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Two shot lead heading into final round for Choi
October 13, 2012

Na Yeon Choi, -13, Rolex Rankings No. 4 & defending champion
Inbee Park, -11, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Karri Webb, -9, Rolex Rankings No. 19

Rolex Rankings No. 4 and defending champ Na Yeon Choi will take a two-shot lead into Sunday’s final round at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. Choi held only a one-shot lead with one round to play a year ago when she clinched her in win in Kuala Lumpur. The South Korean shot 3-under 68 to move to 13-under, two strokes ahead of Rolex Rankings No. 6 Inbee Park. Park, who leads the Tour’s money list this season, tied the low round of the day of 6-under 65 to move her to 11-under for the tournament.

Choi is looking to record her second victory of the season, after she earned her first major win at the U.S. Women’s Open in July. Despite over a four hour rain delay, Choi managed to tally four birdies and one bogey on the par 4 10th. LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb carded five birdies and two bogeys for a 3-under 68 and sits in solo third at 9-under par.

Na Yeon Choi held a one-shot lead with 18 holes to play last year at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the 24-year old said her two-shot lead this year does not make her any more comfortable heading into Sunday.

“I think it's pretty same as last year,” said Choi. “The good thing is I know I cannot control other players' score. So, you know, even tomorrow, go out there, I'm going to watch the leaderboard because I have to know what is situation, but I cannot control their score.”

Choi managed to hold off Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng in the final round last year to earn her fifth-career victory. She knows the potential for another run from trailing players tomorrow and said she rather be the chaser than the chased. She has either shared or held the lead in the first three rounds this week.

“I think a lot of good players, they are behind me now,” said Choi. “Actually, honestly, I don't like leading, that feeling. I like chasing better.

“But like today, I think I played too much safely. So tomorrow I'm not going to think about my score, even two-shot lead. I just go out there with a general score and play my game. I want to play lower than any day.”

Inbee Park will be playing for her tenth-consecutive top-10 finish this week and could be playing the best golf on Tour. The sixth-year pro is coming off back-to-back runner up finishes at the RICOH Women’s British Open and the CN Canadian Women’s Open. She was one of the players to not mind so much of the rain and appreciated the cooler temperatures instead.

“I think I play much better in the rain than hot,” said Park. “I much prefer rain than hot. The front nine putting was a little bit disappointing, but I gave myself a lot of birdie chances. I just waited for the putts to fall and it did on the back nine.”

Park was on the fifth hole when play was suspended and had the chance to regroup after starting even-par on the first five holes. She went eleven holes before getting her first birdie on the par 5 12th and had everything clicking from there. Park carded all six of her birdies on the back nine and six of the last seven holes.

“I mean, this golf course is scoreable and hard at the same time,” said Park. “I still need a lot of birdies tomorrow I think to win. I'll just go out there and play aggressive with short-irons and try to give myself a lot of birdie chances.”

Park became a major winner earlier this season when she won the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale and will be playing for her third-career victory.

Third-round play was suspended at 10:17 a.m. due to lightning in the area and resumed at 2:31 p.m. following a four hour and 14 minute delay. For the third time in two years, the lights at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club were turned on to help players finish their rounds. Thursday’s first-round also endured a suspension in play which lasted two hours and 47 minutes due to inclement weather.

Another Choi was worth noting in Saturday’s second round, as Chella tied the low round of the day of 6-under 65. The South Korean made one of the biggest jumps of the day moving from a T46 into a T21 at 3-under par. The fourth-year LPGA Tour pro failed to break par in the first two rounds, carding a 71 on Thursday and at 74 in second round. Some extra attention to her short game after yesterday’s round left the Rolex Rankings No. 34 player satisfied on the greens.

“Yesterday I missed a lot of birdie opportunities so I practiced a lot of chipping and putting afterward,” said Choi. “The greens were a little bit slow so I was trying for a little past the hole. The putting was better.”

Only five events remain on the 2012 schedule before the season-ending CME Group Titleholders and players who have not yet qualified for the tournament will be in a final chase for a spot in the limited-field event. The season finale, which will be held Nov. 15-18 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla., will feature a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament this season. Players who have not yet qualified but are in the hunt this week after three rounds of play are as follows: Karin Sjodin, T14 (-4); Momoko Ueda, T14 (-4); Lizette Salas, T26 (-2); Mo Martin, T32 (even); Mina Harigae, T41 (+2).

Saturday was Pink Day at the Sime Darby LPGA Malyasia to help support the tournament’s official charity, Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF). Players, caddies and staff were encouraged to wear pink clothing or have pink items during Saturday’s third round of play. Caddie bibs and pin flags also featured the color pink. In its three-year history, the event has held the ‘pink-out’ every Saturday.

There were many events throughout the week to help benefit CARIF including Wednesday night’s Gala Dinner. It’s a week where breast cancer awareness is spotlighted due to its prevalence within the country.

“I actually took a nap again. I think 30 minutes. I think a lot of players saw that.” –Na Yeon Choi on how she passed time during the over four hour weather delay.

Aretha Pan is the leading Malaysian after three rounds of play. Pan shot a 4-over 75 in Saturday’s third round and currently sits in 65th at 8-over-par. Natalie Gulbis withdrew before the third-round due to an abdominal strain.

SIME DARBY LPGA MALAYSIA
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