Ko, Ji share lead going to final round of LPGA opener

Lydia Ko fades in final round as victory chance eludes her in LPGA Tour opener

Lydia Ko in driver's seat for LPGA title in Florida after stunning third round

Former world No.1 Ko shot 30 on the front nine in a bogey-free round at Tranquilo Golf Club on Saturday while Korean Ji had a string of four-straight birdies from the second hole before her only bogey on the sixth.

Ko, 21, and Ji, 32, stand tied for first at 13-under 200, one shot ahead of Canadian Brooke Henderson and two shots over American Nelly Korda.

Ko's charge came unstuck in windy conditions over the back nine in Orlando, with a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 13th proving particularly costly, as the experienced Ji ran away with the tournament to claim her fifth tour victory by two shots.

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On the same hole, Lydia Ko dropped to third place with a double bogey, with Lee Mi-rim now putting pressure on Ji with her late charge.

Ji said the format of the new season-opening event, which features celebrities playing alongside LPGA winners from the past two seasons, made for a relaxing week.

"Tomorrow with the weather forecast it will be a little trickier, but I know I've just got to be patient and continue to enjoy it", Ko said.

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Now she has an opportunity to start 2019 with a victory, something that took her until April to do a year ago as she began to emerge from a slump.

"I was invited to play this event prior to this year", said Ko of the previous PGA Champions event, "and I feel bad I didn't play the previous years because it was so much fun".

"I didn't expect to finish 4 under today at all because I hit everywhere". It also includes a 49-player field of celebrities and athletes competing for a $500,000 purse. We really made a goal this year to stay consistent and take it shot by shot and see how this year goes. She was six shots behind. "You did something pretty special to get here to win a tournament". Henderson hopes that works in her favor. "It's only the halfway point, but I still need to make a lot of birdies and keep hitting it to win". "Just really happy where things are".

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"I asked him how to manage when you're like the best player, like how to manage everything", Jutanugarn said. "I couldn't hit a ball for eight years", says Ji of the winless stretch.

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