Park has 'good feel' for good game

Park In-bee has designs on another ANA Inspiration title next week after the one she won in 2013.
Park In-bee has designs on another ANA Inspiration title next week after the one she won in 2013.

LOS ANGELES • LPGA Hall of Famer Park In-bee of South Korea believes she is right on track for the ANA Inspiration after she fired a three-under 69 and stretched her lead to five strokes after Saturday's third round of the Kia Classic.

Park, a seven-time Major champion seeking her 21st career LPGA title, stood on 12-under 204 after 54 holes at Aviara Golf Club, north of San Diego.

It was her first event of the year as she prepares for next week's ANA Inspiration, the LPGA's first Major tournament of this year, at Rancho Mirage, California.

"I'm really getting the good feel of it," the 32-year-old said. "I played well last three days."

Park, who has never won the Kia Classic after finishing second in 2010 and 2016 and tied for second in 2019, is also confident that she will end the week on a high.

"I think it's just going to be the same game plan that I have done for last three days, and hopefully things work out just exactly the same as what we have done for three days," she said.

"Just trying to hit a lot of fairways and greens and hopefully the putts will fall."

After leading by only a single stroke when the day began, Park seized command as rivals stumbled, leaving England's Mel Reid (71), Australian Minjee Lee (68) and South Korean Hur Mi-jung (67) sharing second on 209.

"I'm going to have to do something special to get it done," Reid said. "The game plan is to play aggressive.

"(In-bee) is an unbelievable golfer and she's going to be hard to beat. She doesn't make any mistakes. She's one of the best players to ever play our game."

Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom fired a 64 to share fifth spot on 210 with South Korean Ko Jin-young (68) and American Lexi Thompson (66).

World No. 4 Park birdied the par-five fifth and par-four seventh and responded to a bogey at the par-three 11th with a birdie at the par-four 13th, hitting a nine-iron to 12 feet and sinking the putt.

She added a five-foot birdie putt at the par-five 17th and got up and down for par at the final hole, on a day when four tees were moved up and the course played about 300 yards shorter than Friday.

"They made the course very reachable and I couldn't take advantage of those holes," Park added.

"But I played the rest of the holes good, so I'm happy with that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2021, with the headline 'Park has 'good feel' for good game'. Subscribe