BELLEAIR, Fla – Sei Young Kim has found inspiration on Netflix of all places, immersing himself in Michael Jordan’s documentary “The Last Dance” ahead of the weekend’s game at the Pelican Women’s Championship. The recent big winner quickly extended her lead to five strokes over Ally McDonald, who won the LPGA Drive On Championship last month.
Not even a McDonald’s ace could shake Kim, whose advantage immediately fell from three strokes to one. The third degree black belt in taekwondo responded with four consecutive birdies on numbers 14-17 to card a 6 under 64. She is 14 under for the tournament as only 18 players managed to break the par.
The 11-time LPGA winner appears to become the first player since Ariya Jutanugarn in 2016 to follow her first major title with a win on her next start.
After the tour, Kim was asked if she felt compelled to prove herself, with fellow South Koreans Jin Young Ko and Sung Hyun Park gaining the most attention in recent years.
“A little, a little,” she said. “Because if I say no, maybe it is a lie. But, yes, I am a very good rival. If you have a good rival I can improve myself.
Kim has only registered one bogey in the last 36 holes.
Former No. 1 Lydia Ko, who sits in fourth place seven strokes back, calls Kim’s run “super impressive.”
“His first major, I guess, was at KPMG,” Ko said, “and when there’s that kind of pressure, I know what it’s like to be in that position. And the way she finished was absolutely amazing.
In Saturday’s windswept round, Kim, 27, nearly made the third hole par 3 with a 7 iron when his ball hit the flagstick and came out of the hole. McDonald’s hole in one par 3 12e, the first of his LPGA career, came up with a 132-yard pitch corner.
“There were people standing behind the tee, people on the green,” McDonald said. “So that was obviously the biggest reaction to anything. I’m pretty sure I just reacted with my hands up and then Dan I and I was really excited and everything. Sei Young was great.
McDonald’s made the first ace of his life in a Marathon Classic training event in his second year of touring. Her second game came in a winter shootout at the Old Waverly Golf Club and a third in an event that put her on a par 3, hitting the same shot over and over again. This one took about 12 swings.
“You can stay on a par 3 all day and still not make a par,” she said, “it just happens to be the right one.
While Pelican is open off the tee, it’s easy to make big numbers with an aggressive approach. Even though the gap is large, McDonald’s has no intention of straying from what has worked so far in the final round.
“I’m just going to stick to my game plan and try to execute the shots that could strategically be 20 feet,” she said, “and I just hope I roll well to throw a few. -a. in.”
Kim, meanwhile, will prepare with a plate of carbs and a movie date with Jordan. A winning combination if there ever was one.