Olympia Fields, Ill. — Danielle Kang got a text message from Wayne Gretzky on Saturday morning. Caitlyn Jenner called Friday, and four-time major winner Hollis Stacy also reached out.
Lots of high-profile support for Kang as she goes for her first major championship.
The 24-year-old Kang and Chella Choi shared the lead heading into the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Kang won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2010 and 2011, but she has never won an LPGA Tour tournament.
“It would be incredible to be called a major champion, especially out on this tour,” Kang said.
She got a boost before her afternoon tee time when Gretzky, like Jenner a friend from her days at Sherwood Country Club in California, passed along a simple message.
“He said, ‘Just go win it,’ ” Kang recalled. “And you know, I was like, ‘It’s third round.’ And I was like, ‘Thank you, Wayne.’ And he’s like, ‘You just go, get it done.’ Caitlyn Jenner called me yesterday. I have a lot of people just beyond that, just calling me up and encouraging me to just keep playing my game and that they are rooting for me. I love it.”
While several of the LPGA’s biggest stars challenged for the lead, it was Kang and Choi on top after a challenging day at an increasingly difficult Olympia Fields. The 26-year-old Choi hit 11 of 14 fairways on her way to a bogey-free 67.
Kang birdied the par-5 18th for a 68, joining Choi at 10 under and setting up an unlikely final pairing for the fourth round.
“I feel very good right now,” the 26-year-old Choi said. “My shot and my putting, very good before last couple weeks. So I have a confidence and, you know, like my father’s come back to here, so I’m very excited to work with my dad and he give me a lot of confidence.”
Choi’s father, Ji Yeon Choi, is caddying for her again after her play suffered when he retired following her only LPGA Tour victory in the 2015 Marathon Classic.
“I played bad, so my mom tell to my dad, go help Chella, why are you staying here?” Chella Choi said.
Jiyai Shin rocketed up the leaderboard with a 64, the best round of the day and good enough for third all by herself at 8 under. Defending champion Brooke Henderson was another stroke back after a 69, and Amy Young and Sei Young Kim were tied for fifth at 6 under.
Kang and Kim were tied for the lead after the second round. While Kim stumbled to a 72, the 24-year-old Kang had five birdies and two bogeys.
She saved par with a perfect bunker shot on No. 12 and then birdied the par-4 14th to get to 10 under for the first time. She gave a shot back with just her second bogey of the tournament on 16, but recovered with another nice bunker shot to set up her closing birdie.
“I’ve been working on my game every day to get better,” Kang said. “Like I said previously, all I could do is work on my game and hope that every day, just chip away at your game and it gets better every day and that’s where it’s getting at. Every year, I’ve just been performing better. I have trust in my own game.”
Lexi Thompson (69), world No. 1 So Yeon Ryu (71) and Michelle Wie (70) were in a group at 5 under. Thompson contended for the first major title of the year, but was penalized for a controversial rules violation and lost to Ryu in a playoff in the ANA Inspiration.
“I was swinging it well all day,” Thompson said. “It was just all a matter of the putts going in. I felt like I stroked it a lot better today. But I hit it very solid, so a lot of positives to take from today into tomorrow.”
Shin, a former world No. 1 and two-time major champion, took off after a birdie on No. 9. She played the back nine in 5-under 30.
It’s a rare U.S. tournament for Shin, the straight-hitting South Korean player who left the LPGA Tour a couple years ago and moved to Japan to be closer to her family.
“I think I’m pretty lucky because I started a little bit early in the morning,” she said. “I started early in the morning. That’s why easy to make a few birdies.”
At Peabody, Massachusetts, Kirk Triplett shot a 4-under 66 to open a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the U.S. Senior Open.
Triplett improved to 15 under heading into the final round at the Donald Ross-designed Salem Country Club. He watched as Kenny Perry three-putted the 18th hole to fall one stroke back.
Brandt Jobe matched the tournament record with a 62, shooting 29 on the back nine to move into third. But he was six strokes behind the leader.
Fred Couples and Tom Lehman were fourth at 7 under. They each shot 70.
Bernhard Langer, the winner of the first two senior majors of the year, had a 72 to drop nine shots back.
The 55-year-old Triplett has five victories on the 50-and-over tour after winning three times on the PGA Tour.
At Potomac, Maryland, David Lingmerth lost his way off the tee but scrambled well enough to stay in the lead at the Quicken Loans National.
The 29-year-old Swede shot a 3-over 73 after starting the tournament with two consecutive 65s. That was enough to maintain a one-shot lead at tough TPC Potomac.
Lingmerth’s three-day total of 7-under 203 was one better than Daniel Summerhays, who played solidly from tee to green but couldn’t get many putts to fall. He shot 70.
Spencer Levin, who teed off two hours ahead of Lingmerth, was third at 5 under after the best round of the day, a 65.
There was little wind Saturday, and the greens were softened by a thunderstorm that caused a 90-minute delay, but TPC Potomac played as difficult as ever.
At Guyancourt, France, Swedish golfer Alexander Bjork shot a 1-under 70 to share the lead with Peter Uihlein of the United States at 8 under after a difficult third round of the French Open.
Bjork moved into contention after making three birdies on the way back to the clubhouse, after two bogeys on the front nine.
Uihlein was consistent but unspectacular, opening with a bogey and canceling that out with a birdie on the 14th hole for a par 71 to keep his overnight score.
Uihlein has won once on the European Tour, in 2013. Bjork seeks his maiden victory.
Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who was level in third place with Bjork overnight, made par to stay one shot behind in a share of third heading to the final round on the Golf National course that will stage the Ryder Cup next year.
Thomas Pieters of Belgium had three birdies and a bogey in his round of 69, and Andy Sullivan of England did even better with a 68 — including four birdies and a bogey — to join Fleetwood at 7 under.
Adrian Otaegui of Spain, the overnight leader with Uihlein, dropped three shots behind the co-leaders after making six bogeys in an error-strewn round of 74.