Michelle Wie has been lurking near the top of the first LPGA major of the year through the first two rounds, and now shares the lead with teenager Lexi Thompson heading into the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. A drive into the bunker and a miss on a three-foot par putt on 18 gave Thompson a bogey and dropped her into a tie with Wie at 10 under par for the tournament.
For Thompson it was a day of squandered opportunities, as she missed putt after putt of between five and six feet on the greens at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course in Rancho Mirage, CA. Most of the misses were for birdies until the final one on 18. Wie played some of her best golf, mostly using utility clubs and three-woods off of the tees and setting herself up for approach shots from the fairways. Both Wie and Thompson had four birdies on the day, with Thompson’s bogey on 18 the only blemish on either scorecard.
Lexi Thompson began the day tied with South Korean Se Ri Pak at seven-under, and Pak actually got it to 10-under with three birdies on the front nine and was tied for the lead with Wie. She fell back in the pack, though, with 3 bogeys on the first six holes of the back nine. Pak picked up one more birdie coming in to finish at eight under par and in a tie for third with Charley Hull, who turned 18 last month, from Great Britain. Both golfers are two shots behind leaders Wie and Thompson with one round remaining in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Two more strokes back, at six under, are Cristie Kerr and Scotland’s Catriona Matthews. Kerr played along with Wie on Saturday and shot 71 on the par-72 layout at Mission Hills Country Club. She had three bogeys on the day with two birdies and an eagle. Matthew had four birdies, but also had a double-bogey. Also in the mix heading into the final day are Chella Choi of South Korea and ShanShan Feng of China. They are one more stroke back at five-under 211.
The final-round matchup of leaders Wie and Thompson in the Kraft Nabisco Championship will be interesting, to say the least. The two Americans both hit the ball a long way and attack the greens. According to Thompson, in Sunday’s final round they will both be “bombing it out there.” Both are young and neither has a major championship. They are good friends and have nothing but good things to say about the other. At 19 years of age Thompson already has three wins on tour—2 of them coming last year. Wie has been playing LPGA events since she was 13 and has two wins, but she has not had one since 2010 in the Canadian Women’s Open. Wie said she had fun during her round of Saturday but could have “made a couple more putts.” On her agenda for Sunday’s round is more fun. Playing the final 18 holes at the Kraft Nabisco Championship with her friend Lexi, Wie says she is just “really going to enjoy myself.”
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
Kansas City Star