Aussie Robyn Choi finds herself once again alone at the top of the leaderboard after four days of play at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove for the 2023 addition of LPGA Q-Series. The Epson Tour player ended her day yesterday in solo first at 13-under par and has only grown that lead to 21-under par after 72 holes of play in Mobile, Ala.
Choi began her day as hot as ever, recording birdies on five of her first six holes to get to build her lead on the field and reach 18-under par overall. She cooled off heading into the turn, with pars on the subsequent six holes before picking up three more birdies on holes 13, 15 and 16 to reach a total of 265, three strokes better than those behind her. Choi has now had three-straight bogey-free rounds and has not recorded a bogey since No. 15 in her first round on the Falls Course.
“When I did make those birdies in the first few holes it was kind of like -- to me it was kind of like, what's happening? I wasn't expecting it. Honestly, if anything, I was expecting to not play as well as yesterday, because I made a lot of birdies yesterday, and I just feel like, you know, just averages out,” said Choi after turning in her fourth round in the 60s and second 64 of the week. “But luckily I started off pretty hot. Made a few putts. Hit a few close. That just kind of like kept on going and then I had a little like few-hole streak in the middle, but I hit a wedge pretty close and that kind of just got it back going.”
Three players are tied for second at 18 under after 72 holes. Japanese players Yuri Yoshida and Mao Saigo have stayed hovering around the top five with Yoshida ending her third round in a tie for fifth place and Saigo staying put in a tie for second. Yoshida has seen a steady increase in play, recording just four birdies on her first day of play to carding nine in Monday’s fourth round. Saigo has recorded back-to-back bogey-free rounds and has not added a bogey to her scorecard since the hole No. 4 during her second round. Republic of Korea native So Mi Lee went bogey-free with seven birdies to stay near the top of the leaderboard and in contention. Lee has not finished lower that fifth place on the leaderboard after each round.
Baylor University alumna Gurleen Kaur, KLPGA standout Yu Jin Sung and LPGA veteran Mina Harigae sit in a tie for fifth place alongside Yoshida and round out the top five after the fourth round of LPGA Q-Series. Kaur has recorded three-straight bogey-free rounds with 12 birdies in that time. She has not recorded a bogey since her first round on No. 12. Sung, a three-time winner on the KLPGA, has consistently stayed within the top-20, finishing her last three rounds inside the top-10. Harigae recorded just two birdies in her fourth round of play, but consistency has kept her inside the top five after finishing tie for second at the conclusion of her third round.
“Yeah, I think so,” Gaur said about if she feels relief that she made the cut. “I don't think I was really like looking at the cut. Just trying to play every day. It's been nice to have that one day of break because the six rounds have been a lot. Otherwise, I'm excited to just finish strong and make it to the final day. Yeah, it was good to make the cut. I didn't even know. I'm not a leaderboard watcher whatsoever, so I didn't know if I was close or not. It was a good day. Yeah, hanging in there.”
With two rounds left to play, the field has been cut to the top-65 players and ties, and 70 players advanced with scoring at three-under par or better. Some notables that failed to make the cut include LPGA veterans Christina Kim, Jennifer Chang, Emma Talley, five 2023 LPGA Tour Rookies (Samantha Wagner, Ellinor Sudow, Soo Bin Joo, Natthakritta Vongtaveelap and Gabriella Then) and two 2023 Epson Tour champions (Savannah Vilaubi and Miranda Wang). Although missing the cut, all players completing at least 72 holes will earn Epson Tour eligibility in Category C.