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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Michelle Wie Mounts a Charge While Adam Scott Struggles

WIND. Some golfers dread it while others see it as an ally. For players with the ability to work their ball through the wind, a gusty day provides a unique opportunity -- a chance to make up ground on the rest of the field, perhaps even separate themselves.

Michelle Wie during Friday's round

For Michelle Wie, the winds whipping around the Tiburon course in Florida did just that. Although the field managed to shoot lower scores on Friday -- a full shot lower despite the tougher winds -- Michelle managed to follow up Thursday's frustrating round of par with a 5-under 67. She rocketed up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth in the tournament, giving herself a chance to win the million dollar CME Globe. In fact, for a while she was in first place in that race... until a struggling Stacy Lewis managed to make a birdie on the 17th hole to regain the top spot. (Stacy is T15, at -1.)

Currently, Carlota Ciganda and Julieta Granada are tied for the lead in the tournament at -7. Stacy Lewis is first in the race for the $1mil, the POY award, and the Vare Trophy for scoring. Inbee Park is struggling along a couple of shots behind her.

Given how well Michelle plays in the wind, she could very well be leading by the end of play today.

Meanwhile, down at the BetEasy Masters on the Australasian Tour, Adam Scott's bid for a third gold jacket hit a snag during the third round. Although Scott says he felt that he hit the ball better during Saturday's round, his score didn't show it. Starting the day 6 shots behind the leaders he went out in 2-over and came back in 3-under, improving his total score by only 1 stroke to -4 (T9) -- not enough to catch the leaders (Michael Wright sits at -9, but Wright still has 4 holes to play at the time of this writing).

Granted, Adam has only 8 players ahead of him which makes his task somewhat easier. Let's face it -- if the winds continue and Adam plays a great final round, a win still might be doable. But 3 of those ahead of him have posted rounds in the mid-60s and, although Wright is struggling a bit in the third round, he looks pretty solid. And they expect more wind for the final round.

I don't like Adam's chances all that well. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that James Nitties sits at -6 after a 5-under round, and I have a feeling he just may be due.

It's amazing how much the wind can change the complexion of an event... and in this case, it just might be blowing some favorites right out of contention.

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