Kyu Jung Baek made a big move Saturday, shooting a 66 to grab a tie for the lead at 8 under.
Also tied for the lead is her biggest rookie rival, Jin Young Ko. Amazingly, despite all Baek has done this season, Ko can STILL win the Rookie of the Year, and a win here would put her in a prime position to do that. So the final round battle between these two has a lot of importance to that race!
Shin Young Park, the first round leader, is the third player tied at the top.
Meanwhile, another teen superstar, Hyo Joo Kim, quietly lurks just one shot back.
Yet another promising rookie, 18-year-old Ji Hyun Oh, is tied with Kim at 7 under.
Ha Neul Kim faded with a 74; her first win will probably have to come another day. In Gee Chun is also at 2 under.
They still took time for autographs at the end of the round!
One more day!
1. Kyu Jung Baek 66 -8 - Jin Young Ko (R) 68 -8 - Shin Young Park 70 -8 4. Hyo Joo Kim 68 -7 - Ji Hyun Oh (R) 68 -7 - Ji Hee Kim 69 -7
Notables: 7. Sei Young Kim 67 -6 10. Yoon Kyung Heo 67 -5 13. Min Sun Kim 5 (R) 69 -4 - Ha Na Jang 69 -4 19. Char Young Kim 71 -3 26. Min Young Lee 2 71 -2 - Hye Youn Kim 71 -2 - In Gee Chun 71 -2 - Jung Min Lee 70 -2 - Ha Neul Kim 74 -2 35. Je Yoon Yang 72 -1 - Soo Jin Yang 71 -1 46. Ran Hong 72 Even 55. Shin Ae Ahn 76 +1
The conditions were blustery, and the players struggled to deal with it. Playing in the final group with rookie rival Jin Young Ko, Kyu Jung Baek had a horrible start, with three straight bogies late on the front nine to sink to 2 over for her round.
By the middle of the back nine, Shin Young Park had taken sole lead at 8 under, with Hyo Joo Kim, Jin Young Ko and Yoon Kyung Heo at 7 under and Baek at 5 under.
Park had trouble even placing her ball on the 14th green thanks to the slope and the strong wind. She made bogey there, but it was a crushing double on the next hole that sank her to 5 under and effectively eliminated her.
Meanwhile, Heo finished with a 2 under par 70 (two birdies, no bogies) and posted 7 under, the score to beat.
Hyo Joo Kim hung in there, making a great up and down on 18 to finish at 7 under as well.
Jin Young Ko bogied 14 and 16 to fall to 5 under as well. She seemed out of it until a great long range birdie on 17 moved her back to 6 under. She needed one more birdie on the final hole to join the playoff. Alas, instead she made bogey on 18, and Baek made birdie, allowing Baek to sneak past her great rival and finish one shot ahead of her in solo third.
Meanwhile, there was yet another playoff featuring Hyo Joo Kim, this time against Yoon Kyung Heo.
In the playoff, Hyo Joo's approach was well short, landing in a huge waste bunker, and short siding herself besides. Heo's approach landed on the green but rolled into the fringe.
Hyo Joo got out, but about fifteen feet past the hole, and could not save par. Heo's birdie try went about five feet past the hole. So Heo had a dicey putt to win. She backed off several times as the wind whipped, but she sank the par and won her second trophy of 2014.
It was a tough day, with even stars like Ha Na Jang and Ha Neul Kim shooting in the 80s.
But Heo kept her head, shot a 70, and collected the crown. Congrats to her!
1. Yoon Kyung Heo 70 -7 * won in playoff 2. Hyo Joo Kim 72 -7 3. Kyu Jung Baek (R) 74 -6 4. Ji Hyun Kim 2 71 -5 - Jin Young Ko (R) 75 -5 - Shin Young Park 75 -5
Notables: 7. Ji Hee Kim 75 -4 11. Char Young Kim 73 -2 13. Hye Youn Kim 73 -1 - Jung Min Lee 73 -1 - Sei Young Kim 77 -1 19. Min Sun Kim 5 (R) 76 Even 21. In Gee Chun 75 +1 - Soo Jin Yang 74 +1 - Ji Hyun Oh (R) 80 +1 35. Chae Young Yoon 75 +4 - Je Yoon Yang 77 +4 - Ha Na Jang 80 +4 41. Min Young Lee 79 +5 50. Shin Ae Ahn 78 +7 54. Ran Hong 80 +8 - Ha Neul Kim 82 +8
Good to see Yoon Kyung have a good final round and get the win. She struggled a few times when she was leading or near the top, in the final round.
Does Kyu Jung lead the rookie race?
Do check the 19th hole, I have a thread where I update the weekly stats races on the KLPGA, including the rookie race.
Baek has been behind Ko most of the last few months. They were TIED before the Ha Na Bank, but that tournament does not count, so Baek's win didn't help her. Even coming into this week, Baek had a slim lead, and Ko could have overtaken her this week. Still isn't over, but Baek has the lead for now!
Round 3 pix
Yoon Kyung Heo
Hyo Joo Kim
Kyu Jung Baek
w/ Jin Young Ko
Jin Young Ko
Ji Hyun Oh - two great days, but shot 80 on Sunday
There's been a little brouhaha on the internet about Shin Young Park's adventure on the 14th hole. A lot of fans have been voicing concern that she may have gotten a raw deal that cost her the last KLPGA event.
As I related, the wind was blowing her ball around, and given she was on a little slope, she had a hard time getting the ball to stand still long enough to remove her mark. Apparently she violated rule 20-4 in the way she marked/lifted the ball, and so she incurred a penalty on the hole. It wasn't clear that she had received a penalty when I was watching, but that penalty did a number on her confidence (at that point she had had a one shot lead), and she wound up losing.