Just 115 miles from Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, the inaugural Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G has turned into a horse race. Two-time LPGA Tour winner Ally Ewing leads the pack at -16 after firing a 5-under 67 in round three, highlighted by six birdies, three of which came in her first four holes. Her three-day total of 200 ties Ewing’s career-low on the LPGA Tour – she last shot 200 at the 2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G – and it’s only the second 54-hole lead of her tenure on Tour. The last time Ewing slept on the lead was the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship Reynolds Lake Oconee, and considering she became a Rolex First-Time Winner on her 28th birthday that week in Georgia, the odds are leaning in her favor.
“It was exciting to get out to a good start,” said Ewing, who made back-to-back birdies on holes one and two with another coming on the par-5 fourth. “My mindset going into today was to play within myself and go out, execute shots, and I did that really well. Unfortunate bogey on 18. It's a tough hole and didn't get a ball up and down. Really happy with how I played and how I handled myself, and obviously in a good position for tomorrow.”
Ewing is looking for her first win since last year’s 2021 Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards and third career LPGA Tour title. If she’s able to get the job done on Sunday at Kenwood Country Club, it would be her third consecutive season with at least one win. But the seven-year veteran knows better than to count her eggs before they hatch and she isn’t planning on getting ahead of herself.
“I've had my ups and downs this year just kind of mentally trying to gain that confidence back in every aspect, whether it's playing solid, putting a score together, rolling in putts,” said Ewing. “The last few weeks I've prepared mentally as well as physically for being in this position and knowing that I'm more than capable of being here. I've proved it, and I've put some good scores together to put myself in a good position for tomorrow. But tomorrow is going to be a new day, there are new challenges.”
Challenges that include chaser Maria Fassi, who sits one back at -15 after matching Ewing’s 5-under 67 on Moving Day. The 24-year-old made four birdies and one bogey to turn in 33, and after carding five straight pars from Nos. 10-14, Fassi holed out a flop-shot on the par-5 15th for an eagle, a highlight that elicited an enthusiastic “Vamos!” from the fiery Mexican. This is the third time in a stroke-play event that Fassi has been within five of the lead entering the final round, and with all of the struggles she’s faced this year, a good result is much-needed.
“We were saying that it was honestly the worst spot I could have left myself for my third shot, and my only thought was try to hit it as high as you can. Of course the result was extra, but I hit a fantastic golf shot and very happy that it went in and I could get some momentum for the last few holes,” said Fassi. “I've said it with my team and the people around me know that this has been a tough year. But the golf was there. I haven't seen the results yet, so I'm super excited to see what tomorrow holds, and keep doing what we're doing of having a lot of fun on the golf course with Gary. I'm excited that we get 18 more holes to do it again.”
Sitting in solo third is Xiyu Lin, after a slow-and-steady 2-under 70 on Saturday. Lin carded fourteen pars, three birdies and one bogey in round three and is looking forward to chasing once again tomorrow. Individually, she’s been within five of the lead three other times this season, most recently at last week’s Dana Open presented by Marathon, and while she’s happy to be knocking on the door once again, Lin is ready to push it open and become the ninth Rolex First-Time Winner of 2022.
“Tomorrow I guess I will be in the last group again, and this course you really just to have get it going,” Lin said. “You have to have a couple putts drop or you have to knock a couple close one, just like Ally today. I have nothing to lose and already have three good days, so I'm just going to keep being positive and keep chasing.”
A quartet of players round out the top-five at -12, including last week’s runner-up Megan Khang and 12-time LPGA Tour winner Ariya Jutanugarn. Korean major champion A Lim Kim sits in solo eighth at -11 with 2022 Epson Tour winner Andrea Lee in ninth at -10. A trio of players are tied for 10th at -9, most notably Canadian Brooke Henderson, who celebrated her 25th birthday on Saturday with a 3-under 69.