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S. Korean Lee So-mi on verge of winning LPGA qualifying tournament

Dec. 6, 2023 - 09:18 By Yonhap
Lee So-mi of South Korea walks toward the first green during the fifth round of the LPGA Q-Series at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Alabama, on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

A five-time Korean tour winner Lee So-mi is closing in on the top prize at the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament in Alabama.

Lee shot a nine-under 63 in the fifth and penultimate round of the LPGA Q-Series at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Alabama, on Tuesday (local time). Following the bogey-free round that matched the Q-Series course record, Lee leads Robyn Choi of Australia by two strokes at 27-under heading into Wednesday's finale.

Players finishing inside the top 45 will earn LPGA Tour membership for 2024, with those inside the top 20 and ties able to get into more tournaments.

Lee, 24, picked up her first birdie of the round on the par-three second hole, and then followed up with an eagle two holes later. Lee had two more birdies on the front nine, and then finished strong with four birdies over her final six holes.

Lee, who has won five times on the Korea LPGA Tour, is trying to become the third South Korean to win the Q-Series, after An Narin in 2021 and Ryu Hae-ran in 2022. Ryu captured the 2023 LPGA Rookie of the Year award, too.

"To be honest, I feel pretty tired, but I'm trying not to think like I played five rounds -- playing with the mindset that I can play five more rounds," Lee told "I'm going to prepare tomorrow's round like it's the first round, so I don't think that's going to be an issue. I think both my shots and my putter have been pretty good."

Six other South Korean players are inside the top 45 heading into the final round.

Sung Yu-jin, who won twice on the KLPGA Tour this year, is tied for fifth place at 17-under, along with countrywoman Jang Hyo-joon, who made her LPGA debut this year but lost her card.

Lim Jin-hee, who collected four KLPGA victories in 2023, sits in a seven-way tie for 13th. Lim, who finished second on the KLPGA money list this year, is the world's highest-ranked player in the Q-Series field at No. 40.

Lee Jeong-eun is tied for 20th, while Hong Jung-min is tied for 27th. Kang Hae-ji, a 33-year-old veteran whose first LPGA season came in 2009, is tied for 43rd at eight-under, one stroke ahead of five players tied for 49th. (Yonhap)