R&A Chief announces no expectation of women attempting to qualify for Open

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Michelle Wie

Michelle Wie

Six years after women received the chance to qualify for the British Open, not one has even attempted it. And Royal and Ancient Club Chief Executive Peter Dawson doubts he will see it happen in his lifetime.

 

“It’s certainly gone off the agenda, hasn’t it?” said Dawson April 19 at the all-male Royal St. George’s Club, where this year’s championship takes place on July 14-17. “I don’t expect to see a woman trying to qualify in my lifetime, but the opportunity is there.”

The entry form was changed in 2005, two years after then-world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam played an event on the PGA Tour and a year after Michelle Wie, a mere 14 at the time, had missed the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii by a single shot.

But Sorenstam is now retired and for the last four years Wie has not achieved the top-5 finish in one of the women’s majors that would allow her to tee off in an Open regional qualifying competition — even if she wanted to, which currently seems unlikely.

So the “top-5 rule” created by the R&A has not been tested yet.

“Until women have a track record at trying to qualify, we have no idea whether we have pitched it correctly or not,” said Dawson. “But why should golf be any different? We don’t see men and women playing tennis against each other, running against each other or rowing against each other.”

As for the membership policy at this year’s venue, Dawson stated: “Single-sex golf clubs — men only and women only — are very few in number and they do tend to be the older clubs.

“It’s not as if they’ve made a conscious decision. They’ve just carried on as they always have,” he added. “I think it’s a matter for them to decide how they operate within the law. We don’t use the Open for what I might call social engineering.

“I’m sure that as generations come through, members will take a view on this as the years go by,” he explained. “If it was true that single sex clubs were affecting golf participation, I would take a different view on it, but there are such a small number and in time I’m sure attitudes to this subject will change. I think the media are far more interested in this than people in golf, but I don’t want to sound in any way complacent.”

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Stacy Lewis takes a three shot lead into weekend of Kraft Nabisco golf tournament

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Stacy Lewis

Stacy Lewis

In the three years since Stacy Lewis lost a third-round lead at the U.S. Women’s Open in her first pro tournament, she traveled the globe, opened her mind and thoroughly revamped her game.

A few bad iron shots and a little desert heat just aren’t such challenges any more.

Lewis persevered through more triple-digit temperatures to shoot a 3-under 69 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Friday, opening a three-stroke lead over Yani Tseng, Brittany Lincicome and Jane Park.

Michelle Wie shot a 67, matching the day’s best round and closing within six shots in contention for her first major title. Tseng, the defending champion and the world’s top-ranked player, shot a 68, while first-round co-leader Lincicome mustered a 72 to stay one stroke ahead of Morgan Pressel and Amy Yang.

The leaders all managed to thrive on dry, speedy greens during a second windless day at Mission Hills, with the temperature topping 100 degrees by midday.

But Lewis pulled ahead at 9-under par after several big putts during the second round, smoothly reaching the halfway point of the LPGA Tour’s first major in strong position to chase her first victory during what’s expected to be a cooler weekend.

“My round was all over the place,” said Lewis, who shared the first-round lead. “But I made some really good up-and-downs and stayed really patient on the back nine, and I was fortunate to get away with a couple of pars that I probably shouldn’t have.”

Big things were expected from Lewis after she burst onto the tour with a third-place finish behind Inbee Park at Interlachen in 2008, nearly becoming the first player to win a major in her professional debut.

Although she’s now a solid pro, finishing 21st on last season’s money list, she hasn’t won. She’s still enduring the maturation of any player coming out of college — finding a swing guru, figuring out the hectic travel schedule and mentally managing through weeks away from home, sometimes on the opposite side of the globe from her home in Texas.

“I just feel like I have a really good group of people around me now,” Lewis said.

That group sometimes includes Lincicome, her road roommate and good friend. It also includes Betsy King, who accompanied Lewis on a trip to Africa with Lewis’ mother.

Her experience in Rwanda, meeting families in a daily struggle for water and survival, affected her just as much as her ongoing charity work with dozens of young people with scoliosis, the same spinal affliction she overcame.

“I saw things (in Rwanda) I never thought I’d see in my life,” Lewis said. “It was such a shock to me that people live the way that they do, but they are so happy and so grateful. It just makes me grateful for everything that I have, and it gave me a renewed purpose of what I’m doing out here. The better I play golf, the more I can help other people, the more I can inspire other people.”

