Korean Girls Take Control

Choi Hye-jin Choi in action during the third round of the 2016 Espirito Santo Trophy. Picture by USGA/Steven Gibbons
Choi Hye-jin in action during the third round of the Espirito Santo Trophy. Picture by USGA/Steven Gibbons

Riviera Maya, Mexico: The Republic of Korea is on the verge of its fourth Women’s World Amateur Team Championship (WWATC) title as it built a 14-stroke lead over Switzerland with a 19-under-par total of 413 after Friday’s third round.

The Koreans posted a third-round team score of 138, with 2016 US Women’s Open low amateur Choi Hye-jin shooting a four-under-par 68, that included five birdies in her first nine holes, and Park Min-ji, the 2016 Australian Women’s Amateur champion, firing a two-under 70 on the par 72, 6,167-yard Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club.

“Some of my players are not really satisfied with their games but I am 100 per cent satisfied with their games,” said Korean captain Ko Sang-won. “Of course, everyone makes mistakes but I’m okay with that. I just want them to enjoy the game and enjoy playing with the other players.”

The Koreans are seeking their fourth victory in the 27th staging of the championship. They won in 1996, 2010 and 2012 and, in capturing the Espirito Santo Trophy in 2010, set the mark for lowest score in the event’s history with a total of 546, which eclipsed the field by 17 strokes.

“At the moment I am happy to be leading the team and the individual leaderboards but this championship is more important for the team event so I am trying not to think about being individual leader and am focused on winning the team event,” said Choi, a 17-year-old high school student. “Although there is a big gap I will try to think this is the first round tomorrow and focus more on my game and then maybe a better result will come.”

Choi was joined by Leslie Cloots of Belgium in carding the day’s best round of 68.

All three Koreans broke par and did not count the 71 posted by Park Hyun-kyung.

Switzerland kept its position in second with a third-round 145 that included a 69 from Kim Metraux and a 76 from her older sister Morgane.

Third-place Thailand believes the chase is over and that the only open places are second and third.
“We’ve got to try to finish in the top three. We should just let Korea be the winner,” said Thailand captain Kanes Nitiwanakul. “We will try to be second. Our goals are a little higher now. Korea is so good, they have such talented players.”
Thailand, which has not been in the medal race since finishing second in 2002, posted a third-round score of 143 on a 70 from Kanyalak Preedasuttijit and a 73 from Parajee Anannarukarn.

The Women’s World Amateur Team Championship is a biennial international amateur competition conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF), which comprises 147 national governing bodies in 141 countries and 22 professional members.

The competition, which is being held for the 27th time, is rotated among three geographic zones: Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe-Africa. This year’s event is hosted by the Mexican Golf Federation.


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