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Jenny Shin in hunt for maiden LPGA major; Ko Jin-young lurking 4 shots back

June 25, 2023 - 10:27 By Yonhap
In this Associated Press photo, Jenny Shin of South Korea tees off on the 12th hole during the third round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, on Saturday. (Yonhap)

South Korean Jenny Shin finds herself one shot off the lead in pursuit of her first career LPGA major title after a strong third-round charge up the leaderboard.

Shin fired a bogey-free round of five-under 66 in the third round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, on Saturday. It was the lowest score in the field on the day and pushed Shin to second place at six-under 207 overall, one behind the leader, Leona Maguire of Ireland, who is trying to win for the second straight week.

"I was pretty comfortable out there, so the shots were working out," Shin said. "Had a lot of birdie putts inside 15 feet, which is a bonus at a major."

Shin missed only two fairways and hit 15 greens in regulation on the par-71 course, which played at 6,526 yards in the third round.

Stephanie Meadow of England is alone in third place at five-under. Maguire, Shin and Meadow will play in the final group Sunday.

Shin, whose Korean birth name is Ji-eun, is going for her second career LPGA title, and first since May 2016. With a win Sunday, she would become the 20th different South Korean to grab an LPGA major championship.

"I think there's a progress. I think I've put myself in contention a lot more times this year than the past five, six years," she said. "It's only Saturday, but it feels great to be where I am, and again, just knowing that I can be here is a massive improvement. It's nice being where I am, regardless of who happens tomorrow."

On the crowded leaderboard, world No. 1 from South Korea, Ko Jin-young, is lurking at three-under, after her second consecutive round of 69. Ko poured in six birdies, negated by four bogeys, on Saturday.

Ko started this week at the top of the world rankings, tying Lorena Ochoa for the most weeks spent at No. 1 with 158 weeks. The three players ranked right below her all had a chance to overtake the top spot this week. But No. 2 and No. 4 players, Nelly Korda and Lilia Vu, both missed the cut, while No. 3 Lydia Ko made the cut on the number and is tied for 61st at six-over.

This should allow Ko Jin-young to remain at No. 1 and break the tie with Ochoa even without winning on Sunday. The South Korean star has won two majors in her career, but both titles came in 2019.

Ko began her third round with three bogeys on her first four holes but later reeled off four straight birdies starting on the 12th.

"I will never give up until tomorrow," Ko said of her chances to win Sunday. "Who knows? Leona is still playing really well right now. She won last week, and she has a chance for the win this week again. But nobody knows, so I will never give up. If I make a lot of birdies on the front nine, there could be a chance." (Yonhap)