Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu will be playing together both as rivals and as teammates representing South Korea in the final round of the World Ladies Championship in China on Sunday.
This tournament is unique in professional golf in that it comprises three events in one: an individual professional competition, a team championship in which countries are represented by teams of two and an individual amateur tournament.
After three rounds on the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Haikou, the defending champion Park holds a one stroke lead over compatriot Ryu in the individual stroke play competition.
Park fired a third round 71 to end on 10-under, ahead of Ryu, who moved into solo second with an eight under par 65.
With a combined score of 19-under-par, the second and eighth ranked golfers in the world, who won the team event together last year by a whopping 28 strokes, are also 15 strokes ahead of their nearest rivals in the team competition, ahead of the Norway and Chinese Taipei. Meanwhile, China’s Lei Ye has effectively won the amateur prize as the only non-professional to make the cut.
This is Park’s third appearance in the World Ladies Championship and she finished second in 2013. Despite leading or co-leading after each round this week, she has struggled a little by her own high standards and said: “It was a challenging day with the wind. I misjudged the wind quite a few times and ended up in the greenside bunker and wasn’t able to get up and down from there. I’m a little bit disappointed. I feel like I finished well, but the three putt on the last didn’t help. I have one more day to play and happy to be in the position where I am.”
Ryu finished third in 2014 and could be a real threat now that she has mastered the speed of the greens.
Ryu said: “The last two rounds I also played great but didn’t make a putt. Today I made a lot of great putts. Starting with a birdie and an eagle gave me good motivation to play a low score. Today I shot eight under and I’m really happy with what I did. Today a lot of the par fives were playing downwind so it was really easy to make it on in two shots. I think that’s why I made a lot of birdies.”
With a six under 67, the 2013 event champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway climbed into a tie for third place with the recent Sanya Ladies Open champion Xiyu Lin of China (73) and both are also in a strong position to contend, just three from the lead.
Lin said: “Today it was funny. I didn’t really get the right distances. I was always hitting 15 yards short or 15 yards long. It wasn’t my best day and my game wasn’t stable. Under par will be good tomorrow.”
Pettersen said: “This course sets up. You can go low round here. I’ve had three bogeys today and shot six under. It’s kind of an annoying finish to bogey 17 and not birdie 18. You’ve got to shoot low to win here, so hopefully conditions will be tough again tomorrow and I’ll go out there and fire as low as I can. I feel like I know this course, I’ve played here many times and feel like I know my way around.”
One stroke further back, Australian Rebecca Artis (69) shares fifth place with second round co-leader Holly Clyburn (74). Meanwhile first round co-leader Becky Morgan of Wales is tied for ninth on three under par.