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Eun-Hee Ji takes narrow lead after rain suspends play
June 09, 2012

Eun-Hee Ji -4, Rolex Rankings No. 79
Karrie Webb -3, Rolex Rankings No. 22
Stacy Lewis -2, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Suzann Pettersen -2, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Inbee Park -2, Rolex Rankings No. 26
Giulia Sergas -2, Rolex Rankings No. 132
Paula Creamer -1, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Cristie Kerr E, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Jodi Ewart +3, Rolex Rankings No. 179

2009 U.S. Women's Open champion Eun-Hee Ji will try to capture her second major title, as she carries a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Ji shot a 3-under 69 on Saturday, her second straight round in the 60s, and she sits at 4-under-par 212 through three rounds. Ji carded five birdies on her day, including two on the back nine, with two bogies on a day that featured numerous changes in the weather conditions at Locust Hill Country Club. Play was suspended early on Saturday morning due to heavy rain and unplayable course conditions. But after a 2 hour, 21 minute delay, the round resumed and there were no further interruptions to play.

Ji, 26, is no stranger to Locust Hill, having captured her first career LPGA Tour victory on this golf course. She became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2008 Wegmans LPGA, the non-major tournament that was held at Locust Hill prior to 2010.

"Always when I comeback here, I always have very good memories," said Ji. "So I always thinking about it then."

LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb sits one shot back at 3-under-par and there are plenty of other players within striking distance. Thirteen players sit within four shots of Ji, including major champions Stacy Lewis (-2), Suzann Pettersen (-2), Paula Creamer (-1), Inbee Park (-1) and Sun Young Yoo (-1).

The top two players on the leaderboard entering the final round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship have one thing in common – their swing coach.

Both Eun-Hee Ji and Karrie Webb work with Ian Triggs on their swings. While Webb has worked with Triggs for quite some time, Ji began working with the Australian swing guru after her victory at the 2009 U.S. Women's Open. While it may seem strange to change her swing right after the biggest win of her career, Ji said that she wanted to have the ability to shape the ball and not just hit her usual fade.

"I want to play like a lot of shots," Ji said. "I wasn't doing that before. But I can do it right now."

Ji acknowledged it has been frustrating to wait for the swing changes to work. Her T10 finish at the ShopRite LPGA Classic last week was the first top-10 finish she's recorded since her victory at the U.S. Women's Open.

"I always trying hard then but I change a lot [in my] swing," Ji said. "My confidence is going lower last year. But I keep trying more up higher, keep it up, so it's worked this year."

It seems lately the LPGA Tour has seen an emergence of young stars in 19-year-old Jessica Korda and rookie standout Lexi Thompson, not to mention the 20-somethings like Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer and Yani Tseng. For the veterans on Tour, like LPGA and World Golf Halls of Famer Karrie Webb, it seems they have been put on the backburner this season.

Webb posted her 37th and 38th career victory last season and currently stands at No. 2 on the career money list behind Annika Sorenstam. So, when asked why it matters to compete with the youngsters at this point in her career, Webb's response may have stunned a few with her comparison to veterans on the PGA Tour.

"Well, when Phil Mickelson was 37 do you think people were asking him that?" said Webb, who matched the low round of the week with a 4-under 68 on Saturday. "So Tiger Woods is 36 and no one is asking him that? I still have the same drive as those two guys. I don't put the hours in just to be out here to make up the numbers. I want to have a chance to win and it feels great that I played well enough today that I have a shot tomorrow. I would love to hold the trophy up tomorrow. That's my goal every week. If I play well tomorrow I have a good chance."

Webb has consistently placed in the top-25 at each appearance this season, with a season-best tie for ninth finish at the season-opener in Australia. Although it's been a slow start to the season, the seven-time Major winner believes she's in the right place to notch her 8th here in Rochester. The town's 35-year stint as host to the LPGA event draws in crowds of thousands, most have watched Webb throughout her entire career.

"I'm a familiar name now to people," Webb said. "I do notice an appreciation for my career and that I am still out here and hitting it down the middle. And here, too, I won here a couple of times. The fans are just so knowledgeable here. Some people have been sitting under the same tree for 20 or 30 years in a row. So they remember every time I come through that hole. Yes, you do feel that and hopefully, you know, I can feel their appreciation even more tomorrow."

Stacy Lewis has won the last two stroke-play events on the LPGA Tour and so perhaps it comes as no surprise that she's in the hunt again this week. The 2011 Kraft Nabisco Champion sits two shots back of leader Eun-Hee Ji heading into the final round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. It's certainly a good spot for Lewis, who is seeking her second major championship.

