Australians Grace Kim and Hannah Green tied for lead in LPGA Tour’s JM Eagle LA Championship


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Grace Kim stumbled to a 5-over 76 on Saturday in the LPGA Tour’s JM Eagle LA Championship — and still held onto a share of the lead.

It was that kind of a day at Wilshire Country Club, the tree-lined layout made difficult by bumpy poa annua greens and tricky wind conditions.

“It’s tough for everyone today,” Kim said. “It was just one of those days. It’s just golf.”

Four strokes ahead entering the day after rounds of 64 and 66, Kim was tied with fellow Australian Hannah Green, the defending champion who saved par with a 12-footer on the par-3 18th for a 70. They were at 7-under 206.

“The putt that I made on 18 almost felt like I birdie,” Green said.

Maja Stark, playing alongside Kim in the final group, bogeyed the 18th for a 73.

“You know that you can’t take every missed putt too personally because that’s going to happen for everyone,” Stark said.

The Swede was a stroke back with Jin Hee Im, the South Korean player who had a back-nine 30 in a 63 for the best round of the day, and Germany’s Esther Henseleit (71). Nasa Hataoka of Japan was 5 under after a 64.

Kim bogeyed the par-5 second hole and had a double bogey on the par-3 fourth. She also dropped shots on the par-4 10th and 16th holes.

“I tried to stay in the present of just the next shot, giving myself good chances,” said the 23-year-old Kim, The LOTTE Championship last year in Hawaii for her first LPGA Tour title. “I know I had a few three-putts in there, but just keeping my head in the game and not losing that shot focus.”

The 27-year-old Green rebounded from a 2-foot par miss on the par-4 17th with the par save on 18. After bogeying three of the last six holes on the front nine, she played a four-hole stretch on the back nine in 4 under. She eagled the par-5 13th and birdied 14 and 16, then missed the short putt on 17.

“I didn’t really have many full swings. Had a lot of half-shots in,” said Green, the winner in Singapore early last month for her fourth LPGA Tour title. “With the greens firming up and getting bouncy it kind of made it hard to completely trust that shot.”

Stark finished second last week outside Houston in The Chevron Championship, two strokes behind top-ranked Nelly Korda in the first major of the year. Korda withdrew Monday, a day after her record-tying fifth straight victory.


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