Women’s Australian Open Tight Race
Tight Bunch from All Over in Contention
I fell for it again this year. I always say I won’t, but I do. When the LPGA’s golf year begins, it spends its first months in tropical climes waiting for the snow to melt elsewhere. The women of the LPGA are either in the Bahamas, somewhere in Asia, or as they are this week, playing on the continent of Australia. What I fell for…again, is the oldest time trick in the book, time zones. I couldn’t wait for tomorrow, so I could see how the ISPS Women’s Australian Open ends – it’s anybody’s guess. Of course, as I do every year, I opened the computer to doublecheck on the end of the third round, and found that they’re already playing the final 18. It’s tomorrow there…today. The leaders are almost finishing up the front nine. The problem for me is that by the time it gets to the cliff-hanger part, it will be the middle of the night, at least for people my age.
The Australian contingent should be proud this year, with two players still in contention. The venue of the Royal Adelaide Golf Club is wonderful, as it has been on all nine occasions when it hosted this tournament. The course was established in 1892, in the heart of the industrial revolution, but pre-flight and pre-World War I, on the shores of the Gulf of St. Vincent.
Aussie Sarah Jane Smith was an early leader, and we can’t use the past tense for her, because she’s still only a stroke back when last I looked a minute ago. Fellow Australian team member, Su Oh, born in South Korea, was tied at minus 8, and is now tied at minus 7. Oh, born in ’96, won the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters in 2015. A third Australian, Hannah Green is within two late iin her round. Don’t count her out. She nearly caught Lydia Ko last year in New Zealand.
Tied for the lead is American Lizette Salas. Internationalist as I am, I’ll admit that she’s always been a favorite of mine, and I’ve enjoyed her success immensely, Salas was the leader at the end of the third round, but even leading by two strokes is fragile in a field like this. Salas last won the Kingsmill Championship in 2014, and lost the LPGA Lotte in a playoff. One stroke back is Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand. Born in ’89, she has won nine times on the Asian Tour, and twice in Europe, including the Indian Open and the Dubai Ladies Masters.
Then, of course, comes golf’s answer to the wrecking ball, Ariya Jutanugarn. At last glance, she had moved into a tie with the others. Born in ’95, she has won five times on the LPGA Tour, twice in Europe, and the at the Women’s British Open. To a fan who enjoys diversity in the game, it’s good to see a serious contender from Denmark in Nanna Madsen. Born in ’94, she recently qualified for the 2016 Olympics. Also one back is Maude Aimee-Leblanc from Quebec. The 6 foot one big hitter is in her fourth year with the tour.
For cheering purposes, then, there’s something for everyone in the Australian south country, and good reason to root for anyone of these leaders. I love it when that happens. It’s good for for every aspect of the experience. Still, something has to be done about the time zone thing. I’m far past the age when I can just pull an all-nighter and not pay for it in the morning. But then again, how can I go to sleep not knowing what happened at the Women’s Australian Open? Two Aussies, two Thais, an American, a Canadian, and a Dane, tied or one stroke apart. Right – I think I’d better stay up.