While Sun Young Yoo must be left pondering how low she could have gone today, lots of players in the CVS LPGA Classic must be basking in the glow of their hot finishes.
Take Maria Hjorth, who finished on the front with a birdie-birdie-par-birdie-eagle run that brought her to -6 on her day and -9 for the tournament. By contrast, Lorena Ochoa, who like Hjorth is 1 shot behind Sophie Gustafson, could "only" manage a birdie-par-birdie finish on the front. Vicky Hurst, who's bombing it off the tee (averaging in the low 280s this week, a few yards past Hjorth and several yards behind Ochoa), also took advantage of the closing holes on the front, going birdie-birdie-par-birdie to secure her 67 and bring her to -6 through 36. Shanshan Feng, though, was -6 over her last 13 holes today, bringing her to -9 overall. Although she's been driving it plenty long this week (over 265 yards so far), it's been her putter that's been carrying her: she has 49 putts over 36 holes--14 fewer than Gustafson. Joo Mi Kim matched Feng's feats today--49 putts overall, -6 over her last 13 holes--although she did it by finishing on the back and joins Yoo 2 shots further behind Gustafson. Also 3 off the lead is Suzann Pettersen, who made like Yoo with a 31 on the back and is driving it almost as far off the tee as Ochoa (near 290). And Angela Stanford was -4 over her last 10 holes to join the big group at -7 overall.
But those weren't the only strong finishes today at Blackhawk Country Club. Paula Creamer was stuck at E overall through her 1st 22 holes, but went -6 over her last 14 to get back in the hunt--and surprisingly, to become the only precision player in the top 10. After an even-par 37 on the front, Amy Yang pulled within 1 of Creamer with a sizzling 30 on the back. Natalie Gulbis would be doing 1 shot better than Creamer if she hadn't bogeyed her 1st and last holes (the 10th and the 9th, respectively)--she scattered 8 birdies among her other 16 holes today. Were it not for a late double on the front, Eunjung Yi's 30 on the back would have brought her into a tie with Yang and Gulbis at -5; as it is, she's tied with Minea Blomqvist, who went -4 over her last 11 holes.
Others did well just to make the cut. Take Seon Hwa Lee, who was +4 over her 1st 19 holes but -3 over her next 17, or In-Kyung Kim, who birdied 2 of her last 4 holes--on the front, of course--to move from the wrong side of the cut line to a tie for 60th with Lee. Unfortunately, neither Ji-Yai Shin nor Jane Park had a chance for a strong finish; both withdrew, the former due no doubt to illness and the latter most likely to injury (I hope it's not a flare-up of her recurring back problems this season).
So it's looking like those who want to make a big move on moving day must take advantage of the stretch from 5 to 9 and then go for broke on the back. It'll be interesting to see if the bombers can continue to take advantage of Blackhawk Country Club, or if the precision players I picked will chase them down. I would have been better off in the PakPicker at Seoul Sisters.com if Shin had decided not to start this event--my first alternate was Gustafson, but I can't bring her off the bench from a WD. So I'm depending on the Stone Buddha and Inky to really get it going on the weekend, Creamer, Pressel, Lang, and Tseng to keep climbing the leaderboard, Ochoa, Pettersen, and Stanford to keep it going, and Webb to play more like she did on Thursday than most of the day today. I need a strong finish in the PakPicker, myself!
[Update 1 (1:40 am): Here's Jamie RS with some good details on Shin's WD and much much more.]
[Update 2 (1:54 am): People who rely only on Golf Central for their LPGA updates will never know about Sun Young Yoo's 64. Sad.]
[Update 3 (2:44 am): By contrast, LPGA.com's notes and interviews are the first place to go for a quick recap, now that Hound Dog's hung up his spurs for the time being at least.]
[Update 4 (2:51 am): Jamie follows up with a good critique of the GC coverage.]
[Update 5 (3:09 am): Seoul Sisters.com's Say_You_Se_Ri follows Pak and rips Blackhawk.]