Crowded leaderboard sets up for frantic Volvik finish
Ann Arbor – Stacy Lewis isn’t so sure leading going into the final round is the best position to be in to win a tournament.
And with so many within striking distance of the top spot heading into the final round of the Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club, the former No. 1-ranked player in the world likes where she is after a 4-under 68 on Saturday left her at 11-under overall and four shots behind leader Shanshan Feng.
“I think the winner tomorrow is probably not going to be in the final group,” Lewis said. “I think somebody's going to post a number early and maybe get in a playoff or something. I definitely seem to play better from behind, so I like my spot.”
She’s put herself in a good position after opening the tournament with a 7-under 65 on Thursday to hold the first-round lead. She was up and down on Friday and shot even-par 72 but seemed to be getting back in a groove on Saturday.
Lewis missed a short par putt on No. 15 but bounced back with a birdie at No. 17 and just missed a birdie putt on the 18th.
“Still missed a few shots, but it was much better today than it was yesterday,” Lewis said. “So feel like I'm trending in the right direction and I think I'll need at least another round like the first day tomorrow to really have a go at it.”
Lewis won’t be the only one trying to make something happen from off the pace. Third-round leader Sung Hyun Park couldn’t get rolling and shot even-par 72 but sits just three back and defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn got it rolling on the back nine and is five back.
The home fans will be pulling for Jennifer Song, the Ann Arbor native who is 11-under after a birdie on No. 18.
“Actually, my shots were kind of back and forth, left and right,” Song said. “My timing was kind of off. But on the back nine I kind of sorted it out and started to drop a couple putts. So finished with an under par, so I'm happy about it going into tomorrow.”
With 13 players within five shots of the lead, it could turn out to be an exciting final round.
“There's just so many people in contention that you've just got to keep track of what you're doing and know that you can make some birdies but people can also make some bogeys, too,” Lewis said. “So you can just kind of keep hanging around and see what happens.”
Brittany Lincicome is known as one of the faster players on the LPGA Tour, and she proved that on Saturday morning.
With an odd number of players making the cut – 81 – it left Lincicome all alone to open play at 7:05 a.m. With no one in front of her and no playing partner to wait on, the two-time major champion wasted little time getting around 6,734 yards.
She took just two hours, 22 minutes and carded a 4-under 68. A bogey at No. 3 was the only blemish for Lincicome, who had five birdies before the leaders were finished with breakfast.
It wasn’t the best day on the course for Minjee Lee, who was celebrating her 21st birthday on Saturday. She entered the third round two shots behind the lead and playing in the final group with Sung Hyun Park.
But two bogeys on the front side had her scrambling to get back in contention. She did so with three birdies on the back and sits four back of the lead.
However, if she was feeling bad that quickly disappeared on 18 as she closed her round with a birdie and was then serenaded with “Happy Birthday” by fans near the green.