Stacy Lewis and Meena Lee both sit atop a jammed leaderboard after three days of play at the North Texas LPGA Shootout Presented by JTBC at 9-under par 204. The duo leads a group of three players including Suzann Pettersen, Dori Carter and Julieta Granada by one shot.
Lewis had three birdies and a bogey in her round of 69 and went to 9-under on the par 4 12th hole. It wasn’t until Lee bogeyed the 14th hole to drop into a tie for the lead. Both players pared the final four holes.
“It was a bit frustrating,” said Lewis. “I hit the ball really, really good today and gave myself a lot of chances, but I hit a lot of good putts. You know, some days they go in and some days they don’t. But I really like going into tomorrow how windy it’s going to be, how solid my ball striking was, and you know, it’s going to be a shootout tomorrow.”
Lewis’ last victory came last year in August at St. Andrews at the RICOH Women’s British Open and said sitting on the third-round lead has almost become second nature. She has been clutch when leading after 54 holes, having won five out of the eight times she held or shared the lead heading into Sunday and hasn’t once finished outside the top-3.
“I’ve put myself in this position so many times lately, it’s kind of become normal, which is a good thing,” said Lewis. “It’s a good problem to have.”
The eight-time LPGA Tour winner still plays with a chip on her shoulder attitude and said she has something to prove tomorrow.
“You know, I like that I’m tied for the lead and I’m not satisfied with today’s round,” Lewis said. “That’s what I like the most is that I think I’m going to come out tomorrow, you know, just kind of with a little bit more of something to prove instead of, you know, worrying about things. And you know, I gotta go take care of myself tomorrow. That’s the most important thing with the stacked leaderboard.”
Meena Lee finished with a 1-under 70 and said she’s embracing the moment of seeing her name at the top of the leaderboard. It marks the first time in her career holding a share of the 54-hole lead. Her last victory came eight years ago at the 2006 Fields Open in Hawaii.
“My last one was 2006,” said Lee. “It’s been a while. I’m very excited and kind of nervous, but I’m enjoying definitely the moment.”
Lee hasn’t had more than 29 putts in a single round this week at Las Colinas and thinks tomorrow will be won on the greens.
“It definitely is going to be the putting,” said Lee. “I didn’t really take advantage of a lot of birdie chances today, so I want to make more birdies tomorrow and see how it goes.”
Suzann Pettersen shot a 3-under 68 with four birdies and a bogey to position herself well heading into Sunday sitting one shot off the lead. The Norwegian said it will definitely take a low number to win.
“You gotta go and try to go super low,” said Pettersen. “I mean there’s too many in the hunt. Everyone is going to chase the course. So I think you gotta go pretty low tomorrow to win this out right.”
Jennifer Johnson shot the low round of the day with a 6-under 65 and jumped from a T28 to a tie for sixth.
The second cut of the unique “shootout” format of the tournament fell at even-par 213 with 51 players making it to Sunday’s final round. Alison Walshe (67) and Pernilla Lindberg (68) were the only two players to play their way inside the cut line on Saturday.
By the looks of the leaderboard after three rounds of play at the North Texas LPGA Shootout, it would be no surprise to have an exciting finish on Sunday. Fourteen players are all within three shots of each other and that group includes seven Tour winners and have a collective 44 career victories. With names like Cristie Kerr (-7), Natalie Gulbis (-7), Christina Kim (-7) and Inbee Park (-6) all within striking distance, the “shootout” title will likely live up to the hype.
MAKE MORE PUTTS
Stacy Lewis is in the hunt yet again this week at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.
“It was a bit frustrating. I hit the ball really, really good today and gave myself a lot of chances, but I hit a lot of good putts,” Lewis sadi. “You know, some days they go in and some days they don’t.”
One of Lewis’ biggest fans, Cole Wysocki, her three-year-old nephew was in attendace yet again and had some advice for his aunt following the round.
“Make more putts.”
Lewis had 34 putts on her round today compared to 26 yesterday.
“My last one was 2006. It’s been a while. I’m very excited and kind of nervous, but I’m definitely enjoying the moment,” Lee said after her round.
