Korea, Spain share lead heading into final round in Abu Dhabi

Hyosong Lee, 14, posted a 5-under 67 on Friday to propel the Republic of Korea into a share of the lead with Spain after Round 3 of the 30th Women’s World Amateur Team Championship.

The Koreans, who started the day two shots off the lead, and the Spaniards stand at 17-under-par 415, with Thailand one stroke back in solo third.

Lee, the winner of the last two Korean Women’s Amateurs, rode a hot putter with six birdies against one bogey while besting the field with 10 one-putts. Korea, which is seeking its fourth Espirito Santo Trophy in the last seven competitions, added a 71 from Minsol Kim, No. 4 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR®, to bring the team’s third round tally to a 6-under 138.

Kyorim Seo carded a non-counting 71 as only two of each team’s best three scores count toward the day’s total.

“[Hyosong] putted very well today.” said Korean Captain SeHoon Chang. “They’ve had great work this week and I want to thank them for their play today because of the hot weather.”

The three co-leaders heading into Friday’s third round struggled to get anything going during their opening nine holes. Australia, Spain and Thailand all made the turn with team scores at even par or 1 under, while Korea emerged as the solo leader with a nine-hole total of 4 under par.

“The start was a little rough,” said Spain’s Julia Lopez Ramirez, the reigning European Ladies’ Amateur champion.

“I went to my captain and my coaches on the back [nine] and I was like, ‘We need to come back somehow. I need to fight for this.’”

Lopez Ramirez and world No. 2 Cayetana Fernandez Garcia-Poggio led a back-nine charge for the Spaniards, combining for three birdies on the final three holes to jump back into a share of the lead.

Spain is seeking its first Espirito Santo Trophy since 1992 and first medal since 2012.

“We have a lot of golf left to play tomorrow,” said Lopez Ramirez. “We’re excited to be in the lead and to have the opportunity to win this tournament.”

Also making a run on the back nine was Thailand. Reigning Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific champion Eila Galitsky birdied the par-4 17th and par-5 18th to post a 3-under 69 in addition to a 72 from Navaporn Soontreeyapas, who co-leads the individual scoring race.

“It’s the best feeling ever being in the final group and knowing that you have a chance to win the Espirito Santo Trophy,” said Galitsky. “Hopefully we can perform tomorrow.”

Chinese Taipei had the lowest team score on Friday and climbed six spots into fourth place (418) on the strength of a 6-under 66 from Huai-Chien Hsu and a 69 from Hsin Chun Liao. Australia, the 36-hole co-leader, dropped into fifth place after an even-par 144, followed by England, who sits in sixth at 12-under 420.

Thailand’s Soontreeyapas shares the individual lead with Chinese Taipei’s Hsu at 10-under 206. They are one stroke ahead of Spain’s Fernandez Garcia-Poggio, Avani Prashanth, of India, and Korea’s Seo.

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