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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Is Inbee's Reign About to End?

There was a buzz coming into the Airbus LPGA Classic this week, the same buzz that's been heard for the last couple of weeks or so. With world #1 Inbee Park not playing quite as well as she did last year -- despite being second on the LPGA in Top10 finishes -- there have been players with a realistic chance of taking the top spot away from her.

Suzann Pettersen was one of them. She was second in the rankings until back problems forced her to miss a few weeks. Now at #4 she's fallen back a bit.

By the end of April Lydia Ko had closed the gap, reaching #2. However, despite a recent win, she too fell back and currently sits at #3.

That left Stacy Lewis, the current #2. She leads the LPGA in Top10 finishes and she picked up a win in Texas just a couple of weeks back. And that's where the story gets interesting...

Stacy Lewis

You see, Inbee did the unthinkable this week -- she missed the cut at the Airbus. All Stacy needs to do is finish solo 3rd or better, and she'll wake up Monday morning as #1 in the world.

That, as it turns out, is easier said than done. For some crazy reason, the gals on the LPGA are shooting ridiculous scores this week. (Maybe they found some new golfer's drink, like GoLow Cola or a special red tea.) Here's what the scoreboard looks like as they enter the final round today:
  • -16 Anna Nordqvist
  • -15 Catriona Matthew
  • -14 Stacy Lewis
  • -13 Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda, Charley Hull
  • -12 So Yeon Ryu, Jodie Ewart Shadoff, Eun-Hee Ji, Jenny Shin
There are 33 players at -7 or better and, given how many 66s and 67s got posted Saturday, one stumble means those leads aren't safe. (Matthew posted a 64 Thursday, so there's probably a really low round out there today.)

As you can see, Stacy Lewis is currently solo 3rd -- just what she needs to dethrone Inbee. But I don't think it's going to be that easy...

GC's coverage of the Airbus LPGA Classic begins at 3pm ET today.

And in a related note... Jerry Foltz & Company have been talking about how Stacy Lewis is using a new AimPoint technique for reading putts. It involves using her fingers. Jerry said she looked like Dr. Spock; I assume he meant Mr. Spock from Star Trek, rather than the famous children's doctor. (He probably meant the Vulcan "Live long and prosper" gesture.)

Anyway, I tried looking it up to see what it's all about and here's what I found. This Golf Digest article describes the basic AimPoint technique, which involves finding what they call the Zero Line (basically, a string of points from which you can make straight putts) to determine which direction your putt will break and then uses a chart to determine the amount of break based on green speed and slope.

Then this blog post describes how the AimPoint Express technique gives you a quick and dirty read with fingers and no chart. (Shall we call it a "Break well and vanish" gesture?) And there's an advanced course that teaches you how to "let your fingers do the walking" through a chart, which is probably what Stacy is doing.

Of course, these links don't tell you how to do it because the courses that teach you such arcane practices cost money. But at least now you'll know what they're talking about during the broadcast.

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