IK Kim has a commanding lead going into the final round at the Ricoh Women’s British Open but four players have the potential to challenge Kim’s lead.
The Women’s British Open field battled the Scottish weather as well as the Kingsbarns links for the third consecutive day on Saturday. IK Kim, playing in the worst Scotland could throw at the field, signed for a bogey-free 66 and increased her lead from 2 to a commanding 6 shots.
At first glance Kim may look invincible as she goes into the Women’s British Open final round. After all, a 6-shot lead is substantial and IK Kim has figured out Kingsbarns’ tricks and treacherous traps. She’s already faced final round failure at a major championship – that missed one-foot putt that cost her the 2012 ANA Inspiration still – and she’s worked as much on her mental preparation as her technical game since that devastating loss.
I think she’s fully prepared to play flat-out for the win at Kingsbarns, but Kim will not be without challengers on Sunday.
Georgia Hall, playing with Kim on Saturday, struggled to overcome a couple of mistakes and what she described in her media interview after her round as a “lapse of concentration,” but Hall isn’t going to step back and give it to Kim.
Moriya Jutanugarn finds herself playing in the final group on Sunday at the Women’s British Open. I think she’s ready to be there, but the fact remains that it’s a new experience for the world ranked 34th who’s still on the hunt for her first LPGA victory.
Sharing a starting 2nd place with Georgia Hall, Jutanugarn is also trailing IK Kim by 6 shots and will be playing with her. Will that be helpful or intimidating? Will it spur the young Thai on to a higher performance level or will she allow it to intimidate and disrupt her focus?
Inbee Park seems to have some kind of special karma going with the Women’s British Open. Park has been steadily creeping up the board but she exploded in a burst of golfing excellence on Saturday, signing for an 8-under 64 and bounding from a starting T48 to a share of 4th place. She’s still trailing Kim by 7 shots, but Inbee Park is a relentless, skilled, and dangerous competitor.
In the interest of full disclosure, Park started early in the day on Saturday, avoided the worst of the weather, and took full advantage of the sllightly dryer conditions. The Hall of Famer who carries a near-magical flatstick in her bag, went on a 3rd round putting frenzy. Perpetually modest, Park credited the dryer conditions for her 22-putt round.
"The greens were much quicker today, which was a big help for me because the last couple of days, I couldn’t get balls to the hole and it was playing very, very slow."
The dryer conditions probably helped, but nobody else in the field managed to complete their round with only 22 putts.
Stacy Lewis was also a big mover on Saturday and Lewis, like Inbee Park, seems to have some kind of special karma working this week. Although she couldn’t match Park’s 64, Lewis’ 7-under 65 got her from a 3rd round T48 starting position, alongside Park, to a share of 6th place.
Coming up right behind Inbee Park and Ally McDonald, at 9-under Lewis is still looking at a huge distance between herself and IK Kim but, like Park, Lewis has the kind of game in her bag that under the right conditions and with a few lucky bounces could quickly vault her into contention.
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- Mel Reid is playing very well. She’s going into Sunday’s final round at 8-under and on the front page of the leaderboard. If Reid takes the game she’s been playing this week to Des Moines the Americans need to beware.
- Michelle Wie, who set such a brisk pace for the Women’s British Open on Thursday, has continued to deliver a very fine game, despite the stumble that sent her down the board on Friday. She recovered with a 3rd round 69. She’s looking solid for Team USA.
- Lexi Thompson’s 3rd round 74 has probably ended her hopes to hoist the Women’s British Open trophy this year, but she’s played a solid game of golf. Let’s see what kind of final round bounce-back she can deliver. Team USA needs Thompson in a fighting spirit as well as fighting condition.
- Carlota Ciganda started a bit slow but her game has picked up and she’ll record a respectable finish. Is she in peak condition for Des Moines? Captain Sörenstam may also be asking this question.
- Charley Hull, who’s going into the final round at 6-under and alongside Ciganda, has not delivered her best game. Of course, conditions haven’t been ideal, and Hull much prefers parkland to links tracks. She should love Des Moines GCC.
Final round play begins at 8:25am local time. The final group, IK Kim and Moriya Jutanugarn, tees off at 3pm local times Follow this link for final round pairings and tee times. Golf Channel begins broadcast coverage of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at 7:30am. NBC takes over at 11:30am. Both times ET. (There’s a 5 hour differential between local time and ET.)