Olympics: Park In Bee leads by two heading into final round as Chen and Ko ace 8th hole

South Korea's Park Inbee competes in the Women's individual stroke play at the Olympic Golf course.
South Korea's Park Inbee competes in the Women's individual stroke play at the Olympic Golf course.PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - South Korea's Inbee Park shot a one-under 70 in the third round on Friday to increase her lead in the Olympic golf tournament to two strokes over New Zealand's Lydia Ko and American Gerina Piller.

Park, who missed two months of the season due to injuries, started on the front foot with three early birdies but fell back after dropping three shots.

Seven-time Major champion Park, who is now 18 holes from winning the first gold medal awarded for women's golf since 1900, finished strongly, however, in windy conditions.

"It was a struggle out there but I feel like I hung in there really nicely and I am very happy that I gave myself a chance tomorrow (Saturday)," said the 28-year-old, who has an 11-under 202 total.

"It was very, very windy... It is going to be tough finishing tomorrow, I think they are expecting bad weather so it is going to be maybe another one like today."

After a sluggish first two days, world No. 1 Ko raced up the leaderboard with a bogey-free 65 courtesy of four birdies and a hole-in-one at the par-three eighth.

Earlier on Friday, China's Lin Xiyu also aced the 154-yard eighth hole, becoming the first woman to record a hole-in-one shot at the Games as the event made its return to the Olympics after 116 years. But she signed off for a 74 for a 220 total.

Said 19-year-old Ko: "I made my first ever hole-in-one and for it to be at the Olympics, it doesn't get much better than that... I would have loved to have done a dance or jumped up and down but in that situation I was almost about to cry.

"To stand on that podium would be almost more than I could imagine. You just start imagining and dreaming about it... I think it would be a cool feeling, but you never really know until you are there."

Piller, who carded a 68, was determined to use her emotions to her advantage on the final day.

"I'm gonna welcome them in my head. They're going to pop in there, you can't ignore it," she said. "If something comes in my head and I use that as motivation and just a lot of confidence. I think that's going to do me a lot of good."