Cheyenne Knight has only one LPGA Tour victory, but she’s leading the pack again.
The 26-year-old Knight carded a bogey-free, 4-under-par 67 to take a two-stroke lead over rookie Hae Ran Ryu of South Korea and Hannah Green of Australia heading to the final round of the JT Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles.
Knight sank a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th hole and birdied the par-4 17th to shoot 3-under 33 on the back nine before tearing up when told what her back nine number was. Her late brother, Brandon, who died in a car crash when Knight was 12, wore No. 33 while playing high school football in Texas and that has always been her favorite number.
“It’s always special,” said Knight, whose only LPGA Tour victory came in the 2019 Volunteers of America Classic at Los Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas, not far from her home in Aledo, Texas. “I have someone up there watching over me. He’s always with me.
“ … I think nerves are normal. “I’m always going to be nervous and embrace the nerves. If you’re not nervous, it doesn’t mean anything to you. I’ll try to embrace the nerves. This is why I practice. I want to be in these positions. I want to give myself a chance on Sunday.”
Knight collected 14 pars to go with her eagle and birdies on the ninth and 17th holes, while recording a 54-hole score of nine-under-par 204.
Ryu, 22, who captured the 2018 Korean Women’s Amateur Championship and then won four times on South Korean Dream Tour and another event on the Korean LPGA Tour after turning pro, made six birdies in a 67, while Green, who captured the 2019 KMPG Women’s PGA Championship for her first major title, birdied five of the last six holes for a second straight 69.
“I thought the front was actually quite difficult,” said Green, who has nine victories as a pro. “It was a little bit of a different wind direction, but it was also gusty, so picking the right moments for the club that you decide to hit was quite difficult. I knew there was some holes coming in that I could possibly make some birdies, but to birdie 17 and 18 was obviously a really great finish, and I’m really excited for tomorrow.”
Genna Dryburgh of Sweden, the first-round leader at 65, birdied five of the first seven holes en route to a 66 and is three shots back in solo fourth, while Xiyu Lin of China birdied four of the first seven holes on her way to another 66 and is four behind in a tie for fifth with second-round leader Aditi Ashok of India, who had only one birdie in a 72.
Ally Ewing birdied the first two holes to kick-start a 67 and is five shots back in a big tie for seventh with Narin An of South Korea, who bogeyed the first hole but then had four birdies in a 68; Rouning Yin of China, who made three birdies down the stretch in another 68; Sarah Kemp of Australia, who made two birdies on the back nine to salvage a 71, and Alison Lee of Valencia and UCLA, who birdied the last hole for another 71.
Top-ranked Nelly Korda shot 70 despite five birdies and is tied for 12th, while fifth-ranked Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand is tied for 16th after a 68 that included three straight birdies on the back nine; sixth-ranked Minjee Lee of Australia made only two birdies in a 72 and is tied for 31st; 10th-ranked Georgia Hall is tied for 39th following a 71 despite three birdies on the first four holes, and third-ranked Jim Young Ko of South Korea is tied for 53rd after struggling to a 75 that included on one birdie.
For complete results, visit https://www.lpga.com/tournaments/jm-eagle-la-championship/leaderboard