Two years ago, Korean veteran player Eun-Hee Ji let victory slip away from her after leading the LPGA Taiwan Championship for two rounds, after then-Rolex Rankings No. 1 player Lydia Ko came back from behind to steal the show and clinch the win. This year, Ji seemed determined not to let it happen again.
Ji, who shared a two-way tie for the lead after 36 holes, was calm and composed in fairly windy conditions during round 3 of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship, racking up 4 birdies against one bogey to shoot a three-under 69 while expanding her lead to six shots, over none other than Lydia Ko and overnight co-leader Jenny Shin.
In what appeared to be a déjà vu, Ko mounted a ferocious charge today with seven birdies in a round blemished only by a careless bogey and a double-bogey resulting from an unlucky plugged ball in a greenside bunker at hole 17. Ko finished with a 68, the best score in the field today. Meanwhile, Shin was struggling all day in the wind and shot a disappointing 75.
"I didn't do nothing special out there, I just tried to do what I did (in) the first two rounds," said Ji, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour whose last win was the 2009 U.S. Women's Open. "I like to play in windy weather, because it is more challenging and I like challenging golf. Plus, I can control my shots more." Incidentally, the biggest blown lead in the final round on the LPGA Tour this season is six shots.
Both Ko and Ji admitted they like playing golf in Taiwan, but when it comes to track record, Ko has the upper hand. "I started off with a couple of birdies and it was a careless mistake to make a bogey at (hole) 5, but I was able to fight back and birdied seven and eight. I got kind of unlucky at 17 but bounced back and closed with a birdie," said Ko, who has pocketed two wins in Taiwan, in addition to back-to-back triumph at the 2014 and 2015 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in San Francisco.
Six players including American veteran Cristie Kerr and Chinese top player Shanshan Feng are tied for fourth at three-under par. American rookie sensation Angel Yin is one shot back at two-under par for a four-way tie at 10th.
Taiwan's Pei-Ying Tsai, who plays regularly on the Japanese LPGA Tour, carded an even-par 72 to sit at T14 with American player Brittany Lincicome. "It was a pity that I three-putted on some par-5 holes. I was a bit too anxious and made some mistakes with club selection. Other than that, I think I played well today." After bogeying hole 15 in each of the first three rounds, Tsai said she would "try to make a par in the final round."
LPGA Tour veteran Candie Kung of Taiwan, who finished second to Ji in the 2009 U.S. Women's Open, shot a one-under 71 in a round which features five birdies, one bogey and a triple-bogy. "My third shot into the wind at (par-5) 12 hit a car path and bounced into an unplayable slope behind the green. I had to take a one-shot penalty for lost ball and ended up shooting 8 on that hole."
Inaugural LPGA Taiwan Championship winner Yani Tseng shot an even-par 72 today to sit at T22 with four players including popular Korean player Na Yeon Choi. Tseng did make some improvement on her short putts today, but she said her iron shots were off and she needed to work on her iron shots. "I should have played a bit more aggressively today. It's a shame that nobody was making a move up the leaderboard in a nice scoring condition like today, with the exception of Lydia Ko," lamented Tseng.
Final round of the 2017 Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship will tee off tomorrow morning from 7:55am at the Miramar Golf Country Club. Starting times for leading Taiwanese players: Pei-Ying Tsai (9:34am; hole 1); Candie Kung (9:23am; hole 1); Yani Tseng (9:01am; hole 1); Wei-Ling Hsu (8:50am; hole 1). The leading group made up of Eun-Hee Ji, Lydia Ko and Jenny Shin is set to tee off at 10:18am from the first hole. Live TV coverage of round 4 action will be provided by FTV between 12:00 and 16:00. For more tournament information, please visit: http://www.sslpgataiwan.com/; For ticketing information, please visit: http://ticket.ibon.com.tw