Amy Rogers on LPGA – July 01, 2018: Saturday, So Yeon Ryu rolled in a 15-footer on the 18thhole to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The difference between two and three strokes? Ryu knows it’s huge.
“Two and three is quite a big difference,” Ryu told LPGA.com after her round. “It’s only one shot but it just feels bigger. It feels quite different.”
In the span of three holes, Ryu went from trailing Brooke Henderson by two-strokes to leading by just as many. The birdie Ryu made at the par 5, 11thhole she points to as the critical turning point that altered the course of the championship. Playing 440 yards on Sunday, the hole beckoned for players to go for the green in two. Ryu went long, avoiding the water short of the green and found the bunker behind the green. She got up and down by draining a 15-footer for birdie.
“My third shot was quite a tough bunker shot, so I had to go a little sideways,” Ryu said after her round. “And then I was able to make a birdie putting after all. Right now, I feel pretty confident on the putting green, and I think the tournament is all about confidence, then that’s the attitude I really want to have for tomorrow, a free mind but confidence.”
Aditi Ashok had a forgettable day at Kemper Lakes. The lady from Bengaluru slipped down the order sunk in a barrage of bogeys. She posted nine over 81 on Saturday to end the day at 8-over 224 through 54 holes.
Her round featured six bogeys, two double bogeys and a lone birdie at the 14th hole – needing 41 strokes on the forward nine and 40 on the return stretch. Aditi’s game was off in the third round – she made just 9 of 14 fairways and hit only 7 of 18 greens in regulation. But count of this fighter to put the bad day behind her and come back with a strong effort on Sunday.
Saturday, Ryu and Henderson were paired together and shared the 36-hole lead with Sung Hyun Park. While Park and Henderson found early momentum with both making birdies over the first two holes, it took Ryu a little bit longer to find her momentum.
As Henderson pulled away with four birdies over her first 11 holes, she extended her lead to two ahead of Ryu. But Henderson’s putter, a new one she put in the bag on Monday, grew cold over the closing stretch. Between holes 13 and 16, Henderson missed a series of birdie and par-saving putts that opened the door for Ryu, who capitalised with back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th holes to take a two-stroke lead of her own.
Ryu is already a two-time major champion, who won the ANA Inspiration and U.S. Women’s Open. Achieving the Career Grand Slam is one of her biggest goals and could be coming closer to reality with a win on Sunday.
“I don’t want it to slip away my opportunity. I want to finish strong, but as I said, just better not to expect anything. All I can do is focus on what I have and have fun with it.”
Henderson closed with bogeys at the 14thand 16thholes to settle for a round of 2-under par, 70. She will play alongside Ryu in the final group on Sunday along with Park, who sits at 7-under after a third round, 71.
“Today, I struggled a little bit with my putter, which is disappointing,” Henderson said after her round. “I think just get better in my head and just go out tomorrow and made a lot of good shots and see if I can make some birdies, and hopefully they roll in.”