I believed Michelle Wie would be worn out from her US Women’s Open win last Sunday and the NYC public relations blitz that followed but I was wrong. The whole experience seems to have elevated her energy to a new level. Here it is, Sunday again, and here she is, leading the WalMart Northwest Arkansas Championship going into the final round.
Wie shot back-to-back 66’s in the first two rounds and has had only one bogey in her first 36 holes of the tournament. The newest major champion leads last year’s runner-up So Yeon Ryu who posted rounds of 67-67 and had five birdies and one bogey in Saturday’s second, not-quite-finished round.
I’m definitely tired, definitely trying to get through the week. . . But at the same time I want to win back to back. I kind of talked to Meg [Mallon] on the phone yesterday and she’s like, yeah, I played after the U.S. Open I won. But it’s a long way till then, but I definitely want to play the best I can. . . I’m not the type of person, I don’t like to plan too far in the future. There’s definitely stuff I need to do tomorrow before that happens. . . hopefully it will happen.
-Michelle Wie, going into Sunday at the WalMart Championship
Ten players are currently within four shots of Wie including Suzann Pettersen (-7), Chella Choi (-7) and Gerina Piller (-6). Wie said she’ll be taking an aggressive approach on Sunday especially with the soft conditions due to rainfall in Rogers throughout the week.
Can anybody catch Wie? She’s playing inspired golf and she’s definitely playing to win!
Playing from the top of the world rankings, Stacy Lewis came into the WalMart Championship with the bitter taste of another runner-up finish at the US Women’s Open and, no doubt, some thoughts about her upcoming title defense at the RICOH Women’s British Open. The Arkansas alumnae and crowd favorite also wanted a win here. She wasn’t going to get it with an opening round of 70, but she bounced back with a 66 on Saturday and is going into Sunday trailing Wie by four strokes.
Can Lewis bridge that four-stroke gap? It’s golf, and anything is possible, but I don’t think it looks good for Stacy Lewis today. Still, Lewis loves a Sunday challenge. She was six shots behind Wie at the start of the final round last week in Pinehurst and put the pressure on Wie after closing with a 66.
But between the probable late afternoon weather disruption and Wie’s energy, I’m looking for another runner-up finish on this one.
What About Lopez & Tubert?
The pair of Lady Razorback golfers, Gabby Lopez and Emily Tubert, haven’t fared as well as the local fans had hoped they would. Tubert finished the Saturday round at +10 and won’t play on Sunday. When Lopez got caught on 14 in the late-day weather delay she was at +1, just below the even par cut line. She’ll have to finish her round this morning and if she can pick up a birdie two she’ll play in the final round, although too far down the board to make much of a splash. Still, for the rising junior, it’s a great experience, and we’ll get to see Gabby Lopez again next year. Tubert, who graduated this year, will begin making her way onto the pro golf stage.
Revised Sunday Schedule
The second round of the WalMart Championship was suspended at 4:30 p.m. local time and called for the day at 5:30 p.m. due to dangerous weather in the Rogers, Arkansas area. Seventy-two players still need to finish the second round and round two will continue at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday with the final round starting at approximately 11:00 a.m. However, with a weather forecast predicting scattered thundershowers throughout the day, play could against be disrupted. Golf Channel will begin its coverage of the final round at 5pm ET.