Saturday, for the most part, was frustratingly blah for Yealimi Noh. She had made three birdies and two bogeys through her first 15 holes in the third round of the Amundi Evian Championship, falling eight strokes back of leader Jeonguen Lee6.
“I think I was kind of like in a rut, I guess, like hitting my iron shots. After the turn I wasn't hitting it as well, especially on – when my ball is above my feet, I was having a little trouble. I was pushing it and pulling it, so I couldn't get it right,” she said.
Noh's cut shots weren’t getting the ball close enough to the hole and she had missed as many greens in 15 holes of Round 3 as she had in her first two rounds combined.
But she persevered and, on the par-3 16th, something clicked. Good shot – a cut – nice birdie and a bit of confidence.
She then birdied the 17th and 18th holes to finish off a 4-under 67 and creep back within five shots of Lee6 entering the final round.
Noh, whose best major finish is a tie for 15th in June’s KPMG Women’s PGA, is alone in second place at 13 under par.
“It's really exciting, and, I mean, I'm looking forward to it,” Noh said. “Obviously, it's going to be a long day. It's going to be a lot of – it's going to be tough mentally.”
Mentally and physically. This is Noh’s eighth consecutive week playing, dating back to the U.S. Women’s Open at the beginning of last month. And though she may only be turning 20 on Monday, it’s nonetheless a grind.
“Everyone is like, You're young, it's OK, but I'm still a person,” Noh said. “I get tired. I'm just trying to get through every day.”
If Noh can rally past Lee6 on Noh’s final day as a 19-year-old, she won’t be the first teen to win this major. Lydia Ko became the game’s youngest major champion when she won the ’15 Evian at age 18.
Ko closed in 63 that year to prevail by six strokes. She might need another such number this Sunday, as she was only two off the 54-hole lead six year ago and is now six back.
“That final round the year I had won was probably one of the best golf I had played,” Ko said following a Saturday 68 that put her at 12 under for the championship.
“So just with golf you just never know. It's never the end until the glove comes off and the final putt drops in on the last. I just got to stick to my game plan and see.”