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Lydia Ko takes lead heading into final round of LPGA Lotte Championship

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, walks toward the first fairway during the third round of the LPGA Lotte Championship at Kapolei Golf Club.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, walks toward the first fairway during the third round of the LPGA Lotte Championship at Kapolei Golf Club.

Lydia Ko birdied the 18th hole today at Kapolei Golf Club to take a 1-stroke lead into Saturday’s final round of the LPGA Lotte Championship.

Ko shot 7-under par 65 for the day and is 21 under after the third round. Nellie Korda, who fired a 9-under 63, is right behind her at 20 under.

Ko and Korda both smashed the tournament 54-hole scoring record of 17-under par that was set in 2017 by Su-Yeon Jang (this is the first year the Lotte is being played at Kapolei after it was at Ko Olina Golf Club since its inception in 2012).

Other tournament and course scoring records are likely to be broken in Saturday’s final round.

“Every time I look at the leaderboard I’m like, Oh, my God. Somebody shot 8 under, 6 under, or more,” Ko said. “So when you see so many birdies, obviously it kind of gives you the confidence that, Hey, the birdies are out there.

“At the same time, I think you just can’t push it trying to force stuff in. You have to play to your game,” Ko added. ” specially when scores can be that low, I think you have to just — I have to stick to my strategy and my game plan and see where it goes.”

Yuka Saso held a two-shot lead at the tournament midway point, but struggled early Friday and finished with a 1-under par 71. She is in third place at 17 under for the tournament.

Lena Maguire’s eagle on the par-4 No. 15 helped her to a 7-under par 65. She is alone in fourth place at 16 under.

Korda birdied six of her first nine holes, and took the lead at 16 under after eight holes.

Amy Yang, who made a hole-in-one on Thursday, shot 8 under to move to 15 under and sole possession of fifth place.

Brooke Henderson, the 2018 and 2019 champion, is at 12 under following her third 68 in as many days.

Last year’s tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.

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