No fluke Kim leads at Coolum

KT Kim’s rock-solid back nine at Coolum has put him into the lead on moving Saturday at the Australian PGA.

KT Kim’s unspectacular but rock-solid back nine at Coolum has put the South Korean young gun into the lead heading into Sunday’s final round of the Australian PGA.

Kim showed that his strong finish at last week’s Presidents Cup in Melbourne was no fluke when, with his key opponents falling back all around him, he was able to hold things together and shoot a bogey-free 5-under 67 that took his 54-hole total to a 13-under 203 at the Hyatt Regency resort course in Coolum.

And that, in turn, hoisted him into a one stroke lead over the big-hitting Bubba Watson, one of the stars of the American’s 19-15 victory over Kim’s Internationals at the Presidents Cup.

Watson, who held the lead here on the Queensland’s Gold Coast for part of Saturday’s third round, double-bogeyed the par-5 15th after an awry chip out of the rough to finish with a 69.

Aaron Baddeley, also a member of the Internationals, was in third place after a 67, three strokes behind, while second-round leader Marcus Fraser had slipped back with a 74 into a tie for fourth with YE Yang (70) and David Brandson (67). They were four strokes behind.

Watson had a drama-laden 18th, pulling his tee shot into the rough, then hitting a shot with his rescue club that ricocheted into a marquee and bounced into the rough.

It didn’t stop him getting up and down, though, for the crucial par he needed to stay in front of the chasing pack, just one back from Kim.

Robert Allenby, who will want to forget the President’s Cup where he didn’t win a match, moved into a share of the lead before dropping four shots on the last six holes to shoot a 71 and was five shots back, tied for seventh with Matthew Giles (68).

Australia’s US PGA Tour campaigner Rod Pampling, with a 66, the best round of the day, was tied for ninth, six strokes behind Kim.

Not faring so well was a quartet of leading Australian players, Greg (the Great White Shark) Norman (69), youngster Jason Day (72), World No 7 Adam Scott (73) and seasoned Stuart Appleby (72). They were tied for 13th, seven shots behind.

American Rickie Fowler, making a well-publicized first appearance as a professional in Australia, shot 70 and was tied for 22nd, nine behind.

But British Open champion Darren Clarke had a miserable day, shooting a 79 that took him to 5-over par and into a tie for 61st in the field of 66 who made the cut and saw him tweet: “Sometimes golf is easy, sometimes golf is tough but today I was brutal!! lovemyjob.”