Lewis had to be resourceful from the opening holes Friday. She made tough putts on three straight holes before putting her tee shot on the nine behind a tree. She saved herself with a 200-yard hybrid shot and an up-and-down par before finishing strong with a bogey-free back nine.

Lewis and Wie memorably went to the same LPGA Q-school in December 2008. While Wie’s presence got all the headlines, Lewis had the five-round event’s best score.

Wie was 2 over in Thursday’s first round, but she rallied impressively Friday morning after a horrible start.

Her first tee shot flew into the gallery and beaned a little girl, who needed attention from paramedics. Wie couldn’t stick around to see how she was doing.

“I never felt so horrible about a shot ever,” said Wie, who has drilled a few spectators in her day with a sometimes-erratic approach from the tee. “I felt so horrible about hitting that poor little girl. … I thought I had hit a sprinkler or a tree or something. The little girl was the last thing on my mind, but hopefully she’s OK.”

Park played her way into the Kraft Nabisco field with a top-30 finish at last week’s Kia Classic. The Los Angeles-area native, who missed the 2009 season with a back injury, excelled on the dry, fast greens of Mission Hills, which she first played when she was 16.

“The first time I played here, the golf course is just so visually intimidating,” Park said. “Now, it still looks intimidating, but I’m not really afraid of the golf course, which is what was running through my mind as a kid.”

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Lincicome and Lewis share first round of Kraft Nabisco Championship

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Brittany Linicome at Nabisco Tournament

Brittany Linicome at Nabisco Tournament

Lincicome and Stacy Lewis are splitting more than dinner checks and lodging bills at the LPGA Tour’s first major of the year.

The fast friends and occasional road roommates overcame the stifling desert heat to shoot 6-under 66s Thursday, sharing the first-round lead at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Sandra Gal and Mika Miyazato were one shot back, while world No. 1 Yani Tseng was in a group in 10th place at 2 under.

Despite playing in the hotter part of an unseasonably scorching day, Lincicome and Lewis handled the fast, dry Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills with similar aplomb after temperatures topped 90 degrees by midday in the Palm Springs area. Their caddies were given permission to take off their jumpsuits when it rose above 100 during the afternoon rounds.

Although they aren’t rooming together this week because their parents made the trip, they went to dinner together Wednesday night and chatted with Rosie Jones before making identically excellent starts.

“Stacy has been a great friend for a little while now,” Lincicome said. “If we don’t want our fathers or mothers to go to a tournament, we’ll stay together, but she’s just a really nice girl. We’re kind of the same age, very low-maintenance for both of us, so it’s very easy-going.”

Lincicome’s win at the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship is the three-time tour winner’s only victory in nearly four years, while Lewis is still looking for her first official win on tour. Lincicome is off to a remarakbly consistent start this season, while Lewis is hoping to harness her increased strength for better results.

The heat is supposed to break on the weekend, but Lincicome and Lewis both worried about the damage.

“Being a course that I love and I love to play, I’d hate for them to lose the greens,” Lincicome said. “Especially No. 1, and there was one other green turning brown, even — or purple, which can’t be good.”

Lewis made three straight birdies on the back nine immediately after her only bogey, hitting consecutive exceptional iron shots.

Lewis has significantly improved her distance over the past year, adding 25 yards to her drives with help from strength training and swing coaching. After bouncing back from surgery to correct her scoliosis during college, Lewis is hoping her play can be an inspiration to others with spinal woes, including a group of young girls she visited during the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix two weeks ago.

“I really don’t mind the heat at all,” Lewis said. “I’d rather have hot and humid heat than dry heat, but I grew up in Texas during the summers, so I’m used to playing when it’s over 100 degrees. I say bring it, because the ball goes a mile, so I like it.”

Gal chipped in from 15 yards on her fourth hole and hung on for another solid opening round with strong putting. The lanky German earned her first career victory at last week’s Kia Classic, played in chilly conditions outside Los Angeles.

“With your first win, you still don’t know what to expect coming into the next week,” Gal said. “All the people that came to me and all the congrats from everyone, which I really appreciate, it was a lot. So I probably didn’t prepare as well as I would for a major championship normally.”

Karrie Webb shot a 69, while Morgan Pressel joined Tseng at 70. Tseng was partnered with Gal.

“So hot today,” Tseng said. There’s no wind. I had an umbrella out there.”

