Saturday, September 5, 2009

Canadian Women's Open Saturday: Pettersen Takes Control

Only 1 player made a big move in the right direction today at the Canadian Women's Open: Suzann Pettersen. Her 6-birdie 66 lifted her to -14 for the tournament, giving her a 5-shot lead on Angela Stanford, whose walkoff eagle gave her a 69 on the day.

Relatively few other players actually went under par today at Priddis Greens compared to the previous 2 rounds and nobody even matched Pettersen's round except for Morgan Pressel, and she, too, needed a walkoff eagle to do it. Karrie Webb shot a bogey-free 31 on the front, but 3 bogeys on the back forced her to settle for a 68 that left her 6 behind Pettersen. In-Kyung Kim went 32-37 to move into a tie at -7 with Lorena Ochoa, who went 34-38. Ai Miyazato shot her 3rd-straight disappointing 69; even though she's made 16 birdies in 54 holes, she's stalled at -6, tied with Kristy McPherson, who bounced back from a triple bogey mid-way through the back. Ai-sama's only hitting about 2/3 of her fairways thus far, so I assume most of those bogeys come from the rough. A little lower down the leaderboard, Vicky Hurst and Rachel Hetherington made late moves on opposite sides to shoot 67s that vaulted them into a tie for 12th at -4.

But the biggest moves today were in the wrong direction. Friday's co-leader Song-Hee Kim followed up yesterday's 62 with a birdieless 77, "sparked" by a 41 on the back. Ji-Yai Shin followed up yesterday's 65 with a matching 36-41-77. And guess who followed up yesterday's 67 with the exact same numbers as Kim and Shin? Shi Hyun Ahn, who did it in part with a pair of doubles on the back. Another strangely popular number was 75; Natalie Gulbis, Jane Park, Na Yeon Choi, Maria Hernandez, Hee Young Park, Janice Moodie, and Catriona Matthew were its victims. In the 74 Club were M.J. Hur, Paula Creamer, Stacy Lewis, Seon Hwa Lee, Karen Stupples, Paige Mackenzie, and Helen Alfredsson.

How much you want to bet the winds came up in the afternoon? So far, Pettersen's 2 best rounds came in the late afternoon. I doubt the weather will interrupt her march to her 1st victory since late 2007. But then it seemed like she's had several tournaments sewn up the last 2 seasons only to get passed on the back. Just like Mi-Jeong Jeon on the JLPGA, who suffered a series of heartbreaking runners-up late last season and early this one on the JLPGA, Pettersen will need to go low on the front tomorrow to demoralize the lead chase pack and cruise to a dominating win. That's been Jeon's formula in her 3 massive wins thus far on the JLPGA in '09. We'll see if Jeon can do it tomorrow from the middle of a shootout at the Golf5 Ladies corral. If she can, it'll be her 2nd win in a row. And if Pettersen follows suit, don't be surprised if she goes on a tear like she did when she won 5 times in the 2nd half of 2007.

[Update 1 (4:54 am): Hound Dog's 3rd-round overview is more concise than mine, but we hit similar high points. Fun to see Webb and Stanford trying to get in Pettersen's head via the AP. Guess who's playing with her in the final group today? For context on their comments, check out the notes and interviews page at! Stanford's eagle putt was a 63-footer from the back of the green, as it turns out, and yes, it was windy yesterday. Webb's win at Priddis Greens came when she caught Laura Davies with a Sunday 66 and beat her in a playoff, btw.]

[Update 2 (5:08 am): If I can read into what Pettersen twice stopped herself from saying during the interviews, I'll bet her goal for the tournament is to finish -20 or better. Stanford was at first baited by reporters into saying what was quoted, but then added gems like these:

Q. Can you draw on any experience from today or the last couple weeks. Can you draw any from that to be able to say, ‘Okay, I can really go at Suzann'?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah. I think so. You have to play one shot at a time. Solheim Cup was a perfect example of that. You really had to play one shot at a time, and each hole counts, and that's very fresh in my memory....

Q. She's suffered some heartbreak the last few weeks.
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I don't feel that bad for her, (laughs) not bad enough to not show up and fight tomorrow.

So Stanford has experience getting chased down in a Canadian Women's Open and Kerr has experience chasing someone down. Should be an interesting final pairing. But if Pettersen opens the door for the field (which I seriously doubt will happen), I actually think the low round of the day to challenge her will come from 1 of the earlier pairings:

Start Time: 8:52 AM
Amy Yang
Janice Moodie
Maria Hjorth

Start Time: 9:03 AM
Song-Hee Kim
Inbee Park
Michele Redman

Start Time: 9:14 AM
M.J. Hur
Catriona Matthew
Carin Koch

Start Time: 9:25 AM
Momoko Ueda
Anna Nordqvist
Anna Rawson

Start Time: 9:36 AM
Rachel Hetherington
Cristie Kerr
Juli Inkster

Start Time: 9:47 AM
Morgan Pressel
Sun Young Yoo
Vicky Hurst

Start Time: 9:58 AM
Ai Miyazato
Sophie Gustafson
Ya Ni Tseng

Start Time: 10:09 AM
In-Kyung Kim
Lorena Ochoa
Kristy McPherson

I've been waiting for Amy Yang to go low on the LPGA for what feels like forever. Inbee Park is due for a breakthrough round on the LPGA (she shot a 64 in Korea recently). Momo-chan made 6 birdies in a row during the Women's British Open and won recently on the JLPGA. Cristie Kerr has good CWO history to draw on. I'd love to see Vicky Hurst put it all together today. And anyone in those next-to-last 2 groups could go completely off. I'm going to see if my Canadian friends with whom I watched the Safeway last Sunday get CBC, just in case!]

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