The 3rd round at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G lived up to its promise. It opened with a leaderboard crowded with contenders and got more crowded as the round unfolded. The 3rd round ended with Inbee Park (South Korea) and So Yeon Ryu (South Korea) both at -12 and headed for extra holes. When Park birdied 18 again she claimed her 5th win of the year.
Park, who started the 3rd round in 5th place, and Mika Miyazato (Japan), who started in 9th place, shared the lead with Ryu through the final holes on the round. Park, showing the cool, razor-sharp focus and determination that’s earned her the #1 spot in the Rolex Ranking, took the outright lead with a birdie on 18. Ryu, drawing on shots she’d banked with a bundle of birdies, managed to hold on to a piece of the lead despite a double bogey on 13, and then followed Park’s birdie on 18 with one of her own to share the lead. Miyazato, who ended in 2nd place at the Walmart NW Arkansas last year because she missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole, did it again, finishing at -11 in 3rd place.
What happened to Beatrix Ricari (Spain), Stacy Lewis (USA), Chia Arimura (Japan), who were locked in a 4-way tie with Ruy for first place at the end of the 2nd round? Ricari started the round in a 4-way tie for 1st, but dropped down and out with a fistful of bogeys, ending the day at +2 and the tournament at -8, good enough for a top-ten finish. Neither Lewis nor Arimura was able to sustain her momentum and secure the lead they had shared with Ricari and Ryh at the end of the 2nd round. Both carded +1 for the round and finished the NW Arkansas in 5th place.
Lydia Ko (amateur, New Zealand), the teen phenom I love to watch, shot a bogey-free 3rd round and moved from her 9th place starting position to a tie with Stacy Lewis and IK Kim (South Korea) for 4th place. Playing with supreme confidence and creativity, Ko shot a final round of 68 and will stay on my radar as we anticipate the US Women’s Open.
Ayako Uehara (Japan) snagged an ace on the par 3 17th with a 6-hybrid. It was a dream shot, straight in, no bounce!
Inbee Park will take on the US Women’s Open this coming week with tremendous momentum. Can anybody stop this golf dynamo?