Sophie Gustafson (-18) fired a 67 to take a commanding six-shot lead into the final round at the Ginn Tribute. Karrie Webb and Na Yeon Choi are tied for second at -12. Jane Park is fourth at -11 while Song-Hee Kim is fifth at -10.
Without any rain overnight, the greens didn’t hold quite as well today. The wind was up to about 15-20mph and the scores were a bit higher as a result. Gustafson got out of the gate sprinting, with a birdie at 2 and a chip-in eagle at 3. Her birdie at 6 opened up a four-shot lead. Webb birdied 7 and 9 to climb back within two but Sophie birdied 10 to go to -18 and make the margin three. Choi played the first five holes in -4 and birdied 10 to reach -13.
Karrie fell flat starting at 11 – she played her second left into the shaggy hazard and was forced to take an unplayable. She missed a six-footer to save par and fell to -14. Sophie had layed up poorly into the right rough and came up short on her third into the par-5, but she saved par by two-putting. I thought her wheels were going to come off at 12 when she too had to take an unplayable after her approach went left into the hazard and chipped her fourth up way short. Two putts later, she carded double-bogey and the lead was only two again. A big turning point occurred at 13 – Gustafson left her long birdie attempt seven feet short while Webb chipped up to 2.5 feet. Sophie curled her par putt home but Karrie lipped hers on the left side and took bogey to fall three back and into a tie with Choi.
The lead expanded to four when Webb missed an eight-footer for par at 14 and NYC went into the hazard at 16 and managed to save bogey. Karrie let out an f-bomb when her approach at 15 flew between two bunkers (Dan Hicks later apologized for it), then threw gasoline on it by chunking her chip into the sand. The bogey was her fourth lost shot in five holes and dropped her to -11. Sophie decided that this was the time to show us her Lorena Ochoa imitation, so she dropped in a 30-footer to increase the lead to five. At 16, her booming tee shot left only 233 to the hole. She played safely to the right rough off the green, chipped to within two feet and tapped in to get back to -18 and up by six. Webb saved some face with a birdie there as well to tie Choi for second. And that is where they all finished.
If that sounded like a final-round recap, it’s because I figured I might not be able to deliver the same tomorrow. I plan on being at the course through the very end and while I’m sure I’ll get some details for you, it should be a little different from my usual TV-fueled fare. Of course the tee times are being moved up because of expected afternoon storms and they might finish early enough for me to get back to the condo to watch it!
I wasn’t out there today but my wife was, and I’ll pass along any info she has.
POODLE UPDATE: She got to 14 just as the third pair got to the tee (Alfredsson and Castrale) and stayed through Webb and Gustafson. You gotta admire that stamina! From her perspective, the wind was the main obstacle – many, many players missed the green right (ala Pettersen and Webb during the coverage). Giulia Sergas was the only player who missed it left into the hazard. After consulting with volunteers and spectators, Sergas and partner Mi Hyun Kim agreed that the ball bounced into the hazard rather than flying straight in, saving Giulia many yards for her third shot. She still took double-bogey.
Unless one of the first five players beat them, the Closest to the Pin Award at 14 was shared by Brandie Burton and Natalie Gulbis. Natalie had the largest following (even bigger than Annika), unless you assume that Candie Kung had a lot of friends in town this week.
One more great story. Both Minea Blomqvist and Lorie Kane missed the green to the right. Blomqvist chipped up very close and tapped in. Her caddy replaced the pin for Kane since she was just off the green. Back on the tee, Sun Young Yoo saw the pin being replaced but did not see Kane getting ready to play from the right side, so Yoo teed off. Lorie was walking back up towards the hole surveying her shot as Yoo’s ball landed on the green (about 10 feet on the opposite side of the hole). Good thing she didn’t land it 10 feet the other way or Kane would’ve gotten conked! Lorie finished the hole, then Annika (Yoo’s partner) played her tee shot.