Chella Choi has been on the verge of claiming her first career LPGA Tour victory and after a course record 10-under 62 on Saturday, tomorrow could be the day the South Korean makes her first trip to the winner’s circle. Choi will head into tomorrow’s final-round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open tied atop the leaderboard with amateur Minjee Lee at 13-under-par.
Choi began the day in a tie for 38th but the personal best round which included two eagles, seven birdies, and one bogey quickly allowed her to climb the leaderboard. While struggling with her irons and putting in the first two rounds, the 23-year-old only needed 25 putts on the day everyone refers to as “moving day”.
“I miss a short iron last couple of days, yesterday and today, so I just try focus on just my short iron because if I have a lot of chance short iron, make a lot of birdie chance right, but I got a lot of miss yesterday, so I just practice after round yesterday,” said Choi. “So my pace much better and my putting is much better than before.”
Choi began her third round with a birdie at the par-4 first but cooled off until an eagle at the par-5 eighth and birdie at the par-5 ninth moved her 4-under for the day. After a birdie at the par-4 12th and bogey at the par-4 13th the charge up the leaderboard wound soon ensue for Choi.
Ending her round in commanding fashion, Choi boarded the birdie train and reeled off four consecutive birdies beginning at the par-3 14th before closing out the day with an eagle at the short par-5 18th.
“I don't know why, I don't know why I played 10-under today, it's just amazing LAUG,” said Choi. “I made two eagles today, so first time, so yeah.”
Australian amateur Minjee Lee has played with the poise of an LPGA Tour veteran as she fired a third-round 4-under 68 to grab a share of the lead. The 17-year-old carded five birdies and one bogey including back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to head into tomorrow’s final round tied atop the leaderboard.
A win tomorrow would make Lee the fourth youngest winner in LPGA Tour history at 17 years, 8 months, and 19 days.
- Lydia Ko, 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open (72-hole event) at 15 years, 4 months, 2 days *
- Lydia Ko, 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open (72-hole event) at 16 years, 4 months, 1 day *
- Lexi Thompson, 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic (72-hole event) at 16 years, 7 months, 8 days
- Marlene Hagge, 1952 Sarasota Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 14 days
- Marlene Hagge, 1952 Bakersfield Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 2 months, 15 days
* not a member of the LPGA
While the Aussie has the opportunity to win an LPGA Tour event in front of her home country, she surprisingly admits to feeling no pressure.
“No, not really, I just play,” said Lee of the lack of pressure. “I think it kind of lightens it up a little bit because I'm smiling all the time. I have a good chat with my coach.