Who moved on Moving Day at the Airbus LPGA Classic Presented by JTBC? Anna Nordqvist, who was so discouraged about her game last November, and who has already nailed two victories this year — at the Honda LPGA Classic in February and the Kia Classic in March, made the big move. It looks like she could put another win on her resume today at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Magnolia Grove Golf Club in Mobile Bay. Sweden’s Nordqvist left the field breathless from chasing her as she delivered a flawless, bogey-free round of 66 on Saturday. She’ll start Sunday at -16 and with a one stroke lead. After a lackluster front nine that sent her into a dip down the board, Scot Catriona Matthew rallied, fired a string of birdies on 15, 16, and 17, and pulled within a stroke of Nordqvist’s lead for Sunday’s final round. But there are nine players within four shots of Nordqvist’s lead and every one of them is capable of delivering a winning round today!
Who Else Moved Up?
America’s top golfer, Stacy Lewis, also had a good day on Saturday. She moved from her starting 8th place position to the 3rd slot on the board with a 66 and goes into the final round at -14, trailing Nordqvist by two strokes. Lewis has been a woman on fire this year. She’s recorded 8 top-10 finishes, one of them a victory at the North Texas LPGA Shootout, she’s leading in the year-long, million dollar Race to the CME Globe, and she’s 2nd in the Rolex Rankings. At the end of today’s round she could be back at the top of the rankings!
Paired with Nordqvist — playing superb, tightly targeted golf — and Matthew — a gritty, grind-it-out veteran who knows how to stay in the fight and out-last the competition — in the final group today, Lewis will challenged to deliver the best game she has in her bag. It’s exactly the kind of situation that tends to bring out the best in Stacy Lewis.
There’s a trio of hot golfers starting Sunday sharing the 4th slot on the board and trailing Nordqvist’s lead by three strokes, Americans Jessica Korda and Michelle Wie, and English teenager Charley Hull. They’re all 2014 champs, Korda at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, Wie at the LPGA LOTTE Championship, and Hull at the LET-sanctioned Lalla Meyrem Cup. They’ll play together, directly in front of the leaders, and with scoring conditions very favorable in Mobile Bay today, any one of these players is capable of delivering a knock-your-socks-off winning round.
Although further down the board and at this point probably out of reach of the top, American Paula Creamer and Thai teenager Ariya Jutanugarn delivered fine rounds Saturday.
Creamer carded 66, the same at Nordqvist, Lewis and Wie and moved from a Saturday starting position at 56th to 22nd place finish. She’ll go into the final round today at nine strokes under par and trailing the lead by 7. With another good round today and some golfer’s luck Creamer could finish inside the top ten.
Shooting a 69 on Saturday, Jutanugarn moved up from 42nd to 34th. Jutanugarn, like Charley Hull, is a promising young golfer who’s currently playing on the LET and who is working her way onto the LPGA Tour. Like Hull, she has the game to compete on golf’s big stage, but she hasn’t delivered a consistent game at the Airbus LPGA Classic.
With a double bogey on the par-5 15th that could and should have been a birdie, Rolex Ranked no. 6 and Kraft Nabisco champ Lexi Thompson carded a disappointing 71 on Saturday and slipped off the front page of the leaderboard. Thompson dropped from her 6th place start to a 15th place finish and is looking at a six stroke deficit going into the final round at the Airbus. That’s a lot of birdies and absolutely no bogeys.
Korean Hee Young Park, who’s been playing for the lead, carded a 73 on Saturday and dropped from 3rd to 18th for her Sunday start. Park’s stunning shot of the day, a chip-in eagle from the fairway on the par-5 16th hole (for the second day in a row), just couldn’t offset four bogeys and a double. At -9 for the tourney, Park is paired with Creamer and Paz Echeverria today and will start well before the leaders and well off the lead she was chasing on Friday and Saturday.
With the final groups teeing off around lunch time, Golf Channel coverage of the Sunday round at the Airbus LPGA Classic, that begins at 3pm ET, will provide live coverage of the final nine, which has the potential to be a dead-aim, six-way shootout.