April 24th, 2024

Jiyai Shin takes unlikely share of lead in Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship

By The Associated Press on March 23, 2024.

PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif. (AP) – One of Seri’s Kids had an unlikely share of the lead in the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship after a windy Saturday afternoon at Palos Verdes Golf Club.

Jiyai Shin – the 35-year-old South Korean star who last played a full LPGA Tour schedule in 2013 – shot a bogey-free 8-under 63 on the course overlooking the Pacific Ocean, then ended up tied for the lead hours later when defending champion Ruoning Yin closed with a triple bogey.

Pak is one of the most influential players in LPGA history, a pioneer for South Korean players to follow her path. Shin, who now plays the Japanese and Korean tours to be closer to home, received a sponsor exemption in the event.

“Seri is my idol, still,” Shin said, “When I first time playing LPGA, they called (us) Seri’s Kids. This is her first hosting event, so I feel so proud. Just glad to playing here.”

A stroke ahead entering the par-4 18th, Yin drove to the right into thick rough under trees, with more trees ahead. Instead of hitting sideways to the fairway, the 21-year-old Chinese player tried to punch a low shot through an opening in the trees toward the green, but the ball struck a trunk and bounced back into more trouble.

Seven strokes behind second-round leader Malia Nam entering the day, Shin was tied with former UCLA player Alison Lee (68) at 9-under 204.

Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., is tied for 15th at 4 under.

“I’ve never won out here before and that’s something I’m still looking for, my first victory on the LPGA Tour,” the 29-year-old Lee said. “It would be really cool to win at home in front of all my friends and family.”

The fourth-ranked Yin had a 71 to drop into a tie for third at 7 under with second-ranked Nelly Korda (67) and former University of Southern California players Nam (72) and Gabriela Ruffels (65).

“I would say the toughest day with the wind and a little bit softer conditions with the rain we had in the morning,” said Korda, the LPGA Drive On Championship winner in late January in Florida in her last event. “I would say the wind was a huge factor.”

Shin had five straight birdies on Nos. 3-7 and played the last four in 3 under with birdies on Nos. 15, 16 and 18. A two-time Women’s British Open winner with 11 LPGA Tour victories, the 5-foot-2 player is one of the most accurate hitters in women’s golf – a good fit for the hilly, tree-lined course with small greens.

“Well, the first thing is you can see the how beautiful ocean view here, so we need to be focusing on the golf,” Shin said. “And then, actually, the setting is not for the long golfer. “¦ I’m not a long hitter, so when I practice round, `OK, I might have a chance (to win) on this golf course.'”

The 24-year-old Nam – from Hawaii – is making her second career LPGA Tour start.

“It was definitely a struggle today with the wind, but I think it’s tough for everyone,” Nam said. “I just tried to minimize the mistakes and keep moving forward.”

Ruffels, from Australia, had five straight 3s in a front-nine 31. She birdied Nos. 2-5, all par-4 holes, parred the par-3 sixth and birdied the par-5 seventh.

“I putted really well out there today,” Ruffels said “I kind of knew that it wasn’t going to be a very low scoring day with the wind.”

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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