Sunday looms large at the North Texas LPGA Shootout. There’s a very real possibility of a 12-way shootout! South Korea’s Meena Lee and Germany’s Caroline Masson started today tied for the lead at 8-under par, edging out Americans Stacy Lewis and Natalie Gulbis by a single shot. Masson, however, ran into trouble and with a triple and four bogeys on her card tumbled down the board to an 18th place tie. She’s starting tomorrow at -4, with a lot of ground to cover to catch up with Meena Lee and Stacy Lewis, now co-leaders going into the final round at nine shots under par, and ten players trailing within two shots of their lead. They have 18 holes remaining to get this one settled!
A TOP-HEAVY LEADERBOARD
After 54 holes Stacy Lewis and Meena Lee sit atop a jammed up leaderboard going into the final round on Sunday, leading Suzann Pettersen, Dori Carter and Julieta Granada by one shot.
Lewis, getting some fantastic distance off the tees, had three birdies and a bogey in her round of 69 and went to 9-under on the par 4 12th hole. It wasn’t until Lee bogeyed the 14th hole that she dropped into a tie for the lead. Both players pared the final four holes.
Lewis was pleased with her round today:
I hit the ball really, really good today and gave myself a lot of chances . . . some days they go in and some days they don’t. But I really like going into tomorrow how windy it’s going to be, how solid my ball striking was, and you know, it’s going to be a shootout tomorrow.
Lewis’ last victory came last year in August at St. Andrews at the RICOH Women’s British Open and she said sitting on the third-round lead has almost become second nature. She has been clutch when leading after 54 holes, having won five out of the eight times she held or shared the lead heading into Sunday and hasn’t once finished outside the top-3.
Rolex Ranked number 70 Meena Lee finished with a 1-under 70 today and said she’s embracing the moment of seeing her name at the top of the leaderboard. It marks the first time in her nine-year career to hold a share of the 54-hole lead. Her last victory came eight years ago at the 2006 Fields Open in Hawaii.
Lee hasn’t had more than 29 putts in a single round this week at Las Colinas and thinks tomorrow will be won on the greens.
Trailing the leaders by a single stroke, Suzann Pettersen, Juliete Granada and Dori Carter are still very much in contention and if Sunday turns into a putting contest Granada and Carter will have the advantage. They’ve maintained much better control of their flat sticks than anyone else at the top of the board over 54 holes.
Dori Carter put together a solid round of 68 (-3) today and will be playing in the penultimate group for the first time in her career tomorrow. Carter held a 54-hole lead and played in the third to last group at the Kia Classic earlier in the year. She intends to draw off of that experience going into tomorrow’s final round.
By the looks of the leaderboard after three rounds of play at the North Texas LPGA Shootout, it would be no surprise to have an exciting finish on Sunday. Fourteen players are all within three shots of each other and that group includes seven Tour winners who have a collective 44 career victories. Cristie Kerr (-7), Natalie Gulbis (-7), Christina Kim (-7), Jenny Shin (-7) and Inbee Park (-6) are all within striking distance. The “shootout” title will likely live up to the hype.
OUTSIDE THE SPOTLIGHT
Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie are going into Sunday at -5 and sharing the 15th slot on the board. They’re both long hitters who have the game to fire a string of birdies and make a run for the top of the board but they’re going to need to stay accurate off the tee and avoid hazards and overhanging mesquite trees.
Japan’s Haru Nomura has been playing some very good golf over the last three events. She’s going into Sunday at -4 and will finish inside the top-20 if she can sustain her game for one more round.
ROLEX RANKINGS MOVES UP FOR GRABS
After Lydia Ko’s win and Stacy Lewis’ runner-up finish last week at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, Suzann Pettersen got bumped down from No. 2 to No. 4 in the Rolex World Women’s Golf Rankings. Pettersen has a chance to move out of the No. 4 spot, but needs to win this week to do so. It also depends on where Lewis finishes:
- If Lewis wins of finishes in solo 2nd: Lewis goes to #2
- If Pettersen wins and Lewis finishes 2nd: Lewis goes to #2 and Pettersen to #3
- If Pettersen wins and Lewis finishes T2 (with one or two players): Pettersen goes to #2 and Lewis stays #3
- If Pettersen wins and Lewis finishes T2 (with three or more players) or worse: Pettersen goes to #2 and Lewis to #4
SUNDAY ROUND SCHEDULE
Paz Echeverria, Felicity Johnson and Katherine Kirk will lead the Sunday round, teeing off at 8:39am local time. The leaders, Stacy Lewis, Meena Lee and Julieta Granada will tee off at 11:55am local time. Golf Channel will pick up coverage of the round in progress at 3pm ET, and I’ll provide a wrap-up of the North Texas LPGA Shootout as well.