It was another difficult day at Old American Golf Club as the Moving Day field contended with firm fairways, fast greens and challenging hole locations at The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America. Second-round leader Charley Hull held onto a share of the lead with an even-par, 71 on Saturday but was joined at the top by first-round leader Xiyu Lin, who shot a 2-under, 69 to sit at -11 overall. Chasing her second LPGA Tour victory, Hull’s 71 on day three actually came as a relief for the Englishwoman after she made bogey and double bogey on holes 5 and 10, respectively.
“I pushed my drive a little bit (on 10). Hit the cart path, went into the rough, and then had to take a drop. Was a bit of an awkward drop because of where the path is,” Hull explained. “I knew I was hitting it well, so didn’t really think too much of it. It can wobble your confidence a little bit, but I didn’t let it bother me. I just hung in there and got around level par, so it wasn’t too bad.”
The 2016 CME Group Tour Championship winner carded birdies on 4, 6 and 15, though she said there should have been more with a couple of her long birdie putts lipping out. Hull’s strength this week has been with her flat stick as the 26-year-old has needed less than 30 putts per round and only 77 putts in total. Lin’s putter has also been hot, but it was her accuracy off the tee on Saturday that allowed her to make up the two-stroke deficit and tie Hull’s lead. She hit 13 of 13 fairways and 12 of 18 greens during round three to put herself into contention once again, a trend for Lin as of late. She has earned four top-10 finishes this season, including a season best second-place result at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G, and is hoping to find the secret ingredient that will help her capture her first LPGA victory.
“It’s exciting and nervous at the same time. But I’ve been experience it a couple time this year, so I think I’m getting more comfortable about it,” Lin said. “If I win, I probably will find the ingredient. Just right now, I’m obviously happy every week I put myself in good positions… So as is right now, just going to give myself all the credits about it. Like keep telling myself how good I am right now, and tomorrow I’m definitely in the mix, definitely have a chance.”
Kiwi Lydia Ko and Frenchwoman Celine Boutier are also in the mix, sitting one stroke behind the leaders with 54-hole totals of 203. Boutier fired the second-lowest round of the day – Ruoning Yin shot a 6-under 65 on Saturday to move to T19 – making one bogey and six birdies thanks to her accuracy off the tee. She hit 12 of 13 fairways and 16 of 18 greens to shoot her 5-under 66.
“I honestly just took advantage of the opportunities that I had. I feel like I played very solid,” said Boutier, who will become the winningest French golfer in history with a victory on Sunday. “I definitely missed some out there, but I just feel like because my long game was so solid, I just trusted myself that I would make some at some point.”
Texas native Maddie Szeryk has been leaning on her home-state advantage throughout the tournament. The Canadian national, who was born and currently lives in the Lone Star State, shot her second 4-under round of the week on Saturday and holds solo fifth heading into the final round. Szeryk, who had a slow start to the 2022 season, got into The Ascendant LPGA field as an alternate and is not only looking to earn her first win tomorrow, but also some valuable CME points. She is currently 163 in the Race to CME Globe standings and needs to be in the top 100 to maintain her LPGA Tour Membership for 2023.
“I’m happy to be playing, and last week just barely missed getting in; next week is still up in the air,” said Szeryk. “So just the same mindset of ‘it is what it is’ and I’m doing my best that I can. Just trying to enjoy it. The cut off is coming up, but I’m just trying to focus on my game and just playing and just having fun really.”
Three players sit in a tie for sixth including six-time LPGA Tour winner So Yeon Ryu and Thai golfers Moriya Jutanugarn and Atthaya Thitkul. 2020 U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica champion A Lim Kim, Duke University alum Lindy Duncan, 11-time champion Lexi Thompson and Olympian Pornanong Phatlum round out the top 10 at T9.