Ladies European Tour Member In-Kyung Kim was unshakeable as she made six birdies in a third round of 66 at Kingsbarns Golf Links on Saturday to post a third-round total of 199, 17-under-par, the lowest in the history of the Ricoh Women’s British Open since it became a Major.
The world number 21 from South Korea bettered by one-stroke the record 54-hole total set by the 2016 champion Ariya Jutanugarn 12 months earlier at Woburn.
In so doing, the 29-year-old from Seoul will take a six-stroke lead into the final round on Sunday, which equals the largest 54-hole lead in the championship, held by Lorena Ochoa in 2007, who went on to claim the title on the Old Course at St Andrews.
Georgia Hall and Moriya Jutanugarn, the elder sister of last year’s champion, are in joint second position after rounds of 67 and 70 respectively, while the 2015 champion Inbee Park, who equalled the women’s course record with a 64, is tied for fourth place a stroke further back with Ally McDonald. The 2013 champion, Stacy Lewis, is placed sixth on nine-under, with a large group on eight-under including last week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open champion Mi Hyang Lee and European Solheim Cup team prospects Mel Reid, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson.
Kim started the day with a two-stroke lead over Georgia Hall and Lexi Thompson, but was never caught in the third round of the championship.
Hall came closest when she made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 first hole to pull within a stroke of the leader, but even when she drove the green at the 290-yard par-four fifth and made a 12-foot putt for eagle, she was still two behind Kim, who had birdied the second and then proceeded to make three birdies in a row from the fifth hole.
Hall then found trouble at the ninth, when she played her second shot into thick rough beyond green and was forced to play a tricky chip from a difficult lie, whereas Kim birdied holes 11 and 12.
The 21-year-old from Bournemouth kept herself in the hunt with three birdies in a row from the 13th but then dropped a shot on 16 after finding a greenside bunker. She then slipped six behind with four-putts on the 17th green for a double bogey.
Hall said: “I wasn’t nervous at all today, which I was a bit surprised. I thought I would be, especially going out late this morning. I hit it better than yesterday. I just made a few silly mistakes with putting but I was happy to get an eagle and you never know. Something might happen tomorrow. Hope to get off to a good start.
“She kept holing putt after putt, and I thought, when is this going to stop? But she just carried on. All credit to her. Hopefully I’ll have some more putts drop tomorrow.”
With a late tee time of 2.45pm, Kim again had to contend with several heavy showers throughout her third round, but as usual, she was calmness personified. She said: “I really enjoyed the golf course and everything and it’s just a bonus when it doesn’t rain as much.”
Kim claimed her sixth LPGA title a fortnight ago and has three additional victories on the LET, but winning a Major championship would be redemption for throwing away the ANA Inspiration, after she missed a one foot putt on the final hole and then lost in a play-off.
Since then, she has been working on getting her mind in the right place. “Sometimes things don’t go the way I want it but that’s not something I can control, but I will try to focus on what I can control and enjoy and have some fun, too,” she said.
She compared golf to music. “You don’t want to listen to happy music all the time. You want to have some highlights, so that’s how I look at life now.”
She added that she has an eclectic music taste and is especially a fan of jazz, classical (Chopin) and the Beatles.