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11/22 03:00 CST Ciganda gets tip from Olazabal and shares lead
Ciganda gets tip from Olazabal and shares lead
AP Golf Writer
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) --- Carlota Ciganda needed help with her putting going into
the final event of the LPGA Tour season.
Being home in Spain had its advantages. Jose Maria Olazabal, the two-time
Masters champion and wizard with the flat stick, was just a phone call away.
"He's such an unbelievable golfer," Ciganda said. "I called him and I was
struggling with my putting. I was like, 'Can you please give me a lesson?' We
stayed there like three hours on the putting green, just hitting putts. He told
me a few things and it seems like it's working. So I'm pretty happy. I have to
Her thank-you note was five birdies --- only one of them on a par 5 --- in a
round of 5-under 67 that gave Ciganda a share of the lead with Julieta Granada
of Paraguay going into the weekend of the blustery CME Group Tour Championship.
They were at 7-under 137 in what was shaping up as a wild weekend at Tiburon
Ciganda and Granada (71) were one shot ahead of Morgan Pressel, who has made
nine birdies over the last 26 holes. Pressel was 3 over through the opening 10
holes of this LPGA Tour finale when she salvaged her start with a 72, and then
followed with the best score Friday at 66 to get into the final group.
Another shot back was Michelle Wie, which brought the scope of the tournament
clearly into focus.
Wie already has enjoyed a banner season with two victories --- one in her
native Hawaii, the other the biggest trophy on the LPGA Tour schedule. She
captured her first major at Pinehurst No. 2 in the U.S. Women's Open.
Thanks to a 67 on Friday, which included a pitching wedge from 125 yards that
she holed for eagle on the seventh hole, Wie suddenly has a million reasons to
consider why this season might get even better.
Along with the Tour Championship and its $500,000 prize, this the end of the
Race to CME Globe and a $1 million bonus, the biggest payoff in women's golf.
Wie has been slightly overlooked at No. 4 in the standings, in part because
only the top three players (Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Lydia Ko) have sole
control of their fates. If they win the tournament, they win the Race to CME
The other part is that Wie injured her hand after her U.S. Women's Open victory
and wound up missing nearly three months.
Her round on Friday put her in the group at 5-under 139, and suddenly she is
among the favorites for the $1 million bonus. Lewis struggled with distance
control in the blustery conditions and shot a 74 to fall six shots out of the
lead. Park couldn't buy a putt and shot 74 to fall eight shots behind. Ko, the
17-year-old rookie, at least managed to break par for a second straight day
(71) and was five shots behind.
"All I want is an opportunity, a chance," Wie said. "I'm really proud of myself
for giving myself that today. I just want to go out there tomorrow and put
myself in a great position for Sunday. That's all I want, and that's all I'm
asking for. Whatever happens, happens."
Lewis had to chip in for birdie on the 17th and make a tough par putt on the
final hole to salvage her tough day.
"Six back is not a horrible position," Lewis said. "I don't think anybody is
running away with this thing. I think it's going to end up being pretty bunched
up at the end and probably a playoff on Sunday. I'm right where I need to be.
I'm trying not to think about player of the year and all that stuff. It's up
there, but trying not to think about it."
Lewis can sweep all the significant awards at this LPGA Tour finale provided
she finishes ahead of Park, and so far she is three shots ahead. Not to be
forgotten is that $1 million packaged in $100 in a glass case that they posed
with on the eve of the tournament.
The first step is to try to catch the leaders, and there were a dozen players
in her way.
Sarah Jane Smith (69) and Sandra Gal (71) joined Wie at 5-under 139, while So
Yeon Ryu had another 70 and was three shots out of the lead. Ryu is at No. 5 in
the Race to CME Globe and is on the fringe on contending for the big bonus.
The weekend is important for Wie to keep moving forward, and for Lewis, Park
and Ko to start making up ground.
"You can make up a lot of ground quickly," Granada said. "But your game has to
be on. The toughness of the course will show it."