Saturday, August 16, 2008

Canadian Women's Open Saturday: Who's That Girl?

Ya Ni Tseng is tearing up Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club this week at the Canadian Women's Open. When I profiled her earlier this month and picked her for the win earlier this week, I had no idea she would be -14 after 3 rounds.

Tseng's nearest pursuer is Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak, who went birdie-birdie-hole in 1 on the front but made up a grand total of 0 strokes on the leader. With a 4-shot lead on Pak and a 6-shot lead on Lorena Ochoa, who birdied the 18th to hold onto a share of 3rd place with Katherine Hull (72 today), Tseng is looking to make some history tomorrow. She has a great chance to surpass Ochoa's winning total of -16 from last season and even threaten Meg Mallon's -18 total from 2004.

There are 19 players bunched within 5 shots of Paula Creamer and Song-Hee Kim at -5 through 54 holes (among them Michelle Wie, who fired a bogey-free 69 today), so the race for the top 10 is still wide open. Annika Sorenstam (76) and Nicole Castrale (77) will have to dig deep to put today's disappointments behind them. But at least they're in better position than Christina Kim, whose 79 dropped her back to T40, and Seon Hwa Lee, who finds herself T65 after an uncharacteristic 78. When you look down the leaderboard and see how many good players are struggling to go under par more than once and avoid going over 74 more than once, the consistent excellence of Tseng and Pak and the steadfastness of Creamer and Kim are even more impressive.

Should be a fascinating final round. If Tseng has shown 1 weakness this season, it's been defending a lead. Me, in addition to rooting for Tseng to address this issue, I'll be hoping for a strong finish from Moira Dunn, who's T26 at +1.

[Update 1 (8/17/08, 4:16 am): Hound Dog calls this Tseng's tournament to lose. It's hard to dispute that assessment, but when you're being chased by the most recent inductee into the Hall of Fame and the next one to be inducted, it's just as hard for a rookie to feel like she owns the tournament. I would love to see Pak and Ochoa put some pressure on Tseng. Time to see what she's made of. We know she's light years ahead of Wie in her development since she defeated Wie in the 2004 WAPL--is she ready to be the 1st rookie since Paula Creamer to win twice in a year?]

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