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Hyo Joo Kim keeps lead at LOTTE Championship

EWA BEACH, HAWAII (AP) – Hyo Joo Kim rallied with two late birdies for an even-par 72 to maintain a three-stroke lead on Friday in the LPGA Tour’s LOTTE Championship.

After dropping strokes on the par-4 seventh and par-3 12th with her only bogeys of the week at breezy Hoakalei Country Club, Kim birdied the par-4 14th and par-5 18th to get back to 10-under with one round left.

“It was very windy today,” said Kim, the 26-year-old South Korean player who won her last LPGA Tour title in 2019.

“There was a lot of wind going back and forth. I think it was difficult because it was not specifically (from one) direction. The pin position was also difficult compared to the first and second rounds. I had a hard time in that regard.”

Kim nearly holed out from a greenside bunker for eagle on 18.

“It was very important because it was a matter of over par or not. I had a chance at the 16th hole, but I missed so I was a little angry,” she said. “Now I feel much better since I made a birdie on the last hole.”

American Brianna Do (67) and Japan’s Hinako Shibuno (68) were tied for second.

Do birdied the first three holes. “It’s kind of nice starting off with a par 5,” Do said. “You go driver, 3-wood and then you have a wedge in hand. Yeah, starting with a birdie always helps.”

Do ran into trouble on the 16th hole. Her tee shot found a bunker, her second hit a tree. With her third shot, however, Do found the green from over 200 yards and she went on to two-putt for bogey.

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