It's go low or go home day at the Bell Micro LPGA Classic. Going home (figuratively) are most of the jet-lagged contingent who played in the JLPGA's 1st major last week, from Sophie Gustafson (76, +2, T63), Ai Miyazato (75, E, T49), and Momoko Ueda (73, E, T49) to Ya Ni Tseng (71, -2, T33), Morgan Pressel (71, -3, T27), Ji-Yai Shin (73, -3, T27) [correction: while Shin had played the 3 previos weeks in Japan, she skipped the Salonpas Cup so as to be more rested for this week!], and Inbee Park (70, -4, T17). That's partly because most of them hit the wall (whether it was bad play overall, as with Miyazato, or a weak finish, as with Park's double on the notorious par-3 14th) but mostly because most of the leaders from the 1st 2 rounds have put some serious distance between themselves and the rest of the field. Even a bogey-free 67 from Hee-Won Han that took her to -6 overall wasn't enough to get her within 5 of the leaders. 67s by Song-Hee Kim, Janice Moodie, and Azahara Munoz did, but just barely for some of them. 66s by Jee Young Lee and Na Yeon Choi? They could only get them within 2.
That's because Suzann Pettersen lit up Magnolia Grove with a 65 today that brought her to -13. And as they play the 18th, both Brittany Lincicome and Se Ri Pak could still surpass her 54-hole total.
Stay tuned for more!
[Update 1 (5/16/10, 3:46 am): Well, Lincicome parred 18 for a 67 and Pak did as well for a 68 that kept both at -13 with Pettersen. There are only 6 other golfers within 5 shots of the lead, so the final pairings are the ones to watch:
Start Time: 8:50 AM
Start Time: 9:01 AM
Na Yeon Choi
Jee Young Lee
Start Time: 9:12 AM
Se Ri Pak
I know I picked Song-Hee Kim for her breakthrough win this week, but I most want to see Se Ri Pak return to the winner's circle. If not her, it would be awesome to see Jee Young Lee get her 1st LPGA win as an LPGA member (she won in Korea as a KLPGA member). And if not her, I'd love to see Na Yeon Choi walk away with the win, as she deserves a lot more recognition on this side of the Pacific.
If I were on-site, I'd definitely be following the 1st group off the back 9:
Start Time: 7:00 AM
Hee Young Park
and then wait for Ai-sama's group that starts almost an hour later. Unfamiliar territory for Jang and Ai-sama, but don't expect them there for many more tournaments this season.
Check out LPGA.com's notes and interviews in their entirety, of course, but of note is the fact that Jeong Jang, Amanda Blumenherst, and Amy Hung ualified for the Sybase Match Play Championship next week. For next round, Pettersen is fighting a hip injury and the field will be racing some predicted bad weather. We'll see if both can prevail!]
[Update 2 (3:53 am): It's worth noting that the Sybase field list does not include Seon Hwa Lee or Teresa Lu, who apparently have decided to focus on the JLPGA until the LPGA's major season rolls around in a few weeks. And that Laura Diaz was the 1st of 2 sponsor invites.]
[Update 3 (5:27 am): Check out Hound Dog's 3rd-round overview and Jeff Skinner's look at Suzann Pettersen's 2010.]