LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Inbee Park has a way of making golf look effortless, and that's exactly what she did in Saturday's third round of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions as she eased into a 2-shot lead heading into Sunday's final round.
The only hiccup for Park, who is at 13-under 200, came on the 18th green when she ran her birdie putt four feet past the hole and didn't get up and down to save par. It was her first bogey in 54 holes, but her 4-under 67 allowed Park to stay 2 shots ahead of fellow South Korean Sei Young Kim (67) at 11-under 202.
"It's always disappointing to finish with a bogey, but I kind of thought make a bogey today and maybe not make any bogeys tomorrow," said Park, seeking her 20th career LPGA victory.
"My ballstriking was flawless today. I've played really solid golf for the last three days. I'm really happy about that."
Park entered Saturday's round tied for the lead with Canada's Brooke Henderson, but when Henderson sputtered -- carding a 1-over 72 to drop into a tie for fifth with Mexico's Gaby Lopez (71) at 8-under 205 -- Park simply locked into cruise control.
The stoic Korean hit 11 of 13 fairways and all but two greens in regulation at the LPGA's season-opening tournament at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando. And to none of her peers' surprise, the World Golf Hall of Famer moved into the lead.
"She's a great player and her emotions are very calm," said Kim, who was in high school back home in 2013 when she watched Park on TV winning three consecutive majors. "She's very consistent and very opposite of my character."
Much like Park, Kim cruised along in Saturday's third round by not making mistakes. But it wasn't until the back nine that she started making her own move up the leaderboard.
She birdied the 12th hole, stumbled briefly with a bogey on No. 13, then went on a tear with four consecutive birdies on holes 14 through 17, finishing with a bogey on No. 18 after missing the green on the tricky par-3 finishing hole.
Kim said she struggled early with wind and club selections, which were opposite from her previous rounds, but she and her caddie focused on trying to "commit to every shot."
"It wasn't easy, but I'm happy with good results," Kim said.
Japan's Nasa Hataoka stands in solo third place at 10-under 203 after carding a 3-under 68. Hataoka went birdie-bogey on her first two holes and finished the day with four more birdies and a bogey to move within 3 shots of the lead.
"Compared to last year, this year, the greens are a little bit softer, so that's why I can kind of go at it," Hataoka said. "I really want to be aggressive tomorrow, especially on my putting."
Currently the top-ranked Japanese player in qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Hataoka said a win this week would help her accomplish one of her goals for the season early.
"I definitely want to win before the Olympics this summer," she said.
Celine Boutier of France, who scored her first hole-in-one as a professional during Friday's second round, kept up her sparkling iron play in the third round when she holed out from the fairway for an eagle-2 on the par-4 16th hole. She used a 50-degree wedge from 90 yards for the shot. Boutier hit 15 of 18 greens in Saturday's round and shot 69, leaving her in fourth place, 4 shots out of the lead.
"I think it's just one of those weeks," said Boutier, who became an LPGA first-time winner in 2019. "I'm excited there's another round to play."
But all eyes in Sunday's final round will be on Park -- the storied veteran who inherited now-retired Se Ri Pak's mantle as the winningest active Korean player on the LPGA Tour -- and Kim, the fifth-year player who closed out the LPGA's 2019 season with her victory at the 2019 CME Group Tour Championship.
Currently the third-ranked Korean in qualifying for the 2020 Olympics Games, Kim already owns 10 career wins. A win Sunday will give her 11 career wins before her 27th birthday next week.
"We have one more day," Kim said. "I feel it's the same as the last tournament."
A win for Park will put her one step closer to earning her way back to the Olympics after winning the 2016 gold medal in golf.
And while Kim respects Park's stellar career record, Park also knows Sunday's final round is all about getting a jump start on the 2020 season in this week's limited-field event.
"I've played with Sei Young a few times and she's a very aggressive player," Park said. "She can make a lot of birdies. I'll just try to keep that in mind and try to follow up with her."
Lisa D. Mickey has covered golf for Golf World, Golf For Women, The New York Times, the U.S. Golf Association, LPGA.com, Virginia Golfer Magazine and for various other publications and websites. She is based in Florida.