PITTSFORD, N.Y. – If you like women’s golf, get your popcorn ready for Sunday’s stampede.
This is no one-horse race at Locust Hill Country Club this year.
The Wegmans LPGA Championship’s final round begins with a serious traffic jam turning to the home stretch.
All the drama missing in Yani Tseng’s runaway last year and in Cristie Kerr’s runaway the previous year is flooding into this year’s finish.
South Korea’s Eun-Hee Ji moved atop the leaderboard Saturday with a 3-under-par 69, but there’s a lot of rough-and-tumble jockeying for position behind her.
Ji is at 4-under 212 with 14 players stacked within four shots of the lead. That logjam includes nine major championship winners, including Ji, winner of the ’09 U.S. Women’s Open.
Hall of Famer Karrie Webb (68) is one shot back leading the star-studded cast of pursuers.
Stacy Lewis (70), winner of the last two LPGA stroke-play events, and Suzann Pettersen (71), winner of 14 worldwide titles, are among four players two shots back. So is Inbee Park (72), winner of the ‘08 U.S. Women’s Open. Giulia Sergas (69) is the dark horse in this mix as she seeks to make her first LPGA title a major.
Paula Creamer (73), the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open winner, is in a group three shots behind.
Cristie Kerr (70) is four back as she seeks to win for the first time since her victory here in ’10.
Even the players are bracing for the possibility of a crazy finish.
“I think it will come down to the last couple holes,” said Pettersen, 31.
Webb, 37, the winner of 38 LPGA titles, including seven majors, won twice last season but is looking for her first major championship title since winning the Kraft Nabisco in ’06. She has won holding off charges and making charges.
“I know that tomorrow it is not just the people in the lead that have a chance to win,” Webb said. “I think the leaderboard is going to be very bunched, and depending on the weather, some could post a number early, and put the pressure on everyone else. I’ve just got to go out there and not think of the score but try to give myself the best opportunity to make a birdie on every hole.”
Webb was asked if she senses her name on a leaderboard still affects the competition.
“I don’t know if it has the same look it used to,” she said. “I know that when I put myself in position, I feel comfortable up there. I’ve done my work to give myself a shot so tomorrow I just have to go out and do similar things that I’ve done the last couple days.
“Whether I win tomorrow or not, just the feelings that I will have with a chance to win is what I work hard for. I probably want it more now than I ever have in my career, just because I don’t feel it as often as I would like. I'd like to feel it as often as Yani [Tseng] does. I wouldn’t mind that at all.”
Lewis will be bidding to become the first American since JoAnne Carner in 1982 to win three consecutive stroke-play events.
“It’s a lot easier coming from behind,” said Lewis, who built a nine-shot lead in the final round at the ShopRite Classic last week but won by just four.
“Having a huge lead is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s so hard to keep your focus. I almost like being at the back and kind of coming up and surprising somebody at the end.”
Kerr is thinking the same thing.
“I’m ready to make a Sunday charge,” said Kerr, 34. “I definitely am. I think I’m in a perfect position to let [the leaders] have all the pressure on them in the last couple groups and maybe I can post a number.”
That’s Creamer’s plan, too.
“I am going to be a couple groups in front of the leaders,” Creamer said. “I’m going to try my hardest to go out and make birdies and give myself as many opportunities as I can. The pin placements tomorrow are pretty hard, so I know there aren’t going to be a ton of birdies. But it’s Sunday, and things happen. People make moves. I’m hopefully going to be one of those who can put the pressure on the lead groups.”
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