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03 Dec 2022 | Australian Open |

Shin leads heading into major showdown

by Dane Heverin

Jiyai Shin.

South Korea’s Jiyai Shin already has ner name on the Patricia Bridges Bowl once and she is staring down the barrel of another ISPS HANDA Australian Open crown as she leads by one shot heading into the final round at Victoria Golf Club.

Shin sits at 14-under par after a breathtaking five-under par round of 67, but the round of the day belonged to the AIG Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai with a 66 to sit one shot off the lead.

Shin is a two-time AIG Women’s Open champion herself and raced out of the blocks with five birdies to reach the turn in 31 and she appeared in control until a slip up in the form of a double bogey at the par-3 16th.

She responded in style however with a birdie at the very next hole to once again stand alone as an imposing figure at the top of leaderboard despite her small stature, courtesy of her nickname the ‘Final Round Queen’.

“Always I love playing here, so it feels like a good (place to) play and then I have a lot of friends out here, so they make it so confident to play and how I’m really lucky to play how cool this is. I’m in that element,” she said.

Shin triumphed in this event in 2013 at Royal Canberra and she finished runner-up in 2008 after being defeated by Australia’s greatest ever major champion Karrie Webb in a playoff at Kingston Heath.

She also won the 2016 Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines but despite now plying her trade in Japan instead of on the LPGA to be able to spend more time at home with her family, Shin knows she can still match it with the best.

“I have a trophy from Canberra, so I need one more here, in Melbourne,” she said.

The competition between major champions Shin, Buhai, Hannah Green, So Yeon Ryu and Minjee Lee, plus rising star Grace Kim, has been fierce and it sets up a finale fitting of the biggest occasions in the women’s game due to the unbelievable atmosphere created by the strong crowds at Victoria.

Buhai was taken aback by the cheers that reverberated around the course on Saturday from the packed galleries following Australian heroes Lee, Green and Adam Scott.

“I even said to my husband who’s caddying for me, this is just unbelievable,” she said. 

“We were standing on 8th tee and I looked down the fairways and obviously Adam’s behind us and that grandstand’s full and the fairways. We don’t play to crowds like this in the States, only at the Majors, so the energy’s just unbelievable.

“It’s right up there (in comparison to the majors). Considering when I won the British and it was late, it’s up there. It’s probably even better. Obviously playing with Minjee and Gracie today, they were all really, really encouraging.”

Overnight leader Hannah Green is two shots behind Shin after her one-under par round of 71 which included three birdies. 

Green will be buoyed however by the support of an adoring home crowd tomorrow as her, Shin and Buhai tee off in the lead women’s group.

Grace Kim (-9) and Minjee Lee (-7) will feed off that energy too as they also seek to become the fourth ever Australian women to win the national Open alongside Ryu (-9) in the second last women’s group.

You can catch all the final round action on Channel Nine, Kayo Sports, Fox Sports and Spark Sport in New Zealand from 12pm AEDT on Sunday.

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