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Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Ladies' Major Is... Well, Inspirational

If you haven't been watching the ANA Inspiration, the LPGA's first major of the year, you need to watch it today. It's rare that you see such an amazing leaderboard. I don't even know what storyline to start with.

Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration

Lexi Thompson is on top by herself, but it took a birdie-birdie-par-eagle finish to finally break out of the pack by a single stroke.

I suppose I could start with In Gee Chun, last year's US Women's Open champ, who hasn't been able to play for a month because of a back injury. She was only able to make full swings for six days before the tournament and estimated herself at maybe 85%, but now she's just one shot off the lead.

How about Lydia Ko, who's never played well here being just a shot back?

Perhaps I should mention Ai Miyazato, whose third-place finish at the Kia Classic last week apparently wasn't just luck after all. After a long struggle with her game that saw her drop well out of the Top100 on the Rolex Rankings, she changed the loft of her putter last week and suddenly found her game again. She's just two shots off the lead.

Or maybe Michelle Wie, posting her first sub-70 round of the year to get into the mix.

Or Suzann Pettersen, back near the top after three runner-ups at Rancho Mirage.

There are 15 players within three shots of each other on the leaderboard, and it's a wild mix of major winners, never-before winners and previous winners you may have written off. Here's the Top15:
  • -10 Lexi Thompson
  • -9 Ariya Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko, In Gee Chun
  • -8 Charley Hull, Ai Miyazato
  • -7 Caroline Masson, Michelle Wie, Sung Hyun Park, Suzann Pettersen, Lee-Anne Pace
  • -6 Pernilla Lindberg, Hyo Joo Kim, Gerina Pillar, Catriona Matthew
And just behind them lurk players like Stacy Lewis. Depending on the weather and how much harder the greens get, this leaderboard could turn topsy-turvy very quickly.

GC is supposed to begin final round coverage around 5pm ET today, before the Shell Houston Open finishes up on NBC. But this is shaping up to be a really good finish, and a great warm-up for the Masters next week. You should think twice before you miss it!

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