Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sophie Gustafson Goes Low for the Win at the Ladies Irish Open

Sophie Gustafson was the LET's leading money-winner last season, but this season has been a little bit disappointing for her. Until this week, that is, when she fired a final-round 66 to take the Ladies Irish Open by a shot over LET rookie and 2nd-round leader In-Kyung Kim and LPGA rookie Marianne Skarpnord.

Gustafson made a furious comeback after bogeying her 1st hole of the day to fall 4 behind Kim. She made 5 birdies, 2 bogeys, and a par over her next 8 holes to pull within 2 of Kim, then made an eagle on the par-5 12th to catch her. A birdie on the par-3 14th eventually gave her a 2-shot lead on Kim, as the former leader bogeyed it a few minutes after Gustafson finished it. Gustafson's walkoff birdie left her at -12, 1 shot ahead of Skarpnord, who birdied 2 of her last 4 holes but bogeyed the par-3 16th and failed to birdie 19. Kim, too, birdied 2 of her last 4 holes, but she needed a 3rd on 18 to force a playoff with Gustafson and couldn't do it.

Several other players made great final-round charges to try to get in the mix. Melissa Reid showed what progress she's been making with a bogey-free 66 (including 4 birdies and an eagle) to get to -10. Katherine Hull fired a bogey-free 64 to get to -9. And former LPGAer Veronica Zorzi made 10 birdies (including 5 in a row on the back) for a 64 of her own. Looks like there should be plenty of fireworks at next year's Solheim Cup here! Brittany Lang led the red, white, and blue with her 2nd-straight 68 to finish alone in 7th, 1 behind Anna Nordqvist (who could manage only a 72 today). Brittany Lincicome matched it to end up 1 shot further behind Gustafson, tied with Helen Alfredsson, ex-LPGAer Linda Wessberg, and LPGA and LET rookie Azahara Munoz. Christina Kim's 69 put her another shot back, in a tie with Maria Hjorth, Gwladys Nocera, Pernilla Lindberg, and Zorzi. Angela Stanford (70, -3), Suzann Pettersen (72, -2), and Kristy McPherson (72, -1) rounded out the likely Solheim Cuppers in the field.

I'll have an update on the LET's money-list and Rookie of the Year races after they update their site!

[Update 1 (2:45 pm): Wow! Kim didn't win but she leads the LET money list! Here are the top 5:

1. In-Kyung Kim (3 events) €176.9K
2. Melissa Reid (13) €173.4K
3. Laura Davies (10) €168.9K
4. Suzann Pettersen (3) €149.5K
5. Lee-Ann Pace (14) €148.5K

So of course Kim leads the Rookie of the Year race, as well. Here are the top 12:

1. In-Kyung Kim (3 events) €176.9K
2. Maria Hernandez (5) €96.9K
3. Azahara Munoz (6) €92.5K
4. Kristie Smith (12) €80.6K
5. Ai Miyazato (2) €77.9K
6. Christina Kim (5) €58.1K
7. Pernilla Lindberg (6) €40.2K
8. Caroline Masson (10) €37.6K
9. Mollie Fankhauser (10) €34.4K
10. Rebecca Flood (12) €26.6K
11. Jeehae Lee (8) €19.4K
12. Mariajo Uribe (2) €15.5K

It'll sure be interesting to see how the top 7 players in that race manage their schedules. I had thought that Kristie Smith had decided to ditch the Futures Tour, but Ai-sama has commitments to the JLPGA (which is why she's playing in Japan next week) and she and the rest are LPGAers 1st and foremost. I thought some of them might extend their European vacation another week or 2, but in fact only Pernilla Lindberg and those ranked after her are entered in next week's Wales event. Smith's not entered in the penultimate Futures Tour event next week in Richmond, so I suspect she's stayed in Europe and just taken a week off after 2 straight MCs.]

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