Moving day lived up to its name on Saturday at the JTBC Founders Cup, with less than a dozen players over par and four rounds of 8-under, 64 posted on day three.
Eun-Hee Ji made the most of the ideal conditions, carding a bogey-free 7-under par, 65 to take a one stroke lead at 18-under par, ahead of Stacy Lewis and Sei Young Kim.
A two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Ji is looking for her first win since the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open. She came close to breaking through last fall, finishing in a share of second at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship. With just 26 putts on Saturday, Ji says her ability to navigate the greens has been the key to her success this week.
“Actually, my putting was really good. Actually, my iron shot was really good, too because I was really struggling with my irons the last couple of weeks but it's getting better this week,” Ji told the media after her round.
2013 JTBC Founders Cup champion Stacy Lewis matched the low round of the day with a bogey-free 8-under par, 64 to move into a share of second, one-stroke back of Ji. Lewis has consistently played well in this event, finishing runner-up the past two years and feels a special connection to this event given her strong appreciation and involvement of the LPGA's Founders at this event.
“This week it's really special to me. I've gotten to know the Founders the last few years, especially Marilynn; and just being around them, you see the love and the energy that they have for this game still and our tour, and it's just a really special week,” Lewis said after her round.
“And I love -- you know, I would definitely say I was one of the skeptics at first, you know, with playing for free and the whole thing, but this tournament is a home run and it's just really cool for the rookies to get to know the Founders and the reason that they get to play every day.”
Lewis is T-2 with Sei Young Kim, who took a 3-stroke lead with an eagle at the 13th hole only to make back-to-back bogeys at the 16th and 17th holes to finish the day with a 2-under par, 70.
World No.1 Lydia Ko was able to get some putts to drop on Saturday, propelling her to an 8-under par, 64 which vaulted her into a share of fifth with Carlota Ciganda and Paula Creamer. Ko got off to a quick start, making three birdies in her first five holes.
The always strong Canadian contingent that follows Brooke Henderson was out in full force again on Saturday, cheering on the 18-year-old to a 7-under par, 65 to move to within 4-strokes of the lead at 14-under par.
The pairing was a comfortable one for Henderson who played alongside another 18-year-old in rookie Megan Khang, who Henderson regularly competed against in junior golf. Henderson told LPGA.com the pairing made for a fun day as the duo spurred each other on throughout the day, Khang firing a 6-under par, 66 to keep pace with Henderson.
“Really wasn't anything too special coming around the turn but was able to make it into something a little bit better on the Back 9 going 5-under. And right off the start I was playing well and felt pretty good 3-under and then kind of went through a slump and got it back,” Henderson said.
“I was a little more comfortable with my swing and was able to be a little bit more aggressive on tee shots and pins and just got a couple of good breaks and was able to cap it off.”
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