HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. – Irene Cho made the cut at the LPGA Championship by one stroke and started the third round tied for 65th, so there was really no reason to believe the 25-year-old Californian would come within one shot of making history at Bulle Rock on Saturday.
If not for an untimely bogey on the 18th hole, Cho would have tied the tournament course record with an 8-under 64. She happily settled for a blistering 65 that put her in the hunt at 4-under 212.
“Good luck was going with me today, which is unusual because it never really goes with me,” she said. “The golf gods are definitely helping me.”
Birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 were not as much an indication of things to come as her par in between. During her previous two rounds, Cho got a 6 and 7 on the par-5 second hole.
She parred 4 through 7, then moved to 4 under after eight holes with an eagle on the par-5 eighth.
“I was like 15 yards off the green, and I just chipped in,” Cho said, matter-of-factly.
She birdied 9, then peeled off five straight pars before sinking three straight birdies. She missed a 5-foot putt on 18 for her only bogey, but still enjoyed a career-low round.
“That’s really cool,” Cho said. “I was just trying to get real low numbers, and I did.”
After barely making the cut, Cho figured the pressure was off. So she decided to have some fun.
“I was happy I made the cut,” she said. “I think I was just a lot more positive today. If I missed a shot, I was just like, it’s OK. I just kept trying to do something on the next hole to make it better.”
HOME SWEET HOME: This is the final year the LPGA Championship will be held at Bulle Rock, and few golfers will miss the course more than Australia’s Lindsey Wright.
During the tournament’s five-year run here, Wright made several good friends and a whole lot of money.
In 2005, Wright stayed with a family that volunteered to provide housing for a touring pro.
“They live right outside the golf course and they have become really great friends, almost like family,” Wright said. “So every time I come back here, I feel like I’m coming home.”
Wright has made herself at home on the golf course, too. She tied for 16th in 2005, tied for 20th in 2006, finished fourth in 2007 and tied for 18th in 2008. She’s poised for another solid finish this year after moving into second place Saturday before a lengthy rain delay.
“I really love the golf course,” Wright said. “It plays well to me because you don’t have to be that long. It’s just hitting the fairways and not getting to aggressive. I’m sad to see it go, obviously, because I’ve had some success here in the past.”
CROWD COUNT: Attendance at the LPGA Championship this year started with a thud but increased significantly over the next two days.
The crowd count Thursday was 10,650 – down by more than 6,000 compared to the first round in 2008. But attendance Friday was 19,990, up 100 from Friday’s crowd of a year ago. And Saturday, the announced crowd of 27,050 surpassed the 24,950 that watched the third round in 2008.