Down the Stretch at the ANA Inspiration

The conclusion of the 45th ANA Inspiration promises to be memorable to say the least. Lexi Thompson is at the head of the pack after closing her third round Saturday evening with an eagle that put her at 10-under par 206 for 54 holes. Thompson, who won this championship two years ago, has a one-shot advantage heading into the final round but her task will not be easy. There are five players within two shots of her and five more another shot back. And that band of 10 includes some of the most prominent names in the sport. Ariyah Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko, the top-ranked player in the world, and reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun are each at nine under par; Jutanugarn will play with Thompson on Sunday. Charley Hull and Ai Miyazato are two shots back at eight under while the group at seven under includes Suzann Pettersen and Michelle Wie. All told the first 11 names on the leaderboard includes five players who have won major championships (Thompson, Ko, Chun, Wie, and Pettersen), and a sixth (Miyazato) who was at one time ranked number-one on the world. And, in keeping with the LPGA’s standing as a truly global entity, those 11 players hail from nine different nations. Contrary to what some believe, the LPGA doesn’t need Americans at the top of the leaderboard every week. What draws attention is the biggest names in the sport playing well on big occasions. And someone will have to do just that on Sunday to win the 45th edition of this championship. She should be celebrated, regardless of the flag she’s sailing under. But Thompson is the player the field will be chasing. “I do know what it takes to win on this golf course,” she said. “I mean, I absolutely love this golf course. It’s just a great setup, and just the tournament in general, there’s so much history and tradition behind it, so it’s always an honor to put your name on that trophy. But there’s a lot of golf to be played, 18 holes (Sunday), and just got to focus on your own game and see where it goes. Follow Sunday’s action HERE


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