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Sunday, July 14, 2013

QUESTION: When Is 13-Under a Bad Thing?

ANSWER: When it puts you 7 strokes behind the leader with only one round to go!

That's the position Inbee Park finds herself in at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic today. It's a measure of how good she's been over the last year that we're all calling this "an off week."

Clearly 13-under isn't a bad week under most circumstances, and it's not like she's had a bad round. She's shot 65-67-68 on a par-71 course and she's only T9 with Suzann Pettersen. It's just that lots of players are playing ridiculously well this week. Let me give you a couple of examples:
  • Catriona Matthew shot an 8-under 63 in the first round, 2 shots better than she's ever shot in her career. On Friday she followed it up with a 7-under 64 -- still better than anything she'd ever shot before this week -- and set a personal record for a 36-hole score (5 strokes better than she'd ever been before). She shot a 3-under 68 in the third round and what did it get her? Third place, 2 off the lead.
  • Gerina Pillar shot a course record 9-under 62 early in the third round. Her record didn't even make it through the day, as new leader Hee Young Park shot a NEW course record 10-under 61 in the afternoon wave.
Is it any surprise that 13-under -- normally an excellent score after 3 rounds -- just isn't getting the job done?

Inbee Park's string of consecutive victories will end today at 3 -- barring any truly amazing play by Inbee and equally staggering collapses by the players in front of her -- but she got 2 majors in that string, which is pretty impressive by anybody's standards.

And given that Inbee usually has to play herself into competitive shape -- she doesn't play her best the first week she comes back out on tour -- I find it hard to believe the rest of the field is drawing any consolation from this week's performance. After all, she's currently in the Top10, she's playing next week at the Marathon Classic, and then I suspect she'll head over to Fife, Scotland to prepare for the RICOH. That's the tournament that really matters to her right now.

In the meantime, GC will have the final round of the Manulife today from 2:30pm-6pm ET. If the last 3 rounds have been any indication, it should be quite a shootout!

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