LPGA Tour – Final Day…it all comes down to this…

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So it all comes down to today …

Amy Yang fired a third round 73 to hold a one-stroke advantage over  Maria Hjorth and a three-stroke lead over Rolex Rankings No. 3 Cristie Kerr and Seon Hwa Lee. Yang, has never led an LPGA tournament prior to this week and if she wins today she will become the third Rolex First-Time Winner of 2010.

The Race Update:

Na Yeon Choi claims the 2010 LPGA Official money list title. The third-year player from South Korea held a $34,790 lead over Jiyai Shin heading into this week’s LPGA Tour Championship. Shin failed to make the 54-hole cut, assuring Choi of the money title. Choi currently stands in a tie for ninth heading into the final round.

Na Yeao Choi and Nigel Worrall
Na Yeon Choi and Nigel Worrall

With one round to play at the LPGA Tour Championship, Choi and Kerr still remain in a nail biter for the Vare Trophy. Coming into the week Choi averaged 69.77 and held a slim lead over Kerr who averaged 69.86. Kerr has chipped away at Choi’s scoring average the last three days. Choi’s three-day total of 1-over-par 217 is four shots short of Kerr’s 3-under-par 213. Choi’s current scoring average is 69.87, while Kerr’s is 69.90. If Kerr beats Choi by seven shots or more this week, she is projected to win the Vare Trophy. The winner of the Vare Trophy earns a valuable point towards the LPGA Hall of Fame.

Vare Trophy standings round-by-round:

Player              Start week       After 1              After 2              After 3
Na Yeon Choi    69.77                69.82                69.83                69.87
Cristie Kerr        69.85                69.86                69.89                69.90

●  The last American to capture the Vare Trophy was Beth Daniel in 1994. The last player from South Korea to win the Vare was Grace Park in 2004.

Three players – Yani Tseng, Na Yeon Choi and Cristie Kerr – still have the opportunity to become the 2010 Rolex Player of the Year. The award will earn the winner a point towards entry into the LPGA Hall of Fame. Tseng currently leads Choi by 14 points and Kerr by 15 points. If either Choi or Kerr win the LPGA Tour Championship Sunday, she will be the 2010 Rolex Player of the Year. If Choi or Kerr do not win, Yani Tseng will be the 2010 Rolex Player of the Year.  History will be made in either scenario. Kerr would become the first American player to claim Rolex Player of the Year honors since Beth Daniel in 1994. Tseng is vying to become the first player from Taiwan to win the award, while Choi is attempting to become the first player from South Korea to hoist the prestigious trophy.

●  After three rounds Kerr stands in a tie for third, three strokes off the lead. Choi is seven off the pace in a tie for ninth.

●  Jiyai Shin and Ai Miyazato, who both had an opportunity to become the Rolex Player of the Year heading into the week, failed to advance to the final round and were eliminated from the race.

Kerr’s addicted to golf. As she waits to see if she will walk away with Rolex Player of the Year honors, Cristie Kerr admitted she remembers watching Beth Daniel on TV when she won the honor in 1994. In fact, watching greats such as Daniel, Nancy Lopez, Betsy King, Pat Bradley, Patty Sheehan and 2011 U.S. Solheim Cup captain Rosie Jones is what inspired her to play golf. “I was addicted to golf back then, and I’m addicted to golf now,” Kerr said. “It’s a wonderful game. It can be cruel sometimes, but it’s a wonderful game.”

Rolex Rankings No. 1 race is open for business. With current No. 1 Jiyai Shin missing the 54-hole cut, four players can take over the top-spot in the world rankings on Sunday. Suzann Pettersen is projected to take the crown with win or a second-place finish tomorrow. Cristie Kerr is projected to take over the Rolex Rankings No. 1 spot with a win. Choi or Tseng are projected to ascend to No 1 with a win and a Pettersen third or worse finish. Positions heading into the final round: Pettersen (T-16), Kerr (T-3), Choi (T-9), Tseng (T-29).

It promises to be an exciting day…I’ll keep you updated … meanwhile, here’s a short video…

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