Quail Hollow Club’s tree-lined, old-style setup has produced an impressive list of winners, ranging from Vijay Singh to Jim Furyk to last year’s champion, Tiger Woods.
With Woods unable to defend his Wachovia Championship title after knee surgery, Anthony Kim moved a step away from joining that group – a month shy of his 23rd birthday.
The steady, focused, and less flamboyant Kim shot a 6-under-par 66 on Saturday to take a four-shot lead over Jason Bohn and Heath Slocum after the third round at Charlotte, N.C.
While Kim still sports the signature shiny belt buckle with his initials, the big hitter’s recent focus on his game left him at 13 under and close to his first PGA Tour win.
But the best way to describe how Kim has changed was not the long drives and six birdies, it was a short punch out on the third hole, when he decided not to try a low-percentage shot to reach the green.
“Six months ago I would tried to go for it, and there was double or triple bogey written all over that,” Kim said. “I chipped out, saved par, and that kept my round going.”
Kim passed Bohn, the second-round leader and his playing partner, by sinking a 9-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole. Kim added another birdie at No. 14, then navigated through the course’s tough closing stretch with his best golf of the round.
Paula Creamer made two long birdie putts to pull away from the field in the SemGroup Championship at Broken Arrow, Okla., only to drop two shots on the closing holes for the third straight day to give her challengers a chance.
But that small group chasing her doesn’t include the player everyone expected to see.
Lorena Ochoa, going for her record-tying fifth straight LPGA Tour victory, lost momentum with back-to-back bogeys and wound up eight shots behind, needing the best comeback of her career.
A three-putt on the 16th and a bogey from the bunker on the 18th gave Creamer a 2-under 69 and a two-shot lead over Juli Inkster.
Creamer was at 3-under 210 and will play in the final pairing today with Inkster, at 212 the only other player under par.
Nick Price moved a step closer to his first Champions Tour victory, shooting a 5-under 67 to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the FedEx Kinko’s Classic at Lakeway, Texas.
Price had a tournament-record 12-under 132 total on The Hills Country Club course.
Scott Simpson and Loren Roberts, who teamed together last week in the Legends of Golf tournament, were tied for second after matching 66s. Tim Simpson and Denis Watson are five back.