Sei Young Kim has yet to splurge on the $1.5 million she won last year in the richest prize offered at a tournament in women’s golf.
“I’m just saving up for the future,” she said.
Winning the first major of her career just might be priceless. A 10-time LPGA Tour winner, the 27-year-old South Korean has the unwanted title of winningest active player without a major championship.
Kim went on another streaky run of birdies at Aronimink in Newtown Square, Pa., shooting a 3-under 67 to hold the lead and positioning herself to put that label to rest at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Kim sits at 7-under 203, two strokes ahead of Brooke Henderson and Anna Nordqvist, and will try to win it Sunday on a rare early-morning tee time.
“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but I’m also excited about going into the final day,” Kim said.
The tournament was delayed three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, landing its final round smack on a packed sports Sunday. The PGA of America had to get creative with the tee times with NBC having other programming commitments on the weekend. Kim, Henderson and Nordqvist tee off at 8:49 a.m. and the last group goes off at 9:16 a.m. The TV window is noon to 2 p.m. on NBC.
“The only thing I have to keep in mind is that earlier tee times will be a little chillier temperaturewise, so I’ll make sure I have my hand warmers and be ready to play tomorrow,” Kim said.
Kim was runner-up at the 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and tied for second at the Evian Championship in 2018. Kim held the 54-hole lead at a major once, at the 2015 ANA Inspiration, where she finished tied for fourth.
The last four winners of the tournament either led or co-led after 36 holes, and Kim played like a golfer poised to make it five.
Henderson, who won the 2016 Women’s PGA Championship, tied her career-best 18-hole score at a major championship with a 65 to stay within striking distance. Henderson had five birdies for a bogey-free round.
“Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’m a major champion,” Henderson said. “But definitely in times like this it gives me a little bit of confidence, and I’m excited to try to do it again tomorrow.”
Nordqvist, who had five birdies and three bogeys, shot a 5-under 68 as she tries to win her third major championship.
Inbee Park is three strokes behind the leader and Bianca Pagdanganan shot a 65 for the second straight day to rally her way into fifth at 3 under. Pagdanganan hasn’t had a bogey since the first round.
Park is a three-time winner of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and would tie Mickey Wright for the most in a career with a win.
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about it, but it’s just too crazy to think something big like that, in the history of golf, history of this championship, is going to maybe have a slim chance of happening to me,” Park said.
It’s not happening to an underdog. There’s a four-way tie for sixth place on a leaderboard stacked with the top talent on the tour.
PGA — Patrick Cantlay picked up enough birdies on the back nine to catch up to Martin Laird, and they each had a 6-under 65 to share the lead going into the final round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.
It was another day of low scoring for just about everyone but US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau. He had a pair of double bogeys through six holes and went from one shot behind to barely inside the top 40.
DeChambeau was 5 over through a five-hole stretch on the front nine. On the TPC Summerlin, that feels much more over par. “About 12,” he said.
He rallied for an even-par 71, but that left him seven shots behind with 30 players ahead of him.
That starts with a pair of past champions.
Laird, the 37-year-old Scot who learned to play the ball in the air while at Colorado State, won in Las Vegas in 2009 for the first of his three PGA Tour victories. He also lost in a playoff the following year won by Jonathan Byrd with a hole-in-one.
Cantlay’s success is more pronounced and more recent. He also won his first PGA Tour title at this event in 2017, and followed with runner-up finishes to DeChambeau and Kevin Na each of the last two years.
Cantlay and Laird were at 20-under 193, though this should be far from a two-man race.
Matthew Wolff got it started early. After making the cut with one shot to spare, Wolff had three eagles in a five-hole stretch and had to settle for pars on his final two holes for a 61.
Making three eagles at Summerlin is not unusual with a few short par 4s and all the par 5s easily reachable. Wolff, however, holed out on No. 11 from 116 yards. He drove the green on the 301-yard 15th hole to 15 feet and holed an 18-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th.
He never really considered 59 because he was only 2 under on the front. He played the back in 8-under 28.
“If you only shoot 2 under on the front you feel like you never have a chance to shoot 59,” he said.
Wolff posted his 18-under 195 right as the last group was starting the third round, and it held until Laird was the first to get to 19 under with a birdie on the 13th.
Wyndham Clark (65), Brian Harman (67), and Austin Cool (67) also were at 195.
Na had a 64 and was three shots behind along with Will Zalatoris, who has a chance to earn special temporary membership with a strong finish Sunday. He already is leading the Korn Ferry Tour points list.
Laird holed a 50-foot eagle putt on No. 9 as the made the turn. Otherwise, his round did not appear to be anything special. That goes for Cantlay, too, as he birdied the first and ninth hole and made pars in between.
They were going nowhere, yet both have been around this course enough to know they had plenty of chances ahead of them, with a pair of par 5s and a reachable par 4.
Cantlay picked up birdies on all three of them, along with a bonus on the 10th. He pulled his tee shot so far to the left that he hit a provisional in case it was out of play. He found it, he could play it, and with no trees in his way from about 100 yards, he hit wedge to 4 feet for birdie that started his back nine on a strong note.
DeChambeau, playing for the last time before the Masters on Nov. 12-15, did too much damage early on to recover. A wild tee shot on No. 2 led to double bogey, and while he missed the fairway badly on No. 6, what led to the double bogey was a three-putt from 12 feet.
Four straight birdies on No. 8 steadied him — he nearly drove the 419-yard 10th — but not enough. He failed to convert on the short par-4 15th and dropped another shot coming in.
“Didn’t really hit bad shots, just didn’t go where I wanted to,” DeChambeau said. “Went into some really bad places and unfortunately didn’t save par from them. Just stuff didn’t go my way today, and it’s OK. Not a big deal.”
Champions — Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie, and Woody Austin topped the SAS Championship leaderboard at 9 under, leaving Jim Furyk three strokes back in his bid to become the first player to win his first three PGA Tour Champions events.
Clarke had a 6-under 66, Montgomerie shot 67, and Austin 69 at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C. Charles Schwab Cup leader Bernhard Langer (66), Vijay Singh (66), and David Toms (67) were a stroke back.
Furyk was 6 under, following an opening 70 with a 68. He won at Warwick Hills and Pebble Beach, two courses he played regularly on the PGA Tour.
Clarke birdied the final two holes and four of the last five in a bogey-free round.
European — After almost nine months in America, English golfer Tyrrell Hatton is on target for a happy homecoming in the BMW PGA Championship — the tournament which inspired him to become a professional.
Hatton will take a three-shot lead over Denmark’s JB Hansen and France’s Victor Perez into the final round at Wentworth, with British Open champion Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed, and David Horsey another stroke back.
Hatton grew up not far from Wentworth and often came to one of the European Tour’s flagship events as a spectator, while he went into the final round in 2016 a shot off the lead before finishing seventh.
“It’s been a goal of mine to hopefully win this tournament so it would be very special,” Hatton said after his 3-under 69 in the third round to go 14 under overall.
“I just have to try to not get too far ahead of myself, take confidence from the fact I’ve won on Tour, go out there and control myself, play well like I have the last three days and see what happens.”