KirkwoodGolf: Choi and Lewis share third-round lead at HSBC Women's Champions

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Choi and Lewis share third-round lead at HSBC Women's Champions

     South Korean teenager Na Yeon Choi ... joint leader in Singapore

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When Na Yeon Choi made a birdie to Stacy Lewis’s par at the 498 yards 18th, the two finished the third round of the HSBC Women’s Champions in a share of the lead at 14 under par in Singapore
Along with Ariya Jutanugarn, who closed at nine under, South Korean teenager Choi and American Lewis were the only players not to finish their round before an electrical storm struck at 3.14.
After the three had knocked their drives down the 18th, the siren sounded and players and spectators alike were told to leave the course. When it became clear that the storm was not about to stop, the players were ferried back to the clubhouse where they had to hang about for two and a half hours before being allowed to complete their day’s work.
“It was very frustrating,” said Lewis, who made it plain that they could have been finished without anything in the way of a delay had the players ahead moved a bit more smartly.
“The pace of play was not very good and it was very frustrating to be one of three fast players having to sit there and wait.
Choi’s frustrations evaporated when she made the birdie she needed to draw level. After Lewis had missed from 18 feet, she holed from 12 for a 67 against Lewis’s 69.
“I just stayed calm and I feel very excited to play tomorrow,” said the World No. 2.
At the start of the day, it had looked as if Lewis was set to take an early tumble from the upper reaches of the leader-board. 
The 2012 Player of the Year, working in tandem with the caddie who was crowed “HSBC Women’s Champions Caddy of the Year” on Friday night, had two hiccups in their first three holes. Choi, meantime, started birdie, birdie to edge ahead.
But Lewis is a fighter and, when she had three birdies in a row from the seventh, she was up and running. Coming home, she had two more birdies to recapture her lead before the storm intervened.
The rest of the competitors had departed the scene long before proceedings resumed.
Among them, Paula Creamer would have been thanking her lucky stars that she had finished and, following rounds of 68, 67 and 69, was tucked cosily behind the leaders on 12 under.
Having been involved in the five-car pile-up which took place on the road to the airport in Thailand last Sunday, Creamer would not have wanted to be faced with stiffening up during the rain delay. Instead, she was able to go ahead with another burst of treatment on her whiplash injuries.
The treatment would have been all the more effective in that she was already feeling good about herself after making amends for a bogey at the 16th with a fine birdie down the last. “Dinner,” she said, “will taste a whole lot better.”
Creamer and her party had seen the storm coming. They had the feeling that they were going to finish in time and had expected that the last group would do the same. “I’m honestly shocked that they didn’t get that last hole in,” she said. (Like Lewis, Creamer believes that the players have got to pull up their socks in terms of playing faster.)
Creamer’s caddie, Colin Cann, had said after his player’s opening 68 that he believed her injury problems might work in her favour. “Paula is usually a perfectionist but the accident seems to have stopped her from putting too much pressure on herself.”
Jutanugarn, during the rain break, would have been looking at finishing at ten under par and having fourth place to herself on the leader-board. Instead she closed with the par which left her on the same nine-under mark as Azahara Munoz, Danielle Kang and Sun Young Yoo.

Par 216 (3x72)
202 Na Yeon Choi (S Korea) 69 66 67, Stacy Lewis (US) 67 66 69
204 Paula Creamer (US) 68 67 69
207 Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand) 69 66 72, Azahara Munoz (Spain) 65 70 72, Danielle Kang (US) 68 69 70, Sun Young Yoo (S Korea) 67 68 72.

211 Catriona Matthew (Scotland) 70 69 72 (T17)
214 Jodi Ewart Shadoff (England) 69 71 74 (T22)
215 Suzann Pettersen (Norway) 73 70 72




SINGAPORE -- Natalie Gulbis underwent blood tests today after withdrawing from the HSBC Women's Champions with an unspecified illness her instructor initially suspected could be malaria.
Gulbis pulled out of the $1.4 million event before the second round  with flu-like symptoms. Shortly afterward, her instructor, Bruce Harmon, tweeted that both she and South Korean golfer Se Ri Pak, who withdrew from the tournament before it began with an illness, were in the hospital with malaria.
LPGA spokesperson Kelly Thesier said today, however, that Pak does not have malaria and Gulbis has yet to be diagnosed. She said Gulbis has undergone blood tests but has not been hospitalised.
Gulbis shot an opening-round 75 on Thursday before withdrawing.