BELLEAIR, Fla. (TBEN) – Sei Young Kim responded to Ally McDonald’s ace with a late birdie to open a five-stroke lead on Saturday at the Pelican Women’s Championship, South Korea’s first event since winning the KPMG Women’s PGA a month and a half ago.
The second, ranked Kim, shot a 6-under 64, birdieing No. 14-17, to reach 14-under 196 at the Pelican Golf Club.
“She made a hole in one, we almost led a blow,” Kim said. I have a little pressure, but I try to focus on my game. ”
McDonald shot 68. She hit the hole in one on par 3 12th and birdie on par 5 14th to get closer to Kim. The American lost a stroke in the 16th par 4.
“He was playing like 115 front, 127 holes, and there was a little tailwind,” said McDonald. So I figured a 115 shot, just playing the leading edge, would be enough to throw it a few yards and let it out.
Honestly this is kind of how my strategy works, everything told me to watch a few steps so I did. It’s kind of my strategy, because I wasn’t looking at the hole, but then it came in. ”
Kim’s victory last month at Aronimink was his 11th on the LPGA Tour and his first major title.
“I feel the same, but when I stand on the first tee, as announcer, ‘He’s a great champion, Sei Young Kim. When I heard that, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I got this.’ ”
She left McDonald’s behind with the frenzy of the birds.
“I’m just trying to keep pushing myself to the last hole,” Kim said. Just keep pushing. I think this is one way to make more birds. ”
McDonald’s struggled on the greens late.
“I felt like I played really solid during that streak,” said McDonald. “I hit some good shots. Unfortunately my speed has slowed down a bit, especially 16, 17, 18. For a little while I kind of lost contact with the putter. ”
Stephanie Meadow finished third with 8 under after a 68 in the freshman tournament originally set for the same week as the PGA Championship in May
Lydia Ko (66) had 7 cents, and Brooke Henderson (66), Minjee Lee (67) and Austin Ernst (65) had 6 cents.
Top-ranked Jin Young Ko was 28th to 2 points after a 69 in her first LPGA Tour event of the year. No.1 in the world for 68 weeks, she has been at home in South Korea since the COVID-19 pandemic. She plans to play three consecutive tournaments as part of the US Women’s Open.