Players returned to Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove for the third round of LPGA Q-Series on Sunday after unplayable course conditions on Saturday caused the third round to be postponed. Epson Tour’s Robyn Choi carded a bogey-free 64 today to move up from a tie in 15th place and sit in solo first place. Besides Choi, several players took advantage of the day off yesterday to grab some extra rest before going out and carding under par rounds to rise up the leaderboard and secure themselves safely within the cut line before it is made after tomorrow’s round to the top-65 players and ties.
Choi teed off from No. 1 on the Falls Course on Sunday, making two pars in her first two holes. In her next three holes on the front nine, Choi picked up two birdies on the par-4 third and the par-5 fifth. The Aussie would make a string of pars from Nos. 6 to 9 to make the turn at just two-under par. Choi made a par on the 10th hole, and it would be just one of four pars she would have on the back nine of her third round. The 2019 LPGA Tour Rookie turned up the heat, making back-to-back birdies on holes 11 and 12 to move her to 10-under par. She had one par on No. 13 before she hit her last four par-4s of the day. In her last five holes and last four par-4s, Choi made three birdies from holes 14 to 16 to hold the lead in the clubhouse while groups continued to come in.
“When I'm hitting it better, I do tend to take a little more aggressive line because I think I have the confidence to hit it and it's not going to miss too much,” said Choi, who has not carded a bogey on her scorecard in 39 holes of play at LPGA Q-Series. “When I do start hitting them pretty close and I start to aim a little bit more aggressive at the pins, and, yeah, just like I don't really think about the danger zones as much as when I'm not hitting it well.”
Throughout her year on the Epson Tour, Choi has made the cut at every event she started in. Along with her solid play today, she also credits her consistent play throughout the year to playing ‘smart aggressive.’ “I think when I have to play safe, I'll just take it a little bit like a safer line, but when I have like a short iron in and I can like kind of go for it, I think that's kind of changed throughout the season,” said Choi. “Just being able to attack it with short irons a little bit more.”
Three players sit just one shot behind Choi in a tie for second including Japanese player Mao Saigo, 2023 LPGA Tour Rookie Hyo Joon Jang and 34-year-old Mina Harigae. Saigo, who got into the field at LPGA Q-Series based on her Rolex Ranking (No. 56), recorded a bogey-free 65 on the Falls Course to also move up from a tie in 15th place like Choi. Her 65 included a back-nine score of 31 with three birdies on her last three holes. Jang turned in a four-under par round on Sunday with her scorecard consisting of four birdies and 14 pars to move her to 12 under. Harigae shot 68 on the Falls Course, carding two bogeys and five birdies to remain in the same position as she came into the day with.
Notably, three players recorded eight-under par rounds on the Crossings Course on Sunday. Diksha Dagar, who finished No. 3 in the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit in 2023, carded a front-nine 33 and a back-nine 31 to turn in a 64. Her third-round score moved her into the top-10 from a tie in 52nd. 2019 LPGA Tour Rookie Lauren Stephenson moved from a tie in 67th to a tie in 14 after her bogey-free 64 which included four birdies in a row from Nos. 3 to 6. LPGA Tour veteran Mariajo Uribe sits in a tie for 24th after she started the day with a bogey on her first hole (no. 10) then making nine more birdies, including a streak from holes 18 to 4. Her third round moved her from a tie in 78th. Their scores were just one shot short of tying the 18-hole tournament scoring record on the Crossings Course of 63, which was set by Stephanie Kyriacou in her fourth round in 2021.