LPGA's top players battling till the last putt drops


ORLANDO, Fla. – Suzann Pettersen had that look in her eye.

The NASCAR boys don’t have anything on Pettersen, who can look as if she wouldn’t mind running somebody into a wall to get a trophy.

If Yani Tseng plays with more joy than anyone in the women’s game today, Pettersen plays with more intensity.

You saw that in the dismissive sideways glance Pettersen gave the CME Group Titleholders Championship leaderboard when asked late Saturday afternoon to assess the stellar nature of the names atop it.

“I don’t really care who’s up there, to be honest,” Pettersen said. “Bring it on.”

Pettersen is part of an intriguing mix in the hunt Sunday at Grand Cypress Resort.

Sandra Gal shot a 1-under-par 71 Saturday, good for a share of the 54-hole lead with Hee Young Park (69).

At 7-under 209, they’re a shot ahead of Pettersen (68) and two ahead of Paula Creamer (71).

With the round of the day, Rolex world No. 1 Yani Tseng (66) moved just three shots off the lead with Na Yeon Choi (75), the tour’s leading money winner and Vare Trophy winner last year.

Gal won the Kia Classic this year, her first LPGA title. Park’s looking for her first title. They’ll be pushed hard with a couple dynamic pairings right in front of them.

Pettersen will be paired with Creamer, who is a match for Pettersen’s intensity.

“We push each other,” Creamer said. “Suzann is a good friend of mine. We give each other a hard time, but it’s very mutual. We have a lot of respect for each other. It’ll be a good day. Hopefully, we can go out and push each other and see what happens.”

Pettersen, 30, is No. 2 in the Rolex World Rankings and bidding for her fourth worldwide victory this year and her third LPGA title. She was a Solheim Cup star in September, leading the Europeans to an upset of the Americans.

After a sluggish first-round 73, Pettersen was tied for 38th. She answered with a 69 Friday and Saturday’s 68.

“At least I have a chance,” Pettersen said. “I’m just very happy to be in the position I am right now, because after Thursday, I was disappointed. I’m happy the way I fought my way back in the tournament.”

Creamer, 25, is looking for her 10th LPGA title, her first since the U.S. Women’s Open last summer.

After making swing changes designed to gain her more power, after a bout with shingles earlier this year and with challenges balancing her game against her personal life, Creamer said a victory Sunday would be special.

“Out of all the seven years I’ve played, I would say this has probably been the hardest year,” Creamer said. “I thought last year was difficult, but this one is much harder. It would mean a lot, just the perseverance, the patience with myself.”

Creamer battled back from stomach problems and thumb surgery last year.

Grand Cypress seems to be drawing the top players onto the leaderboard.

“That means if you win tomorrow, you beat the best players in the world,” Creamer said. “They’re all at the top, so it’s a battle of will.”