Saturday, October 3, 2009

Navistar Classic Saturday: Kerr's 64 Gets Her Halfway to Ochoa

Cristie Kerr was on fire today at the Navistar Classic, making 8 birdies and no bogeys for a 64 that brought her to -8, tied with Na Ri Kim (67), Hye Jung Choi (72), Michelle Wie (72), and Alexis Thompson (74). But she and they were only halfway to Lorena Ochoa's total number of strokes under par after the world #1 shot her 2nd bogey-free 66 in 3 rounds. Besides Kerr, the only player in the field to make up ground on Ochoa on moving day was Ji Young Oh, whose bogey-free 65 leapfrogged her into a tie for 5th with Maria Hjorth (68) and Ya Ni Tseng (71). In fact, very few players avoided losing ground to Ochoa (including Mindy Kim, Sarah Jane Smith, and Young Kim), but only 1 of them finds herself alone in 2nd, a mere 3 shots behind La Reina. Sandra Gal offset her 2 bogeys on the front today with an eagle on the par-4 6th hole and added 6 birdies into the mix to pull 1 shot ahead of Janice Moodie and Brittany Lang, who both shot fine 68s themselves (for Lang, it was her 3rd such score in a row, but the most disappointing, as she went 30-38, breaking a 50-hole bogey-free streak with 2 in her last 4 holes).

So heading into the final round there are 6 players within 5 shots of Ochoa, 10 players double digits under par (rounded out by Allison Fouch, Laura Davies, and Guilia Sergas), and 12 players ahead of Cristie Kerr (including Pat Hurst and Sophie Gustafson at -9). If Kerr is going to make up serious ground on money-list leader Ji-Yai Shin, she's going to need another round in the mid-60s--or lower--tomorrow. Seems like she and her caddie made a crucial shift in approaching approach shots today:

Just kind of clicked with my caddie. Talked to him and said, "We gotta go back to doing some of the stuff we'd been doing in the beginning of the year," about thinking about where you want to leave the ball on the green instead of trying to pick the perfect club. We just clicked out there today

Both Kerr and Ochoa have good memories from last year's last round to draw on, so tomorrow should be very interesting!

Personally, though, I would love to see Ya Ni go super-low tomorrow, Brittany Lang put herself in the mix on the back 9, and Na Yeon Choi finish high enough to break the $1M barrier for the 2nd season in a row. Lower down the leaderboard, I'm encouraged by a good 68 from Seon Hwa Lee (despite a maddening bogey on the par-5 17th), so would love to see her return to the top of the world of women's golf tomorrow and in the last 4 events on the LPGA of 2009. And of course I'm rooting for Moira Dunn to move up the money list from #75!

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