Saturday, May 24, 2014

Airbus LPGA Classic Saturday: Anna Nordqvist Takes Over Yellow Jersey

Anna Nordqvist fired her 2nd-straight 66 (and 2nd-straight bogey-free 31 on the front 9!) to take a 1-shot lead on Catriona Matthew into the final round of the Airbus LPGA Classic, but with 13 other players within 5 shots of her, Nordqvist may well need a 3rd 66 to take her 3rd LPGA title of 2014.

There's a trio of Americans looking for revenge for the last 2 Solheim Cups right behind them, for instance.  Stacy Lewis has shot a 31 and 2 33s on the back already this week, so if she stays within 2 shots of Nordqvist heading into the home stretch, watch out for her tomorrow.  Michelle Wie, meanwhile, has made 13 birdies and only 1 bogey in her last 36 holes, so could make up a 3-shot deficit in a heartbeat.  And Jessica Korda bounced back from 2 early bogeys (only her 2nd and 3rd of the week!) to join Wie at lucky -13, hoping to prove she can win something other than the the 1st tournament of a season.

There are other Euro hopefuls looking to block the Americans, though.  Charley Hull may have cooled off today, with only 2 birdies and a bogey, but she was so hot over the 1st 36 holes she's still tied with Wie and Korda.  And Jodi Ewart Shadoff has made the back 9 hers this week, with a 32 and 2 33s, which kept her within 4 of the lead and a shot ahead of Suzann Pettersen and Belen Mozo.

Let's not count out the Seoul Sisters, either.  So Yeon Ryu birdied her last 4 holes in a row to pull within 4 of the lead; if anyone's due for a win, she sure is.  Eun-Hee Ji birdied 3 of her last 6 holes to join Ryu; she's been playing really solid golf this season, almost entirely under the radar.  And my dark horse, Jenny Shin, may have bogeyed her final hole, but she's also 4 off the pace with only 18 holes left to go, and is probably putting better than anyone else in the field over the 1st 54.

Then there are the players who will need to go off tomorrow to put pressure on the leaders.  Players like Lexi Thompson at -10, Se Ri Pak, Na Yeon Choi, and Hee Young Park at -9, and Paula Creamer, Chella Choi, and defending champion Jennifer Johnson at -8.  They'll need everything to fall into place to have a chance tomorrow, but you never know.

So it's not quite the wide-open race the last 18 holes on the JLPGA will be tomorrow, but there are plenty of players poised to roar past the leaders in Mobile.  Should be a great finish!

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