Saturday, August 9, 2014

Meijer LPGA Classic Saturday: Inbee Park Holds Onto Slim Lead on Mirim Lee and Suzann Pettersen

Inbee Park fired a 4-birdie 68 today at the Meijer LPGA Classic to get to -13 and keep Mirim Lee (67) 1 shot behind her and open up a 2-shot lead on Suzann Pettersen (69).  With Line Vedel (68) moving to -8 with her 3rd-straight round in the 60s (matched only by Park and Pettersen), there are only 3 golfers within 5 shots of Park's lead.  So unless somebody a little further back in the pack makes like Cristie Kerr (whose bogey-free 64 today tied Lee's and Pettersen's tournament record from yesterday) tomorrow, it's very unlikely that Beatriz Recari (67) or Haru Nomura (69) at -7 will be a factor, much less Lee-Anne Pace (67), Paula Creamer (68), Katie Burnett (68), Giulia Molinaro (69), or Amy Yang (72) at -6.  Even if they make like Kerr and make 9 birdies over their final 27 holes as she has over her last 27, it's hard to see any of them chasing down the likes of Park and Pettersen, who are both playing great golf and putting the lights out to boot.

So the big question for me is whether Lee will be able to make the Rookie of the Year race interesting by facing down 2 of the LPGA's biggest guns tomorrow.  Even though she struggled off the tee today, she still hit 13 greens in regulation and has missed only 9 greens thus far this week.  So it's no surprise that she made 6 birdies today, including 3 in her last 8 holes of bogey-free golf, to leapfrog Pettersen, who made a walkoff bogey, her 2nd in her final 4 holes of the day.  With ROY race leader Lydia Ko scrambling her way around Grand Rapids and stuck at -5 (yes, she's taken only 79 putts and is 4 for 5 in sandies, but she offset her 3 birdies with 3 bogeys today, including 2 in her last 3 holes), Lee--and Vedel, for that matter--has a great chance to finally make up some ground on the Kiwi phenom.

The other big race to keep an eye on is the Race for the CME Globe.  With Stacy Lewis (70, -1) and Anna Nordqvist (71, +2) stuck in neutral, Michelle Wie out for 3 to 5 weeks with an injured right pointer finger (something to do with stress on her bone--does that mean it's a stress fracture?), and Ko 8 shots out of the lead, this is a great opportunity for Park to make up some serious ground on the only players tied with or ahead of her.  And it's just as much of a chance for Pettersen, now #16 in the race, to make a major move up that particular ranking.

I have to admit that for once the PGA Tour is outshining the LPGA in 2014--the fireworks at Valhalla were much more exciting than anything Park, Pettersen, Lee, and company were doing in western Michigan.  Plus, I won't get to watch any golf tomorrow, as I'll be attending a conference in Albany with fellow union leaders.  Still, I'll try to check on leaderboards throughout and day and get caught up here in the evening.  Here's hoping that Ayako Uehara, Chie Arimura, Tiffany Joh, Jennifer Song, and Danielle Kang have great final rounds!

No comments: