South Carolina alumna Pauline Roussin-Bouchard turned on the jets on Saturday, making six birdies and one bogey on the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove and moving to the top of the LPGA Q-Series leaderboard at -12. She ended her round with consecutive birdies to take the solo lead, one stroke ahead of Hye-Jin Choi of the Republic of Korea.
“I'm just surrounded by amazing people and I just feel good in this environment,” said Roussin-Bouchard, who took medalist honors at Stage II of LPGA Qualifying School in October. “I guess I'm just trying to live the moment because I've been practicing and preparing myself for it, and so it's just about living the moment with the people I care about.”
The 21-year-old from southern France turned professional in August 2021. In just her second pro event, she won the LET’s Didriksons Skaftö Open after shooting a second-round 60.
Choi continued to play well despite a nagging ankle injury, carding five birdies and two bogeys in her 3-under 68.
Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul and Chinese Taipei’s Peiyun Chien are tied for third at -10, with both players returning rounds of 66 on Saturday. Thitikul, the 2021 LET Player and Rookie of the Year, came to Mobile directly from the LET’s season finale in Spain. Finally over her jet lag, the 18-year-old Thai phenom feels that her game is rounding into shape heading into Sunday’s final round on the Crossings Course.
“I played (Crossings) the first day. I stuck a bit with my putter, and hopefully tomorrow I can get it better,” said Thitikul. “Just give myself a lot of chances to be in the safe zone and just keep rolling the putt, be patient.”
Japan’s Ayaka Furue, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 14 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, and Canadian Selena Costabile sit tied for fifth at -9, with Korean compatriots Yaeeun Hong and Na Rin An holding down seventh at -8. A quartet of Americans round out the top-10 at -7 – Katie Yoo, Caroline Inglis, Kaitlyn Papp and Haylee Harford.
After starting the day in a tie for 72nd, 2019 AIG Women’s Open champion Hinako Shibuno surged up the leaderboard on Saturday, carding a third-round 66 and jumping into a tie for 25th at -4. She will take to the Crossings on Sunday, looking to make up for the first-round 73 she shot there on Thursday. “I need revenge from the first day. I will play with fresh feeling and do my best,” said Shibuno.
LPGA Q-Series is composed of two 72-hole stroke-play events held on consecutive weeks, with scores cumulative over the two weeks. There will be a cut after the first week to the low 70 players and ties, with the second week being held at Highland Oaks Golf Club in Dothan, Ala. The 2020 competition was not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Jeongeun Lee6 (2018) and Muni He (2019) taking medalist honors at the first two playings.