INCHEON, South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea’s Ko Jin-young delivered a sparkling six-under-par 66 in the third round of the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship on Saturday to move two shots clear of compatriots Park Sung-hyun and Chun In-gee at the SKY72 Golf and Resort in Incheon.
Ko, who sits on a combined 15-under for the $2 million tournament, will play alongside Park and Chun on Sunday in a blockbuster final grouping of three of South Korea’s most popular players.
Lizette Salas moved into contention a shot further back on 12-under after a 68 on Saturday, while overnight leader Angel Yin struggled for consistency and finished even par to sit in a group of three on 11-under.
Park, who could replace Ryu So-yeon as world number one with a win on Sunday and is a lock for U.S. LPGA Rookie of the Year, picked up four shots through nine holes to seize the lead but faltered coming home. She did well to salvage par at the last after driving into a hazard and finished with a 68.
With her ‘Flying Dumbos’ fan club helping swell the tournament’s galleries to record numbers, Chun sank her fourth birdie of the day at the last for a four-under 68 to move into a good position for her first win of the season after five runner-up finishes on the U.S. tour.
But the day belonged to Ko, who still plays on the domestic Korean Tour and seems poised to fill the vacuum left by the departure of Park and Chun for the more lucrative U.S. tour.
The 22-year-old had her irons dialled-in all day, almost holing out for eagle at the ninth and 10th, and would have been further ahead had her putting been as sharp.
“I think my iron shots today were really strong so I was able to make a lot of birdie chances for myself,” she told reporters.
“Although I’m in the lead... there are a lot of great players out there in the field. I think tomorrow I would have to really focus and concentrate.
“At the same time, I haven’t seen some of those players for a while so it will be a lot of fun to play with them.”
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda is still in with a chance of defending her title after carding a 67 on Saturday that left her five off the lead.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly