Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 5 Jin Young Ko is well on her way to defending her title at the 15th playing of the HSBC Women’s World Championship. The 13-time LPGA Tour winner fired a third-round, 7-under, 65 on Moving Day at the Tanjong Course at Sentosa Golf Club, making eight birdies and one bogey to post at -14 overall and lead by two. Ko came out swinging on Saturday, birdieing the first hole right out of the gate and then carding three consecutive birdies on holes 3, 4 and 5. She dropped a shot on the par-3, 7th, but quickly recovered with a birdie on No. 8, and then parred the ninth to turn in 32. Ko made three more pars on holes 10, 11 and 12 and grabbed another birdie at the par-5, 13th, this week’s Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole. She notched two more pars on the 14th and 15th and closed her day with two birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 and a par on the last, a final one-two punch that gave her the 54-hole lead, the first time she’s held the third-round lead/co-lead since the 2021 CME Group Tour Championship.
“I tried to focus really hard on the front nine, and I got four birdies in five holes. I felt, yeah, today is a good day, so keep going,” said Ko, who hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens on Saturday. “I tried (hard) on the back nine. I played well today but I had some missed putts and some great shots but not good shoots, too. It's okay, I have one more round to go so let's keep it up.”
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Nelly Korda lurks two shots behind Ko at -12 overall after carding her third consecutive 4-under, 68 in Singapore. Playing with Ko in group 17, Korda kept things steady early, making two birdies in her first five holes on Nos. 2 and 5. She bogeyed the par-3, 7th, but bounced right back with a birdie on hole 8, the easiest hole on the Tanjong Course on day three with a scoring average of 4.515. After a 2-hour and 9-minute stoppage of play due to heavy rainfall, Korda made bogey on No. 10, a wake-up call for the 24-year-old that she said made her work hard to refocus with eight holes to play. She hopped on the par train on holes 11, 12 and 13, finally breaking free with a birdie on the 14th, and closed her Saturday with birdies on the 17th and the 18th, the former of which saw her stuff her tee shot to four feet with water on the left and bunkers short of the green.
“I was just trying to give myself like 20 to 30 feet long, actually. And obviously, that's kind of a pin position where even if you go right or left, you still have to fly the bunker. So may as well go straight at it. I did get a little lucky there,” said Korda. “I know that it hit just in the fringe and it rolled up to probably four feet, three and a half, hour feet. I told my caddie, I don't think anyone is going to see a shot somewhat short of this hole on the green.”
A trio of Americans round out the top five with just 18 holes to play in Singapore. Allisen Corpuz and Elizabeth Szokol sit in a tie for third at -11, three back of Ko, after both ground out 2-under rounds of 70 on Saturday. Corpuz threatened early, making two birdies in her first three holes, but erased that effort with a double bogey on the par-5, 5th. She recovered with a birdie on the next but dropped a shot again on No. 7, parring the 8th hole and birdieing the 9th to turn in 35. Despite making bogey on hole 10, Corpuz kept things steady, recording two birdies in her next eight holes to finish under par.
Hitting just 9 of 18 greens, Szokol had three bogeys and five birdies on the card, including two consecutive birdies on Nos. 12 and 13. It’s just the fourth time that the 28-year-old has been within five of the lead entering the final round, and while plenty of pressure comes with being in contention for your first LPGA Tour title, Szokol seems more than ready to handle the challenge on Sunday. “I'm so excited,” she said. “(It’s) just the second event of the season and I'm really excited to be playing in contention and have a chance tomorrow. Looking forward to it.”
Major champion and 36-hole leader Danielle Kang sits in solo fifth at -10 after scraping together a even-par, 72 on day three. Rounding out the top 10, four players are tied for sixth at -9, including LPGA Tour winner Celine Boutier, Japanese natives Nasa Hataoka and Ayaka Furue and LET winner Linn Grant.