Lorena Ochoa leads going into the final round of the Safeway International. Her -16 score is one better than Angela Stanford and Jee Young Lee. Inbee Park and Lindsey Wright are tied for fourth at -12 while Christina Kim is sixth at -11.
As soon as the TV cameras came on Saturday afternoon, the Arizona birdie barrage shut down. When the tape-delayed-for-some-reason Golf Channel coverage started, Ochoa was -16 (four birdies in her first five holes), Stanford was -15 and Lee was -13. The two leaders kept making at least one poor shot apiece per hole to prevent themselves from staying comfortably in front of the field. Lee, Park and Wright made some headway over the back nine but Jelly missed a whole lotta makeable birdie chances (at 10, 14, 15, 17 and a very short miss at 18) or she would have been the overnight leader. She did birdie 13 and then 16 to tie Ochoa for the lead at -15 but Lorena birdied 18 to regain solo first. Stanford dropped two shots at 13 and 14 but recovered nicely with birdies at 17 and 18.
Two Parks shot the lowest rounds (65) on Saturday – Inbee and GRACE! Gracie went bogeyless for the first time since…oh I can’t remember when! She goes to Sunday tied for 20th at -7, only two shots out of the Top 10. Teresa Lu made a good move up the board with a 66, reaching -8 and T13. Rookie Hee Young Park posted 67 to move into the Top 10. Annika Sorenstam may have played herself just out of reach – her 71 leaves her seven back at -9. Cristie Kerr also went down the chute with a 73, now at -5 T31.
If Jelly were putting better, I’d say she would be a good bet to win tomorrow. Stanford saved her chance with those two late birdies. As it stands, I’ll stay with my pre-tourney prediction but will admit that any of the top three could come through. Watch out for Lindsey Wright and Christina Kim – playing together, they could get on a roll and get in the clubhouse with great numbers and really put some pressure on the last two groups.