Shin masters tough conditions to claim LPGA lead

golf09 June 2024 06:00| © AFP
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Jenny Shin © Getty Images

Jenny Shin got to grips with the tough conditions to card a two-under-par 69 on Saturday and take a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the LPGA ShopRite Classic in Galloway, New Jersey.

Shin birdied 17 and 18 on the Seaview Bay Course – her second back-nine brace after birdies at 10 and 11 – to build a 36-hole total of 10-under 132 in the 54-hole event.

Switzerland's Albane Valenzuela was a stroke back after a 68 for 133.

"I think I was a little bit rattled on the front nine," Shin confessed, saying that with an early tee time she hadn't expected to be greeted by gusty winds.

"I fully expected not having any wind in the morning, so that took me by surprise," said Shin, who carded a 63 in calmer afternoon conditions on Thursday.

After nabbing her first birdie at the fifth, Shin bogeyed the sixth and seventh, but made the turn at even for the day after a birdie at the eighth.

Her birdies at 10 and 11 were followed by two more bogeys at 14 and 15, but she ended the day on a high note.

"It was a scramble, but I'm very happy with my two birdies (to finish)," said Shin, who won her lone LPGA title to date at the 2016 Texas Shootout. "They were both inside two feet – I would say relatively easy birdie putts."

Valenzuela, trying to become the first Swiss winner on the LPGA tour, had five birdies and two bogeys in her 68 and was one stroke in front of a quartet sharing third: American Megan Khang, Taiwan's Hsu Wei-Ling and Cheng Ssu-Chia and South Korean An Na-rin.

Another seven players were three shots back on 135 and a group of 13 tied on 136 included overnight leader Arpichaya Yubol, who followed up her first-round 61 with a 75.

Japan's Yuka Saso, who won the US Women's Open on Sunday, missed the cut.

The LPGA announced before the round that Japan's Nasa Hataoka – who was tied for fourth after the first round – had been disqualified after a video review showed she took longer than allowed searching for a lost ball at her final hole on Thursday, the ninth.

"After three minutes of search, the ball is considered lost," the LPGA said in a statement, noting she should have incurred a stroke and distance penalty.

Hataoka's second shot at the ninth kicked into the high grass around the green. The lengthy search ensued, and a rules official was at the scene when she finally identified her ball and took a drop and a penalty for an unplayable lie.