THE BLADE/DAVID ZAPOTOVSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Chella Choi entered the day in contention to win the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, and by closing time her chances had been dented.
Ah, but it could have been much worse.
After a calamitous start Saturday sent her on a free fall down the leaderboard, the South Korean soldiered through the back nine to give herself a chance to win a title that she appeared to have given away by the turn.
Choi, who stomached a double bogey and two other bogeys, executed damage control the rest of the way to the clubhouse and is only one shot off the lead heading into today's conclusion at Highland Meadows.
Choi, the tournament leader before her collapse, is 10-under after carding a 1-under-par 70.
"I played really bad on the front nine," Choi.
Yes, but she atoned for it by playing really well on the back nine. Her comeback began with a birdie on No. 11 and continued with three more on holes 15-17. A fourth straight birdie wasn't to be, with a short putt on 18 lipping out and denying her the lead alongside fellow countrymen Jiyai Shin, I.K. Kim, So Yeon Ryu, and Hee Kyung Seo.
Choi, who fired rounds of 66 and 67 to open, is one of three golfers that trail the leaders by one stroke.
"I'm very excited about the way I've played this tournament," said Choi, who is distinguished on the course by her orange balls, a nod to her favorite color. "I will try my best tomorrow."
Choi, the No. 52 player in the world, is in the midst of a funk. Her four top 10s this season, which includes a runner-up finish at Manulife Financial in Waterloo, is marred by missed cuts in two of her past three outings. She most recently was 31st at Evian Masters.
It appeared Choi might be headed for another unspectacular finish after she three-putted No. 4 to absorb a double bogey and bring her score to plus-4. Bogeys on Nos. 1 and 9 bookended a disastrous first nine holes.
"The back nine was much better," Choi said.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade