THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Angel Yin remembers vividly a practice round she had with Cristie Kerr several years ago at an LPGA Drive On event in Georgia.
“She was walking after she hit a tee shot off a practice round, and she was like, ‘I’m four days away from people knowing I’m back,'” said Yin.
“That’s the confidence. Every day I tell myself that: ‘Just channel your Cristie Kerr.'”
Yin hasn’t yet won on the LPGA and co-leads the 2023 Chevron Championship with Allisen Corpuz, another American player looking for her first LPGA victory at the year’s first major. The third-round leaderboard at the Club at Carlton Woods is littered with players looking for a break-through week – whether that’s a first-time LPGA victory or a maiden major win.
Only a trio in a share of sixth know what it’s like to win a major – Nelly Korda, Hyo Joo Kim and A Lim Kim, who won her first major down the road in Houston at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open at Champion Golf Club.
Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 players at the Chevron, and what some are saying about the champion’s leap:
T-1 Angel Yin, -10
This 24-year-old has been playing in major championships for more than a decade, with a share of second at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open her best showing. One of the great characters on the LPGA, the powerful Yin is a two-time Solheim Cup player who has recently dealt with a number of injuries.
We can always count on @angelyinlol to be honest 😂
— LPGA (@LPGA) April 22, 2023
“Let me win, and then I’ll do anything,” said Yin of a potential leap into the murky pond that runs along the 18th at the Nicklaus Course. “Do I sound desperate with that? That’s all I want. I’ve been telling everyone because I was like, if I tell the universe man, I’m going to manifest it true.”
T-1 Allisen Corpuz, -10
Allisen Corpuz (USA) putts on the 16th green during the third round of The Chevron Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
This former USC player began the third round with a chip-in for birdie at the first that led to a strong of four birdies over the first five holes. A bogey-free 67 vaulted Corpuz into a share of the lead.
Now in her second season on the LPGA, Corpuz is making her eighth major start, with her best finish, a T-24, coming at last year’s USWO. Corpuz has yet to win on the LPGA but is No. 34 in the world.
While defending champion Jennifer Kupcho missed the cut, her husband, Jay Monahan, might still have reason to celebrate this week, as he’s caddying for Corpuz.
As for the traditional champion’s leap, Hawaii’s Corpuz doesn’t think she’d do it.
“Water is just not looking super clear,” she said.
T-3. Albane Valenzuela, -9
Albane Valenzuela (SUI) reacts to her putt on the 15th green during the third round of The Chevron Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Albane Valenzuela withdrew from her last LPGA start with unexplained swelling in her right leg. After several weeks of rest, the former Stanford standout is playing some of the best golf of her short LPGA career with her father, Alberto, on the bag. Alberto, a banker, played collegiate golf at UCLA.
“I actually asked him to come back on the bag just because I felt like I needed his eye a little bit on how I was on the golf course,” said Albane, “and he just said, you’ve just got to play slower, just calm down, and just try to slow down my swing, if anything, and it’s been working better.
“It’s just been fun to have my whole family, just have family vibes, and we’re just playing as if it was home.”
Albane, who is also looking for her first LPGA victory, began her day with a long downhill putt on the fifth hole. She played the last five holes of her second round Saturday morning in 1 under, and then shot 68 in the third round.
As for the potential jump: “Oh, yeah, you’ve got to jump.”
T-3. Amy Yang, -9
Amy Yang (KOR) drives off the sixth tee during the first round of The Chevron Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
South Korea’s Amy Yang is a four-time winner on the LPGA. She has 19 career top-10 finishes in major championships but has never won. The 33-year-old carded eight birdies en route to a 65 at the Nicklaus Course.
“You know, I’m out here to win a major,” she said, “and getting close a lot of times and not being able to get one is just mentally tough.
“But not much I can do except just do my best each day.”
T-3. Megan Khang, -9
Megan Khang (USA) hits from the 18th fairway during the third round of The Chevron Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Certainly one of the best players on the LPGA without a victory, Megan Khang is now in her eighth season on tour. She has amassed 30 career top 10s and more than $4 million in earnings. Currently No. 29 in the world, Khang’s best finish this season was a share of 13th at the DIO Implant LA Open last month.
“Honestly, the pressure is on for all of us,” said Khang. “I didn’t take a big look at the leaderboard, but it looks to be a pretty crowded leaderboard up there, and on this golf course, anything can happen, whether if the wind picks up or they move some tees forward or back. It’s definitely going to be interesting, and that’s what majors call for.”
T-6. Hye-Jin Choi, -8
Hye-Jin Choi of South Korea plays her shot from the 12th tee during the third round of The Chevron Championship at The Club at Carlton Woods on April 22, 2023 in The Woodlands, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
After a slight grip change for the third round, Hye-Jin Choi rolled to a 67 to vault up the board. The South Korean first made headlines in the U.S. when she contended as an amateur at the 2017 Women’s Open. From there, she won 11 times on the Korean LPGA. Now in her second year on the LPGA, the 23-year-old finished third at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open and T-5 at the KPMG Women’s PGA.
When asked if she’d jump, Choi said, “I hope so.”
T-6. Hyo Joo Kim, -8
Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea plays her shot from the second tee during the third round of The Chevron Championship at The Club at Carlton Woods on April 22, 2023 in The Woodlands, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
A five-time winner the LPGA, Hyo Joo Kim won the 2014 Evian Championship in her first major championship appearance. She set the record for lowest 18-hole score in a major with a 61 in the first round.
Kim’s third-round 68 at the Chevron was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 eighth. Currently ranked ninth in the world, Kim has three top-10 starts in four starts in the 2023 season.
T-6. Nelly Korda, -8
Nelly Korda (USA) drivers off the 16th tee during the third round of The Chevron Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Nelly Korda let it be known at the start of the week that she planned to continue the champion’s leap tradition should she win in The Woodlands.
Korda’s second-consecutive 70 puts her two back of the leaders and in prime striking distance. The 24-year-old won her first LPGA major at the 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA and was forced to miss the Chevron last year after suffering from a blood clot that required surgery.
During last year’s Chevron in Rancho Mirage, California, Korda was rehabbing in Los Angeles.
“I honestly could only watch the last couple holes on Sunday because my sister was in contention,” she said. “But other than that, I stayed away from the TV.”
T-6. A Lim Kim, -8
A Lim Kim (KOR) drives off the 17th tee during the third round of The Chevron Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
There must be something about Houston that brings out the best in South Korea’s A Lim Kim. Three years ago, Kim broke through with a major victory roughly 40 minutes down the road at Champions Golf Club during a December U.S. Women’s Open. The 27-year-old birdied the last three holes at Champions to win in her first start on U.S. soil. She joined the LPGA the following season.
“Houston really great city and great feel,” said Kim. “I love that, everything.”
10. Atthaya Thitikul, -7
Atthaya Thitikul (THA) drives off the 17th tee during the third round of The Chevron Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Certainly one of the best young players on tour without a major, former No. 1 Atthaya Thitikul sits three back of the leaders after carding a 68 on Saturday that included only 26 putts.
The World No. 5 won twice last season and has finished no worse than T-16 in four starts in 2023.
Thitikul has competed in 12 majors and finished in the top 10 four times.
“I think the winner would love to, and we all would love to jump in it because it means we win the tournament,” said Thitikul at the start of the week.
“But we’ll see how it’s different out there compared to the original Poppie’s Pond.”