Jin Young Ko and Moriya Jutanugarn each birdied the final hole on Saturday to secure a share the 54-hole lead at the inaugural HUGEL-JTBC LA Open.
Ko, a rookie who has already won on Tour, shot a sizzling third-round of 5-under 66 which included just a single bogey offset by a half-dozen birdies, highlighted by a tap-in gain on the 54th hole to earn the co-marquee in Hollywood.
When asked if she’s excited to be in Sunday’s final pairing, the Korea rookie replied: “Of course, because I had one win in Australia… I’m ready for win or top 10, so maybe tomorrow I will really focus on shot by shot.”
Jutanugarn, the 36-hole leader, offset a double bogey on No. 1 with a hole-out eagle-2 on the par-4 14th en route to 1-under par 70. The Thai finished her third day at Wilshire Country Club with just two birdies, but one of those gains came via a long-bomb birdie putt on the 18th to secure a place in Sunday’s final pairing.
“Today was kind of a pretty rough day for me with not a very good start and trying to come back,” said Jutanugarn, who will be in search of LPGA title No. 1 on Sunday.
“I just try to play my game and be patient out there.”
Ko and Jutanugarn are at 9-under par, two-strokes clear of Inbee Park, who carded birdies on 15 and 16 to sign for a third-day 2-under 69.
Eun-Hee Ji (70) and Marina Alex (72) sit three back at 6-under par.
1 Jin Young Ko -9
1 Moriya Jutanugarn -9
3 Inbee Park -7
4 Marina Alex -6
4 Eun-Hee Ji -6
6 Caroline Inglis -5
6 Minjee Lee -5
8 So Yeon Ryu -4
9 Aditi Ashok -3
9 Bronte Law -3
9 Pernilla Lindberg -3
“(Los Angeles) feels like Korea. Many Korean food and then many Koreans. Yeah, I feel really good here.”
– Jin Young Ko
Credit: LPGA Tour Media, Getty Images (Photo: Jin Young Ko during round three in L.A.)