NEITHER Jiyai Shin nor Lydia Ko would make very good basketball players but they are certainly damned good golfers.
Golf is a game that often overlooks physical characteristics like height, or age – at either end of the spectrum – and so it did Saturday at Royal Canberra Golf Club.
Shin (70) and Ko (70) lead the 2013 Australian Women’s Open on 17-under apiece after the third round, six strokes ahead of their nearest rival, Spain’s Beatriz Recari (71).
Shin, at the grand old age of 24, will take on Ko, just 15 years old, in the final round on Sunday.
Some were immediately trying paint Shin as the villain in the story, seeing how she is the much “older” and more experienced player taking on the poor inexperienced amateur teenager.
But as Shin rightly protested: “I’m still young – she’s just a baby.”
At 15, Shin said she was national amateur champion at home in South Korea, but still two years away from her first win in a professional tournament.
For Ko, that’s old beans. She already has three wins in professional tournaments, the latest at home in the New Zealand Open last week. She also won the Canadian Open last year, the youngest ever to win an LPGA event.
They were both looking forward to battling it out centre stage in the final round. Nothing is ever certain in golf, but it seems the last act is shaping as a match play between the two South Korean born players.
Neither will have a height advantage. As Shin jokingly admitted of her bunker shot on the par-5 sixth hole for eagle: “I was too short to [see] it go in.”
They also play a very similar style game.
“Well they say we look alike too,’ said an amused Ko. “Yeah, I’ve seen her play before at the Canadian Open and then on TV. She’s a pretty accurate player I guess off the tee and stuff, so in that way we could be pretty similar. I mean, she’s a great player and there are things that I do need to learn from her.”
The rest of the field have some catching up to do.
Second round overnight leader Mariajo Uribe of Colombia bogeyed her first hole and never really recovered. She shot a 6-over 79.
On 9-under, Uribe shares fourth place with France’s Gwladys Nocera, who shot an 8-under 65, the round of the day. Also in fourth place are world No.1 Yani Tseng (71) and Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugam (70).
The best placed Aussie is Sarah Jane Smith (69) who shot an even par round to be on 8-under sharing ninth place with five others.
Shin and Ko will tee off in the final pairing at Royal Canberra Golf Club at 1.40 pm.
If you can’t make it to the course, catch the live action on ABC 1.