(Reuters) – Kim Hyo-joo forged to a one-shot lead over Park Sung-hyun as South Korean players took a stranglehold on the Evian Championship in the third round in France on Saturday.
Kim took over in front with a six-under-par 65 at Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, while Park was nipping at her heels after a 66.
Kim, who will start Sunday’s final round at 15-under 198 as she seeks her second victory in the event, and Park have a nice cushion over the pack.
Fellow South Koreans Park In-bee (69) and Ko Jin-young (66) are equal third, four shots from the lead.
Halfway leader Lee Mi-hyang backtracked with a 71 that left her five shots off the pace, along with Shanshan Feng, of China (68).
The leaderboard is full of pedigree, headed by Kim, whose three LPGA victories include the 2014 Evian, which is designated as one of the tour’s five major championships.
She rushed her 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole as the heavens opened, settling for a par as she tried to get off the course swiftly.
“I just wanted to finish as quick as possible, with the onset of thunder, (which) just came a lot quicker than I thought,” said Kim, who hopes her victory of five years ago will stand her in good stead on Sunday.
“When I won in 2014, I was a little bit nervous,” said the 24-year-old, who lost a playoff at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open.
“Obviously winning is on my mind a lot, but I’ve won before, and so that will help my confidence for tomorrow. I just need to be focussed.”
Breathing down her neck, world number one Park sounded relaxed as she spoke of how she would prepare for the final round.
“It’s simple,” she said. “I don’t really do anything. I just lie on my bed and read comics.”
Park, 25, has already won two legs of the grand slam — the U.S. Women’s Open in 2017 and the Women’s PGA Championship last year.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ian Chadband)