STRÖM HOLDS ONE-SHOT LEAD WITH 18 TO PLAY
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A familiar name in the fourth annual Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge at Willow Run Golf Course heads into the final round with a one-shot lead, as Linnea Ström (Hovas, Sweden) put together a 4-under par 66 today and is 8-under par overall.
The Symetra Tour rookie also shared the lead after round one on Thursday. Now, with only 18 holes remaining, Ström is gearing up for a run at her first title on the road to the LPGA Tour.
“This is the first time I’m in this position on the Symetra Tour, so I’m very excited and looking forward to tomorrow,” said Ström, who recorded an eagle, three birdies and only one bogey this afternoon. “I’ll enjoy the experience, go out and do my best. What I’m going to do different is more focus on what I am doing and can affect, not look at anyone else. That’s the most important thing for me tomorrow and have fun with my dad on the bag.”
Ström’s performance has come with the Swedish National Team coaching staff in town for the week, including the swing coach, mental coach and physiotherapist. Their presence has provided some good work to be put in off the course, with the result speaking for itself on it.
“They are great support for all of us and it’s a lot of fun having them here,” said Ström, one of eight Sweden natives in the field. “I’ve been working with them since I was 12-13 years old, so I know them very well. Even so, I think it will be a little more nerves come tomorrow, but at the same time I like being a little nervous. I think that’s good.”
Meanwhile, 36-hole leader Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines) stayed steady on day three, carding a 1-under par 69. Going out, the current No. 1 in the Volvik Race for the Card fired a bogey-free, 3-under par 31. The back nine was a different story, however.
“I was playing good on the front nine, but couldn’t get it together on the back nine with a three-putt and bogey on No. 17,” Ardina said. “There’s still tomorrow so I just need to continue to play well.”
Nonetheless, Ardina holds down second place at 7-under par overall and will join Ström in the final pairing at 9:31 a.m. CT off No. 1 tee. Like today, groups will go off in a split tee format starting at 7:30 a.m. CT.
“I’m just going to do my best tomorrow and work on more of a mental game” said Ardina, who has four runner-up finishes on the Symetra Tour this season. “As long as I put myself in a good position to win, I’m good with that. Right now, I’m in a good spot and like where I’m at.”
The third piece to the final pairing is Charlotte Thomas (Guildford, England), who turned in the biggest jump on moving day. To start the round, she was tied for 17th and will now enter Sunday tied for third after a 6-under par 64 that featured eight birdies.
“It's always nice to get things going on a Saturday and put myself in contention,” said Thomas, who has five top-10 finishes on the official qualifying tour of the LPGA. “Tomorrow, I’ll look to have the same mindset that I had today and try to put some pressure on the leaders. I've been in the final few groups a couple of times this year, so I'm feeling good about being there again. I think a quick start is definitely important, especially being only two shots back.”
Three other players join Thomas at the 6-under par overall mark, including 18-hole co-leader Leona Maguire (County Cavan, Ireland), Linnea Johansson (Bastad, Sweden) and Allyssa Ferrell (Edgerton, Wisconsin). With a sum of $31,500 awaiting the winner, a total of 34 individuals sit at even par or better.
POTENTIAL FOR KONO TO BECOME FIRST TWO-TIME WINNER IN 2018
In 15 events this year not one has seen a previous winner, but Stephanie Kono (Honolulu, Hawaii) has a chance to change that tomorrow and become the first two-time champion on the Symetra Tour in 2018.
After a 3-under par 67 today, Kono sits in solo seventh at 5-under par overall and only trails leader Linnea Ström by three shots.
“It would be so nice to win twice and the purse is so big that I think it would move me up quite a bit in the standings,” said Kono, who is No. 8 in the Volvik Race for the Card with $40,682 earned through 12 starts. “I’m happy to be in this position and we’ll see what happens.”
Since raising the Donald Ross Classic trophy in July, Kono has made the cut in two of three starts with a tied for 41st finish at the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic and tied for 18th result in Albany for the Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY. The consistent play has kept her thinking that another piece of hardware is not out of the question.
“I felt pretty good about my game the last few weeks, lipped out a ton of putts and finally been making some this week,” Kono said. “I left a few out there today, but it has been feeling steady. It is all about getting some good breaks and having the putts go in.”
In contention with one round remaining, Kono doesn’t have the pressure on her that the leader, or an individual from the final pairing, may play with. She’ll venture out onto Willow Run Golf Course at 9:09 a.m. CT looking to make a dent in the three-shot deficit and hopefully leave her mark as the first two-time winner on Tour.
“Depends on the weather because if it plays like it did the past two days then I think it’s just good to be steady,” said Kono. “But like today, there was some low scores out there, then it would be good to get off to a fast start.”