Lee had a solid day on Saturday to remain in the hunt shooting a one-under 70. Lee’s putter again proved to be a weapon as the Korean needed only 29 putts on the day. For the tournament, Lee is averaging 27.3 putts per round.
“It definitely is going to be the putting,” said Lee in regards to the key to victory tomorrow. “I didn’t really take advantage of a lot of birdie chances today, so I want to make more birdies tomorrow and see how it goes.”
Dori Carter put together a solid round of 68 (-3) today and will be playiing in the penultimate group for the first time in her career tomorrow.
“Today was just pretty steady. I made a lot of pars today, took advantage of the par 5s as well,” Carter said. “And you know, I just stayed with it, stayed within myself and didn’t really get too ahead of myself and think too much of it. I just tried to play as best I could and turned out to be a really steady round.”
Carter held a 54-hole lead and played in the third to last group out at the Kia Classic earlier in the year and hopes to draw off of that going into tomorrow’s final round.
“I’m going to rely on that experience quite a bit, especially tomorrow. I learned a lot about playing the weekend and playing well and playing with, you know, a lot of the top players as well who are also in the hunt.”
Asked if she plans on changing anything, Carter calmly replied.
“I’m going to stick with it. You know, it’s got me to a second opportunity, a second chance in the hunt, and so why would I change it, I guess?”
YOU GOTTA GO LOW
Suzann Pettersen sits a shot back after at 8-under after a third round 68. The Rolex Rankings No. 4 player in the world had a sturdy round with four birdies against a lone birdie. Ball striking was a key for Pettersen on the day as she hit 17 greens on the day.
“I didn’t feel like I played my best golf toward the end but at the end of the day I’m in a good position,” Pettersen admitted. “Just going to go try and figure a few things out on the range.”
Asked about her approach to tomorrow Pettersen said, “You gotta go and try to go super low. I mean there’s too many in the hunt. Everyone is going to chase the course. So I think you gotta go pretty low tomorrow to win this out right.”
ROLEX RANKINGS MOVES UP FOR GRABS
After Lydia Ko’s win and Stacy Lewis’ runner-up finish last week at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, Suzann Pettersen got bumped down from No. 2 to No. 4 in the Rolex World Women’s Golf Rankings. Pettersen has a chance to move out of the No. 4 spot, but needs to win this week to do so. It also depends on where Lewis finishes:
If Lewis wins of finishes in solo 2nd: Lewis goes to #2
If Pettersen wins and Lewis finishes 2nd: Lewis goes to #2 and Pettersen to #3
If Pettersen wins and Lewis finishes T2 (with one or two players): Pettersen goes to #2 and Lewis stays #3
If Pettersen wins and Lewis finishes T2 (with three or more players) or worse: Pettersen goes to #2 and Lewis to #4
EAGLES FOR A CAUSE
“Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends” is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship.
Today, two eagles were recorded which brings the total money raised this year to $97,000. Through the first nine tournaments prior to the North Texas LPGA Shootout, $95,000 had been raised.
WORKING ON SUNDAY
51 players made the secondary cut at 213 (E). Notable players who missed the secondary cut include Angela Stanford (+1) and Jessica Korda (+2).
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Wow, I mean, this is pretty incredible to see all the young not just young juniors, but young girls. I mean literally, I’ve seen a bunch, and that’s huge. It’s really cool for the game of golf and really cool for an LPGA player. You know, I used to be that little girl watching the LPGA tournament and that sort of stuff, and if I can give back in any way I can, you know, even if it’s just a smile and a wave, you know, if that encourages one person, that’s pretty cool.”
–Dori Crater on the number of young girls who are out at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.
THE SOCIAL SCENE
Despite missing the cut at the North Texas LPGA Shootout Sandra Changkija was treated to a cool expereince in Irving as her tournament locker was located next to a former President’s who happens to be a member at Las Colinas.
“pretty cool that President George W. Bush’s locker was right next to mine this week! @NTShootout”
Q. I'm now joined by co‑leader, Stacy Lewis here at the North Texas LPGA Shootout. Stacy, another very solid round. Talk about the round today, how you feel going into the final round tomorrow.
