There were too many players close behind and too many low scores to be had for Lydia Ko to feel at ease at the top of the JTBC Founders Cup leaderboard.
That won’t change the 16-year-old New Zealander’s approach Sunday at Desert Mountain.
“I’m just going to play my own game,” Ko said. “If somebody goes crazy low like shooting 10 under, 9 under or whatever, it’s not something I can control.”
She shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday to reach 16-under 200. Jessica Korda and Lee Mi-rim were a stroke back, and a dozen players were within four shots on a course that gave up a 63 and two 64s in the third round.
“Obviously, there’s going to be some nerves,” Ko said. “Of course, that’s always there.”
Ko was 3 under on Wildfire’s Arnold Palmer-designed front nine Saturday after playing it in even par the first two days. She eagled the par-5 fifth after hitting a 5-wood to 7 feet.
|Lydia Ko tees off on the 17th hole on Saturday. (AFP-Yonhap)|
“I played much better on the front nine, so I was really happy with that,” Ko said.
Ko tapped in for birdie on the par-5 15th after missing an eagle try and took the outright lead with a 10-footer on the par-3 17th. She’s 13 under on the Nick Faldo-designed back nine, where the tournament will be decided.
“You never know until the last hole, last putt,” Ko said.
Ko won the Canadian Women’s Open as an amateur the last two years and took the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in December in Thailand in her second start as a professional. She has five victories in pro events, also winning in Australia and New Zealand.
“It would be pretty special and especially at the Founders Cup,” Ko said. “Without the founders, there would be no LPGA. This has been my dream tour.”
Ko will play alongside Korda. They also played together in the first two rounds.
“It’s always cool to play with her,” Ko said.
Korda, the winner in the season-opening event in the Bahamas, birdied the final two holes for her second bogey-free 66 in a row.
“I look at her like a little sister,” Korda said about Ko. “She’s a great girl.”
Scott’s lead now 3 at Bay Hill
ORLANDO, Florida (AP) ― Adam Scott didn’t have to look as far down the leaderboard to find players who suddenly are a real threat to win at Bay Hill.
He described them as players who are “hungry to win,” and Scott served them up an appetizer Saturday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Staked to a seven-shot lead at the start of the third round, the Masters champion hit enough loose shots and missed just enough par putts to lose more than half his lead and turn his quest to be No. 1 in the world into a bigger battle that he would have preferred.
Scott made a 7-foot par putt on the final hole for a 1-under 71, giving him a three-shot lead over Keegan Bradley going into Sunday.
“I think I’ve got to go out and try to win the golf tournament (Sunday),” Scott said. “I’m not trying to win the No. 1 ranking. I’ve got a bunch of guys breathing down my neck who all have had nice rounds today and are feeling pretty good about the way they’re playing going into tomorrow. So I’m going to have to play a pretty sharp round of golf and not open the door at all.”
Scott was at 15-under 201.
Bradley birdied his last three holes, taking on the flag at the 18th with a 9-iron from 167 yards that narrowly cleared the rocks framing the lake and settled 4 feet from the flag. That was the final touch on an eight-birdie round of 66 that put him in the final group.
“I just kind of like that underdog role,” Bradley said. “I like knowing that I’ve got to go out there and play well. It really gets me excited. And playing in the final group with one of the best players in the world at Arnold Palmer’s tournament is what we all dream to do.” (AP)