HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. - In halting English, Na On Min, 18, called it "the best day of my life."
Now everyone else in the field for the McDonald's LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock wants to know if this non-exempt rookie can repeat it. On Min shocked and dazzled her better known peers here today with a seven-under-par 65, in the clubhouse at 10-under and now taking a one-shot lead into Sunday's final round.
On a day when the wind picked up and kept many other players from scoring - Michelle Wie shot an 11-over 83, and is considering withdrawing from the tournament - On Min used her low power game to rack up eight birdies and only one bogey. It wasn't just the lowest round of the tournament, but the lowest round of On Min's professional life.
She has only played in six LPGA Tour events, having failed in three previous Monday qualifiers before finally getting into a field for the first time at Corona Championship in Mexico in late April.
"When I came here my goal was to make the cut," said On Min, who only learned English a year ago. "Now...tomorrow, it's to win the tournament."
To do that, On Min will have to hold off a packed group of much more experienced players at her heels, including second round leader Suzann Pettersen (9-under), rookie-of-the-year contender Angela Park (8-under), Hall of Famer Karrie Webb (8-under) and Morgan Pressel (7-under), winner of the first major this year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Up until now, Pressel, the youngest winner of an LPGA major, laughed off talk of winning the year's first two majors. "I'm pumped," Pressel said. "It's right there for me."
Everyone wondered if Pettersen's mind would let her down. She had a different foe in Round 3: Pete Dye's long, gnarly fescue at Bulle Rock. Pettersen is one of the longest drivers in women's golf, but her bombs screamed sideways on many holes. She needed a host of recovery shots from the tall grass, plenty of nerve and a late rally, including an eagle on the par-5 11th, to post a 71, one off the lead.
Still, the big story here is On Min. She lives sort of a vagabond existence, traveling to golf tournaments with her dad, who sold off his successful construction business in South Korea to fund his daughter's golf goals.
"My father will cook something good for me tonight," On Min said, grinning.
Of course, there were a lot of people who wanted only to talk about Wie's 83, a round that saw her get very acquainted with the outer reaches off the fairways here and fall to dead last among the field of 84 golfers who made the cut.
There were double bogeys, bogeys and a scant lone birdie on her round (in front of what was her largest gallery of the tournament so far). When it was over, a hulking gauze ice pack was strapped to her left wrist and she was wondering if she'll be here for her fourth round Sunday morning.
"I don't really know," Wie said when asked directly about whether she'd tee it up tomorrow. "I can't say for sure right now. I really want to play. I think it would be awesome to get another experience, another round under my belt.
"Just have to see how it goes tonight."
Tonight will include more ice, some stimulation work with a electronic machine and more massages from Wie's personal therapist Leann Quinn, who's becoming almost as much of a side celebrity this week as Wie's swing coach David Leadbetter.
There wasn't nearly as much drama around Lorena Ochoa. But while Annika Sorenstam fell back and then rallied late (birdies on Nos. 14, 15, and 16) to be move to 4-under, the world's new No. 1 ranked woman golfer put together a quiet, effective 69 that has her at least within range of the leaders. She's at 5-under.
"I just hope I have one more good run of birdies in me," Ochoa said.
One good run might be enough in the final round. Bulle Rock toughened up when the wind picked up today and the pins are expected to be in tougher spots Sunday.
"It's definitely harder to go for things with this wind," said Brittany Lincicome (5-under) who could only mange a 73 today after two straight 69s.
Paula Creamer - another young star looking for her first major - wished for the wind earlier in the week, got it and could only manage a 73 to sit a 4-under, a full six shots behind On Min.
June 9, 2007
Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Anyone looking back at the final scores of the 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's will almost certainly come to the wrong conclusion that this was a comfortable three-shot win for Catriona Matthew. It was anything but as the seemingly imperturbable Scot struggled to hit a fairway throughout the final round and was only rescued by some superb recovery shots and a bunch of astonishing long putts.
... full article »