Paola Moreno leads in Bahamas
PARADISE ISLANDS, Bahamas -- Paola Moreno is blocking out everything about this strange week except for the next shot. She wound up with another bogey-free round on the shortened course Saturday and took the lead into the final round of the Bahamas LPGA Classic.
Moreno made a couple of 25-foot birdie putts and added two more birdies for a 4-under 41. The Colombian had a one-shot lead over Lindsey Wright, who made seven birdies for a 7-under 38.
"I am just focused on what I can control right now," said Moreno, who was at 9-under 81. "The only thing that matters right now is the first tee shot on No. 1 -- or No. 10, whatever hole we're playing tomorrow. And I'm just excited to be there."
Cristie Kerr did enough to at least get in range. She was among 10 players within three shots of the lead, though they have six fewer holes to make up ground.
Because of severe flooding earlier in the week on the Ocean Club, the LPGA Tour is using the holes available. In this case, it's a 12-hole course that starts on the back nine at No. 10, jumps over to the front nine for four holes that are out of order, heads over to a stretch on the back nine and finishes along the ocean at No. 8.
The final round now goes from a par 45 to a par 47.
The par-5 18th hole is in good enough shape to be playing as the closing hole, giving this inaugural event at least some semblance of normality. It will replace No. 4, which also is a par 5 but has been played as a par 3 because of a bunker caved in by the rain.
The best thing Moreno achieved on a sun-filled Saturday -- at least as far as the tournament was concerned -- was finishing.
It was critical for all the players to finish two rounds (24 holes) going into the final round or it would have been unlikely to complete 36 holes by Sunday to make this official. The LPGA Tour was determined to play an official event for Pure Silk and the Bahamas Tourism Ministry, the two title sponsors of this new tournament.
Stacy Lewis, the No. 2 player, was trying to get close to the leaders and isn't sure she did enough. Two late birdies gave her a 3-under 42, though she was five shots behind. That feels like a larger deficit given the shortened course.
"It's strange," Lewis said. "By the time you get into a rhythm, the round is over. You can make a lot of birdies. You just have to get off to a good start."
Wright proved that, using a simple approach similar to Moreno.
The Australian didn't realize she finished her round with six straight 3s on her jumbled scorecard. She could name the holes where she made her seven birdies until calling her caddie over for help. She just knows she played some pretty good golf.
"I didn't know what was going on," Wright said. "I just play. That's probably how we should do it all the time."
Inbee Park played a game that didn't resemble the No. 1 player in the world, at least not the closing holes. She played the last four holes in 8 over.
It started when she was left of the 14th green (the ninth hole) when she went to play a chip and her caddie realized he left the club on an adjacent par 3. She barely reached the green and made bogey. Then, she fanned her tee shot on the par-3 second (No. 10) some 30 yards right of the green. It really turned ugly on the next par 3, with a lake that should not have come into play with a back pin. Park hit 4-iron twice into the water, coming up some 40 yards short of the flag. She finally made quintuple-bogey 8.
Park finished with a fairway metal that she snap-hooked into the ocean.
The Ocean Club appears to have nearly recovered, though a few holes aren't suitable to play. And because there is no cut this week -- the LPGA Tour felt that would be unfair after only 24 holes -- the decision was to keep it at 12 holes to make sure everyone finished.
Going to Monday was not an optional because several players have U.S Women's Open qualifying early next week.
"Look, the way I see it, it's the same for everyone," Wright said. "There's always complaining. You just can't have a tournament without that. I think it's a shame, because the course on Monday, Tuesday, it was brilliant. It's a shame we're playing 12 holes, but I think for the Bahamas and for Pure Silk, it's the right thing to do. We're here to play golf. We're not here to party. Do that early on in the week."
Kerr is coming off a win two weeks ago in Kingsmill and hopes to keep the momentum going as the tour heads into a big part of the season. There are three majors in the next few months, capped by a return to St. Andrews.
"It feels like a shootout," Kerr said. "We only have 12 holes every day, and you've got to go as low as you can. I did my job today."