WEST CALDWELL, New Jersey—One more round in the 60s at the Founders Cup is all Jin Young Ko needs to join Annika Sorenstam in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour record book.
That might be all it takes to win the Founders Cup, too.
Ko picked up her fourth birdie on the par-five 16th and closed with two pars for a two-under 69, giving her a four-shot lead Saturday at Mountain Ridge as she tries to win for the third time this year.
The 26-year-old South Korean star has been on a tear since July, with two victories, a runner-up and three other top 10s in her last six events. Even more impressive is her last month.
Saturday was her 13th consecutive round in the 60s, one off the LPGA record Sorenstam set during a four-tournament stretch in 2005, when she had 10 wins and was halfway to the calendar Grand Slam.
Ko played bogey-free on the back nine and stretched her lead to four shots over US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso (67), Elizabeth Szokol (65), two-time major champion So Yeon Ryu (71) and Lindsey Weaver (69).
Saso opened the third round with three birdies, going back-to-back at Nos. 5 and 6. She also birdied eighth hole and Nos. 14 and 15 in succession.
But a bogey at No. 17 forced her to share second spot.
Dottie Ardina, meanwhile, went one-under for the day and found herself for 41st place 12 strokes behind the pace.
Ko was at 13-under 200 as she tries to match Nelly Korda as the only three-time winners on the LPGA Tour this season.
Korda, who also won the Olympic gold medal, replaced Ko at No. 1 in the world in late June by winning her first major at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
The 23-year-old American had not played in a month since a US loss in the Solheim Cup. She had a 68 on Saturday and was in a large group at 7-under 206 that included Maria Fassi, Caroline Masson and Lexi Thompson.
What motivates Ko as much as anything is going home. This is her fourth straight tournament. After a week off, the LPGA Tour plays its lone Asia event in the fall in South Korea.
“I don’t want to think about win,” Ko said. “Just think about my swing or my putting. And I will have fun with my caddie, Dave Brooker. And yeah, after tomorrow I will go back to Korea. So that’s going to be motivation for me.”
As big as the win would be a chance to join Sorenstam in LPGA history.
The streaks are similar, but only in score. Sorenstam had three victories in her four-tournament run where she set the record with 14 straight rounds in the 60s. Only one was a 54-hole event. Her streak ended with a one-over 73 in the final round of the LPGA Championship, which put her halfway home to a calendar Grand Slam.
Sorenstam’s average score in those 14 rounds was 67.1.
Image courtesy of AP