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Friday, December 11, 2009

Kim leads by three with a round to go in Dubai

In Kyung Kim retained her place at the top of the leader board heading into the final round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, opening up a three stroke lead over her closest challenger, Anna Nordqvist.
The 21-year-old South Korean leader added a 67 to rounds of 70 and 65 for a 14 under par three-round aggregate over the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club, Dubai.
Sweden’s Nordqvist, who rarely shows emotion on the course, was full of smiles after a 65 took her to 11-under for the tournament, with her compatriot Maria Hjorth, who had a 67, in third place a stroke behind.
American Michelle Wie started the day two shots behind the leader but blamed a cold putter for her lack of progress up the leader board. After carding a 71, she was placed six shots behind the leader in a tie for fourth at eight-under with Gwladys Nocera, Amy Yang and Tania Elosegui.
Wie is mixing playing in the tournament with taking her final exams at Stanford University, which she sends back over the internet. She carded two birdies against one bogey in her third round.
“I felt like I hit the ball pretty solid. Just not all the putts went in,” Wie said afterwards. “It was very frustrating, because I was hitting these shots or I had these birdie chances. I had birdie opportunities. I just couldn't take advantage of them today.
“They were just missing the hole a little bit here and there and it was frustrating. But that's done with and hopefully I can shoot lights out tomorrow.”
Playing in light drizzle alongside Wie, Kim started strongly when she chipped in from 20 feet for birdie at the 331-yard par-four second hole. She picked up another shot at the par-five third hole when she two putted from just off the green.
The only blemish on the card was a bogey on the eighth, but Kim regained a two stroke lead after she holed a clutch birdie putt at the ninth for an outward total of 33, two under par. She came back in 34, three-under, after birdies on holes 13, 14 and 17.
“I'm very happy with how I played today. I played very solid again. I made some putts and left some putts, but I tried hard, and I think 5 under is not bad,” said Kim, who has callous on her fingers from learning to play the guitar with her friends.
Drawing on the experience of earning two LPGA titles, she said: “I've got to play my game. I have to play, you know, what the golf course gives me, and go out there and have some fun.”
Nordqvist, who stands to win the Ladies European Tour’s Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year Award on Saturday, grabbed a share of the lead after she sank a long putt at the 15th for her seventh birdie of the day, but couldn’t match Kim over the last three holes.
“I'm very excited. I think I was seven behind going into Madrid: got into the playoff, so, anything can happen,” Nordqvist said.
Nordqvist has had a tremendous year and currently lies 7th in the Rolex world rankings - the highest ever world ranking for an LET player in their rookie season. She has won two LPGA titles including the LPGA Championship, which is a Major.
“I have had a really good year so far. One more round before I get to go on my Christmas break. It will be a good day and lots of fun and I love playing golf in all conditions, so it will be a good challenge for me,” she said.
Also looking forward to the challenge was Elosegui, who could claim the shot of the day. She holed out for an eagle two with a nine-iron at the par-four 14th hole, which was her second eagle in two days after she scored a hole in one at the seventh on Thursday.
There is all to play for in the race to seal the Ladies European Tour’s official Henderson Money List title on Saturday, with just a stroke between the top two ranked players Sophie Gustafson and Catriona Matthew respectively.
The Ricoh Women’s British Open champion Matthew starts the final round a stroke ahead of Gustafson at six-under-par in a share of eighth position with Jade Schaeffer, Melissa Reid, Vikki Laing and Laura Davies; while Gustafson starts the day alone in 13th position at five under par overall.