Olympics: Ko flying high but Park two clear going into final round
An up-and-down 70 from Inbee Park was still good enough to give her a two-shot lead going in the final rounds with World No 1 Lydia Ko and Gerina Piller her nearest challengers.
The day belonged to Ko, she holed-in-one shortly after China’s Xiyu Lin had made the first ace in women’s Olympic golf history, both coming at the 8th hole, and then signed for a best-of-the-day 65. All the good stuff came on the front nine, reaching the turn in just 29 before parring in from there.
Piller (68), the American Solheim hero in Germany, put together another round in the 60s.
Both Piller and Park bogeyed the last with the Korean’s day particularly topsy turvy on a breezy day in Rio. Park, whose presence at the top of the leaderboard comes as some surprise given her persistent thumb problems, birdied three of the first five holes and then had only three pars on the back nine.
There is a thought that this might be the 28-year-old’s final tournament before trying to start a family and a gold medal would be a fitting addition to a career that already boasts seven Majors. She also joined the LPGA Hall of Fame earlier this year.
But she will now have to play alongside Ko who has a ridiculous 14 LPGA victories, she is still only 20, while Piller is yet to record a victory.
On Friday Park played with Charley Hull (74) and Stacy Lewis who followed her second-round 63 with a 76. Hull managed four birdies but there were also seven dropped shots with four in the last seven holes.
Her team-mate Catriona Matthew went as far backwards as she moved forwards the previous day, slipping to a 77 while the Women’s British Open champion and first-round leader Ariya Jutanugarn was 12 over after 13 holes of her third round when she withdrew with a knee injury.
One player you would be foolish to discount is Shanshan Feng who is only three back. The Chinese player knows how to get it done at the business end of a tournament.
Leaderboard: Park (-11), Ko (-9), Piller (-9), Feng (-8), Hull (-5), Yang (-5), Chun (-5)