Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bell Micro Saturday: Young Guns Gone Wild

What a difference moving day can make. 2nd-round leader Cristie Kerr has gone from can't miss to can't do anything right, rebounding from -10 after 2 to -4 after 15 in the Bell Micro LPGA Classic and opening the door for a bevy of LPGA young guns to barrel through. Danielle Downey led the way with a bogey-free 64 that included a 30 on the back. Fellow Junior Mints Kim Hall, H.J. Choi, and Brittany Lang responded with 67s of their own, good enough to tie Downey at -5--except Lang, who's tied at -4 with classmate Seon Hwa Lee, whose bogey on 18 turned her 67 into a 68. The Super Sophs went on birdie barrages, as well, led by Kristy McPherson, who finished birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie for her 67 that also vaulted her to -5 for the tournament. In-Kyung Kim, meanwhile, "only" birdied 3 in a row on the back and had to settle for a 68 that brought her even with Lee. And even a final-hole bogey couldn't stop Angela Park from vaulting to the head of her class with a 69 that brought her to -6, even with rookie Shanshan Feng, whose 2nd eagle on the 16th this week helped her recover from a bad start to get back to -2 on the day with 1 hole left to play.

Unfortunately for the young guns clustered between -4 and -6, 2 more seasoned players have pulled away from the chase pack. Katherine Hull is making a bid to be the hottest player on tour, as she's made 7 birdies, an eagle, and 3 bogeys to get to -10 with 1 hole to go. But it's Angela Stanford who's playing bogey-free golf on the back and has made 4 birdies in her 1st 6 holes on it to take the lead at -11.

Stanford and Hull are looking to make irrelevant the great comebacks by Stacy Lewis (67 to get to -3) and Paula Creamer (67 to get to -2). Let's see how they close this thing out!

[Update 1 (5:47 pm): Ouch! A Hull double bogey on the 18th hole drops her down to a mere 68 today and back to -8 for the tournament. She's now 4 shots behind the leader, thanks to Stanford's 4th-straight birdie on the back on the par-5 16th.]

[Update 2 (5:51 pm): Kerr also birdied 16 to get back to -5 and knock everyone at -4 out of the top 10. If she can finish hot and Stanford unexpectedly falters, she could still chase the leader down tomorrow.]

[Update 3 (5:57 pm): Those Robert Trent Jones courses can really get you if you start going bad. Ya Ni Tseng was -6 through her 1st 24 holes and is now near the bottom of the pile after going +16 since then, with only 1 birdie in those 30 holes. Yikes!]

[Update 4 (5:59 pm): Speaking of rookies, Hee Young Park is sitting pretty at -5 after a roller-coaster 70 today. Only 5 of the top 16--and 8 of the top 20--have more than 3 years of experience on the LPGA!]

[Update 5 (6:04 pm): We'll see how Angela Stanford's experience helps her tomorrow. She hasn't won since 2003, but she has a 4-shot lead heading into the final round.]

[Update 6 (9/14/08, 6:18 am): Note to Golf Channel: I can understand if you want to stick to your "no Asian faces in your highlights" policy, but at least show Hull's double bogey that handed Stanford such a large lead.]

[Update 7 (9:43 am): Hound Dog's 3rd-round recap is a thing of beauty.]

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