By Murray Gleffe
HOBART-Sei Young Kim shot a scintillating 64 in the third round of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
She will take an eight-shot lead over fellow South Korean Amy Yang into Sunday’s final round.
Her 192 total for 54 holes tied Annika Sorenstam’s previous 24 under mark set way back in 2003 at the Mizuno Classic in Japan.
“It’s an honor to have my name with Annika’s,” said Kim. “I used to watch Annika on television and it was my dream to play on the LPGA with her.”
Kim started the day with two pars and then got her round going on the par-5 third hole.
She hit a towering drive down the right side of the fairway and then from 257 out hit a magnificent three wood to 10 feet beyond the hole.
The putt for eagle was never in doubt and it catapulted her to 18 under.
As the wind kicked up around the lake holes on the front nine, Kim had to settle for five straight pars.
On the ninth (par five), Sei Young took a chance with her driver hugging the left edge of the fairway close to the water’s edge.
It paid off.
With 234 yards to go, and a breeze in her face, Kim hit a piercing shot that landed short of the green and trundled up to 16 feet for eagle.
The putt didn’t drop but Kim tapped in for birdie and a front nine of 33.
If the fans thought she would go into ‘conservative mode’ on her incoming holes, think again.
Kim added birdies on 11, 13, 14, 15, and 16 to shoot a back nine of 31 and increase her lead to what seems like an insurmountable amount the way she is putting and striking the ball.
On any other day, a 67 would be a tremendous score and most likely gain ground on the LPGA leaderboard.
However, Yang’s five birdies on this day lost her three strokes and she will probably have to produce something very special in the final round or have Kim come back to the pack if she is to have a chance at winning the tournament.
Lydia Ko, Anna Nordqvist, and American Emma Talley all sit in a tie for third at 15 under par.
Talley’s 68 included an eagle on her third hole of the day in which she holed a shot from a greenside bunker.
“I had the bunker yips since L.A., which is ironic, because I finished fifth there,” said Talley. “But I’ve been practicing a lot, and I landed it right where I wanted to. That was really exciting, and that kind of got me going.”
Everybody, though, will be chasing Sei Young Kim in the final round.
It would take an incredible number by her nearest competitors, or an epic collapse on the part of Kim if she is not to grasp the Skywoman trophy Sunday evening.
If Kim happens to shoot 68 or better in the final round it would be the best 72-hole mark in relation to par in the history of the LPGA. The current record stands at 27 under which two players hold.
Kim accomplished the feat at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup. It was originally set way back in 2001 by Sorenstam at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, AZ.
“I just want to challenge what I can do,” said Kim. “Yea, if I break out, more higher the record. That’s the goal.”
-Nanna Koertz Madsen and Celine Boutier shot 63’s on Saturday one day after making the cut on the number
-Lydia Ko holed her third shot for eagle on the par five 15th hole
-42 rounds of 69 or better on moving day
-All 78 golfers that are playing the weekend are under par for the tournament
-The first hole has played the most difficult all week with a scoring average of 4.344
-There were 13 eagles on Saturday