KINGSBARNS, Scotland – In-Kyung Kim is set to banish the nightmare of losing the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship by winning the $3.25 million Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship.
The 29-year-old has been dreaming of winning her first major championship since missing a 14-inch putt on the 72nd hole in that Kraft Nabisco.
The five-time LPGA winner takes a commanding six-shot lead over England’s Georgia Hall and Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn into the final round of the Women’s British Open. The 29-year-old from Seoul returned a third round, 6-under 66 to move to 17 under.
Kim’s 199, 54-hole mark sets a new Women’s British Open record since it became a major in 2001. She beats Ariya Jutanugarn’s 200 last year. Kim ties Lorena Ochoa’s 2007 record for the largest 54-hole lead in the Women’s British since it became a major.
She is also on course to break the Women’s British Open scoring record Karen Stupples set at Sunningdale 13 years ago when she totaled 269, 19 under. Kim needs a closing 69 to break that record.
That missed par putt five years ago cost her the title. She lost in a playoff to Sun-Young Yoo.
It’s taken a while, but Kim no longer lets 2012 beat her up.
“I’ve finally let go of that title of having not won a major,” Kim admitted.
“I was quite disappointed at myself after 2012 when I made that mistake. I kind of criticized myself a lot.
“I started to work on myself not only on the golf course, but off the golf course. Just to be nice to myself and able to have some compassion and gentleness with myself. I think that’s really helped me play better.
“It was kind of taking away the joy of golf.
“I got questions all the time from other people. So I thought it was coming from other people that I was quite angry or unhappy, but actually it was me that was disappointed at myself.
“I can control my state of mind now. I can be positive now and that’s what I’m doing. I don’t really get surprised now by sport. I kind of look at my life that way.
“It’s already happened so I have to make the best out of it.”
No wonder Kim was a picture of contentment as intermittent rain showers poured down on the course just south of St. Andrews. The five-time LPGA winner went out in 32, 4 under, and then turned up the heat with two birdies in the first three holes of her back nine.
Hall’s 67 should have been much better. She began the third round two shots behind Kim in the final group on the golf course. She fell six shots behind after 12 holes but reeled off three straight birdies from the 13th to get within three. Then disaster struck.
The 21-year-old bogeyed the par-4 16th hole after a bad drive and then four-putted the 17th green from 60 feet for a double-bogey six.
“I wasn’t nervous at all today, which I was a bit surprised by,” Hall said. “I made a silly mistake on 17 but apart from that hole, I actually played solid.
English golf fans have been waiting 13 years for another English winner since Stupples in 2004. Although Mel Reid and Jody Ewart Shadoff are in the top 10 along with Hall, they are nine shots off the pace in equal seventh place.
Hall is the only viable English hope with a round to go.
“Six shots is quite a lot, but on this course you can make a lot of birdies,” she said. “I’m going to have to go quite low tomorrow.”
Make that really low. She also has to hope Kim blows up.
That doesn’t look possible even if stranger things have happened in this crazy stick and ball game.
Kim seems to have found an inner peace that should help her lay to rest that 14-inch nightmare.