Kim almost gets hole-in-one
Si Woo Kim’s narrow miss of a second hole-in-one on consecutive days at the Valero Texas Open was deceiving.
It was another highlight shot, but he missed the following birdie putt and his four-shot lead was trimmed to one over Monday qualifier Corey Conners after Saturday’s third round at the PGA Tour’s last stop before the Masters.
Kim aced the 16th hole at the TPC San Antonio on Friday, and he missed it by inches on the way to a third-round 3-under 69 after opening with consecutive rounds of 66. He was at 15 under and Connors, trying to become the first Monday qualifier to win on the PGA Tour since 2010, was a stroke back after shooting a 6-under 66.
“Yeah, I think about yesterday, like I can’t believe it, and then it was pretty close today, too,” Kim said of the near-ace. “I saw that first bounce and then I thought it would go in for sure.”
Charley Hoffman, the 2016 Texas Open winner, moved up the leaderboard with a birdie-birdie-eagle finish and the week’s best round of 64. He was two back of Kim at 13 under.
Scott Brown turned in a second straight 67, and Jhonattan Vegas also shot 67. Both were at 11 under with Kyoung-Hoon Lee (69) and four strokes back.
Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth started the day tied for second, four shots back. Both finished eight shots out of the lead after shooting 73s.
Kim flirted with the 16th hole on the second bounce on Saturday. This time, the ball rolled past the hole to inside four feet for what looked like an easy birdie. He missed, Conners made his from inches shorter and they shared the lead again.
Ko takes 1-shot lead
Jin Young Ko turned a four-stroke deficit into a five-stroke lead in only 10 holes Saturday at the ANA Inspiration. She nearly gave it all back, setting up a final-round shootout in the first major championship of the golf season.
Ko ended up with a one-shot advantage over second-round leader In-Kyung Kim, shooting a 4-under 68 in unexpected calm conditions at tree-lined Mission Hills to reach 8-under 208.
“If a little bit miss shot, It’s OK,” Ko said. “I’m not robot. I’m human. Don’t think about bad things. Just looking for good things.”
Kim birdied the par-5 18th for a 73. She gave herself a chance to win the event seven years after missing a 14-inch putt on the final hole of regulation and losing to Sun Young Yoo on the first hole of a playoff.
“To be honest, it’s good to have three-shot lead going into the tournament today because I quite lost it,” Kim said. “I don’t know what it is. I guess it’s just expectations that I didn’t know I could live up to, maybe.”
Four strokes behind fellow South Korean player Kim entering the round, Ko walked off the 10th green with the five-shot lead after a quick three-stroke swing. Ko holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th minutes after Kim snap-hooked a drive into the right-side trees and made a double bogey on the par-5 ninth.
“The wind didn’t really come as much as I expected,” Kim said. “I think that kind of got me a little bit on the front nine. I was tough on myself, but tomorrow is another day. I’ve learned a lot today, so hopefully that will teach me going into tomorrow.”
Kim rallied to birdie the 10th, her first birdie of the day after making eight of them in a second-round 65, and pulled within two strokes when Ko hit into the water short of the green on the par-3 14th and made a double bogey of her own.
Ko followed with a bogey on the par-4 15th, cutting her lead to a single stroke. Ko pushed the margin back to two with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th. She missed a 10-foot birdie try on 18.
“I had great round still,” Ko said. “Sometimes that happen on No. 14 and 15, also, but I had birdie on 17. It was really pressure to me, but I can do. Doesn’t matter. I’m not afraid everything. I’m just looking forward to Sunday.”
Kim closed with a 5-footer on 18 in the final group.
“I had couple rounds on this course with my coach,” Ko said. “I practice hard in the Palm Springs in January. About my swing, fix a little bit, and then putting or short game, training, everything. ... But in January, was really difficult weather and different weather now. Was really cold and then huge wind.”