Michelle Wie felt grateful to escape with an opening-round 74, making three bogeys in her quest for her first major title.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Wie said. “I did a lot of damage control today, so hopefully tomorrow I’ll do a lot better.”

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Sandra Gal takes win at Kia Classic to become the second German winner in LPGA Tour history

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Sandra Gal

Sandra Gal

Sandra Gal won the Kia Classic on Sunday to become the second German winner in LPGA Tour history, beating second-ranked Jiyai Shin with a 2-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

The 25-year-old Gal, a former University of Florida player, made the winning putt after Shin’s 5-foot birdie attempt caught the right edge and spun out.

“It was big pressure, she was so close to the hole,” Shin said. “I was thinking I had to make it.”

Gal closed with a 2-under 71 to finish at 16-under 276 on the Industry Hills Golf Club course at Pacific Palms. She set up the winning birdie with a sand wedge shot from 83 yards on the par-5 18th.

“I was trying to hole it,” Gal said. “I came close. I thought I made it.”

Tina Fischer is the only other Germany champion. She won the 2001 Asahi Ryokuken International.

“I had the belief coming out this morning that I could win,” Gal said. “I thought I could do it. I just tried to play the course instead of Jiyai.”

Shin, an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour, finished with a 73.

Cristie Kerr shot a 66 to tie for third with In-kyung Kim (70) at 11 under.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng (67) and Na Yeon Choi (73) were 9 under, and Michelle Wie (70) was another stroke back along with Marcy Hart (65) and Mindy Kim (71).

“I felt like I shot a lot better than what I scored,” Wie said. “Overall, I had a lot of fun. I played as hard as I can.”

Shin took a one-stroke lead over Gal into the final round, but dropped two strokes back with three bogeys on the front nine. The South Korean star pulled even on the par-3 13th, making a birdie while Gal had her lone bogey of the day.

“My putter was not working good,” Shin said. “I had a lot of chances for birdies but didn’t make them.”

Shin took a one-stroke lead with a birdie on the par-3 15th, and Gal countered with a birdie on the par-4 16th to set up the finish. On 18, Gal’s wedge shot hit past the hole and spun back, nearly going in the hole.

“I was digging really deep,” Gal said.

Gal earned $255,000 in the tournament, the tour’s first event in the Los Angeles area in six years.

The Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the season, is next week at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage.

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Jiyai Shin shoots bogey free 64 to lead Kia Classic by four shots

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Jiyai Shin

Jiyai Shin

Second-ranked Jiyai Shin shot a bogey-free 9-under 64, birdieing nine of the first 14 holes, to take a four-stroke lead Friday in the rain-delayed Kia Classic.

“I jumped on the birdie bus,” Shin said.

The South Korean star, an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour, had a 12-under 134 total on the Industry Hills Golf Club course at Pacific Palms. Seventy-two players, all of the afternoon starters, were unable to finish the round after rain delayed the start three hours.

“I think I’m really lucky to finish,” Shin said. “I played very well, so I’ll take a good rest.”

Germany’s Sandra Gal was second at 8 under with nine holes left when play was suspended for the day because of darkness. Amanda Blumenherst, the first-round leader, and Chella Choi were third at 6 under. Blumenherst had nine holes remaining, while Choi shot a 68.

“Because of the rain delay this morning, I was a little tired,” Choi said. “But it actually gave me more time to prepare and warm up, and things went well from there.”

Michelle Wie, returning to the tour after finishing finals at Stanford, followed an opening 68 with a 75 to drop nine strokes behind Shin at 3 under. Wie bogeyed three of her final four holes.

“Just kind of didn’t get a couple of holes going,” Wie said. “Just kind of mis-hit a couple of shots and missed a couple putts and I guess that’s the difference it makes. … You have to be on the right side of the fairway, because there are trees blocking out half of the green, so it’s really about management.”

Shin, trying to regain the top spot in the world from Yani Tseng, missed only one fairway and one green in regulation and finished with 25 putts. She made four birdie putts from 12 feet or longer.

“My goal was 3 under par, so I just kept thinking before the round to make a couple birdies and no bogeys,” Shin said. “I just kept focused for my shot. It was really easy, simple play.”

Blumenherst, a stroke ahead of Gal after the first round, was four shots behind when she started the second round late in the afternoon.

“I was not watching at all,” Blumenherst said. “I had no idea of what was going on. It’s just part of the game.”

