PHOENIX — Yani Tseng was a lot more concerned about the wind at tight Wildfire Golf Club than rain and cold Sunday in the final round of the LPGA Founders Cup.
“If it’s windy on this golf course, it’s not easy. I mean the greens are pretty firm and the course is very narrow,” said Tseng, tied for the lead with Ai Miyazato after the third round Saturday.
“If it’s very windy tomorrow, you just want to keep it on the fairway, be patient all day and play smart. But I love the wind. Raining, it’s OK, so it’ll cool down a little bit.”
Actually, it will cool down at lot. After temperatures in the mid-80s on Thursday and Friday and high 70s Saturday, it is supposed to only get into the mid-50s Sunday and the wind is expected to gust at 25 mph.
“It could be you need to make some birdies out there, but then you need to be really patient, too,” Miyazato said. “But it doesn’t matter about the weather.”
In partly cloudy, breezy conditions Saturday on the desert layout, Miyazato birdied Nos. 14-16 and closed with two pars for a bogey-free 6-under 66 to match Tseng at 14 under. The Japanese player, ranked ninth in the world, has seven LPGA Tour victories.
“Definitely, it was more difficult than yesterday,” Miyazato said. “The wind makes more greens firmer, and I did have a long distance because some holes were really down wind. It was difficult to make birdies out there, but I was really patient, and my putting was really good.”
Tseng had a chance to take the outright lead on the par-4 18th after hitting to 10 feet out of the right fairway bunker, but her birdie try slid past the left edge. The top-ranked Taiwanese star settled for a 67.
“I was a little disappointed,” Tseng said. “I played so good. I hit lots of good drives, and hit lots of good shots, and I missed like three short birdie putts.”
Tseng successfully defended her LPGA Thailand title in February for her 13th LPGA Tour victory. She led the tour last season with seven victories — including major victories in the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open — and finished the year with 12 worldwide titles.
Tseng and playing partners I.K. Kim and Meena Lee were warned about slow play on No. 10, and were timed on the 12th, disrupting Tseng’s rhythm.
“When you get timed and you go over time, you get penalty,” Tseng said. “So in my mind I’m like, ‘I don’t want to get penalty.' Just tried to rush, and I kept telling myself to relax, because I don’t play slow.
“The three of us, we don’t play slow. We just got a couple of rulings there and tried to catch up, but I was just too rushed in my mind. ... Just a little disappointed with myself. I should still take time when I play, take the time with my swing, instead of try to rush everything.”
Second-ranked Na Yeon Choi was a stroke back after a 67. The South Korean player will join Miyazato and Tseng in the final group Sunday.
Tseng and Miyazato also played together in the final round in Thailand.
“It’s always fun to play with her,” Miyazato said. “I know her really well, and I think we like to play each other. I mean I like to play with Yani. I don’t know about her. We are totally different types of player, but it’s very inspiring to play with her.”
“We’re great friends and always appreciate to play with her,” Tseng said. “We talk a lot. We just talk everything, not on the golf course, outside of golf course. And it’s just so much fun to play with her.
Kim was fourth at 11 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean player Inbee Park was 10 under after a 69.
Defending champion Karr Webb (70) was 9 under along with third-ranked Suzann Pettersen (67), fourth-ranked Cristie Kerr (66), sixth-ranked Paula Creamer (70), U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu (69), Hee-Won Han (68) and Hee Kyung Seo (69).
“It’s going to be tough tomorrow with the rain and the cold and the wind,” Kerr said. “We’ll have to see what the conditions are, but all the pressure is going to be on them (the leaders) and I’m going to go out and just try and golf my ball through the weather.”