Hyo Joo Kim boosts lead at Ascendant LPGA; Thompson 5 back

by Joanne Miller

Hyo Joo Kim Takes Commanding Lead at The Ascendant LPGA

In challenging weather conditions at The Ascendant LPGA, Hyo Joo Kim showed her resilience by finishing the third round with a one-under 70, giving her a solid five-shot lead heading into the final round. The event, held at The Old American Golf Club in Texas, proved to be a test for all the players, but Kim managed to recover with enough birdies to maintain her position at the top.

Kim, currently ranked seventh in the women’s world rankings, is aiming for her first LPGA victory of the year. Having already won in each of the previous two years, she is determined to continue her winning streak. With a total score of 11-under 202, Kim has set herself up for a triumphant final round.

Among those in pursuit of Kim are Sarah Kemp and Lexi Thompson, who are tied for second place after solid performances in the third round. Kemp impressed with five birdies and an eagle, while Thompson finished strong with a 71. Both players will be looking to mount a challenge in the final round.

Thompson, in particular, has seen a noticeable improvement in her game recently. Despite going four years without a victory on the LPGA Tour, she showcased her skills by winning a Ladies European Tour event sponsored by Saudi Arabia last year. After a steady performance at the Solheim Cup and a top-10 finish in Arkansas, Thompson seems to have found her rhythm just in time for the final round alongside Kim and Kemp.

While the weather conditions initially posed a significant challenge, only eight players managed to break 70, with the lowest score of the day being 68. It is a testament to the difficulty of the course that so few players were able to master the conditions.

For Kemp, securing a spot in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship is a top priority. She currently sits at No. 72 in the rankings and, with CME being one of her corporate sponsors, it is a major goal for her. Looking ahead to the Asia swing, Kemp plans to participate in some tournaments to bolster her chances of making it into the top 60.

Thompson, on the other hand, is taking a different approach. Instead of focusing solely on the fall events, she has decided to play in the PGA Tour event in Las Vegas, taking a sponsor exemption. Thompson understands the importance of ending the season on a high note and aims to make a strong impression.

While the pursuit of catching Kim may seem like a steep challenge, it is not impossible. With three birdies in a four-hole stretch, including a remarkable 30-foot putt on the par-3 16th, Kim is in prime form. Even with a mishap on the 18th that rolled her approach shot through the green and down a slope, Kim maintained her composure and executed a perfect pitch to secure an easy tap-in, preserving her five-shot lead.

Celine Boutier, the current leader in the Race to CME Globe, had a disappointing finish to the third round. With four bogeys in the final six holes, she recorded a 74, putting her eight shots behind Kim. It will take a remarkable effort from Boutier in the final round to bridge that gap.

As the players prepare for the last day of The Ascendant LPGA, all eyes will be on Hyo Joo Kim as she aims to clinch her first victory of the year. However, with experienced competitors like Sarah Kemp and Lexi Thompson hot on her heels, there is still everything to play for. The final round promises to deliver an exciting conclusion to what has been a captivating tournament so far.

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