EWA BEACH, Hawaii (AP) — Hyo Joo Kim rallied with two late birdies for an even par 72 to maintain a three-shot lead in Friday’s LOTTE Championship on the LPGA Tour.
After Kim dropped shots on the par 7th and par 12th at the breezy Hoakalei Country Club with her only bogeys of the week, Kim shagged the par 14th and par 18th 5 to end with a remaining lap to get back down to 10 under.
“It was very windy today,” said Kim, the 26-year-old South Korean, who won the last of her four LPGA Tour titles in 2019. “There was a lot of wind going back and forth. I think it was difficult because it wasn’t specific (from one) direction. The pin position was also difficult compared to the first and second round. I’ve struggled in that regard.”
Kim almost holed out of a green bunker for Eagle on the 18th.
“It was very important because it was above average or not. I had a chance on the 16th hole but I missed it so I was a bit angry,” said Kim, the 2014 Evian Grand Championship winner. “Now I feel a lot better since I played the last hole made a birdie.”
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The American Brianna Do (67) and the Japanese Hinako Shibuno (68) came second. Sunday qualifier Do fucked the first three holes.
“It’s kind of nice to start with a par 5,” said Do. “You go driver, 3-wood and then you have a wedge in your hand. Yes, starting with a birdie always helps. It calms the nerves and kind of gets you around.”
Do ran into trouble at the difficult 16th hole, which features a split fairway and multiple water features. Her drive shot found a bunker on an adjacent hole, her second hit a nearby tree leaving her a shot out of the rough. However, on her third shot, Do found the green from over 200 yards and proceeded to bogey with two putts.
“I thought I got a good drive,” Do said. “It’s just the wind pushing it a little bit more and I didn’t see it because there were just some trees over there, but I guess it did got an unfortunate kick that bunker on 12 I think,” said Do.
Shibuno had a bogey-free round.
“The putting was stronger, and yes, that makes me a birdie,” Shibuno said.
Somi Lee and Stephanie Meadow were 6 under. They shot 69 each.
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