Eunjung Yi beams after she birdied the 13th hole at the Jamie Farr Golf Classic Saturday. She will start Sunday at the top of the leaderboard.
Eunjung Yi remembers sitting at home in South Korea watching Se Ri Pak win the U.S. Women s Open in 1998. Soon after, she was trying to imitate her.
That s why I started golf, Yi said.
Yi did a great impression of Pak at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic yesterday. Yi shot a 10-under par 61 in the third round at Highland Meadows, matching Pak s best round and finishing a stroke off the course record.
At 18-under par for the tournament, she takes a four-shot lead into Sunday s final round.
For a while, that was news to her.
I m the leader? Yi said after her round finished. I didn t see the scoreboard. I m very excited.
A 21-year-old in her second year on tour, Yi has never finished higher than 11th in an LPGA tournament. She could challenge not only for her first win but for the lowest 72-hole score at the Farr Classic. Pak set the record in 1998 at 23-under par.
Yi s round included eight birdies and an eagle on hole No. 10. She had a chance to tie the course record of 60, set by Paula Creamer last year, with a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 18 but it slipped past the left edge. Her score was still the lowest in the third round in Farr history.
It feels very good, but I didn t know that I shot a 10-under, Yi said. I didn t think about it. I just wanted to do my best.
Yi needed just 22 putts in her round. On the par-4 10th hole, her eagle traveled 110 yards to the pin.
I took a pitching wedge, and I felt it was a little short, but it just went in the hole, Yi said.
Morgan Pressel and Song-Hee Kim are tied for second at 14-under. Pressel, who shot a 67, is in second place heading into the final day for the second straight week.
It s the same thing that happened last week, I just have to come from behind, Pressel said. This course is going to have some very low numbers.
Pressel birdied three straight holes in the middle of the round, but had birdie putts either fall inches short or lip out on five holes. She noticed Yi s drastic climb during her round but said she didn t let it affect her play.
We ve seen that three days in a row where someone has gone crazy and made a lot of putts, Pressel said. We ll see what the pins are tomorrow. They will probably be a little more difficult, but we still have quite a few opportunities for birdies on these greens.
Just like in the first round, Kim carded a 64, jumping back into contention. She eagled No. 17 and had a bogey-free day, one round after shooting 71.
The second round didn t really make me nervous, Kim said through an interpreter. I didn t really have the confidence in myself, that s for sure. I knew I had a great round on the first day. I had enough confidence going in today, I knew that I could play low today.
It s the first time Kim has had two 64s in a tournament. She feels she ll have to shoot at least a 67 today to have a chance to win.
I will try the best I can, Kim said.
Friday s co-leader, Laura Diaz fell out of contention with a 74, hampered by 35 putts. Sarah Kemp, who also started the day in the lead, is tied for fourth along with seven other players. Mikaela Parmlid shot a 62 earlier in the day to jump from 54th place to fourth.
If Yi can hold on to her lead today, she ll take home a $210,000 first-place prize. She seemed more interested in something reserved for the winner on Sylvania s main drag.
I want my name on the street, Yi said. If I win, I feel like I will own the world.
Contact Maureen Fulton at: firstname.lastname@example.org