Tseng, the winner of the season-opening Honda LPGA Thailand and three other worldwide events this year, was 2 under for the tournament with five holes left. Karrie Webb, coming off her second straight victory Sunday in Phoenix, was 2 over — also with five holes remaining in the round.

The tournament is the tour’s first in the Los Angeles area in six years. Last year at La Costa in Carlsbad, Hee Kyung Seo won her first LPGA Tour title, beating Inbee Park by six strokes. Seo was in position to miss the cut following rounds of 77 and 73.

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Four straight birdies puts Blumenherst in a one shot lead of the Kia Classic

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Amanda Blumenherst

Amanda Blumenherst

Amanda Blumenherst birdied the final four holes for a 7-under 66 and a one-stroke lead over Germany’s Sanda Gal on Thursday in the Kia Classic.

Blumenherst, the former Duke star seeking her first LPGA Tour victory, had nine birdies and two bogeys in her opening round on the Industry Hills Golf Club course at Pacific Palms.

The American took advantage of tranquil morning conditions on the rain-softened course.

“The fairways are extremely soft right now. So are the greens,” Blumenherst said. “It’s playing a lot longer than it says on the card, which actually suits me because I’m one of the longer ballstrikers.”

Michelle Wie birdied the par-5 18th for a 68. The Kia endorser, returning to the tour after finishing finals at Stanford, played in chilly conditions late in the afternoon.

“It was very cold out there, especially during the end,” Wie said. “It’s a tough course. You’ve got to be patient out there, and hopefully tomorrow do the same thing and hopefully have a couple more birdies.”

Blumenherst played the back nine in 5-under 30.

“I’m playing so well, just the scores have not been coming together,” she said. “The putts haven’t been falling. And I just haven’t been playing as smart as I should. Just everything came together today.”

Gal also had four consecutive birdies on her back nine. She finished with seven birdies and a bogey.

“I think it’s a ballstriker’s course,” Gal said. “You’ve got to hit the fairway and be precise with your yardages. I think that’s my game.”

Wie relied on power and accuracy on the soggy course.

“I think that (length) is an advantage, but obviously it’s a very tight golf course, so you have to be on the fairway,” Wie said. “I think that you have to have a combination of both.”

Second-ranked Jiyai Shin was four strokes back at 70 along with Reilley Rankin, Mika Miyazato, I.K. Kim, Catriona Matthew and Amy Hung.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the winner of the season-opening Honda LPGA Thailand and three other worldwide events this year, opened with a 71. Karrie Webb, coming off her second straight victory Sunday in Phoenix, shot a 72.

The tournament is the tour’s first in the Los Angeles area in six years. Last year at La Costa in Carlsbad, Hee Kyung Seo won her first LPGA Tour title, beating Inbee Park by six strokes. Seo shot a 77 on Thursday.

Dori Carter was unable to finish the final hole because of darkness.

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Tseng wins over Michelle Wie in Thailand

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Yani Tseng wins in Thailand

Yani Tseng wins in Thailand

Top-ranked Yani Tseng earned her third tournament win in three weeks Sunday, shooting a 6-under 66 to pull away for a comfortable five-shot victory over Michelle Wie in the Honda LPGA Thailand. The event served as the season opener on the 2011 LPGA Tour calendar.

Tseng led by one stroke over Wie and In-kyung Kim going into the final round and had the lowest score of the day with seven birdies and one bogey to finish at 15-under 273.

2011 HONDA LPGA THAILAND

The Honda LPGA Thailand is the season-opener on the 2011 LPGA Tour calendar.

Wie settled for a 70 to finish second, while Kim had a 71 was another stroke back in a tie for third with Karrie Webb, who shot a 69. Paula Creamer was fifth at 8 under after a 71.

Tseng took over the No. 1 ranking after winning back-to-back Ladies European Tour events, the Women’s Australian Open two weeks ago and then the Australian Ladies Masters last weekend.

“I just tried my best and I know I had lots of confidence,” Tseng said about winning three weeks in a row. “But with all the great golfers out here, you never know until the last putt drops in.”

Kim birdied three of her first six holes to sit tied for the lead with Tseng, and was at 13 under after a birdie on the 13th. However, she made a quintuple bogey on the 17th to fall out of contention before finishing with a birdie to secure a tie for third.

Wie also put pressure on Tseng by chipping in for a birdie on the first hole and picking up two more shots on the sixth and seventh. But she didn’t make another birdie the rest of the way and was four shots behind Tseng when she bogeyed the 17th.

