Three rounds, three days end with Jin Young Ko’s name atop the Cognizant Founders Cup leaderboard. Ko, second in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, continued her absolute mastery of Mountain Ridge Country Club on Saturday, shooting a 2-under 69 in the third round and moving to -13 overall, a four-stroke advantage over her nearest competitors.
Ko started her day at 7:15 a.m., playing the final four holes of her third round after play was suspended Friday night due to darkness. After a quick power nap at her hotel, Ko was back on the first tee at 12:57 p.m. to start her third round. Despite voicing feelings of exhaustion in this fourth consecutive week of competition, Ko looked none the worse for wear, carding four birdies and two bogeys in her third round.
“I think I didn't (play) much too aggressive play in the afternoon,” said Ko. “Play was good. I still made it 2-under par today. Yeah, I cannot wait for play tomorrow.”
With temperatures never topping the upper 60s and wind gusts up to 15 mph, the course was a markedly different challenge than Ko had faced so far this week.
“Last two days wasn't breeze much on the course, but today maybe 10 miles. So little hard to get like club choice,” said Ko. “Still the course is amazing, so fairways are really good and greens are perfect.”
Ko is aiming to join Rolex Rankings No. 1 Nelly Korda as a three-time winner in 2021, having already taken titles at the Volunteers of America Classic and the Cambia Portland Classic.
Four players are tied for second at -9, four strokes behind Ko. Two-time major champion So Yeon Ryu survived a rollercoaster afternoon, following up three front-nine bogeys with three back-nine birdies, including one on No. 18 to pull into the logjam in second.
“When I made the turn, I just told myself, it's all about the confidence, let's just play like World No. 1,” said Ryu, winless since the 2018 Meijer LPGA Classic. “I think that attitude helped me out a lot to shoot 3-under, and then I'm glad to finish strong.”
Third-year Tour player Elizabeth Szokol shot the round of the day with a 6-under 65 and jumped into the tie for second, with Lindsey Weaverand 2021 U.S. Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso rounding out the quartet at -9. Szokol will play in Sunday’s final group with Ko and Saso, with Ryu, Weaver and Korda off in the penultimate group. Korda is in a group of five players tied for sixth at -7.
WITH A WIN
Jin Young Ko would join Nelly Korda as the season’s only three-time winners; Ko took victories at the Volunteers of America Classic and the Cambia Portland Classic
With the $450,000 winner’s check, Jin Young Ko would move to $7,257,239 in career earnings, becoming the 40th player in LPGA Tour history to break the $7 million threshold
Jin Young Ko would become the fifth player from the Republic of Korea to reach double-digit wins in LPGA Tour history, joining Se Ri Pak (25), Inbee Park (21), Sei Young Kim (12) and Jiyai Shin (11)
Elizabeth Szokol or Lindsey Weaver would become the seventh Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2021 LPGA Tour season
Lindsey Weaver would be the third LPGA*USGA Girls Golf alumna to win on Tour, joining Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome
Yuka Saso would become the first rookie with multiple wins in her rookie season since Sung Hyun Park won twice in 2017
So Yeon Ryu would earn her first victory since the 2018 Meijer LPGA Classic