Stacy Lewis, playing in her first tournament as a professional, has a one-shot lead going into the final round of the U.S. Open. Paula Creamer is in second place at -8, Helen Alfredsson and Inbee Park are tied for third at -7 while In-Kyung Kim is fifth at -6.
Lewis birdied 14, 15 and 18 to post 67 (low round of the day) and claim the overnight lead. Creamer reached -8 with a birdie at 10 to tie for the lead, bogeyed 11 but rejoined the tie with birdie at 13. Alfredsson was at -8 after a birdie at 11 but a bogey at 12 knocked her out of the lead tie. Park too reached -8 with three straight birdies from 9 to 11 but she dropped shots at 14 and 17 while reclaiming one at 16. Inky played the back nine in -4 to pass a few folks and set up her chance for Sunday.
Third-round leader Angela Park fell to -4 and T7 with a 75 but is not quite out of this chase. Maria Uribe joined Park at -4 when she birdied 18, opening up a five-shot lead for Low Amateur honors. Jeong Jang slipped to T9 after her round of 74. Annika Sorenstam managed nary a birdie on the back nine as she put up 72 – she is currently -2 T13. Candie Kung, Louise Friberg and Ji-Yai Shin all knocked themselves out of contention with rounds of 79. No Ochoa charge this week – Lorena sits at +4 T43 after logging a 76, again failing to break par at Interlachen.
If Stacy Lewis can somehow hold on, she would be the first golfer in (apparently) recorded history – male or female – to win in their first professional event. Lpga.com reports that Lewis would “possibly” be the first, most likely because no record of such a feat exists. Documenting that record now is probably impossible but if you think about it logically, somebody must have done it before. If I have my facts straight, Walter Hagen was the first true golf professional back in the 1910s. After enough players began declaring their pro status, the first tournaments allowing professionals began to be held and surely one of those was won by a guy who had just declared. Too bad nobody cared enough at the time to write it down or keep its memory alive.
Getting back to Lewis – making her possible feat even more extraordinary, she already has an LPGA trophy at home. She led the rain-aborted Arkansas event last September after one round and was declared the winner of that unofficial event. Two-for-two wouldn't be bad at all. Another amazing thing, Stacy is two years OLDER than her more famous pursuer, Paula Creamer.
Apologies for the lack of detail on this recap as I haven’t watched the third-round coverage. We have visitors at the HD house and we were entertaining (some might call it that) yesterday. I will try to make time and perform my usual play-by-play for the final round but if I can’t, please allow The Constructivist and Mulligan Stu to sub for me. Both have already outshown me.
UPDATE: In her post-round interview, Stacy mentions that she has to finish in the Top 80 of the money list to get her '09 exemption. If any player knows the official status of that rule, Stacy would be that player. So Dottie's comment of "Top 90" on Thursday was either a slip or she wasn't aware of the change. Of course, Lewis will gain exemption by winning this event but I doubt that she will receive the usual five-year exemption because she isn't yet an LPGA member. The non-member exemption for a win is usually one year.