Ali­son Lee takes LPGA Tour lead in S Korea

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Ali­son Lee took a three-stroke lead yes­ter­day in the LPGA KEB HanaBank Cham­pi­onship, putting the 21-year-old UCLA stu­dent in po­si­tion for her first vic­tory.

Lee shot a 4-un­der 68 in calm and firm con­di­tions at Sky 72, sav­ing par on 17 and birdieing 18 to stretch her mar­gin over US Women’s Open cham­pion Brit­tany Lang - her US Sol­heim Cup team­mate.

“The past few days, all week, I’ve been strik­ing the ball re­ally well,” Lee said. “I’ve been giv­ing my­self a lot birdie chances. Even though I shot 4 un­der to­day, I still left a lot of birdie putts other there.”

Play­ing her sec­ond sea­son on the tour while re­main­ing in col­lege, Lee had a 13-un­der 203 to­tal on the Jack Nick­laus-de­signed Ocean Course. “Ev­ery­one back home is cheer­ing me on,” Lee said. “Even my room­mates and some of the girls in the soror­ity. They know noth­ing about golf, but they’ve been tun­ing in to the Golf Chan­nel.”

Lang had a 72. South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim, the win­ner two weeks ago in China in the first of six straight events in Asia, was third at 9 un­der af­ter a 69. She also won an event in Ger­many last month. Lee was asked about sleep­ing on the third-round lead.

“I have to go back and do some read­ing for class, so that’ll keep my mind off it for sure,” Lee said “I have read­ing for ev­ery class. I’m be­hind in ev­ery class.” She also has some time for fun, start­ing at the Delta Gamma House. “We have a lot of soror­ity stuff when I get back home, too,” Lee said. “We have big/lit­tle re­veal on Thurs­day where I get my lit­tle sis.” And there’s root­ing for the Bru­ins’ foot­ball team. “I haven’t missed any home games yet and I don’t think I will,” Lee said. Lee re­bounded from a bo­gey on the par-4 14th to birdie the 15th. A day af­ter chip­ping in for ea­gle on the short par 4, she hit a full ap­proach that tracked across the green to 4 feet. Af­ter miss­ing a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th, she got an 8-foot come­backer to fall for par on the par-3 17th. She made a 4-footer on the par-5 18th, see­ing the line when Cristie Kerr - the third mem­ber of the all-Sol­heim Cup (and all-PXG equip­ment) group - hit a bunker shot inches be­hind Lee’s marker and holed her birdie putt.

Lee also re­bounded well from her first bo­gey, fol­low­ing a dropped shot on the par-3 third with four straight birdies. She then made six pars be­fore miss­ing a 5-footer on 14. “On No. 3, I missed like a 3-footer for par,” Lee said. “I three-putted and that kind of spooked me . ... I think the bo­gey al­most helped be­cause it kind of snapped me back into the game and got me more fo­cused.”

Spain’s Car­lota Ci­ganda had a 69 to reach 8 un­der, and Kerr’s 72 left her at 7 un­der with Tai­wan’s Candie Kung (69) and South Korea’s Min-Sun Kim. Sung Hyun Park, tied for the lead early in the round, had con­sec­u­tive double bo­geys on the back nine in a 73 to fall to 6 un­der. The Korean LPGA mem­ber tied for sec­ond be­hind Lexi Thomp­son last year.

Thomp­son also was 5 un­der a 72, mak­ing five birdies, three bo­geys and a double bo­gey. She and Lang are the only US win­ners this year. In Gee Chun, the top-ranked South Korean player at No. 3, was 3 un­der af­ter a 69. Top-ranked Ly­dia Ko was 1 over af­ter a 73. She has four vic­to­ries this year, one be­hind sec­ond-ranked Ariya Ju­tanu­garn for the tour lead. Ju­tanu­garn had a 69 to get to 1 un­der.

Fourth-ranked Brooke Hen­der­son had her worst round of the sea­son, shoot­ing a 78 along­side Ko to drop to 5 over. The Cana­dian teen plans to play all six week in Asia. Aus­tralia’s Su Oh had a hole-in-one with an 8-iron on the 144yard 17th. She was 1 un­der af­ter a 67.

— AP

INCHEON: Ali­son Lee of the United States watches her shot on the third hole dur­ing the third round of the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Cham­pi­onship at Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, yes­ter­day.

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