Hee Young Park Pulls Into Manulife Lead at -20

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There was no malingering on the course today at the Grey Silo Golf Club in Waterloo, Ontario as players passed and repassed each other on their ascent up the leaderboard.  When the last putt fell, Hee Young Park (South Korea), who had started the day sharing 8th place for the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, was at the top of the board at -20.   It was a well-earned rise to the top.  Park carded a bogey-free 61 for the 3rd round which included an eagle on the par-5 6th hole.

Jun. 10, 2012; Pittsford, NY, USA; Hee Young Park hits from the tee on the first hole during the final round of the Wegmans LPGA championship at the Locust Hill Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Hee Young Park played an inspired and demanding round.  She added 10 yards to her previous rounds’ drives, stayed on the fairway and out of the sand, and shaved 4 putts off her game.  At 37 in the Rolex Rankings, Park has had 3 top-10 finishes this year but missed the cut at the US Women’s Open and has struggled a bit with her game.  She clearly found her rhythm on the course today.

Angela Stanford (USA) and Catriona Matthew (Scotland), who have shared and swapped the lead since Thursday finished today in 2nd and 3rd place on the board.

Stanford carded 64 and is at -19 heading in to the final round, and Matthew carded 68 and is at -18 for the tournament.

Stanford added some distance to her drives and stayed out of the sand, but if she’s going to make it to the top of the board tomorrow she’s going to need to stay on the fairway.  With the scores running low and the putts running hot, Stanford needs to use that longer drive to put an eagle or two on her card.

Matthew ran into trouble on the par-3s today.  She bogeyed #3 and doubled #12.  Ouch!  She’s only 2 strokes off the lead but if she wants it back she needs to stay on the fairway and get on those par-3 greens, close enough to get the ball up and down.

Inbee Park (South Korea) carded -4 for the day and at -13 for the tournament is sharing 9th place with Suzann Pettersen (Norway).  I don’t count either Inbee Park or Suzann Pettersen out yet.  Pettersen had an eagle on her card today, and Park should never be quickly dismissed.  They are 7 strokes off the lead in a tournament that’s being played in near-perfect conditions.  Both know there are many birdies and a few eagles still out on the course, just waiting for the players who can dig deep, focus, and seize every opportunity that presents itself on Sunday. Either one of them could come from behind.

The Golf Channel will cover the final round of the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Sunday, 2:30-5:30pm, EST.  I’ll be there!

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