PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Here’s one thing you can take to the bank: Yani Tseng will not touch the Wegmans LPGA Championship trophy tomorrow before she tees off. She did that at the Kraft Nabisco in April, and it didn’t end well.
“It’s a major, so I better not touch it this time,” Tseng said. “That’s how I learn.”
Tseng distanced herself from the field June 25 with a 5-under 67, putting her five shots ahead of Morgan Pressel and Cindy LaCrosse. A victory tomorrow would make Tseng the youngest player in history to get to four major titles. Patty Berg won four majors at the age of 23 years, 2 months and 1 day before the LPGA was formed in 1950. Tiger Woods was 24 when he won his fourth.
“Tomorrow I’m just going to go there and smile all day and then play smart and just have fun,” Tseng said. “But that’s in my mind for sure.”
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Cindy who?: The biggest surprise on this week’s leaderboard is Cindy LaCrosse, an LPGA sophomore who almost didn’t even play college golf. A walk-on at Louisville, the 24-year-old finds herself paired in the final group alongside Tseng in only her second major championship. LaCrosse, who played with Paula Creamer for the first time, shot her second consecutive 69 and is tied with Morgan Pressel at 8 under, five strokes behind Tseng.
“It was nice having people clap at you when you walk up to every green,” said LaCrosse. “Then I realize it was more for Paula than me. But it just kind of made me feel comfortable.”
LaCrosse played in only a pair of AJGA events as a junior and looked at Louisville because her parents went to school there. Only Division II Florida Southern College recruited LaCrosse out of high school, but the small Methodist college was too close to her Tampa, Fla., home.
Doug LaCrosse, a three-time Florida State Amateur of the Year, taught Cindy the game and kept an eye on her swing through college. A successful businessman, Doug turned professional at age 50 and played in 12 major championships. Cindy caddied for him at the 2008 Senior PGA at nearby Oak Hill. That’s also the first time she teed it up at Locust Hill. Doug is in the process of getting his amateur status back. Cindy began working with Sean Foley last January.
“I guess kind of every step that I’ve taken in golf I had no expectations going into it,” said LaCrosse, who won four tournaments in college and three on the Futures Tour, including two in New York.
LaCrosse’s college coach, Kelly Meyers Rothberg, said her former charge has a fire within her that’s difficult to see on the outside. When LaCrosse didn’t qualify for this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, Rothberg said that really motivated her to get her game in order for Rochester.
“She wasn’t going to be that person on the outside looking in,” Rothberg said.
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Blue chip day: Defending champion Cristie Kerr posted the days lowest round, 5-under 67, to vault into a tie for fifth, five strokes behind Tseng. Kerr toiled on the range until 7:45 p.m. Friday night trying to find the center of the clubface.
“Last couple days I’ve missed it both ways, and that’s tough,” said Kerr, who shot 33 on the back nine.
Her caddie gave her a potato chip each time she hit a good shot on Saturday.
“I was earning those chips,” said Kerr. “Just kind of quieted my mind and found a little feel. Once that happens with me I’m usually fine.”
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Grand plans: Stacy Lewis birdied the last two holes to stay within striking distance of her second major championship this year. The 2011 Kraft Nabisco champion is the only player capable of giving us a Grand Slam storyline heading into Broadmoor, and my what kind of buzz that would bring.
Lewis, however, is a realist. And she has played alongside Tseng enough to know she’ll need the help of outside forces.
“If the sun comes out tomorrow and no wind, I think Yani is going to run away with it,” said Lewis, who shot 70 and sits at 5-under 211 for the tournament. “Hopefully we get a little wind or some rain and get it a little tough.”
Lewis can only hope the weatherman is wrong. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for sun and 9 mph winds.
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Going to great lengths: To end on a lighter note, let’s talk about Paula Creamer’s hot pink hair extensions. Creamer realizes that at 24 years old, she can only get away with pink hair for so many years. The kids like it, and Creamer feels it plays well into her Pink Panther image.
She had the extensions put in before the ShopRite LPGA Classic and plans to keep them in through the U.S. Women’s Open, where she’ll defend. She had 18 pars on Saturday at Wegmans, and is tied for fifth at 5 under.
“You’ve got to spice it up out here as much as you possibly can,” she said.