Moving Day at the Honda LPGA Thailand brought some position changes to the board but Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist held on to the top and will go into the final round at the Siam Country Club with a 4 shot lead over South Korean Inbee Park and American Michelle Wie, who at -7 for the tournament are sharing the 2nd spot on the board.
From One Stroke to Four
Nordqvist began the third round with a one-shot lead and moved quickly to increase her distance with a birdie on the par-4 2nd hole. But two missed putts for birdie within three feet each and a bogey on the fifth hole slowed the Swede’s momentum before the turn.
Wie temporarily sailed up the board, but Nordqvist turned things around on the back nine and regained the lead with an eagle on the par-5 10th hole. Rolex Ranked No. 27 Nordqvist said she hit the perfect fade with a 3-wood on her second shot and left a six-inch tap in. That kind of successful shot sequence always feels good and boosts self-confidence, and it certainly did so for Nordqvist today.
Nordqvist extended her lead to two shots with a birdie on No. 12 and to three shots on No. 15. After finishing with a bogey on the final hole in yesterday’s second round, Nordqvist said she wanted to make up for it on Saturday. She sank a five-foot slider to push her lead to four.
Just below Inbee Park and Michelle Wie, Paraguay’s Julieta Granada held on to the 4th slot on the board. Rolex Ranked No. 105 Granada, hasn’t had a victory since her 2006 rookie year win at the ADT Championship, and recorded only two top-10 finishes in 2013.
Coming off back-to-back hip and shoulder injuries, Granada would certainly like to have a good finish in Thailand. She’s trailing Nordqvist by 5 shots and if she hopes to hold onto her 4th place slot she’s going to need to fire off more than the two birdies she put on her card today.
Yani Tseng, Christie Kerr, Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson are trailing Nordqvist by six shots and going into the final round sharing the fifth slot on the board. All of them are capable of closing that gap.
Tseng pulled that championship game out of her bag again and shot a bogey-free 66 today. She shot up the board from a 28th place start to her shared fifth place finish. Can she do it again tomorrow? If so, she’ll finish the LPGA Thailand close to the top of the board.
Kerr also shot a bogey-free round today, and it brought her up to the shared fifth spot from an 18th place start.
Ko and Thompson seem to be playing shot-for-shot. They started the round sharing 11th place, both carded 69, and seem ready to do the same tomorrow.
Park vs Pettersen & Lewis
Rolex Ranked No. 1 Inbee Park just plain outplayed No. 2 ranked Suzann Pettersen and No. 3 ranked Stacy Lewis today. Park’s 67 got her out of that 11th place logjam and into a share of second place.
Pettersen shot even par and is going into the final round at -2 for the tournament and nine shots off the lead. Even for Suzann Pettersen, that’s a considerable distance to travel in a single round.
Lewis is not in much better shape than Pettersen. She struggled with her putter, carded 73, and dropped down to 19th place, going into the final round at -3 for the tournament and eight shots off the lead.
Jenny Shin, who was also stuck in the logjam at the 11th spot on the board, carded 70 today and played her way up to 9th place. It’s crowded there too. She’s sharing the slot with a mob that includes Catriona Matthew, Se Ri Pak, Shanshan Feng, Caroline Hedwall, and Karrie Webb. If Shin’s going to break out she’s going to need to play some world-class golf tomorrow.
The LPGA Thailand just wasn’t Paula Creamer‘s or Jessica Korda‘s tournament. Creamer’s going into the final round at +5 and Korda’s at +6. Perhaps they’ll do better at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore next week.
The Golf Channel will cover the final round at the Honda LPGA Thailand Sunday, February 23, 1:30-6pm, ET and I’ll provide a wrap-up for the tournament as well.