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Len Ziehm On Golf

Shin shows she can still compete on LPGA Tour

Jiyai Shin doesn’t play on the LPGA Tour much anymore – but it’s certainly not due to a lack of talent. Her 7-under-par 64 on Saturday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields proved that.

Shin, from South Korea, was paired with American star Stacy Lewis in the third round but both were far off the lead when the day started. Lewis didn’t make a move, shooting 70, but Shin made a big one.

“I’m pretty lucky because I started early in the morning,’’ said Shin. “That’s when it’s easier to make a few birdies.’’

Shin won 11 times when she played on the LPGA Tour, and that included victories in two majors – the Women’s British Open in both 2008 and 2012. For 25 weeks she held the No. 1 spot in the women’s world rankings. Now, though, she plays most of her tournament golf in Japan.

“I enjoy it because there’s less traveling and more three-day tournaments,’’ said Shin. “Physically I feel much better. But this week I’m here, so I’m for focused on the LPGA.’’

READY FOR THE BIG TIME: Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom was the player-of-the-year on the LPGA’s developmental circuit – the Symetra Tour – in 2016.

Her play Saturday suggested she’s ready for the big time already. Sagstrom, playing one group behind Shin, posted a 5-under-par 66.

Sagstrom was clearly too good for the Symetra circuit a year ago, when she was named its rookie of the year. She set a single season earnings record ($167,064) with her three wins and 12 top-10 finishes (which was also a Symetra single-season record). Now she’s an LPGA rookie.

“It’s my first year out here, so I’m trying to figure everything out and trying to see where my game is at,’’ said Sagstrom. “I’m still going to work on some things because it’s not all there but it’s nice to just see that I can be up there.’’

NOTEWORTHY: Canadian Brooke Henderson, the 19-year old defending champion, is a perfect 13-for-13 in making cuts in LPGA major championships. Danielle Kang was the only player to go bogey-free in the first two rounds. The streak ended at 38 holes when she make bogey on the third hole Saturday.

Still, if Kang wins today she’d be only the second player to win both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Kang, co-leader after 36 holes at Olympia Fields, won the Amateur in 2010 and 2011. The only other player to win both titles was Juli Inkster who won three straight Amateurs from 1980-82 and two straight KPMGs (1999-2000). The tourney was called the LPGA Championship when Inkster won it.

LOOKING AHEAD: The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship concludes today but planning is already well underway for next year’s event at Kemper Lakes in Kildeer. Dates will be June 26 to July 1.

Tickets prices for the grounds will be $35 for any one day, $79 for the week, $15 for Tuesday and Wednesday, $25 for Thursday and Friday and $30 for Saturday and Sunday. Volunteer registration for next year will begin in just three weeks, on July 24.

HERE AND THERE

The Network of Exelon Women and The First Tee provided golf lessons for girls between the ages of 8 and 18 on Saturday at nearby Marian Catholic High School, then took the participants to Olympia Fields to watch the tournament.

Kelly Shon’s 8-under-par 63 on Friday was one for various record books. It matched the KPMG tourney record set by Patty Sheehan in 1982 (of a par-2 course) and Meg Mallon in 1999 (on a par-71, just like Olympia North). It also matched the North Course record set by Vijay Singh in the 2003 U.S. Open and Ricky Fowler in the 2007 Fighting Illini Invitational collegiate event. Shon cooled off Saturday, shooting a 71.

Ally McDonald had a rarity in Friday’s second round – back-to-back eagles. She started her round on No. 10 and made eagles at Nos. 18 and 1 – both par-5s. Like Shon, she lost her magic in the third round, posting a 73.