Final Rounds of the The Open and the LPGA Marathon Classic
There’s a potential cliffhanger taking shape over in Scotland for tomorrow’s final round of the Open, and almost all eyes will be on it. We know the reason why – there’s no getting around it. Tiger Woods is in contention, serious contention, for his first major in a while, and his fifteenth overall. He’s playing steady on a course that’s proven stingy for everybody, and the player who demonstrates the greatest self-discipline and nerve control will walk away with the whole thing.
Statistically, that might not bode well for Tiger, since he has a splendid record when leading after the third round, but is 0 and 47 when trailing. Still, this could be different. Yes, Lee Westwood and Hunter Mahan might sit ahead of him on the leaderboard, but not by much, and everything could change drastically by the second tee. No Palmeresque rally is required – just good, steady, smart golf. Actually, good, steady, smart and inspired golf would be even better, and there are others who could come from further back by providing just that.
No crystal ball is going to help us in predicting this Sunday, so we’ll just have to twiddle our thumbs until it happens. However, if one has enough eyes to go around, there’s another tournament going on here in the states that is worth some attention, featuring a mix of old friends and new stars.
In Sylvania, Ohio, the LPGA Marathon Classic whipped up an impending cliff-hanger of its own, and the scenario is the same. Discipline will either win it down the stretch, or someone close back, in this case three strokes, could put together an inspired round and snatch it away. We can put the crystal ball away for this one, too.
It’s been a while since Paula Creamer stepped up and took hold of a tournament, but she’s heading into Sunday tied for the lead, via a third round 67. Her last victory came in the U.S. Women’s Open of 2010, which doesn’t seem all that far back, but in golf terms, especially for one who loves to win as much as Creamer does, it’s an eternity. Come to think of it, she won this event as well, in 2008 (ancient history) as one of her nine tour wins.
Still, it’s not as if Creamer is really in a slump. She hasn’t played badly, and has compiled nine top-ten finishes this year. So, contention doesn’t ever seem too far away. Still, she makes no bones about the joy of contending and winning, and she shouldn’t. That’s what she came to accomplish, as she does every week.
In the other corner, however, is Spaniard Beatriz Recari Eransus. If you have any questions about her competitiveness, remember that her home town is Pamplona, where the running of the bulls (and the trampling of the Pamplonians) takes place. She has consistently contended as well, almost since her first appearances on the tour, and there’s no “wimp” in her game or brain. Paula will have to keep it together to master this opponent.
Of course, there’s always the possibility of that “come from behind” player, and who could do it better than Lexi Thompson? She’s young, but no kid anymore. Her game, and her approach to course strategy, is an emphatic center of focus, and it’s working.
The only thing that allows us a deep breath is that Inbee Park is tied for 23rd, and even Angela Stanford had to card a 64 in order to surge into 11th. Right there, this week is different.
So, here we go – cliff-hanger Sunday. Say it in a British or Ohioan accent, and tune in to the channel of your choice. It’s going to be tense on both continents.