Australia’s Kim, Green tied for LA Championship lead

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Overnight leader Grace Kim struggled on Saturday but still shares the lead at the LA Championship.
Overnight leader Grace Kim struggled on Saturday but still shares the lead at the LA Championship.

Grace Kim has stumbled to a five-over-par 76 in the LPGA Tour’s JM Eagle LA Championship – and still held onto a share of the lead with her fellow Australian Hannah Green.

Saturday was that kind of day at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, the tree-lined layout made difficult by bumpy greens and tricky wind conditions.

“It’s tough for everyone today,” Kim said. 

“It was just one of those days. It’s just golf.”

Four strokes ahead entering the day after rounds of 64 and 66, Sydneysider Kim was tied with Green, the defending champion who saved par with a 12-footer on the par-3 18th for a 70. 

The Australian pair were at 7-under 206.

Hannah Green drives at Wilshire Country Club.
Defending champion Hannah Green finished day three at Wilshire Country Club at seven-under 206. (AP PHOTO)

“The putt that I made on 18 almost felt like a birdie,” Green said.

Maja Stark, playing alongside Kim in the final group, bogeyed the 18th for a 73.

“You know that you can’t take every missed putt too personally because that’s going to happen for everyone,” Stark said.

The Swede was a stroke back with Jin Hee Im, the South Korean player who had a back-nine 30 in a 63 for the best round of the day, and Germany’s Esther Henseleit (71). 

Nasa Hataoka of Japan was five under after a 64.

Kim bogeyed the par-5 second hole and had a double bogey on the par-3 fourth. She also dropped shots on the par-4 10th and 16th holes.

“I tried to stay in the present of just the next shot, giving myself good chances,” said the 23-year-old Kim, who won the LOTTE Championship last year in Hawaii for her first LPGA Tour title. 

“I know I had a few three-putts in there, but just keeping my head in the game and not losing that shot focus.”

The 27-year-old Green rebounded from a two-foot par miss on the par-4 17th with the par save on 18. 

After bogeying three of the last five holes on her front nine, she played a four-hole stretch on the back nine in four under – eagling the par-5 13th and carding birdies on 14 and 16 – before missing the short putt on 17.

“I didn’t really have many full swings. Had a lot of half-shots in,” said Green, who won in Singapore early last month for her fourth LPGA Tour title. 

“With the greens firming up and getting bouncy it made it hard to completely trust that shot.”

AP