China’s Xiyu Lin surged to the top of the leaderboard in the US$1.6 million HSBC Women’s World Championship, thanks to a strong finish enroute to a five-under-par 67 in a thrilling third day at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore.
Lin showed remarkable composure and grit as the tournament served up a memorable ‘moving day’ at Sentosa’s highly-rated Tanjong Course. After playing 12 holes in one-under-par, the Chinese player came to life with birdies on four of her last six holes to take the lead on 14-under-par.
Chasing her first LPGA title, Lin is just one shot ahead of halfway co-leader and two-time champion Inbee Park of South Korea and Australia’s Hannah Green who shot a superb six-under-par 66.
The round of the day belonged to Mexico’s Gaby Lopez, who mixed nine birdies against two bogeys for an impressive 65 which catapulted her up the leaderboard into fourth place on 12-under-par.
Lin, who has five wins on the China LPGA Tour with two of those co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour, noted that she just stayed in the present amidst a day filled with drama.
“I just really stayed in the present. I didn’t really think of how many shots I need to catch up or anything, and especially since Inbee was playing so well on the front nine. So I was just trying to do what I need to do and definitely the last couple holes, I made some very aggressive putts, like very clutch. So I’m pretty proud of myself,” she said.
This will be the first time in her career that Lin will be holding the lead heading into the final round of an LPGA Tour event. “Tomorrow, it will be the first time I’m in this position … so I don’t know what I’m going to be doing and feeling like. But I mean, it’s just going to keep giving myself opportunities. If I don’t do it this week, I’ll do it another week,” noted the 25-year-old from Guangzhou.
Seven-time Major winner Inbee had looked to be on cruise control when she pulled away from the pack on 15-under-par after a superb first nine 32. However, an unfortunate double-bogey seven on the par-five 16th when her approach shot hit a sprinkler head and rolled off the green into the water, allowed the chasers to catch up.
The former World No 1 showed her class with a closing birdie for an untypically eventful 70, leaving her one off the lead and well in the hunt for a third success in the tournament, dubbed ‘Asia’s Major’.
“It was a great birdie on 18. That really got me a chance to win tomorrow, so I think that was really huge. Obviously we have a lot of girls in the top … it’s going to be a shootout, whoever plays good tomorrow is going to win,” said Inbee.
Green meanwhile was in superb form, holing her second shot for eagle at the 10th hole and adding six birdies against two bogeys to lie in second spot with Inbee with just 18 holes to go. The 24-year-old Australian will be keen to add to her two LPGA Tour titles, the first of which came in a Major at the 2019 Women’s PGA Championship.
“It’s been quite a long time since I’ve holed out from the fairway from quite some distance. Had an 8-iron in and it bounced, hit the pin and went in. That was a nice bonus. That was a lot of fun and gave me some good momentum to make a couple par saves on the next two holes,” said the Perth native.
Green also helped her playing player, former World No 1 Lydia Ko, make a hole-out eagle. The New Zealander’s second shot at the par-four closing hole looked to be just missing the pin until it hit Green’s ball and caromed in.
“So nice to make an eagle and to do that on the last makes my life easier to finish this round! Lunch is going to taste great, more so after that one,” said Ko, who is four shots off the pace on 10-under-par with Koreans So Yeon Ryu and In Gee Chun.
Halfway co-leader Hee Young Park meanwhile had a day to forget when a disastrous quadruple bogey nine at the par-five 16th hole put her out of contention. Playing with Inbee and Lin in the final group, Hee Young pulled her approach shot into the water on the left. Following a penalty drop, her attempted soft pitch took an unkind bounce and rolled into the same lake.
The HSBC Women’s World Championship is broadcast ‘live’ on the Golf Channel HD (Astro Channel 822) daily from 9.30am to 2.30pm.
Leading Round 3 Scores:
202 (-14) – Xiyu Lin (China) 67-68-67
203 (-13) – Hannah Green (AUS) 71-66-66, Inbee Park (KOR) 64-69-70
204 (-12) – Gaby Lopez (MEX) 68-71-65
206 (-10) – In Gee Chun (KOR) 71-69-66, Lydia Ko (NZL) 69-68-69, So Yeon Ryu (KOR) 67-69-70
For more information, visit the tournament website at hsbcgolf.com/womens