"Obviously I never experienced it before so it's been fun to just kind of ride the momentum," Lewis said of her two straight wins. "I've been playing really well. It's just trusting my game and going out there and playing whatever the course gives me. You can't really force things out here. So whatever the course gives me you take it and hopefully you are hanging around towards the end."

One thing that differs from Lewis' previous two victories is that she won't enter Sunday's final round with a lead. In her wins this season at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Lewis entered the final round with leads of two shots and six shots respectively. But that doesn't mean she's upset with her current position.

"It's a lot easier coming from behind," Lewis said. "Having a huge lead is probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's so hard to keep your focus. You are constantly thinking if I make bogey here it's one shot and that's going to completely change things. In the end it really doesn't. I don't know, I almost like being at the back and kind of coming up and surprising somebody at the end."

Yesterday's weather predictions suspected afternoon inclement weather during the third round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship, forcing an early start for Saturday morning. It's ironic the weather delay came just eight minutes after the first group teed off. Play was suspended for 2 hours and 21 minutes.

"It was such a weird day, you know," Cristie Kerr said. "We warmed up in the pouring rain, I mean pouring rain. I got rid of my head covers. I put the rain cover on, and I am like didn't even worry trying to dry the clubs because it was pointless. Then they called it. Then we went back out and it was a totally different day, totally different day. It's sunny. It's hot. Everybody is just sweating so much on the golf course because we overdressed. We thought it was going to be really horrible all day and we got lucky."

The rain stopped just minutes after play resumed at 9:29 a.m. leaving standing water on just a few holes. The weather did not seem to have had a huge effect on play today, with the average scores being almost 3 strokes better than the previous round.

"It was a little bit more wet, but the course actually held up well," Kerr said. "I was pretty impressed, the greens kept their speed. I knocked a couple by the hole. I was surprised that the course didn't have a lot more water in the fairways. It held up really well."

Talk of the toughness of hitting from the rough seems to be the trending topic of conversation among the players this week. Any player would attest that the key to scoring well at Locust Hill Country Club would be driving the ball straight enough to avoid the tall grass. Suzann Pettersen figured that out in the third-round and managed to inch her way up the leader board to finish at 2-under for the week.

"This course as it plays right now is kind of right up my street," Pettersen said. "I think I hit 16 greens today. I think I can carry myself one other green, 17. I think I missed one fairway. All of the other ones were right down the middle. It's kind of nice when you look back at some of these fairways, and they look humongous wide, then you feel like you are driving it well. Today was a really solid day of work. You can't really be greedy saying you left a few out there because it's tough conditions. I must say 3-putting 17 was a little bit disappointing. At the same time just accept pars. Pars are your friend this week. I'm right where I want to be before tomorrow."

Paula Creamer was talking to her putter by the end of Saturday's third round at the Wegmans LPGA Championship… and she wasn't saying thank you. The 25-year-old American missed a 6 ½ foot par putt at 16, a four-footer for birdie at 17, and a seven-foot par putt at 18 to shoot 1-over-par 73 on the day.

"I hit (my putter) really hard with my golf ball (after 18)," she said. "That was a little bit of frustration with it, telling it you better get your act together going into tomorrow, or you might not have a very good week off."

Creamer was 2-under-par for her round through 12 holes on Saturday and moved to 4-under-par for the tournament and into a share of the lead, but it was short lived. With 18 holes to play, the nine-time LPGA winner sits three shots off the pace set by Eun-Hee Ji. She is seeking her first victory since becoming a first-time major champion at the 2010 U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont.

"It's a good thing we have tomorrow and there is a lot of golf left," Creamer said. "Three shots back, I will take it."

Locust Hill Country Club saw a lot of action on the course today, especially on the 17th hole, a fun hole on the course for the long and accurate hitters complete with bunkers and a moderate dogleg contour. Both Jodi Ewart and Lexi Thompson thought the hole played in their favor as they carded eagles on the par-5.

Ewart is no stranger to eagles this week, with her first coming in the second-round on a par-4. Teeing off from the 1st hole to start the back-nine, Ewart holed out from 153 yards with a 7-iron. As the third-round was coming to a close, Ewart picked up momentum after an ace on the 15th hole. The shortest hole on the course is known to be a beauty or a beast depending on pin placement but Ewart managed to hit the green just right with a 9-iron, recording the fifth ace of her career and her first on the LPGA Tour.

"A crazy round," Ewart said. "I hadn't been really striking it that well all day, and I got the shot on 15. It just came out of nowhere. I kind of hit it too good really. It was a little bit long. It caught the slope at the back and came down and went in. I was like wow. I hit a really, really good hybrid into 17 and that almost went in apparently. Yes, a crazy round really up and down."

Ewart marked a personal record this week carding three eagles in two rounds. This is the first time she has recorded an eagle on a par-3, par-4 and a par-5 in tournament play.


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