Kim leads by 6 in Illinois Women's Open

Writing from Romeoville, Illinois

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hannah Kim tied for third in the Illinois Women’s Open two years ago.

She was solo second last year.

She leads by six strokes at Mistwood Golf Club going into the final round of the 24th edition.

Detect a trend?

Kim, recently graduated from Northwestern and newly professional, matched the tournament and women’s course record with a bogey-free 7-under-par 65 on Tuesday. That earned her a 36-hole record total of 11-under 133, three strokes better than the old mark established by Sara Brown and Jenna Pearson in 2006.

“It’s the same as yesterday, just hitting one shot at a time,” Kim said. “I wasn’t paying attention to how many birdies I was getting. I just wanted to finish.

“I keep it simple. I sing a song. If I hit a good shot, I hit a good shot. If I hit a bad one, I’ll just walk up to it and hit another good one. There’s really not much to it.”

Kim’s musical tastes run to Christian music, so she had Tauren Wells in her ears while warming up Tuesday. That inspired her to birdie the first two holes by rolling in 30-foot-plus putts from the fringe.

“Unexpected,” Kim said of those. “I was really surprised with that. It was a weird start.”

Kim has birdied 11 of her last 27 holes, including a converting a 7-iron to five feet on the par-3 17th, and had only one bogey in 36.

That’s brought her a commanding lead entering the final round. Chasing is amateur Tristyn Nowlin of Richmond, Ky., the runner-up in the recent Women’s Western Amateur at Mistwood. She added a 4-under 68 to her opening 71 and is solo second at 5-under 139.

“I hit a lot of greens and hit a few putts,” Nowlin said. “Minimized mistakes, mainly. The main thing for me is to stay relaxed.”

Lexi Harkins of Crystal Lake and Samantha Postillion of Burr Ridge share third place at 4-under 140, with two-time winner Nicole Jeray fifth at 3-under 141 after a second-round 73.

“I couldn’t have shot 65 today,” Jeray said, glancing at the scoreboard. “I could have shot 69.”

A pair of three-putts, a missed up-and-down and a return of a swing that occasionally fires balls to the left for no apparent reason accounted for the 73, she explained.

“I’m playing way better than I have been, so I’m happy about that,” Jeray said. “But when I stuck it close, I didn’t make the birdies.”

Around Mistwood

Kim and the other pros are bidding to become the first professional to win since Emily Collins in 2014. ... Bobbi Stricker scored 3-over 75 with a birdie at the last to play the first 36 holes in 7-over 151 to make the cut on the number. Daddy caddie Steve Stricker gave her a solid read on the 8-footer she sank on the 18th. “I’m doing all right,” Steve said of his push-the-cart caddie duties. He may play in the Canadian Open next week, and plans to concentrate on the PGA Tour in an effort to make the playoffs rather than cavort on the Champions Tour. ... Defending champion Alexandra Farnsworth added a 71 to her opening 72 and is tied for seventh at 1-under 143. ... Mokena’s Brianne Bolden is the low high-school player after a 71 for even-par 144. ... Allison Finney of Winnetka was in line to make the cut until a bogey at the par-3 17th. She finished at 8-over 152, a stroke above the trim to the low 30 and ties.

Tim Cronin

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