after bogeys on the par-4 No. 4 and par-5 No. 6 but recovered with birdies on 8 and a chip-in on 13 before another bogey on 14 put her back over par.
She drove the green on 15 for a two-putt birdie and sank a 25-foot putt on 16 to move to 1-under on the day. Two solid pars on 17 and 18, including a par-save on the last, gave her a comfortable lead entering Championship Sunday.
“Oh, you’re right. I didn’t even think of that,” said Kim when asked what a wire-to-wire victory would mean to her. “I’m sure as I’m playing tomorrow, the thought of winning will pop up in my head. But I just want to do my best to play the way that I’m satisfied with and the way that I want to.”
Australian Sarah Kemp (69) and American Lexi Thompson (71) are tied in second place at 6-under.
“I would say probably my best shot was after my not-so-great shot on 17," said Thompson. "Hit a pretty good 30-yard flop shot pitch up to about 12 feet and ended up making birdie. Yeah, there were a few (good shots). Overall just happy with how I committed to my shots out there. There was a few not-so-great shots, but it's golf. I'll focus on the good ones and take that into tomorrow.”
Sweden's Frida Kinhult shot one of the low-rounds of the day, a 3-under 68, to take the solo fourth place at 5-under.