Dec 20th, 2020
Hall and Hull in contention at Tour Championship
English duo make a move on Saturday at LPGA closer
Photography: Michael Reaves/Getty Images
“I think I feel I got good feeling, because I wasn't good shot striking ball the last week, but I try to figure out,” said Kim. “I got something in there, yeah, I was able to play, yeah, very solid this week.”
Kim carded six birdies through her first thirteen holes and had a blemish-free card until the 18th hole. After a tricky putt off the green ran past the hole, Kim missed her par putt from five feet, grazing the left side of the hole. It was Kim's first dropped shot since the 9th hole on Friday.
A win on Sunday would be the first time Kim has successfully defended a title in her career, as she looks to become the only three-time winner of the 2020 season.
World number one Jin Young Ko’s three-under 70, her second consecutive bogey-free round, kept her firmly in title contention. After two early birdies, Ko's third came at the 17th hole which, after the bogey finish by Kim, put her one shot back in her quest for her first win of 2020.
“I just try to make birdies, and then I said yesterday my goal is like just bogey-free round on the weekend, so I made it today,” said Ko, whose best finish in Naples is tied eleventh. “I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ko will join Kim in Sunday’s final grouping along with fellow major champion Georgia Hall after Hall’s four-under 68 landed her in solo third at ten-under. Hall had a relatively quiet start with eight pars and a lone bogey on the 5th but came alive on her back nine with five birdies in her last eight holes to keep herself in the mix at the Tour’s season finale.
“I hit it pretty good today as well. I just didn't hole many on the front nine, so I had to stay patient. Yeah, managed to get a couple early in the back nine and then just followed in from there really,” said Hall, who earned her second career victory earlier this season at the Cambia Portland Classic.
“Very happy with my back nine to get me especially into contention for tomorrow.”
Five players are tied for fourth at -9, four shots back from Kim, including past CME champions Charley Hull (2016) and Lexi Thompson (2018), and Brooke Henderson, one of six players to card the day’s low round of 6-under-par 66.
Mina Harigae, playing in her first CME Group Tour Championship since she tied for 26th in 2012, is tied for ninth with major champions Cristie Kerr, Lydia Ko and Hannah Green.
Green was near the top of the leaderboard at ten-under after three birdies in her first seventeen holes, but a costly double bogey on the last curbed any chances of a spot in Sunday’s final grouping.
“I made a great par save on 9; holed nearly a 10-foot putt for par and gave myself a good opportunity on 10. Missed it. Then gave myself another good opportunity on 12 and 13 and missed it again. Just couldn't get the pace of the greens today. Then on the last kind of just hit my second putt, third putt a bit too quickly and tugged it left,” said Green.
“I'm going to do some putting, try and make sure I'm not getting too quick on my stroke and wanting to get the ball in the hole too quickly. Hopefully I can get good numbers into greens like I did today and capitalize on that.”