THE COLONY, Texas (AP) – After nearly two years of running at # 1 in the women’s world rankings, Jin Young Ko was back at the top of the Volunteers of America Classic on Thursday.
Ko shot an 8-under 63 in hot conditions in the Old American and suddenly took the lead in front of the South Korean major champions and the residents of the region In Gee Chun and Jeongeun Lee6.
The 25-year-old Ko lost number 1 on the leaderboard when Nelly Korda won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship for her second straight win on Sunday.
“That’s fine,” said Ko when he fell to second place. “And I’m still alive.
Ko started her morning round with seven pars, made a 15-foot eagle putt on Par-5 17th, and played the final nine in 6-under 29 as the temperature soared through the mid-1990s.
“The shot wasn’t good, but the putting was really good,” said Ko, who has a home in nearby Frisco. “And then I read the break really well today, so I had confidence on the green. I did a lot of putts today.”
Chun and Lee6 each had seven birdies in a bogey-free 64 that afternoon.
“Make yourself comfortable staying in the house,” said Chun. “It’s the first time during tournament week that you’re at home and playing like a tournament. So it feels a little different, but it’s really good. I’m so happy to be here with my fans and friends and to play my neighbors. “
Lee6 recently moved to Irving. She won the 2019 US Women’s Open for her only LPGA Tour title.
“I don’t feel the best these days, but I try my best every day,” said Lee6. “I played well today.”
Emma Talley and Min-G Kim were two strokes back at 65, and Lake Merced winner Matilda Castren was 66 with Perrine Delacour, Esther Henseleit, Sarah Jane Smith, Gerina Piller and Jasmine Suwannapura.
“I’m a graduate of Alabama, living in Nashville and from Kentucky,” said Talley. “So this heat is awful, but I’m used to it.”
Stacy Lewis, the Texan who won the 2014 event, opened with a 68.
Defending champion Angela Stanford, the local favorite who played alongside knockout in the first two rounds, shot 69. The tournament was played in early December last year when the schedule was reconfigured due to the pandemic.
Lizette Salas, who finished second in the Women’s PGA, screwed the last two holes for a 70.
“I’m a little tired and maybe a little mentally drained, but I still know that I can play good golf,” said Salas.
Maria Fassi opened with a 73. The Mexican player missed the women’s PGA cut with one blow after receiving a two-shot penalty for slow play.