TROON, Scotland – And then there were five.
Saturday, Mother Nature continued to whittle away at the field for the third consecutive day at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open. She threw at the field 30 miles per hour wind gusts mixed with cold temperatures and periods of pouring rain. At day's end, five players remain under par for the championship and it was Sei Young Kim and Karrie Webb who best weathered the elements.
Saturday, 54-hole leader Cristie Kerr wore her furry black and silver sequined earmuffs, the same pair she wore on Thursday when she opened with a mind boggling bogey-free, 66 that left Webb wondering what course she was playing. But the accessory didn’t seem to possess the same magical powers they had in round one as Webb went out in 33 to take a two-stroke over Kerr. The pair remained steady throughout much of the day, but downpours on the closing stretch wore down even the most experienced in the field. Webb and Kerr combined for four bogeys on the inward stretch.
“That back nine was definitely a struggle once it started raining,” said Webb. “Just really hung in there on the back nine. I actually got a couple of good breaks when it was raining. Made some good ups and downs as well.”
Kerr settled for a one-over par, 73 as Webb posted a two-under par, 70 to retake the lead she held on Thursday.
“I played a lot better than the score today. I had two three-putts on the back which were kind of uncharacteristic,” Kerr said after her round. “Just got to do better.”
Sei Young Kim, who played alongside the two veterans, remained above the fray. At the par four, 17th, she emerging from a crouched position from behind her black umbrella, where she was taking shelter from the wind and rain, to make an incredible birdie in the pouring rain. Kim followed that up with another at the par five, 18th to card a three-under par, 69 and finish in a tie at the top with Webb.
"I've never played before like in this weather. It was a really great experience and to play with, it's rare to play with veteran players Cristie Kerr and Karrie Webb," Kim said. "They are really great players."
The round of the day belonged to Mi Hyang Lee, who found her own bit of magic with a birdie, eagle finish to post a four-under par, 68 to sit six-strokes back of the lead at Even.
Of Webb’s 41 victories on Tour, she’s held the 54-hole lead 26 times, including her first win on Tour at the 1995 Weetabix Women’s British Open. Webb was a non-member back then and that was before the event was considered a major on the LPGA Tour. With a victory on Sunday, Webb would pass Babe Zaharias in all-time wins and move into a tie for ninth all-time with Sandra Haynie at 42. Kerr is currently 27th on the list with 19 victories and with a win on Sunday she would match Laura Davies’ 20 win total.
As she continues to whittle down the field, a milder mix of Mother Nature’s best hits is forecasted for the final round. Then, there will be one.