Jin Young Ko and Teresa Lu both fired 3-under-par 69s Saturday to storm into the lead after trailing by two entering Saturday’s third round.
Neither Ko, currently fourth on the KLPGA money list, or Lu, the 2013 winner of the LPGA’s Mizuno Classic, have ever won a major championship.
Ko is making her first ever major championship start but has been quite the prodigious 20-year-old star on the KLPGA, finishing as the runner-up to LPGA rookie Q Baek in the 2014 KLPGA Rookie of the Year standings. She earned her way into the field via her 28th ranking in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and only got in one practice round before teeing it up.
“I really enjoyed today and I never really thought I was leading this tournament, but it’s really kind of a bonus,” Jin-Young Ko said through a translator. “But this is a big tournament, and leading right now – my caddie, Jeff, every shot, he told me just enjoy it and that really helped.”
Lu is a six-time winner on the JLPGA and won once the LPGA but only has one top-10 in a major to her credit (T10 at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open) and hadn’t played in this championship in five years.
“I didn’t expect this good score. I think I just focused on my low shot, my swing and it turned out pretty good,” Lu said. “I think this is my first time and I think tomorrow I have to try to stay relaxed over it because it’s going to be a tough day tomorrow and I think I just need to play my game.”
It’ll be difficult to relax with four of the top six players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings – Suzann Pettersen, Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, and So Yeon Ryu - all within four shots of the lead. Pettersen, specifically, has to be the odds-on favorite to hoist the trophy on the 18th on Sunday. The No. 6 player in the world sits just one shot back of the leads at 7-under-par 209 entering the final round after an even-par 72 – a round she wasn’t pleased with but leaves her in prime position to secure her third major championship.
“Yeah, felt like I left some shots out there but long game was great,” Pettersen said. “Better today than tomorrow. Started off, it was quite tough. It was rough the first three or four holes. But tried to get into a nice rhythm. Hit a lot of greens.”
Mika Miyazato sits in solo fourth at 6-under-par with a host of talented challengers just three shots back – the exact distance 2014 winner Mo Martin was entering Sunday. World No. 1 Inbee Park, world No. 2 Lydia Ko, and world No. 16 Minjee Lee are all tied for fifth at 5-under-par. Ryu, the No. 5 player in the world, and Melissa Reid round out the top 10 at 4-under-par.
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