HARRISON, New York (Reuters) - World number two Park In-bee is on track for a triple treat after making birdies at the final two holes on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead going into the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Park’s late surge propelled her past fellow South Korean Kim Sei-young, who stumbled by four-putting from just off the green at the final hole at Westchester Country Club in suburban New York.
Park, who shot seven-under-par 66, is in position to tick several boxes on Sunday.
A win would be her third in a row in this major event. She would also reclaim the world number one spot and exact revenge for a startling playoff defeat earlier this year.
“I don’t know how to describe in words how I‘m going to feel tomorrow if I ended up winning it,” Park, 26, said after posting a 14-under 205 total. “But definitely it will feel very good.”
LPGA Tour rookie Kim, who led by one after Friday’s second round, held a one-shot lead until Park tied her with a birdie at 17.
The par-five 18th was nothing short of disastrous for the 22-year-old Kim, who almost reached the green with her second shot, but took four more to hole out.
Her long eagle putt from just short of the green left her eight feet away. Her birdie putt to remain tied for the lead slid four feet by and she missed the par putt and bogeyed to shoot 69 for 207.
The final round is shaping up as a possible two-player duel.
Leader Park is six strokes clear of third-placed former champions Suzann Pettersen of Norway (71), Australian Karrie Webb (72), and 17-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson (71).
Park will be gunning for her sixth major and is virtually assured of reclaiming world number one from Lydia Ko of New Zealand, needing only to finish 29th to top the rankings.
Victory over Kim would also provide some payback for Park. They are paired to play together in the final round.
Kim chipped in to force a playoff with Park at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii in April, and won by holing out an eight-iron from the fairway for eagle in sudden-death.
“I have to say my history with her is not great,” acknowledged Park.
”I lost in a playoff to her in Lotte, and she won in the Bahamas when I played with her.
“So she probably feels like, ‘I win when I play with In-bee,’ because it’s twice she won.”
Kim said she did not have to rely on magical shot-making to conquer Park.
“That’s a past story,” she said through a translator. “I want to write a new story tomorrow.”
Editing by Andrew Both