AAP Golf

Park builds 2-shot lead in LPGA opener

By AAP Newswire

Inbee Park has finally made a bogey but she's still finished with a four-under 67 and a two-shot lead over Sei Young Kim heading into the final round of the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Florida.

Park, a 19-time winner on the LPGA Tour, hadn't made a bogey since November's season-ending CME Group Tour Championship but she finally dropped a shot when she three-putted the difficult 211-yard par-3 18th.

To that point, she'd been precise and consistent and had a decent Saturday with the putter, making five birdies. Three consecutive birdies starting at the par-4 13th built her lead to three shots.

"Well, it's always disappointing to finish with a bogey ... So I think I'll just go ahead and make some birdies tomorrow," Park said.

Closest to Park is Kim, whose three victories in 2019 included the lucrative CME Group Tour Championship. Kim made five birdies in a wild second nine and shot 67.

Nasa Hataoka shot 68 and will begin Sunday three shots behind the leader.

With 10 victories, Kim widely is regarded as the most talented player on tour who has yet to win a major. After a sloppy bogey at the 13th hole, she bounced back by reeling off birdies on her next four holes.

At the par-5 17th, she hit a three-wood from 209 yards into the wind that finished 10 feet right of the hole, and narrowly missed the eagle attempt.

Kim was in high school when Park broke through to win for the first time as a pro at the 2007 US Women's Open, the first of Park's seven majors.

Kim has played in the final round on Sunday with Park previously. In 2015, Kim holed out from 154 yards to beat Park in a playoff at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii; she lost to Park in a playoff at the Women's PGA Championship.