DEFENDING CHAMPION KO LEADS BY TWO AT HSBC WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Defending champion Ko Jin-young of South Korea signalled her strong intentions of retaining her HSBC Women’s World Championship title by carding a seven-under-par 65 to take the third round lead at the US$1.8 million LPGA event on Saturday.
Ko traded eight birdies against a lone bogey at the Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club to sign for a three-day total of 14-under-par 202, two shots ahead of American world No. 2 Nelly Korda, who posted her third consecutive 68 to take outright second place.
Elizabeth Szokol and Allisen Corpuz of the United States returned with matching 70s for a share of third place while overnight leader Danielle Kang slipped to fifth following a 72 at Sentosa Golf Club
Ko stormed out of the blocks quickly with four birdies in her opening five holes. She dropped her only shot on the par-three seven but recovered quickly with another birdie on eight to reach the turn in 32 before heavy rain once again forced the suspension of play for more than two hours.
When play resumed, the 27-year-old continued her charge with another four birdies on eight, 13, 16 and 17 to surge to the top of the leaderboard.
“It felt really good today and I hope to keep this momentum going. I have one more round to go and it’s going to be a great honour if I can win and defend my title.
“I know it’s going to be difficult, but I have to focus on playing my own game. If I’m able to do so, the scores will take care of themselves,” said Ko.
Meanwhile, Korda credited her mental fortitude for keeping her in the hunt for her ninth LPGA win after surviving another challenging day in Singapore.
“After the rain delay, I actually bogeyed 10 and had to tell myself to refocus. With such a long delay, you’re not in a zone where you were playing nine or holes before and you had the momentum.
“So, I was talking through the shots with my caddie and told myself not to make stupid mistakes. You are definitely a little bit more mentally fried after days like these,” said Korda.
Corpuz, playing her second year on the LPGA, will be switching to an attacking mode as her dream of securing her maiden win on Tour remains very much alive.
“I had the tendency in the past to get a little more conservative when I’m playing under pressure. But I know staying aggressive is needed to win this tournament and I’ll try to take that mindset into tomorrow. It’ll be a dream come true to get that win on the LPGA Tour,” said the 24-year-old.
Despite letting slip of her overnight lead, Kang remains upbeat of her chances as she admitted the misjudgements of her shots on holes 10 and 12 had marred her card.
“I actually played really well today. I missed a couple of putts but there weren’t a lot of birdie opportunities. The two times I got greedy on 10 and 12 and I made bogey.
“I tried to keep giving myself putts, and I think that kind of got to my patience a bit. There’s a lot of variables today but I was actually playing really solid,” said Kang.
Singapore’s Amanda Tan, meanwhile, returned with a 73 for a seven-over-par 223, giving her a chance of securing her best-ever result at the HSBC Women’s World Championship with her previous best finish coming in the 2017 edition where she signed off with a 13-over-par total.
The HSBC Women’s World Championship features 17 of the world’s top 20, including all of the world’s top five.
This year marks the 15th edition of the HSBC Women’s World Championship and remarkably, of the 14 previous winners, 12 are Major champions, lending yet further credibility to the player’s claim that this is ‘Asia’s Major.’