Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim showed her first bobbles of the LOTTE Championship on Friday. She made her first bogey of the tournament at No. 7 and added another at No. 12, dropping what had been a four-stroke lead through six holes down to just one.
“There was a lot of wind going back and forth. I think it was difficult because it was not specifically directional,” said Kim. “The pin position was also difficult compared to the first and second rounds. I had a hard time in that regard.”
Kim got one stroke back with a birdie at No. 14 and capped her round with a near hole-out from the greenside bunker at No. 18. She tapped in the short birdie to finish her even-par 72 and maintain her three-stroke advantage at the top of the LOTTE leaderboard at -10.
“It was very important because it was a matter of over par or not,” said Kim of that closing hole. “I had a chance at the 16th hole but I missed. So I was a little angry. Now I feel much better since I made a birdie on the last hole.”
Californian Brianna Do, who earned a spot in the tournament via the Monday Qualifier (held Sunday due to this week’s Wednesday-Saturday competitive schedule), surged up the leaderboard. Her 5-under 67 included six birdies and just one bogey. Do, a 2012 graduate of UCLA, has held LPGA Tour Membership since 2013, but has yet to record any finish better than 15th. A win tomorrow, or even a top-10 finish, would go far in helping the 32-year-old improve her Tour status.
“I've been working to retool my swing a little bit to make it more reliable under pressure and kind of simplifying it and making more efficient. It's kind of working,” said Do, who is playing in her first LPGA Tour event since the 2021 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “I had a few good weeks on the Epson Tour, and the goal was to Monday this week. I made the Monday. Then the goal was to make a check to get in the reshuffle, and I did that. And so now it's trying to play my way into L.A. next week, just reevaluating goals as I go along.
Do sits at -7 and in a tie for second with 2019 AIG Women’s Open champion Hinako Shibuno. The Smiling Cinderella shot a bogey-free 68 on Friday, carding all four of her birdies on the back nine at Hoakalei Country Club. “Putting was more stronger, and so, yeah, that makes me birdie,” she said.
Stephanie Meadow of Northern Ireland and Korea’s Somi Lee, playing on a sponsor exemption, are tied for fourth at -6, followed by Ariya Jutanugarn and Megan Khang tied for sixth at -5. Hawaii’s Allisen Corpuz, the only Island native in the field, heads to the final round in a tie for 15th at -2.