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Ko still leading going into final round
August 25, 2012

Lydia Ko -8, (a)
Stacy Lewis -7, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Jiyai Shin -7, Rolex Rankings No. 15
Chella Choi -7, Rolex Ranking No. 45
Inbee Park -7, Rolex Ranking No. 11

Fifteen-year-old amateur Lydia Ko enters the final round at the CN Canadian Women’s Open with a chance to rewrite the record books. The New Zealander holds a one-shot lead over major champions Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park and Jiyai Shin, and Chella Choi, who is seeking her first win, with 18 holes of play remaining at Vancouver Golf Club. Ko, the winner of the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur, will make a bid to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history tomorrow when she tees it up in the final group. Born in 1997, she will be 15 years, four months and three days old tomorrow, more than 16 months younger than Lexi Thompson, who set the mark last September at the Navistar LPGA Classic.

“It's good to stay at the top of the leaderboard, but my first goal was to make the cut and hopefully top 15 or something,” Ko said. “But to be up there is just an honor, especially playing against the world's best. 15-year-olds don't lead at an LPGA event all the time. Like I said, I'm very surprised. But I've been playing really good golf and I've been really confident with my game.”

Ko’s one-shot lead could have been two if not for a four-foot par putt that lipped out on the 54th hole on Saturday. The teenager carded three birdies and three bogies – two of which, holes nine and 18, were three putts – to shoot even-par 72 and move to 8-under-par 208 (68-68-72).

“Today I tried to have more fun, but my score wasn't as good,” Ko said. “I mean, 72 is better than 73 or any other score, so I'm pretty happy.”

Despite her youth, Ko’s resume is impressive. She became the youngest winner on any professional golf tour in January at the Women’s New South Wales Open at the age of 14 years, 9 months and 5 days. Her record was later broken by Brooke Henderson, a sponsor’s exemption this week, at a CN Canadian Women’s Tour event in June 2012. Ko was the low amateur at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open where she tied for 39th. She has won numerous amateur championships in Australian and New Zealand and earlier this season finished tied for 17th at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne on the LPGA Tour.

With a win, Ko would be just the fifth amateur in LPGA Tour history to win and the first since JoAnne Carner in 1969.

“Tomorrow I'm just going to try my best. I've got to play my own game,” Ko said. “I can't concentrate on what the other players are doing. If they shoot 66 and I shoot 68 and I lose, I can't control what they do.”

Top-ranked American Stacy Lewis made her way up the leaderboard in Saturday’s round with four birdies and an eagle after the turn to finish at 6-under 66 for the day. It’s a familiar spot for Lewis as she has already recorded 10 top-10s this season including her second and third career victories at the Mobile Bay Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

Lewis entered the third round tied for 19th and seven strokes behind amateur leader Lyida Ko. She credits her three birdies in the first five holes that set her off on a hot streak to put her in good position for tomorrow’s final round.

“It's the kind of course if you get some birdies early and kind of get rolling on the par-5s, you can shoot a good number,” Lewis said. “If you don't, you'll be struggling for pars. I mean, it's a course that you can play well and shoot 1 or 2-under. So it's just kind of the way the course plays, I think.”

Although the CN Canadian Women’s Open changes it’s venue each year, Lewis tends to find herself lingering at the top of the leaderboard recently in Canada. Last year, Lewis tied for second at the Canadian Open outside Montreal and in June, she tied for fifth at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario.

“I've always been right up there or a shot back,” Lewis said. “I think I shot 66 in the final round last year. I seem to play well in Canada, so I like coming back here and hopefully I can keep that momentum going into tomorrow.”

Lewis continues to lead several important races and can improve her standing tomorrow. The 27-year-old leads the Rolex Player of the Year race and is hoping to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to claim the title. She also leads the U.S. Solheim Cup Team points race by a wide margin and the LPGA Official Money List with more than $1.2 million.

Three South Koreans – two of whom are major champions – will be looking to derail Lydia Ko’s record book chase tomorrow. Eight-time LPGA winner and 2008 RICOH Women’s British Open champ Jiyai Shin is tied at 7-under-par with Stacy Lewis, 2008 U.S. Women’s Open champ Inbee Park and Chella Choi, who is trying to become the seventh Rolex First-Time Winner of the season on Sunday. Park has had the hottest hand in recent weeks, claiming her second-career LPGA title at the Evian Masters in France last month. Shin, a former Rolex Rankings No. 1, has two top-10 finishes this season and has not missed a cut since 2010, a year when she claimed the most recent of her eight titles.

It’s Chella’s party, she’ll cry if she wants to. Chella Choi celebrated her 22nd birthday on Sunday with a 1-over-par 73, nine shots off the mark she set on Friday with a tournament-low 8-under-par 64. Choi’s career-best finish came two months ago at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, where she tied for second after losing a four-way, sudden-death playoff to Brittany Lang.

“It's quite nerve-racking, but I'm really here for experience and fun, and I'm having fun at the moment. If I don't win tomorrow, I don't think I'll be disappointed. If I do win, I'll take it like an honor.” – Lydia Ko says of having the world’s top players chasing after her.

Vancouver Golf Club’s 6th hole is the longest in LPGA Tour history at 605 yards. Defending champion Brittany Lincicome is tied for 21st at 1-under-par 215. Moira Dunn is hoping to improve on her season-best finish of T20 this week. She is tied for sixth at 6-under-par with Sydnee Michaels entering the final round. Michaels earned a career-best seventh place finish last week at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola and is looking for back-to-back top-10’s. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng shot 2-over-par 74 on Saturday and is tied for 21st at 1-under-par 215. Brittany Lang is unlikely to sweep the LPGA’s Canadian events this year following a 4-over-par 76 today. She is nine shots off the pace in a tie for 32nd.

CN CANADIAN WOMEN'S OPEN
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