Just 185 miles from Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, the inaugural Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G has turned into a horse race. Two-time LPGA Tour winner Ally Ewing leads the field at -16 after shooting a 5-under 67 in the third round, highlighted by six birdies, including three in his first four holes. Her three-day total of 200 equals Ewing’s career low on the LPGA Tour — she last shot 200 at the 2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G — and it’s only the second lead 54 holes of his tenure on the tour. The last time Ewing slept on top was the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship Reynolds Lake Oconee, and given that she became a first Rolex winner on her 28th birthday that week in Georgia, the odds lean in its favour.
“It was exciting to get off to a good start,” said Ewing, who birdied back-to-back on holes one and two with another on the par-5 fourth. “My mindset at the start of today was to play with myself and go out, execute shots, and I did that very well. Unlucky Bogey at 18. It’s a tough hole and there was no ball up and down. Really happy with the way I played and the way I behaved, and obviously in a good position for tomorrow.
Ewing is looking for his first win since last year’s 2021 LPGA Bank of Hope match-play presented by MGM Rewards and his third career title on the LPGA Tour. If she is able to get the job done Sunday at Kenwood Country Club, it would be her third straight season with at least one win. But the seven-year veteran knows not to count her eggs before they hatch and she has no intention of getting ahead of herself.
“I’ve had my ups and downs this year, mentally trying to regain that confidence in all aspects, whether it’s playing solid, scoring, putting putts,” said said Ewing. “Over the past few weeks I’ve prepared myself mentally and physically to be in this position and knowing that I’m more than capable of being here. I proved it and I chained good scores to put myself in a good position for tomorrow. But tomorrow will be a new day, there are new challenges.
Challenges that include fighter Maria Fassi, who sits at -15 after matching Ewing’s 5 under 67 on moving day. The 24-year-old birdied four and bogeyed to turn the 33, and after carding five straight pars from the numbers 10-14, Fassi flopped on the par-5 15 for an eagle, a highlight that won aroused an enthusiastic “Vamos!” fiery Mexican. It is the third time in a stroke play event that Fassi has come within five of a lead going into the final round, and with all the difficulties she has faced this year, a good result is essential.
“We were saying it was honestly the worst place I could have left for my third shot, and my only thought was to try and hit it as high as possible. Of course the result was awesome, but I landed a fantastic golf shot and I’m very happy that he came in and I was able to build momentum for the final holes,” Fassi said. “I said that with my team and the people around of me know this year has been tough. But the golf was there. I haven’t seen the results yet, so I’m super excited to see what tomorrow has in store, and to keep doing what we do for ourselves having fun on the golf course with Gary. I’m glad we have 18 more holes to start over.
Xiyu Lin sits third in solo, after a slow and steady 2-under 70 on Saturday. Lin carded fourteen pars, three birdies and a third-round bogey and is looking forward to running again tomorrow. Individually, she’s been within five of the lead three other times this season, most recently at last week’s Dana Open presented by Marathon, and while she’s happy to knock on the door again, Lin is ready. to open it and become the ninth First Time Rolex Winner in 2022.
“Tomorrow, I guess I’ll be in the last group again, and this class, it’s really just to push it forward,” Lin said. “You have to knock down a few putts or you have to hit a few close, just like Ally today. I have nothing to lose and I already have three good days, so I’m just going to keep being positive and keep chasing.
A quartet of players round out the top five at -12, including last week’s runner-up Megan Khang and 12-time LPGA Tour winner Ariya Jutanugarn. Korean Grand Champion A Lim Kim is eighth in solo at -11 with 2022 Epson Tour winner Andrea Lee in ninth at -10. A trio of players are tied for 10th at -9, including Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who celebrated her 25th birthday Saturday with a 3-under 69.