STACY LEWIS: It was a bit frustrating. I hit the ball really, really good today and gave myself a lot of chances, but I hit a lot of good putts. You know, some days they go in and some days they don't.
But I really like going into tomorrow how windy it's going to be, how solid my ball striking was, and you know, it's going to be a shootout tomorrow.
Q. Yeah. I think it was Natalie mentioned, I think they aptly named this tournament, shootout. Stacked leaderboard going into tomorrow. Do you think that's going to influence your approach going into the final?
STACY LEWIS: It doesn't. I think with the wind this golf course plays so hard, you have to stay patient and just keep giving yourself chances and hopefully you make a few putts at the end.
Q. You keep saying you're so comfortable here, your family is here. You have your No. 1 fan Cole here.
COLE WYSOCKI: Yeah.
Q. Cole, did you have fun today?
COLE WYSOCKI: Yep.
Q. Who do you want to win this weekend?
COLE WYSOCKI: Stace.
Q. Stacy. Do you think she played well today?
COLE WYSOCKI: Yeah.
Q. What do you think she could do better?
COLE WYSOCKI: Make some putts.
Q. Make a couple putts. Okay. Hopefully she can make a couple putts tomorrow. Thanks, Stacy. Good luck tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Well, I would like to welcome in our third round co‑leader, Stacy Lewis. Stacy, I thought a pretty decent round, but you said some frustrations out there today. Where were the trouble spots that are in the third round.
STACY LEWIS: It was very frustrating. You know, I hit the ball so good today, especially on the Back 9, gave myself a lot of good looks at birdie, and I couldn't get a putt to go in. I had so many that they just went right over the top edge and finished right behind the hole. And those are putts you go back and you wouldn't really do anything different.
So I don't know, I mean the encouraging thing is that I'm hitting the ball great. I have a lot of control over the different shots I'm trying to hit, which is good going into tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Take us through 18. I know they were talking about the decision whether to hit driver or hybrid, and you absolutely crushed the tee shot. Take us through that entire hole.
STACY LEWIS: Well, actually I hit 3‑wood down there today, and you know, the last few days it's kind of been a left to right wind which usually knocks my down a little bit. So I had a little bit of help, so I just ripped 3‑wood down there, and actually pretty far past their drivers.
And then I was inside 200 front, so it was kind of a no‑brainer to hit it up there, and actually hit it into a pretty good spot. And then the putt from the fringe was, if it's just the last kind of five feet, it's all downhill. There's kind of different levels there, and if it just goes a little bit harder, it goes all the way to the hole. So it was close to being really good.
THE MODERATOR: Sure. You and Meena kind of battled back and forth all day. Have you played a lot with her or what's impressed you about her game.
STACY LEWIS: I haven't played a lot of golf with her. You know, she's just really solid. She didn't put herself in too much trouble, kind of went over a couple of greens, but I think that's just the difference of the wind from the last two days. It switched today. So just very solid tee to green.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Stacy.
Q. Stacy, you said it's encouraging that you're hitting the ball well and there's a lot of things you wouldn't do differently, but how do you kind of put this frustration behind you. Because there were several times we could see, obviously you poked a shot and you would be looking down?
STACY LEWIS: I mean it's golf. As many rounds as we play, you know, you're going to hit some putts that you think are going to miss and they end up going in. So I mean I don't know. It's just the way it is sometimes, and the thing about it is that I hit my lines. I hit it the right speed. You know, it wasn't like they were going way by the hole or anything. They were just tap‑ins coming back. So I'm doing a lot of good things. The encouraging thing is that I'm tied for the lead. Even with all the missed shots today, I'm still tied for the lead and I have a chance for tomorrow.
Q. Meena missed a lot of putts as well today. Was there something different with the greens at all? Did they roll as pure?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I mean no one in our group really made many putts today, and I don't know ‑‑ I thought some of the hole locations were a little bit tougher. It was harder to ‑‑ a couple of back pins it was just hard to get all the way back to the hole without going over. But as far as speed wise, they felt the same. It was just maybe in some different spots.
