With 18 holes to go at the U.S. Women’s Open, Inbee Park is on the verge of taking an already historic season to nearly unprecedented levels. Here’s how things shape up heading into the final round at Sebonack Golf Course, where the South Korean leads by four in search of her third consecutive major title:
What it means: On a day where course setup and weather conditions combined to make low scores few and far between, Park remained in command of the championship throughout much of the afternoon. After claiming both the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Wegmans LPGA Championship earlier this season, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open champion now holds a commanding advantage heading into Sunday at Sebonack and appears ready to hoist the trophy once again.
Round of the day: With a birdie on the closing hole, Park became the only player to break par Saturday in the third round. She appeared poised to lap the field after a 1-under 34 on the front nine, but surprisingly stumbled with three straight bogeys on holes 11-13 to give a handful of contenders a brief glimmer of hope. Already a 5-time winner on the LPGA Tour this year, though, Park bounced back immediately, holing lengthy birdie putts on Nos. 14 and 15 before the closing birdie to maintain her four-shot lead heading into the final round.
Best of the rest: On a difficult day for scoring, Creamer put together a quintessential U.S. Women’s Open round of even-par 72, carding just two birdies against two bogeys. The “Pink Panther” was accurate off the tee, missing just one fairway for the second consecutive day, and was able to play her way onto the first page of the leaderboard thanks to a sharp short game, avoiding an over-par round despite reaching just 10 of 18 greens in regulation Saturday.
Biggest disappointment: In a rare twist, the biggest disappointment “honors” go to a player that didn’t even strike a shot Saturday. That would be Michelle Wie, who had one hole left when play was suspended Friday night due to fog. At 11 over, Wie stood no chance of making the 36-hole cut, and when play was set to resume at 7a ET this morning, she was nowhere to be found. Though the withdrawal was later attributed to illness, it created an abrupt ending to the event for a player in desperate need of positive momentum.
Biggest storyline heading into Sunday: Park is the obvious answer here, as she continues her quest for season-long dominance the likes of which the women’s game has never before seen. A secondary storyline, though, is that of Jessica Korda, as the 19-year-old shocked many Saturday by firing her caddie mid-round following an on-course dispute. With her boyfriend suddenly on the bag for the back nine, Korda rebounded from an outward 5-over 40 to shoot a 1-under 36 on the inward half. It will be interesting to see who starts on the bag for Sunday’s final round – and how long he may last in that position.