Inbee Park of South Korea moved to the brink of adding a gold medal to her World Golf Hall of Fame credentials by opening a two-stroke lead heading into the final round of the women’s Olympic golf competition.
Park skillfully weathered the windy conditions on the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro and finished with a round of one-under par 70 for a 54-hole total of 12-under 202.
“It was a a struggle out there today,” Park said. “I feel like I battled really well. I putted really good, but my ball-striking was not great with the wind and that gave me a lot of bogeys. The course was playing very, very difficult. But I’m happy where I’m standing and I look forward to tomorrow.”
Formidable obstacles remain in her gold medal bid, however, notably New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and Gerina Piller of the United States. They are tied for second at nine-under 204 and will be playing alongside Park.
Ko posted a six-under par 65 while playing most of her round before the wind came up and wreaked havoc on much of the field. Piller, who has never won in her LPGA career, shot a three-under par 68.
“I’d say that’s one of my best rounds I’ve played,” Piller said. “I just kind of plunked along, kept it in play and made some huge putts. I finished with a bogey, but you know, overall, I like my position where I’m out and I like where my game is.
“I feel like my ball-striking’s really good right now. And this is a ball-striker’s course. And my putting has been great for the last couple weeks and months. I’ll just kind of be going out there and putting everything at stake aside and focusing on putting a good swing and being all in on every shot.”
American Stacy Lewis, who began the third round one back of Park, stumbled to a five-over par 76 that left her tied for eighth, seven shots behind Park. Lexi Thompson, meanwhile, is out of contention after posting a five-over par 76 that left her tied for 31st.
Canadian Brooke Henderson four-putted the 16th hole, missing consecutive three footers, shot a 75 and is tied for eighth, seven back.
Thailand star Ariya Jutanugarn, the first-round leader, withdrew with a knee injury after playing 13 holes. Jutanugarn was 12 over par for her round, which included two triple-bogeys and three double-bogeys.