With a 5-under 67 on her card – tying the day's low score – Angel Yin is currently T2, just one shot back of the lead at the AIG Women's Open at 8-under. Yin is back in contention at a major championship after a heartbreaking runner-up finish in a playoff at the Chevron Championship earlier this year.
But nothing, not even the painful memories of that near-miss at The Club at Carlton Woods, will hold the 24-year-old back tomorrow. With just 18 holes to play and a one-shot lead to overcome, Yin will be doing nothing less than playing to win on Sunday at Walton Heath Golf Club.
"I don't know how the grouping is going to come out," Yin told reporters on Saturday. "I think if I get into the final group, it will be my third final group this year, which is pretty good. Just got to stay patient and play my game. I think I'm going to be aggressive. I'm not going to be conservative. I'm going to give it my all."
Patience is what led Yin to her success on Saturday. The front nine at Walton Heath has been stumping players all week, and Yin didn't let that frustration get to her. Though she started the day with eight consecutive pars, she had faith that the birdies would come. And they did, starting with a birdie on No. 9. Once the American made the turn, she found five more birdies – including back-to-back birdies on holes 10 and 11, then again on holes 15 and 16.
Though patience is a virtue, Yin also had some tangible improvements in her game that led to her 5-under, namely her accuracy off the tee and in her approach. She hit 12 of 15 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation en route to reaching T2 on the leaderboard.
This is Yin's first tournament in contention since she finished ninth at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play presented by MGM Rewards in May. Though Yin exploded off the blocks to start the 2023 season, recording three top-10 finishes in six starts, her momentum petered out over the summer. In her last five starts, Yin has not finished better than T20, which she did at both the U.S. Women's Open and the Amundi Evian Championship.
Though it's been a minute since Yin has played with a real chance to step into the winner's circle for the first time in her seven-year career on Tour, she's no stranger to the unique pressures of playing in the final group. And she's got a new trick up her sleeve this time around: child-like wonder.
Yin plans to play on offense tomorrow, but her mindset could be more moderate. The American is trying to approach each day with an emphasis on enjoyment. Instead of worrying about succeeding or being competitive, she's trying to see golf for what it is at its core: a really fun game.
"My mentality has changed so much with golf; it's so much more enjoyable," Yin explained. "Back when I was six or seven years old, when I picked up golf and why I picked up golf, it's just playing the game. Sometimes you get a bad strategy, like my bogey today. I was trying to play smart but then it backfired. I just played it wrong, and it's just a game. I think that's what so amazing about golf.
"I don't think I'm really playing against anyone or anything. I think it's just playing my game and enjoying it out there."