Annika Sorenstam and Erica Blasberg – two players related by Scandinavian heritage who happen to be LPGA polar opposites – are tied for the lead going into Saturday’s final round of the SBS Open at Turtle Bay. Cristie Kerr, Laura Diaz, Momoko Ueda and Jane Park are tied for third only one stroke behind.
As expected, the morning groups made mucho hay – Angela Park’s Round-of-the-Day 65 led the charge, along with 67s by Sorenstam and Ueda. Unexpectedly, the afternoon winds didn’t show up until around 3:30 local time but the greens had started drying out long before then and many an approach shot went sliding way past the hole. Of the afternoon players Na On Min made the most progress, posting a 67 to climb within three of the top. 25 players are within five shots of the lead, which would lead you to believe that Saturday’s final round will be a barn-burner.
Except that the greatest player of the last twenty years is one of those tied for the lead. If Annika does on Saturday what we all have seen her do before, this SBS Open could be most unmemorable indeed. I picked her to win, and I expect her to come through. Remember though, what I said Thursday about how predictable the LPGA is/isn’t. I couldn’t put any kind of substantial cash on Blasberg or even Jane Park to break through tomorrow but with Ji-Yai Shin, Angela Park, Lindsey Wright, Na On Min and wind-blown green-release specialist Sherri Steinhauer in the vicinity, Annika’s 70th career victory is by no means a done deal.
The cut hung out at +2 all day and slowly slipped towards +3, but never quite got there. UPDATE: The rounds were shown as all finished, but the scoreboard must have changed after I posted, just before midnight. Honest! The cut did go to +3, allowing Jee Young Lee, Linda Wessberg and eight others into the final round. Thanks for pointing that out, TC. First-round leader Kelli Kuehne nearly joined the departed, as her 79 more than undid her opening 67. Stacy Prammanasudh and Christina Kim will start the final round early Saturday morning alongside Kelli. The unfortunates include Moira Dunn, Louise Friberg, Eun-Hee Ji, Brittany Lincicome, Nicole Castrale, Ai Miyazato, Jennifer Rosales, Grace Park and Michelle McGann. Somebody has to lose on Opening Day.
During an interview, Mike Ritz stated that Angela Park (T8, -4) already has one point towards Hall-of-Fame status by virtue of her Rookie of the Year title last year. Incorrect, sir. ROY titles do NOT figure in HOF points. Sophie Gustafson (T37, E) is taking a chance on alienating this Southern Man – her contract with MLB was supposed to require her to wear a cap of the team closest to the tournament site. Boston is a lot farther from Hawaii than San Diego. Mardi Lunn is a former LPGA player who this week is caddying for Meg Mallon (T18, -2). Last week, Mardi looped for Lisa Hall as she won the ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia.