Three Taiwanese golfers have swung to the final round of the LPGA Tour Championship at the Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Florida.
The 72-hole season-ending event features a total purse of US$1.5 million and a unique two-cut format. The field was reduced to the lowest-scoring 30 players and ties after 54 holes.
Taiwanese golfers Yani Tseng, Amy Hung and Candie Kung and have managed to make the lowest 30 players and ties list, finishing the third round on Saturday at 29th, 21st, and 16th respectively.
Tseng won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April and the RICOH Women’s British Open in August and is considered one of the top five in the field to have a chance to grab the LPGA’s Player of the Year Award this year. However, she did not play well in the third round.
Despite her one-under-par shots on the seventh, 11th, 14th and 17th holes, she suffered a tough tee time, with bogeys on the third and 18th holes and agonizing double bogeys on the ninth and 13th holes.
The 21-year-old Tseng, who became the world’s fourth-ranked player this year, finished the first three rounds with 222, six shots over par, to a 29th tie — a narrow escape from being ousted from the lowest 30.
Tseng said the bad breaks were not just mental.
“There’s something wrong with my technique,” she said. “Luckily, I still have a chance to improve tomorrow.”
Kung, who was comparatively more stable on Saturday, finished the third round at a 16th position tie, at three shots over par.
Hung finished with a 21st tie, four shots over par.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Amy Yang birdied the last two holes on Saturday for a one-over par 73 that allowed her to cling to a one-stroke lead after the third round of the LPGA Tour Championship.
Yang, seeking her first LPGA triumph and first of any kind since she won the 2006 Australian Ladies Masters at age 16, stood on six--under par 210 after 54 holes.
Sweden’s Maria Hjorth fired a 71 to stand one stroke back entering the final round with American Cristie Kerr and South Korea’s Seon Hwa Lee sharing third on 213, one stroke ahead of American Laura Diaz. No one else was below par.
After a cut to the low 70 and ties Saturday morning when the -darkness-halted second round was concluded, the field was trimmed to the low 30 and ties after 54 holes, ending the hopes of season-ending awards for some players.
Japan’s Ai Miyazato fired a 71, but missed the cut by a stroke on seven-over 223, dooming her bid for LPGA Player of the Year and the year-end top ranking.
South Korean world No. 1 Jiyai Shin, who made the morning cut, fired a 76 to stand on 228 and also missed out on the top 30, assuring South Korean Na Yeon Choi of the LPGA season money title.
Shin had been the only foe within reach of Choi’s US$1.814 million given the event’s US$225,000 top prize.
Choi fired a 73 on Saturday to enter the final round seven strokes off the pace.
Four players in Sunday’s final round have a chance to topple Shin from the season-ending world No. 1 ranking — Choi, Kerr, Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and Taiwan’s Tseng, who leads the fight for Player of the Year honors.
With points awarded only to top-10 finishers, Tseng enters the final day on top in the Player of the Year race with 188 with Choi on 174 and Kerr at 173.
However, Tseng only made the cut on the number while Kerr and Choi were in contention for the winner’s total of 30 points.