Moriya Jutanugarn’s three-under par 68 on Saturday puts the 23-year-old in contention not only to win her first LPGA tournament, but also a major.
This season has been ripe with first-time major winners after Danielle Kang won the KPMG PGA Championship and Sung Hyun Park won at the U.S. Women’s Open. Jutanugarn, who will take a one-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round, has eight top-10 finishes this year and is itching to earn that number one spot soon.
“I want to win my first tournament,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m trying to put myself in a good position, and when it’s my time, probably it will turn out good.”
Her younger sister, Ariya, was the first golfer from Thailand to win a major championship after taking home the trophy at the 2016 Women’s British Open. Ariya did not make the cut; she was tied at 111th and nine over, the exact opposite of Moriya’s nine-under standing.
Ayako Uehara of Japan fired a second-round 68 at the Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, France. She had seven birdies and moved into second place. Uehara began the second round T8. The 33-year old LPGA veteran has only one other top 10 this season, a T6 finish in July at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
First-round leader Sung Hyun Park struggled early Saturday, bogeying the first and third holes, then three more on the back nine. Park is three shots behind the lead, tied for fourth with Lydia Ko and In-Kyung Kim, but the deficit doesn’t concern her.
“I didn’t play well today, so I have a little gap from the top players,” Park said. “But personally, I feel more comfortable to actually chase those top players from the back.”
And chase she will have to do Sunday during the final round. After the tournament was shortened to 54 holes due to severe weather, players have one fewer round to improve their standings.
Katherine Kirk maintained her third-place standing a fter posting a 69. Two back from the leaders, she’s enjoying this resurgence late in her career. Kirk won the Thornberry Creek LPGA classic earlier this year, her first win since 2010.
“Yeah, it’s just nice to know you can still do it at 35 years old and as one of the older players out here,” Kirk said. “I can win out here, and just keep believing and keep doing the right things, and you never know what happens.”