Suzann Pettersen Holds on to Lead at Sunrise LPGA Taiwan


July 7, 2012; Kohler, WI, USA; Suzann Pettersen hits her tee shot for the 18th green during the third round of the U.S. Womens Open at Blackwolf RuMandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Suzann Pettersen stumbled through the front 9 in the 3rd round at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship and was 2 shots over par when she made the turn.  Then she got control of her game and fought with the course and the wind to hold on her lead and get back some of the distance from the challengers she enjoyed at the end of the 2nd round.

What happened to the Norwegian’s game in the 3rd round at the Sunrise?  How could the Rolex Ranked #2 player, winner of The Evian Championship, defending champ at the Sunrise, fierce competitor in every event she plays, bogey the #2 hole that she eagled in the 2nd round and almost lose her lead in the tournament?  This is golf, and sometimes things just don’t go as planned.  Pettersen told a story familiar to everyone who’s ever teed it up in her post-round interview:

"You know, I had a great warm-up, felt good.  On the second, I kind of made a little amateur mistake trying to get too cute on the tee ball and left myself with a very tough up‑and‑down. I just couldn’t get it going and made a few errors. Today was a tough day for me.  It was all about hanging in there and trying to bring it back to where I started.Suzann Pettersen, On Her 3rd Round at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship"

Pettersen did exactly that, going to the clubhouse with a 73 on her card, 1 shot over par, -6 for the tournament, 4 shots ahead of the pack that’s chasing her.  She finished the round just about where she started it.

The Challengers

Azahara Munoz, Tied for 2nd at Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship

A pair of Spaniards, Azahara Muñoz and Carlota Ciganda, have joined Korean Sun Young Yoo at the 2nd spot on the leaderboard.  Muñoz carded 69 for the 3rd round, a 3 shot improvement over her 2nd round score.  She may be getting a handle on the course and the wind could prove an advantage to her in the final round.

"I don’t mind playing in the wind . . and maybe everybody else does .  .  .  My ball doesn’t move much in the wind.  That’s one of my strengths and I can kind of go right at it . . .Azahara Muñoz, The Wind Doesn’t Matter"

Carlota Ciganda Tied for 2nd at Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Yoo and Ciganda both shot even par in the 3rd round.   Yoo did it a bit more gracefully than Ciganda, with 2 birdies and 2 bogeys on  her card.  Ciganda, however, who double bogeyed the par-4 3rd hole, had to work a little harder to get there.

Right below Yoo, Muñoz and Ciganda, Caroline Hedwall and Spaniard Beatriz Recari are both at even par for the tournament and going into the final round sharing the 5th spot on the leaderboard.

Solheim standout Hedwall, like Ciganda, carded even par the hard way, with a double bogey on the par-5 9th hole and made the turn at +1.  Another bogey, then a pair of birdies on 13 and 14 put her back at even par, and she held on to the end of the round.

Recari also struggled to get control of her game during the front 9.  She was plagued by bogeys and was 2 shots over par when she made the turn.  In a familiar pattern, Recari also staged a small comeback on the back 9, and ended the round 1 shot over par, which ate up the small surplus she’d established and put her at even par for the tournament.

Don’t Count Them Out

A small mob clustered in the 7th slot on the Sunrise leaderboard recorded very nice 3rd round scores.  Koreans Se Ri Pak, Jenny Shin, Eun-Hee Ji, and and Na Yeon Choi all shot sub-par 3rd rounds.  Pak, Shin, and Ji carded 69, 3 shots better than Pettersen’s 3rd round.  Jenny Shin was one of the few who played a bogey-free 3rd round.  Any of them is capable of putting together a round that would catapult them to the top of the board, particularly if Pettersen stumbles again on Sunday.

Golf Channel will replay highlights of the 3rd round today, Saturday, October 26, noon-3pm, ET and will provide replay coverage of the final round at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship tomorrow, Sunday, October 27, noon-3pm, ET.  I’ll follow with a wrap-up of the tournament and a look at the next stop on the LPGA Asian loop tomorrow as well.