Jackie Stoelting gets off to a fast start Saturday morning
As the saying goes, Saturday is ‘Moving Day.’ And no one made a faster move early Saturday like Jackie Stoelting, who fired an 8-under-par 64, the round of the day.
Stoelting was 7-under through 12 holes before making two bogeys late on her back nine. However, she finished with back-to-back birdies to shoot the round of the day.
“I hit a lot of the shots close and then made a lot of putts early on, I made a couple bogeys on the back nine too, but I had 10 birdies today,” she said. “It was an awesome day.”
Although Stoelting has made her last three cuts, she’s unfortunately moved the opposite direction on Saturday. She said her third-round score was reflective of her deciding to play more aggressively.
“My husband is on the bag and he kept saying, ‘if we can get to 10-under for the weekend, I think that’s pretty good.’ Obviously we exceeded that today,” she explained. “I put myself in good position. I’m sure some of the girls are going to shoot low, but hopefully I’m (still) in good position tomorrow.”
Defending champion Caroline Masson makes hole-in-one
It was her first ace in a tournament, and 2016 Manulife LPGA Classic champion Caroline Masson has another memory to add to her collection from this tournament.
Using an 8-iron from 160 yards, she knocked her tee shot on the par-3 17th onto the green and watched as it rode the slope into the hole. She nearly chipped in on 18 as well from just off the green, but left it an inch short.
“It was fun. I didn’t have a lot going for me today, no putts went in. I actually told my caddy ‘hey I think we have to hole out to get something going because we can’t make any putts.’ So I guess I should say that more often,” she said with a laugh. “I hit it good, kind of where I wanted to, and watched it release a little bit as we started walking and it disappeared. I’m glad we saw it disappear. We almost didn’t see it.
She said she was thrilled to notch her second-ever ace at this tournament, and in front of a special guest.
“My mom is here and it’s nice for her to see it as well,” she said. “It was fun, and I hope it gets me going a little bit for tomorrow.”
Ariya Jutanugarn fighting for No.1
With Ariya Jutanugarn ever-closer to the No.1 spot on the Rolex Rankings, her 7-under-par 65 Saturday at Whistle Bear Golf Club made that accession almost a foregone conclusion.
She said Saturday that she wasn’t focused on getting to No.1, but was instead having fun and playing her own game.
She was all-smiles Saturday with her bogey-free round.
“I didn’t hit my tee shots that good, but I think my putter helped me a lot today,” she said of the key to her success.
After two days playing alongside Canadian Brooke Henderson, Jutanugarn was paired with another Canadian, Brittany Marchand, on Saturday.
“There was a lot of spectators who came and supported her,” said Jutanugarn of Marchand’s gallery. “It’s amazing. The last two days I played with Brooke and it was amazing as well.”
Jutanugarn is two shots back of the lead held by In Gee Chun. She said as far as her game plan is concerned on Sunday it remains unchanged from the rest of the week.
“I’m going to go out there and try to do my best and play my own game,” she said.
Canadians bring their ‘Eh’ Game
Two Canadians are in the top 10 heading into Sunday’s finale at the Manulife LPGA Classic and Brooke Henderson – the country’s most accomplished golfer over the last year – is tied for 14th.
Brittany Marchand, who plays full-time on the Epson Tour and who grew up playing golf in Brampton, Ont. (about an hour from Whistle Bear), continued her magical run this week with a 5-under-par 67.
“I guess I didn't know what I would feel like, but I actually was really comfortable,” said Marchand of her feeling Saturday. “I’m just trying to have fun. I think that helps because if I just enjoy every moment then I don't think about what the outcome can be.
Marchand played Saturday’s round with Ariya Jutanugarn, which, she said, was enjoyable, but also very eye opening.
“I kind of laughed on the first hole because she pulled out the iron. I'm like, ‘Oh my God. She hit an iron.’ But my caddie is like, ‘let's just play our game. You have to still hit driver,’ she said with a laugh. “It was definitely interesting, but it was really cool. It's good to learn from a player like that.”
Sharp, meanwhile, just couldn’t get anything going today on a day she said was definitely “more challenging” than Friday.
“It was tough today,” said Sharp. “Not sure how that's going to be tomorrow, but it was good to get through this round. Didn't hit it as great as I would like to, but my putter saved me and I got a lot of up and downs.”
Brooke Henderson, meanwhile, admitted with a laugh that although her putting let her down again Saturday, she was able to make it up with her great driving of the golf ball. And, she fired a 4-under-par 68 to put her at double-digits for the tournament.
“It was a rough go with the putter today. But, you know, with that being said, I made a couple putts when I really needed to. I made one 16, 17, and 18 to finish really strong,” she said. “Four under for the day… it got really windy out, there so I'm really happy. Got to move up a little bit. Hopefully tomorrow I can make a little bit bigger climb.”