ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – In-Kyung Kim has spent the last six years preparing for this moment.
The 36-hole leader, who slept on a two-stroke lead, took command on moving day at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. She notched four birdies in her first seven holes to extend her lead to six ahead of playing partner Georgia Hall. Kim drained putts from seemingly everywhere as she played in the worst of the day’s weather conditions for the second day in a row. She carded a flawless, bogey-free 66 to move to 17-under par, six-strokes clear of Georgia Hall and Moriya Jutanugarn.
“I just feel like I've done a lot of good things on and off the golf course and I think it's really helping me out,” Kim said. “It's showing on the golf course.”
Those good things include the work she’s put in since 2012 in working on her mental game with Vision 54, meditating and trying to be nicer to herself. Sounds simple enough, but it’s something she struggled to do after missing a one-foot putt to win the 2012 ANA Inspiration for her first major title.
For years the media has questioned Kim about the putt and after getting frustrated with those asking the questions, she realized she was the one disappointed in herself. Kim sought to change her mindset and put the past behind her in an effort to enjoy playing golf again.
“Everybody makes mistakes, but I think it was nobody else's problem. It was my problem. I really kind of criticized myself a lot, and it's not very healthy.
“It's been quite tough, but I started to work on myself, not only on the golf course, but off the golf course. Just be nice to myself and able to have some kind of compassion and gentleness with myself. I think it's really helping me to play better I think on the golf course.”
Given her experience, Kim realized she’s not really fazed by anything in sports, which explains her cool and calm demeanor in Scotland’s pouring rain. It will serve her well come Sunday as she tries to win her first major title.
After all, it’s what she’s prepared for.
“Sometimes things don’t go the way I want it but that’s not something I can control, but I will try to focus on what I can control and enjoy and have some fun too.”
Kim's 17-under total (199) breaks the previous 54-hole record of 16-under par set by Ariya Jutanugarn in 2016. Kim is also on-track to shatter the previous tournament record of 19-under par set at Sunningdale Golf Club in 2009 by Karen Stupples.
Saturday morning the sun was shining and conditions calm, a welcome change following the driving rain that pounded players throughout Friday afternoon. Players who went out early took advantage, including Hall of Famer Inbee Park, who started her day nine-strokes back of the lead. The firmer, drier greens made ideal conditions for Park, who made it around in just 22 putts en route to a course record tying 64 that matched the record set Thursday by Michelle Wie.
“The greens were much quicker today, which was a big help for me because the last couple of days, I couldn't get balls to the hole and it was playing very, very slow,” Park explained. “So hopefully they keep that green speed. It's a little bit easier to putt.”
Afternoon showers arrived as forecasted, just as the leaders began their third round. Two back to start the day, Hall, who plays full time on the Ladies European Tour, did her best to keep pace with Kim. She posted an eagle, two birdies and a bogey on her outward nine. But as Kim pulled away on the back nine, with a four-stroke lead at the turn, Hall mounted a charge with three consecutive birdies to cut her lead to three. But she struggled over the closing stretch, with a bogey at the 16th followed by a four-putt, double bogey at the 17th hole to fall six-back of Kim.
“I haven't made many mistakes the past couple days, but today, I made a couple towards the end,” said Hall. “I played really good golf. Hit some really great shots in there. Got a good eagle. I just had a lapse of concentration on 17, but that's the way it is.”
Hall, who was put on the clock during her round, carded a two-under, 70 on moving day to sit tied for second with Jutanugarn at 11-under par.
Seemingly unfazed by the changeable conditions, Jutanugarn took in the scenic views as she made it around Kingsbarns on Saturday. It kept the Thai calm and focused as she made a move up the leaderboard with a five-under par, 67.
“It's just like typical Scotland weather, which you can't really be confident about. It's on a really good golf course and very, very pretty, so I enjoy like looking around,” Jutanugarn said. “I played well and I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing on the course. You know, just keep doing what I'm doing tomorrow and just have fun on the course.”
Her sister and this week’s defending champion, Ariya, missed the cut and did not come to the course to watch her sister’s third round, but instead went to explore St. Andrews.