It was a race to beat the dark on a moving marathon day. Jin Young Ko finished her second round on Saturday morning and then spun on the third round at 3:42 p.m. CT at the Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas. Thirty-one holes later and the seven-time LPGA Tour winner is the Volunteers of America Classic 54-hole leader with a stroke at -14.
“Today was really difficult,” said Ko, who signed for a bogey-free 66 in the third round. “I played 31 holes and woke up at 4:50” [a.m. CT] this morning and at almost 9. finished [p.m. CT]. I’ve been playing all day; It was a long day. But I had a great lap and it was fun.
“I didn’t want to play tomorrow morning so I wanted to finish. We made a great decision. “
Ko found her way to three birdies and a chip-in eagle on the par-4 15th place. For the seventh time in her career, she holds or shares the 54-hole lead. On four of the previous six occasions, Ko won.
“This course is not easy, but not too difficult because the greens are very small. So if I hit the green in the middle of the green, I might have birdie opportunities, ”said Ko. “Tomorrow, yeah, I didn’t know that, but I think I have a chance so I’ll keep going like this.”
The LPGA Tour rookies Esther Henseleit and Matilda Castren pull Ko behind them in one fell swoop and round off the last grouping on Sunday at 1:50 p.m. CT from No. 1. Henseleit (64) has signed up for the low number of points in the third round, just like Mirim Lee, and will compete in the first final group of the final round of her career.
Castren, the youngest Rolex first-time winner at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, used four birdies to fire a 3-under 68. She will use her experience at Lake Merced Golf Club to take a second win in her last three starts.
“It’s been great to have the experience,” said Castren, who shot a 65th lap last month in Daly City, California. “This morning I knew what it would be like to play in the last group and take the lead, so that helped for tomorrow. I know that I’ll be more relaxed and hopefully do the same as Mediheal on Sunday. “
Jeongeun Lee6 is fourth with -10 solo. She rattled off three straight birdies to finish her round and add some momentum to Denton County Sunday.
“I’m not happy with my result,” said Lee6. “I missed a lot of greens so I didn’t have many birdie chances. But I still have one day. I finished the last three holes really well. I like this position so I focus on holding the green and then just putting speed. I will do my best.”
Defending champion Angela Stanford and rookie Ana Belac are five shots behind the lead in a tie in fifth. Stanford carded a bogey-free 65, climbing from a tie to 29. Four players rank seventh including 2014 Volunteers of America Classic Champion Stacy Lewis.
The final round begins at 11:38 a.m. CT in a split tee and in groups of three.