LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Ko Jin-young birdied five holes on the front nine to seize slim lead over two other South Koreans heading into the final round of the ANA Inspiration, the first major of the LPGA season.
The 23-year old from Seoul fired a four-under 68 to lead second round leader Kim In-kyung as the Korean juggernaut steamrolled its way to the top of the leaderboard at the Mission Hills Country Club course near Palm Springs, California. Four of the top seven players are Korean-born.
Ko said she is going to stick to her game plan going into Sunday’s fourth round.
‘‘I just have to play golf, 18 holes,’’ she said. ‘‘I am not nervous, and I am not afraid.’’
Ko’s round was far from perfect as she stumbled down the stretch with a double bogey and bogey on Nos. 14 and 15 respectively to reach a eight-under 208 total.
The reigning LPGA rookie-of-the year led by five strokes at one stage after sinking a long putt on the par-four 10th.
But her tee shot on 14 landed in the water and she dropped further with a bogey on the next hole which saw her lead cut to just one stroke.
‘‘I’m not a robot, I’m human,’’ Ko said about the pitching wedge wobble on 14. ‘‘Everyone can do a miss shot. Doesn’t matter. It happens sometimes.’’
Kim is in sole possession of second place and just one stroke back after shooting a one-over 73.
She struggled on the front nine but bounced back on the back and closed with a birdie on the last hole.