Q. Stacy, how do you approach tomorrow with so many players right behind you? As leader do you go out conservatively and see what happens or do you just attack and attack?
STACY LEWIS: You gotta play this golf course. I think the way ‑‑ there's a couple of tee shots that are pretty goofy really on this golf course, so kind of as tricky as this golf course is, you have to be a little conservative. But then there's some holes that if you got a wedge into a green, you can be pretty aggressive. So it's really sticking to the same game plan.
I think my caddie and I have done really well. We did well today adjusting with the wind as far as what to hit off the tees, because it was completely opposite of yesterday. So it's going to be windy tomorrow. It's going to play hard, which I love it. I love it when it plays hard. And I think, you know, the best player is definitely going to win in the wind.
THE MODERATOR: Do you have any different feeling sleeping on the lead going into the final round than any other tournament, maybe not so much. I know you've been in this position.
STACY LEWIS: I've been doing it a few times.
THE MODERATOR: Well enough, but just having the lead now, are you more on edge? Are you feeling a little bit of competitive juices going? Is it any different than when you're not so much in contention.
STACY LEWIS: I mean it's hard to say, I've put myself in this position so many times lately, it's kind of become normal, which is a good thing. It's a good problem to have.
You know, I like that I'm tied for the lead and I'm not satisfied with today's round. That's what I like the most is that I think I'm going to come out tomorrow, you know, just kind of with a little bit more of something to prove instead of, you know, worrying about things. And you know, I gotta go take care of myself tomorrow. That's the most important thing with the stacked leaderboard.
Q. Playing in windy conditions, how does this course play when it does get up to 25 or something like that, which is the forecast for tomorrow?
STACY LEWIS: You know, some holes play harder, some play easier. It's a pretty good mix. I think it's supposed to stay kind of southwest, which was today's wind. So it's definitely going to play a lot different than yesterday in the wind.
So I think when it's windy, though, I think there's a few more birdie opportunities just because some holes play shorter. But in general, usually when it's windy it's harder. You gotta shape some shots, you know, you have cross winds, things like that. And I love that. I mean I'd rather play in the wind than like today.
THE MODERATOR: Not too many low scores today. Is there a certain maybe ballpark number you think tomorrow is going to win it.
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I'm not even going to ‑‑ I'm never good at that stuff. I mean I think you just gotta take care of yourself and see what happens.
Q. Here with Meena Lee. Talk about your round today. You shot 1‑under par. You sit at minus 9 for the tournament. Tied for the lead going into the final round.
MEENA LEE: Overall it was really good. I'm happy, and I'm happy with how I played.
Q. And then you're tied for the lead. You've won on tour before. Do you think having a couple wins on your belt will give you some confidence going into tomorrow?
MEENA LEE: My last one was 2006. It's been a while. I'm very excited and kind of nervous, but I'm enjoying definitely the moment.
Q. You played really good all week. Can you kind of talk about how this week can help you build on the rest of the season going forward?
MEENA LEE: I gained a lot of confidence this week and then we have one week off next week and then we still have four tournaments to go after that. So I'm very excited and happy in what I can do. So excited.
Q. What do you think the biggest key is going to be for your game tomorrow? Will it be putting again? I know you said yesterday that putting really helped you out in your really good round.
MEENA LEE: It definitely is going to be the putting. I didn't really take advantage of a lot of birdie chances today, so I want to make more birdies tomorrow and see how it goes.
Q. And then finally, there's a lot of people within two, three shots of the lead. Does that change your approach any way going into tomorrow or do you just keep playing your game?
MEENA LEE: Yeah, I try not to think about how other players doing. I'm just going to focus on what I'm doing and just do my best.
Q. Joined by Suzann Pettersen here after a 3‑under round today. 8‑under for the tournament. In contention. What was working out there for you today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know. Just pretty steady from the tee. I didn't feel like I played my best golf toward the end but at the end of the day I'm in a good position. Just going to go try and figure a few things out on the range.
