Saturday, April 5, 2014

Kraft Nabisco Championship Saturday: Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson Lead Se Ri Pak and Charley Hull by 2

It was a magical moving day at the Kraft Nabisco Championship as Michelle Wie fired a bogey-free 68 to become the 1st player to get to the 54th hole double digits under par and Lexi Thompson suffered her only bogey of the day just minutes later to join her atop the leaderboard at -10.  A bogey-free 33 had gotten Se Ri Pak there, too, after 9 holes, but she made 3 bogeys on the back before birdieing the par-4 16th to finish her day at -8, tied with Charley Hull, whose bogey-free 66 was the low round of the day.  In fact, Hull may be the hottest golfer on the course, as she's gone 33 holes and counting without a bogey and has made 10 birdies in that stretch to pull herself into contention.

Meanwhile, Catriona Matthew ended a 39-hole bogey-free run (dating back to Thursday) with her 3rd double bogey of the tournament, this one on the par-4 10th, but fought back to -6.  She's tied with Cristie Kerr, who eagled the 11th but sprinkled 3 bogeys throughout a round in which she struggled with her ball-striking.  Still, the accomplished veterans are closer to the co-leaders than Chella Choi (bogey-free 69) and Shanshan Feng (72) at -5, Stacy Lewis (bogey-free 69 and now has a run of 33 holes and counting without a bogey), Ji-Yai Shin (bogey-free 70), Gerina Piller (ditto, but her run of 37 bogey-free holes and counting is now the longest active streak in the field), Azahara Munoz (roller-coaster 70 that included an eagle on 11), and Amy Yang (who bogeyed her last 3 holes in a row and 4 of her last 6 to settle for a 71) at -4, and Jee Young Lee (awesome 67 that included an eagle on 11), Karrie Webb (3-birdie 70), and Mirim Lee (bogey-free 70) at -3.

To put the leaders' scores in perspectives, consider the many golfers who went backwards in a big way on moving day:

  • 74:  Anna Nordqvist (-2), Mo Martin (-1), Paula Creamer (+4)
  • 75:  Morgan Pressel (-1), So Yeon Ryu (+1)
  • 76:  Jennifer Rosales (+3), Candie Kung (+4), Caroline Hedwall (+5), Sei Young Kim (+5), Ai Miyazato (+8), Brittany Lincicome (+9)
  • 77:  Sandra Gal (+3), Sakura Yokomine (+6), Mina Harigae (+9)
  • 79:  Carlota Ciganda (+5)
Even though Lydia Ko (73, E), Minjee Lee (73, E), and Inbee Park (73, +1) didn't score quite as badly, they didn't shoot what they needed to in order to move within striking distance of the leaders heading into Sunday's final round.  And In-Kyung Kim fought back to E for the 1st time since the 2nd hole of the tournament as she birdied 8, 9, and 10, but fell back to +3 with bogeys on 13, 14, and 17, so she'll need to wait at least another year to get her revenge on Mission Hills.

But all eyes are going to be on tomorrow's final pairing.  How will Wie and Thompson handle the spotlight?  Will they keep the pedal to the metal and make it a 2-player race to the finish, or will they falter under the pressure and open the door to a Hall of Famer, a teen phenom, or a pair of wily veterans (who are now both moms, to boot!)?


Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

Bruce, it doesn't get any better than this. This is why we love the LPGA. Lexi and Wie in the final pairing with a legend and a future star playing in front of them.

On another note, I may be in the minority here but I love the job Kelly Tilgman is doing as anchor.
She seems to go on the air well prepared. She does her research and gives us some very insightful stories. We should get that week in and week out but we don't.

The Constructivist said...

It's great fun when a greater number of people than usual can experience the fun and excitement we feel week in and week out, but I agree this showdown is even more special than usual. If Wie and Lexi keep playing to their potential, maybe those who have been regularly the best on tour the last few years will start to get a lot more respect and attention, too.