South Korean Mirim Lee holds a one-shot lead over LPGA Tour rookie and native Southern Californian Alison Lee entering Sunday’s final round of the $1.7 million Kia Classic at the Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.
Mirim Lee began Saturday’s third round tied for the lead with American Morgan Pressel, then shot a six-under-par 66 with seven birdies and a bogey on the par-4 fourth.
Alison Lee shot her second consecutive six-under-par 66 Saturday to move into sole possession of second. The 20-year-old former UCLA standout opened her round with a birdie, then bogeyed the second and third holes in what she called “hiccup holes.”
“I told myself to stay in the game and stay confident, positive,” Lee told reporters after the round.
Lee birdied the fifth, seventh, eighth and 10th holes and finished her round with three consecutive birdies.
“Eventually, I turned my round around,” said Lee, who entered the round tied for third, one shot off the lead. “I just kept hitting every green and getting it close and giving myself chances all day long.”
Lee entered the final round of last week’s JTBC Founders Cup tied for third at 13-under-par, three shots off the lead, then shot a two-over-par 74 to finish in a five-way tie for 24th at 11-under-par 277, 10 shots behind champion Hyo Joo Kim.
“I just couldn’t roll my putts in,” said Lee, who was raised in Valencia in Los Angeles County’s Santa Clarita Valley. “It was a good learning experience and I want to take what I learned from last week and apply it to this week.”
Lee is now able to devote herself to golf full-time. She completed finals last week for UCLA’s winter quarter when she took courses in history, English, sociology and Asian American studies.
American Cristie Kerr and Japan’s Sakura Yokomine are tied for third at 13-under-par, three shots off the lead.
South Korean Se Ri Pak fired a women’s course record-equaling eight- under-par to move into a four-way tie for fifth at 12-under-par.
Lydia Ko, the world’s top-ranked women’s player, is also among the group tied for fifth. The 17-year-old shot a five-under-par 67, her 27th consecutive sub-par round on the LPGA Tour, two behind the record of 29 set by Annika Sorenstam in 2004.
Ko is seeking her 10th consecutive top 10 finish on the LPGA Tour.
Pressel shot an even-par-72 to drop into a five-way tie for 10th at 10- under-par, six shots off the lead.
The tournament is the LPGA’s seventh of the year. There have been six winners, all born in South Korea.
The winner will receive $255,000 and a Kia K900 luxury sedan.
— City News Service