New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and South Korea’s Eun-Hee Ji each shot 5-under-par 66 on Saturday to grab a share of the lead going into the final round of the LPGA’s Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.
The elite 26-player field competing in the tour’s season opener at the Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., is made up of LPGA winners from the past two seasons.
Ko, 21, and Ji, 32, stand tied for first at 13-under 200, one shot ahead of Canadian Brooke Henderson and two shots over American Nelly Korda.
“It was great. I hit it really well,” said Ji, who birdied four holes in a row on Nos. 2-5. “I was excited (about that). ... I’m still working through (swing changes) during my round, and I still have to think about my swing. If I don’t, I just go back to my old swing, so I just try all the time, try my best.”
Henderson, who led the field by two at the midway point, fired an up-and-down 2-under 69 that included five birdies and three bogies.
Korda posted the round of the day with a bogey-free 6-under 65, featuring four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole.
“It was a bit windy out there. I played really solid, so I’m really happy with today,” said Norda, the 2017 rookie of the year who won her first LPGA title last October. “Just staying patient and working on the same things with my coach, Dave Whelan. We really made a goal this year to stay consistent and take it shot by shot and see how this year goes.
.”..Just keep doing what I’m doing. I know the weather is not supposed to be too great tomorrow. You never know. Just try to hit fairways and try to hit greens. If one sneaks in, great.”
Rounding out the top five going into Sunday was Mirim Lee of South Korea, who shot 69 on Saturday to finish tied for fifth place at 9-under 204 with China’s Shanshan Feng, who carded a bogey-free 66.
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, the reigning LPGA Player of the Year and current world No. 1, started the day tied for second but stumbled to a 75 and dropped into a tie for 13th with American Lexi Thompson (73) at 4 under.