MINJEE LEE LEADS BY TWO STROKES AFTER 54 HOLES IN ANN ARBOR
After a day that saw near-constant change at the top of the leader board, it was Minjee Lee who pulled clear of the field and carries a two-stroke lead into the final round of the 2018 LPGA Volvik Championship.
Lee returned a bogey-free 4-under 68 on Saturday and leads the field at 12-under 204. She nearly tasted victory here in 2017, when she shot a final-round 65 to finish one stroke behind winner Shanshan Feng.
A quartet of players sits two strokes behind Lee at 10-under 204, a group that includes two major champions and two players looking for their first LPGA victories. Two-time major winner Stacy Lewis, who is pregnant with her first child, closed with birdies on five of the final six holes for a 5-under 67. In-Kyung Kim, winner of the 2017 Ricoh Women’s British Open, started off on fire, carding birdies on five of the opening six holes for her own 67. Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who is playing in her first event in a month after rehabbing a back injury, and Lindy Duncan both returned 69s on Saturday and hope to add “LPGA winner” to their golfing resumes.
Duncan, Ewart Shadoff, Kim and Lee all shared the lead at various points on Saturday, while second-round leader Nasa Hataoka stumbled to a 2-over 74 and finished tied for 15th.
Play was suspended at 1:34 p.m. due to lightning in the Ann Arbor area and resumed at 3:45 p.m.
FIRST-TIME WINNER HOPEFULS IN CONTENTION
The 2018 LPGA Tour season has already seen Rolex First-Time Winners in Jin Young Ko and Moriya Jutanugarn, and after 54 holes in Ann Arbor, five players in the top 10 are staking their claims to join them.
Lindy Duncan (T2) finished second at last week’s Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic for the best finish of her five-year LPGA career. Duncan is a 2013 graduate of Duke University, where she was a four-time First-Team All American.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff (T2), an eight-year LPGA pro and two-time European Solheim Cup competitor, has twice been an LPGA runner-up, coming at the 2017 Ricoh Women’s British Open and 2016 Citi Banamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by AeroMexico and Delta.
Emma Talley (T6), the 2015 NCAA individual champion for the University of Alabama, is in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour. She tied for fifth at last month’s HUGEL-JTBC LA Open for her best LPGA showing.
Su Oh (T6) is one of three Australian players in the top 15. She is in her third year on the LPGA Tour, and has a career-best finish of second at the 2016 Kingsmill Championship presented by JTBC.
Bronte Law (T6) is a second-year LPGA Tour player and a 2017 graduate of UCLA, where she won the 2016 ANNIKA Award, which is given to the season’s most outstanding female collegiate golfer. She tied for sixth at the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic for the best finish of her LPGA career.
Eight other players in the top 20 are also looking for their first LPGA victories – Ayako Uehara (T11), Georgia Hall (T11), Sarah Jane Smith (T15), Megan Khang (T15), Gaby Lopez (T15), Nasa Hataoka (T15), Cheyenne Woods (T19) and Mariah Stackhouse (T19).
WITH A WIN...
Minjee Lee would earn her first win of 2018 and her fourth career win (2015 Kingsmill Championship, 2016 LOTTE Championship presented by HERSHEY, 2016 Blue Bay LPGA)
Lee would be the first winner from Australia to win on Tour this season, adding Australia as the seventh country represented in the 2018 winner’s circle (4, Republic of Korea; 3, United States; 2, Thailand; 1 Sweden; 1 Canada; 1 New Zealand)
Lee would be the 13th different winner to win on Tour for the 2018 season; the last winner from Australia was Katherine Kirk at the 2017 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
With a 13th career win, Stacy Lewis would move into a tie for 40th on the all-time LPGA wins list, joining Betty Jameson, Rosie Jones and Liselotte Neumann
With the $195,000 winner’s check, In-Kyung Kim would reach $9,096,995 in career earnings, moving past Lydia Ko and Meg Mallon on the all-time money list to No. 17 and becoming the 18th person to break the $9 million threshold
With an eighth career win, Kim would move into a tie for 61st on the all-time LPGA wins list, joining Rachel Hetherington, Ariya Jutanugarn, Mi Hyun Kim, Brittany Lincicome, Alice Miller, Anna Nordqvist, Sandra Post, Wiffi Smith and Sherri Steinhauer
Both Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Lindy Duncan would become a Rolex First-Time Winner, joining 2018 First-Time Winners Jin Young Ko and Moriya Jutanugarn
Ewart Shadoff would become the eighth LPGA winner from England and first since Charley Hull in 2016
Duncan would join Brittany Lang as the only Duke University alumnae to win on the LPGA Tour