Paula Creamer posted a 69 to take a two shot lead into the final round of the SemGroup Championship. Juli Inkster fired a 67, the best round of the week so far, to move into second place at -1. Brittany Lang is in third place at +1 while Leta Lindley and Angela Stanford are tied for fourth at +2. Lorena Ochoa is tied for sixth place with four others but is eight strokes behind Creamer at +5.
For the third straight day, Paula got off to a great start and stumbled down the stretch. She led by four at -5 after a two-putt birdie at the par-5 14th but three-putted for bogey at 16 and then couldn’t get up and down from a greenside bunker at 18. Inkster dodged the same fate by saving par with tough putts on each of the last three holes. Lang parred the last 11 holes, just missing a long birdie putt at 15 and a much shorter one at 18. Lindley bogeyed four times on the back nine but kept herself in reach with birdies at 10, 14 and 15. Stanford birdied 15 and 16 to reach +1 but like Creamer and Lindley couldn’t get up-and-down from the sand at 18.
Ji Young Oh was in contention at +2 until she bogeyed 14 and then yanked her approach at 17 into the water. I thought I heard a noise as she was making that swing at 17 and noticed Ji Young look across the fairway immediately afterwards. Utilizing my own replay capability I confirmed it – it sounded like a young child crying out or fussing just as she reached the top of her backswing. Oh recovered from that triple-bogey when she rammed home a lengthy birdie putt at 18.
Scoring was a little better today – 74.6 – but still a shot worse than last year. Five players broke par Saturday (that makes 14 over the first three rounds) and with the smaller field that is an improvement. They’re calling for better conditions tomorrow but we’ve heard that every day since Wednesday. To be fair, it IS getting better but boy - that leaderboard looks like a U.S. Open.
Those two late dropped shots by Creamer bring more of the field back into play, most importantly Ochoa. Players have come from eight strokes back far more often than ten back and don’t forget, we’ve already seen a ten-shot final round comeback this year (Louise Friberg at MasterCard). Lorena was fighting poor iron play today – she was hitting fairways well and putting very well – so if she can work that one problem out, the Drive For Five may not be over.