Mex­ico’s Lopez hits birth­day ace to deny Ariya the lead

The Nation - - SPORT -

GABY LOPEZ hit a 183-yard hole-in-one as she surged into the lead of the $2.1 mil­lion Blue Bay LPGA in China to cel­e­brate her birth­day in style on Fri­day.

The Mex­i­can’s ace on the parthree 17th hole helped her leapfrog world No1 Ariya Ju­tanu­garn on Hainan is­land and Lopez, ranked a lowly 136th, is in pole po­si­tion for her first ti­tle on the US-based LPGA Tour with one round to play.

Lopez’s feat was all the more sat­is­fy­ing be­cause it was her 25th birth­day and she had turned around af­ter mak­ing the tee shot, not ap­pear­ing to know what she had ac­com­plished un­til her cad­die glee­fully told her.

Cue high-fives all round, in­clud­ing with overnight leader Ju­tanu­garn.

“As soon as the ball left the club I knew it was a good shot, but I couldn’t see be­cause the sun was in my face,” Lopez said.

“I turned around and my cad­die goes, ‘It went in.’

“I’m like, ‘No way!’” A cam­era­man con­firmed the ball had rolled straight in.

“I couldn’t give my­self a bet­ter birth­day present,” said Lopez, who was pre­sented af­ter­wards with two cakes.

Lopez, who was joint sec­ond go­ing into the third round, carded a six-un­der-par 66 to go nine un­der for the tour­na­ment, a oneshot lead on Thai­land’s Ju­tanu­garn.

The South Korean pair of Park Sung-hyun and Kim Sei-young were tied third on a dis­tant four un­der.

Moriya Ju­tanu­garn, Ariya’s sis­ter, fell from tied sec­ond overnight to a share of sev­enth af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing 74.

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