Q. You mentioned that you're in a good position despite not playing your best. Leaderboard is pretty stacked. A lot of people in the hunt. Does that change your approach going into tomorrow with that many people in contention?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No. I mean I think today was the best conditions scoring wise. I think tomorrow the wind is supposed to pick up again, and a little different direction. So today, I mean pretty ideal conditions, so I thought at 3‑under no big mistakes out there, but still, I left a few out there.
Q. And then going into tomorrow, do you have a number in mind or are you just going to play your game and see how it shakes out?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You gotta go and try to go super low. I mean there's too many in the hunt. Everyone is going to chase the course. So I think you gotta go pretty low tomorrow to win this out right.
Q. And you've been in the hunt a lot over the past year, so you have that experience knowing what it takes to close. How do you see that playing as an advantage for you going into tomorrow?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know. Experience is good to have every now and again, but I mean tomorrow is a new day, it's a new year, and the course is a little different. So I just gotta go out with a fresh mindset.
Q. And finally you mentioned you're going to hit the range. Any plans for after that going into tomorrow or just same strategy as always?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Just go work out a little bit, get some treatment.
Q. All right. We're here with Dori Carter, 3‑under on the day, 8‑under for the tournament. Talk us through your round today and what was working for you out there.
DORI CARTER: Today was just pretty steady. I made a lot of pars today, took advantage of the par‑5s as well. I was able to birdie the par‑5s, which helped my score, and I made a lot of pars, especially on the Back 9, which played a little tough.
And you know, I just stayed with it, stayed within myself and didn't really get too ahead of myself and think too much of it. I just tried to play as best I could and turned out to be a really steady round.
Q. You're in the hunt again. A lot of people up on that leaderboard. You were in contention at Kia a couple of months ago. Can you kind of tell us what you took from that experience and how you'll use that going forward tomorrow?
DORI CARTER: Well, the good thing about the Kia tournament and getting your first Top 10 and getting that experience, the good thing so far is that I knew it wasn't going to be my only one. So now I've been there and it's a big step for me, a big jump for my career, and this year I've played really well.
And yeah, I'm going to rely on that experience quite a bit, especially tomorrow. I learned a lot about playing the weekend and playing well and playing with, you know, a lot of the top players as well who are also in the hunt. So I'm going to rely on that experience and really use my caddie and talk it out and take it one shot at a time and try to just do what I've been doing the last few days, and that's birdieing the holes that are available to birdie and then playing the other holes strategically well and putting myself in position.
And you know, we'll see what happens. That's what you gotta do, you know. No matter what, if you play well, you're happy with yourself, and you might fall at the top and you might fall somewhere else, but I'm just going to try to play the best I can and then see where I fall.
Q. Did you change anything after that Kia experience? Are you going to maybe hit some more balls or take a different approach the night before or are you just going to stick with what got you here?
DORI CARTER: I'm going to stick with it. You know, it's got me to a second opportunity, a second chance in the hunt, and so why would I change it, I guess? Kind of just stick with what I have and you know, get a good night's sleep and warm up the same way I do tomorrow and maybe leave this afternoon and just go back and rest. Expecting another hot day tomorrow, so I probably need as much rest as I can get, stay hydrated and that sort of stuff. So I'll just probably head home and then tomorrow get back up and do it again.
Q. All right. And then finally, this tournament's had a lot of young golfers out on the course, a lot of girls golf program girls, a lot of high school teams. What does that mean to you as a player to see this younger crowd out here and the support they've given you?
DORI CARTER: Wow, I mean, this is pretty incredible to see all the young ‑‑ not just young juniors, but young girls. I mean literally, I've seen a bunch, and that's huge. It's really cool for the game of golf and really cool for an LPGA player.
You know, I used to be that little girl watching the LPGA tournament and that sort of stuff, and if I can give back in any way I can, you know, even if it's just a smile and a wave, you know, if that encourages one person, that's pretty cool.
And a lot of girls. You know, I'm really impressed with how much girls' golf has grown, and even in this area, seems like there are a lot of good players and a lot of girls here interested. So what a great opportunity to have an event here in this area. I think it's only a win‑win for everybody.