HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS – Lindy Duncan competes on the Epson Tour when she isn’t playing in LPGA Tour events. And she was one of the hottest players on the El Campeon course Saturday, firing a 6-under-par 67 to leapfrog into third place heading into Sunday’s final round of the 2023 Inova Mission Inn Resort & Club Championship.
Duncan, who shot an even-par 73 in Friday’s opening round with six birdies and six bogeys, cleaned up her card Saturday. She had six birdies and no bogeys, going out in 2-under 35 and coming in with four birdies.
Her 6-under two-round total put her two shots behind leader Roberta Liti, who also shot a 67 Saturday. Liti birdied three of her first four holes and had a total of seven birdies and one bogey to follow up her first-round 71, which featured three birdies, an eagle, a bogey and a double-bogey.
Duncan was one shot behind second-place Jiwon Jeon, the first-round leader who followed her opening 7-under 66 with a 73.
“I just hit the ball good today and I just felt really good with my iron shots and distance control,” Duncan said. “Yesterday my long game was a little off and one.
“My speed on the greens was perfect. I just felt a little bit better on the greens. One day of play (on the El Campeon course) had me a little more comfortable.”
As a former LPGA Tour member, Duncan, who lives in Orlando, has a status that gets her into events where the field isn’t full. She said she’ll be playing in the ShopRite Classic and she also qualified for the U.S. Open.
Also shooting 67 Saturday was Auston Kim, who was in danger of missing the cut after opening with a 5-over-par 78.
“The putts were finally dropping,” said Kim, of St. Augustine, who had six birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. “I hit some good shots yesterday, I just wasn’t able to convert.”
Kim, who started on the 10th hole Friday, played well until the par-3 eighth, which was her 17th hole of the day. She was 1-over-par at the time, but took a quadruple-bogey 7.
She bogeyed the eighth on Saturday, which came after she eagled the par-5 seventh. After hitting “a solid drive” that left her 200 yards from the pin, she hit a 4 hybrid to within 7 or 8 feet and sank the putt. After going out in 2-under 34, she added four birdies on the back nine for a 33.
Kim attributed her improved putting to a simple physical and mental change:
“The key was keeping my head down and committing to it,” she said. “After a couple of holes, I started feeling really good.”
About Mission Inn Resort & Club
Mission Inn Resort & Club has distinct Spanish Colonial architecture and offers 176 hotel guest rooms: 131 deluxe rooms, 38 club suites, four one-bedroom suites, two two-bedroom suites, and one penthouse suite with three bedrooms.
In addition to the two championship golf courses, the resort also features four restaurants, two lounges, and a poolside bar. Its recreational amenities include tennis, pickleball, jogging and bicycling trails, volleyball courts, an outdoor pool, a spa, a fitness center, and a marina offering pontoons, bass boats, and kayaks for eco-touring. More than 30,000 square feet of well-appointed indoor and outdoor event space is available for meetings, banquets, holiday parties, weddings, and special occasions.
The El Campeón layout, built in 1917 by George O’Neil, is one of the oldest courses in the South with a classic design featuring unusually sharp elevation changes in the typically flat central Florida terrain. It has hosted multiple high school, college, and state professional tournaments.
In contrast, Las Colinas (The Hills) was created in 1992 by former PGA Tour winner Gary Koch, and it lives up to its name with wide fairways rolling over gentle rises. Both courses at Mission Inn are known for their undulating greens, which are surrounded by tropical vegetation and incorporate large water hazards on many holes.
About The Epson Tour
The Epson Tour is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour and enters its 43rd competitive season in 2023. With the support of the entitlement partner Seiko Epson Corporation, the Tour’s mission is to prepare the world’s best female professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. In the last decade, the Epson Tour has grown from 15 tournaments and $1.6 million in prize money to $4.9 million awarded across 20+ events in 2023. With more than 600 graduates and alumnae moving on to the LPGA Tour, former Epson Tour players have won 466 LPGA titles.
Photo credit Ben Harpring, Epson Tour