Golf: Neck and neck at Women's PGA Championship

Chella Choi lining up her putt during the third round of Women's PGA Championship. The South Korean joint leader will be looking to secure her first Major triumph, with her only LPGA title coming in 2015 at the Marathon Classic.
Chella Choi lining up her putt during the third round of Women's PGA Championship. The South Korean joint leader will be looking to secure her first Major triumph, with her only LPGA title coming in 2015 at the Marathon Classic.PHOTO: REUTERS

South Korea's Choi and American Kang hope to seal their first Major win at Olympia Fields

OLYMPIA FIELDS (Illinois) • South Korea's Chella Choi and American Danielle Kang, each seeking their first Major title, both birdied the 18th hole to share the lead after Saturday's third round of the Women's PGA Championship.

Choi fired a three-under 67 while Kang shot 68 to leave both on 10-under 203 after 54 holes at Olympia Fields near Chicago in the second Major tournament of the season.

"I feel very good right now," Choi said. "My shot and my putting, very good the last couple of weeks, so I have confidence.

"It's a Major tournament. It's the very biggest for me, but I'm ready for the final round. I practised a lot and (I've been) training a lot, and mental training too."

Choi, a 26-year-old from Daegu, won her only LPGA crown at the 2015 Marathon Classic. Her best finish in any Major was a share of fifth at this event in 2013.

Kang, a 24-year-old from San Francisco, managed her best Major finish with a share of 14th at the 2012 US Women's Open.

The two-time US Women's Amateur champion is still winless on the LPGA Tour. Her best result is joint third at the Kingsmill Championship in 2012.

LENDING SUPPORT

Wayne (Gretzky) texted me this morning. He said 'just go win it'. Caitlyn Jenner called me yesterday. It would be incredible to be called a Major champion.

DANIELLE KANG , world No. 43 golfer, drawing strength from her celebrity pals.

"I've been working on my game every day to get better," Kang said.

"All I could do is work on my game and hope that every day, just chip away at your game, and it gets better every day and that's where it's getting at."

The American moves in celebrity circles and is not shy about name-dropping.

She counts among her friends Caitlyn Jenner, the 1976 Olympic decathlon champion known as Bruce who subsequently underwent a transgender procedure, and ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

"Wayne texted me this morning. He said 'just go win it'," Kang added.

"Caitlyn Jenner called me yesterday. I have a couple of people rooting for me. I love it. It would be incredible to be called a Major champion."

South Korea's Shin Ji Yai was third on 205 after a sizzling 64 with defending champion Brooke Henderson (69) of Canada fourth on 206 and South Koreans Amy Yang (71) and Kim Sei Young (72) sharing fifth on 207.

Choi opened and closed her bogey-free round with birdies on par-five holes, adding birdies at the par-four eighth and 14th holes.

Kang, who shared the lead with Kim when the day began, birdied all three par-five holes - the first, last and sixth - while matching Choi's birdies on the eighth and 14th as well.

But she stumbled with bogeys at the par-four third and par-four 16th.

Former world No. 1 Shin left the LPGA in 2014 after 11 wins that included two Majors, but she has not had a top-10 Major showing since 2013.

She made six birdies in her last 10 holes to put herself in contention for another. "I think tomorrow is going to be a little bit hotter and also windy, so I try to enjoy the wind, like a friend," she said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2017, with the headline 'Neck and neck at women's c'ship'. Print Edition | Subscribe