“I feel like I played good out there today, but on the back nine I just didn’t make anything,” Wie said. “Yani played fantastic. She played like a rock star out there. She made every single putt and zero mistakes. Congrats to her.”

Tseng will go for a fourth straight victory next week in Singapore.

“I have lots of confidence and I’m looking forward to next week to see if I can win,” she said. “I feel very excited every week. I just focused on this week. I think to myself, ‘Last week has passed, don’t put pressure on this week.’ Next week is a new week and I’ll enjoy it.”

AUSTRALIA’S SMITH WINS IN NEW ZEALAND: Also Sunday, Australia’s Kristie Smith shot a 4-under 68 to overtake Italy’s Giulia Sergas and win the New Zealand Women’s Open.

Smith finished with a 72-hole total of 12-under-par 276 to claim her first title on the Ladies European Tour. Smith, a former Australian amateur champion, turned professional in 2009 and won her first title last year on the Australian LPGA Tour.

“I am over the moon,” she said. “My goal this year was to win on the LET Tour and it’s nice to do it early. I think I will have to reassess my goals. They had been to finish in the top five on the LET money list and play well in the majors.”

Sergas, penalized a stroke after Saturday’s round for slow play, entered the final round with a four-stroke lead, but the Italian had two bogeys and a triple bogey on her first three holes to finish with a 76.

Sergas shared second place with American Tiffany Joh, a graduate student at UCLA who shot a 70 to move up five places in the final round Sunday.

Defending champion Laura Davies briefly led the standings Sunday before dropping back with a triple bogey on the fourth hole. She finished with a 77 and was eight strokes behind the winner.

Sergas entered the final round with a four-stroke lead, but had two bogeys and a triple bogey on her first three holes Sunday and shot a 76.

Sergas and American Tiffany Joh, a UCLA graduate student, tied for second. Joh posted a 2-under 70 in the final round.

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Padraig Harrington adopts new role for R & A – just announced

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Padraig Harrington new Ambassador

Padraig Harrington new Ambassador

Two-time British Open champion has become the first “Working for Golf” ambassador for the sport’s ruling Royal and Ancient Club.

The 39-year-old Dubliner, who at Birkdale three years ago became the first European golfer to make a successful defense of the Claret Jug since James Braid in 1906, will be promoting the work of the St. Andrews-based governing body on his travels. He also won the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

“Padraig is a role model in the game and when he offered his time to support our golf development and rules education activities, we recognized the potential to reach the widest possible audience,” said R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson. “His active involvement in golf’s bid to rejoin the Olympic Games was an important factor in our success in what is a key development for the future growth of the game.”

Harrington, along with Matteo Manassero, Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen, spoke at the bid presentation to the International Olympic Committee two years ago, and golf will return to the Games in Brazil in 2016 after an absence of more than a century.

In his new role, he will coach young people in R&A-funded golf development programs, appear in Rules of Golf multi-media productions, promote the etiquette of the game, take part in biomechanical equipment testing sessions and support the work of the R&A Foundation.

“The R&A has been a constant feature of my development in the game, from playing in boys and amateur events through to winning the Open Championship,” Harrington said. “I appreciate all the guidance and opportunities they provided along the way. I am delighted to have this opportunity to give something positive back to the game, particularly in those countries around the world where golf is still in its infancy, introducing boys and girls to golf so they can benefit from the values that the game teaches you.

“I am constantly amazed at how much the R&A do for the game worldwide from development to the rules, etiquette and other areas,” he added. “The more I learnt the more I wanted to get involved in their work and, given that I play a global schedule, I am well-placed to assist on various projects around the world.”

In his first act as an ambassador, Harrington announced the R&A’s continued support for grassroots development programs in Ireland, worth about $300,000 over the next three years.

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Solheim Cup Team Captain wraps up the year in review

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RosieJones

Rosie Jones

Being Captain of the U.S. Solheim Cup Team has proven to be very exciting this year as I made my final visit to the season ending LPGA Tour Championship in Orlando last week. Lots to catch up with the players and staff since this will be the last tournament of the year and players will be in off season mode for the next several weeks as they all enjoy the Holiday Season and then gear up for year 2011.

This was a good event for me to attend since all the top U.S. players were there looking to better their position in many category’s on the treacherous Grand Cypress layout just outside of Disney World. The weather turned to cool with windy conditions making the course very hard to score on with drastic greens proving hard to master. I have to brag a bit about how well our American players played, but the big congrats to Sweden’s Maria Hjorth for her great play to capture the title.

