Annika Sorenstam (-14) still leads by three strokes through the third round of the Michelob Ultra Open. Jeong Jang is second at -11, Christina Kim is third at -10 while Maria Hjorth is fourth at -8.
The anticipated Sorenstam-Ochoa Sunday showdown got beat down today – Annika posted 69 but Lorena fell out of contention with a 74 (she’s eight shots behind, tied for tenth). Through 7, Ochoa was -11 and only two behind but she bogeyed four of the next five holes. Sorenstam finally recorded her first bogey of the event at 18 (53 straight without a bogey) to give a little life to her pursuers. Jang bogeyed the 1st but rallied to post 69, her third straight sub-70 round. Kim birdied four times on the front nine and got home in 66. Hjorth’s round of 66 was bogey-free. Other players who had good days (but might be too far back to challenge on Sunday) include Jee Young Lee, Inbee Park (both 67 -7 T5), Candie Kung (66 -7 T5), Sophie Gustafson (66 -5 T16) and Suzann Pettersen (Round of the Day 65 -6 T10).
Joining Ochoa in the Faltering column were Meena Lee (73 -5 T16), Kristy McPherson (73 -4 T21), Becky Morgan (74 -3 T25) and Meredith Duncan (77 E T48). I haven’t watched the TV coverage yet – the DVR is waiting for me – so if I see anything worth mentioning, I’ll add it this evening.
If Annika holds on for her third win of the season tomorrow and gets rid of the “she can’t beat Ochoa” streak, that lock that Lorena seemed to have on the Player of the Year award only two weeks ago will have been sheared off.
UPDATE: Sorenstam made bogey-5 at 18 after hitting her tee shot into the water. She had to re-tee and saved bogey, an impressive recovery. There were a couple of other stumbles late that kept her lead from growing - she missed a birdie from five feet at 15 and had to get up-and-down from a bunker at 16. Annika doesn't have this one in the bag yet.
If Lorena Ochoa says she was exhausted after her fourth straight victory and needed to take the week of the Stanford off, we should believe her. Judy Rankin needs to quit second-guessing that decision as she has every day she's been on air since. If Lorena had forced herself to endure those six-hour-plus rounds in Miami, she probably would have collapsed (figurative and literally) and Rankin would have told us that Lorena needed to get some rest. While I'm Judy-bashing (not that she's the only one doing it), enough of the "Annika's injury" stuff already. If a day's coverage has gone by on ESPN and GC over the last twelve months without someone bringing up her injury and recovery, I haven't seen it. We know all about it, guys - move on.
UPDATE 2: The post-round interviews on lpga.com can be very entertaining, especially when Christina Kim is on a roll like she was today. Read the whole thing, but this bit caught my eye:
Q. Did anyone ever say to you, ‘Christina, you're playing golf, you've got to tone your act down'?
CHRISTINA KIM: Told I am unprofessional by a player I will not name. No. Yeah, I've been told that I've been unprofessional before. Everyone is allowed their own opinion. I think that someone who, let's say in the Stanford International Pro-Am this year, you know, someone who was walking 40 yards ahead of the other professional and the two amateurs, who, you know, is one of the best players in the world—not Annika, it definitely wasn't Annika. Didn't watch her at all so I don't know if it was her. But, you know, I deem that unprofessional because we're put in a position where, even though it's still a full field, official money, LPGA event, we're still supposed to sit there and entertain clients. There was a lack of that, in my opinion, from what I witnessed a couple times.You know, everyone is allowed their own opinion of what's professional, what's not, what's ostentatious. Those people that sit there and exert effort to say that I am too loud or whatever, you know, they have to exert effort to think that.It's more boo on them. No, everyone is allowed their own opinion. It's all good.
For the record, Christina's pro partner for the first two rounds at Stanford was Cristie Kerr.