Sei Young Kim takes 1-shot lead in LPGA Tour finale

Kim took a one-stroke lead over top-ranked Jin Young Ko into the final round of the LPGA Tour season, shooting a 5-under 67 on Saturday.

Sei Young Kim shot a five-under 67. - AP (FILE)

Sei Young Kim is in position to defend her title in the CME Group Tour Championship, take player of the year honours, win the money title and possibly even move to No. 1 in the world.

Kim took a one-stroke lead over top-ranked Jin Young Ko into the final round of the LPGA Tour season, shooting a 5-under 67 on Saturday in warmer conditions at Tiburon Golf Club to reach 13-under 203. Ko had a 69.

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“Really good chance to chase everything,” Kim said. “If I play well tomorrow, good chance.”

For Kim to take the No. 1 spot in the world from Ko, she would have to win on Sunday and have Ko finish solo 10th or worse. Ko has held the top spot for 73 weeks in a row.

Georgia Hall was third at 10 under after a 68.

Lexi Thompson (71), Brooke Henderson (66), Charley Hull (66), Minjee Lee (66) and Austin Ernst (69) were 9 under.

Kim is tied for the tour victory lead with Danielle Kang with two, winning the major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and Pelican Women’s Championship in consecutive starts in October and November. The South Korean star played a 12-hole stretch from the second to the 13th in 6 under, then dropped a stroke on the par-4 18th.

'Comfortable and chill'

“My vibe was really good because warmer weather, and then I play pairing with Jin Young and Lexi (Thompson). Those are my favourite player, so yeah, it was fun. We weren’t talking much but it was very comfortable and chill out there.”

Ko had three birdies in a bogey-free round.

“I said yesterday my goal is like just bogey-free round on the weekend, so I made it today,” Ko said. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Kim and Ko are longtime friends.

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“Always fun playing with her,” Ko said. “We play together last year and we played - we practiced together at the US Open last week. So we know each other. But this is competition, so we are close but we have to separate on the course.”

Coming off a second-place tie last week in Houston in the US Women’s Open, Ko has a chance to win the money title in only four events. The USD 1.1 million winner’s prize, down from USD 1.5 million last year, is the richest in women’s golf. Ko is 13th with USD 567,925. Inbee Park is the leader with USD 1,365,138, and Kim second with USD 1,207,438.

Race to CME Globe leader Park was tied for 28th at 3 under after her third straight 71. Second-place Kang was tied for 42nd at even par after a 70.

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