Player of the Year

It was fun to watch the top 5 players on tour battle it out those past weeks for Play of the Year award and Vare Trophy as the results all came down to the final round and to whether Cristie Kerr could pull off a win to capture both honors. After watching the top honor trade like baseball cards the past 3 months, the final congrats go to Yani Tseng. I guess we’ll have to wait another year to see if the POY award will come home to an American player as C. Kerr just missed out with a brave attempt finishing Tied for 3rd place finish.

Solheim Points

Lots of good golf and plenty of points being made, but not a lot of movement on the 2011 Solheim Cup point standings these past couple of weeks as the tour ends it’s year long plus qualifying. Cristie Kerr leads the American squad with 441 points with Morgan Pressel in second place at 239 and Michelle Wie in third at 223. Team USA has got a good strong line up of experienced players in the top 10 with a good mix of young players looking for their first experience of Solheim Competition and Veterans’ holding their own within the top 15 spots.

Even though I have been watching the points pretty closely these past several months, this is when the players themselves start to keep a keen eye on what is going on as well. I expect next year will be quite the shoot out as points are worth 1 ½ times during Solheim Cup year. Example: a Win is 60 points, double for Majors. This will favor hot play in 2011, and give a player the ability to make a pretty good move up the roster.

Captain RoJo Wins

One of the great things about being Captain is that even though it sometimes feels like a full time job, it still allows me the opportunity to be competitive on the Legends Tour (Official Senior Tour of the LPGA). Last month I teed it up with some great former players of the LPGA including past Captains Beth Daniel, Patty Sheehan, Pat Bradley and current players on the LPGA tour like Michelle Redman and Lori Kane at the Legends Tour Championship on the Island Course at Innisbrook FL.

With a two day total of -9, I was hoisting the trophy for my first Major Win and my fourth title in 4 years as a senior player on the tour. It was a fun week and a good experience for me as all those competitive juices come back to me and keep me on my toes and in touch with what my Solheim Players are going through week in and week out.

Happy Holidays!

As the Holiday Season is in full swing this is the time players wind down from the busy Tour Life and the crazy travel schedule that can take its toll over the entire year. It’s a good time to relax and enjoy their life at home, revitalize the body, rest and balance out their time for family and friends. It won’t be long before the sticks come back out of the trunk and the grind starts back up with new goals and expectations.

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Pettersen moves into position for her first LPGA Tour victory after shooting 3-under 69 and a one stroke lead

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Suzann Pettersen

Suzann Pettersen moved into position for her first LPGA Tour victory of the year, shooting a 3-under 69 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Pettersen, the Norwegian star who has 10 top-five finishes season, was 12 under on the Guadalajara Country Club course. She had five victories in 2007 and also won the 2009 Canadian Women’s Open.

“I’ve been in this situation a lot,” Pettersen said. “Hopefully my experience from previous tournaments this year can help me play well tomorrow.”

Ai Miyazato (68), Stacy Lewis (69), In-Kyung Kim (68) and Karine Icher (68) were tied for second, and second-round leader Paula Creamer (72) was another stroke back at 10 under.

“If there’s that many people that close, some of them will go low,” Pettersen said. “You can’t really look back. Just try and look ahead and try and bring it home.”

Pettersen birdied five of the first 10 holes to reach 14 under, but dropped two strokes with bogeys on the par-4 15th and par-3 17th.

“It’s just a roller coaster out there,” Pettersen said. “I made some really good birdies and made a few sloppy on swings on the few bogeys that I made. But I made a good putt on the last and that kind of helped me get my momentum going for tomorrow. I’ve been feeling really good on the greens and making some nice putts.”

Ochoa, playing her first LPGA Tour event since retiring in April, shot a 69 on her home course, leaving her 10 shots back in a tie for 24th.

Miyazato has an LPGA Tour-high five victories this season.

“I played really good, because it was kind of one of the tough days I think, because the wind just keeps switching around,” the Japanese star said. “And it was tough to make a decision on every single shot, but I had very good focus. I’m very happy. I played good today.”

She’s close friends with Ochoa.

“That would be great,” she said about winning. “But you never know what’s going to happen, because with the top 10 players, it’s getting really close right now. So I need to be like playing good and just need to be patient, I think. So one more day, you know, just having fun.”

Michelle Wie, the winner last year, withdrew Thursday because of a back injury after an opening 78.

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