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Mexico’s Lopez hits birthday ace to grab LPGA lead in China


Shanghai: Gaby Lopez hit a 183-yard hole-in-one as she surged into the lead of the $2.1 million Blue Bay LPGA in China to celebrate her birthday in style on Friday. The Mexican’s ace on the par-three 17th hole helped her leapfrog world number one Ariya Jutanugarn on Hainan island and Lopez — ranked a lowly 136th — is in pole position for her first title on the US-based LPGA Tour with one round to play.

Lopez’s feat was all the more satisfying because it was her 25th birthday and she had turned around after making the tee shot, not appearing to know what she had accomplished until her caddie gleefully told her. Cue high fives all round, including with overnight leader Jutanugarn.

“As soon as the ball left the club I knew it was a good shot, but I couldn’t see because the sun was in my face,” Lopez said.

“I turned around and my caddie goes, ‘It went in.’

“I’m like, ‘No way!’”

A cameraman confirmed the ball had rolled straight in.

“I couldn’t give myself a better birthday present,” said Lopez, who was presented afterwards with two cakes.

Lopez, who was joint second going into the third round, carded a six-under-par 66 to go nine under for the tournament, a one-shot lead on Thailand’s Jutanugarn.

The South Korean pair of Park Sung-hyun and Kim Sei-young were tied third on a distant four under.

Moriya Jutanugarn, Ariya’s sister, fell from tied second overnight to a share of seventh after a disappointing 74. — AFP

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