Wright says Bring it on!

SportsGolfMedicineHealthESPNBigfoot (cryptid)Cristie Kerr

Lindsey Wright, the LPGA's poster child for a Sudafed-and-Gatorade diet, figures: Why not?

Why can't someone who's never won on tour break through at one of the LPGA's biggest events? Why does it have to be an Ochoa or a Kerr or someone practiced at hoisting trophies?

In other words: Why not her?

Wright has navigated Kingsmill's River Course almost impeccably for three days at the Mich Ultra Open. Her 7-under 64 on Saturday left her tied for the lead at 15-under with the aforementioned LPGA Bigfoot, Cristie Kerr, with whom she will play in today's final pairing.

Wright's performance this week and the promise of an important Sunday even elicited a playful, "Bring it on," when she spoke to ESPN cameras after her round.

"Every time you're in contention or leading a tournament," Wright said a few minutes later, "you're going to come out on top maybe three out of 10 times, so you've got to go for it. It's kind of a privilege to be in this position, so bring it on. Absolutely. I love it."

Wright, a 29-year-old Aussie, has dealt with rain and heat and wind externally. Internally, she has endured, well, she's not exactly sure what's going on.

All she knows is that since she arrived in Williamsburg, she's felt "dodgy" – her word. On Thursday and Friday, her sinuses bugged her, she felt sluggish and had little appetite. Hence a remark following her Friday round that she was in search of Sudafed and Gatorade.

Then on Saturday, Wright had a bit of a stomach issue, though she said she felt better than either of the previous two days.

Wright should feel this badly all the time. She has had just one bogey in three rounds. Her caddy, Paul Clifford, said that she grew increasingly pale on the back nine Friday as she slogged her way to nine consecutive pars.

On Saturday, she was lights out, shooting the day's best round.

"She was exceptional," Clifford said. "She didn't miss a fairway. When you're hitting fairways and greens, it makes it easier."

Fairways and greens are the ticket again as Wright aims for her first tour victory. She was fourth at the Kraft Nabisco, the year's first major, and has worked to become a consistent contender.

"Every time, you learn," Wright said, "and I'm sure I'll learn things (Sunday), too. Particularly getting ahead of yourself. It's a classic golf drama. You start planning your (victory) speech on the first hole, you know you're going to be in trouble.

"It's a matter of just playing each shot at a time, and that's like a cliché, but it really is. You've just got to pace yourself and just stay in the moment, because like I said, it's a good leaderboard, so it's going to be a fun day of golf."

Wright will share the fun with Kerr, the 2005 Mich Ultra champ and the sixth-ranked player in the world.

"She'll have to deal with her internal self and voices and whatever else is going on, just like we all do," Kerr said. "But I have to focus on where I want to go (Sunday), instead of being tied for the lead, because obviously, that's not going to hold up. So I've got to go out and do my job the best I can, like I have the last three days, like I have all year."

As for the advantages an 11-time tour winner has over someone who hasn't yet scratched, Kerr said, "I've learned to not underestimate anybody."

She brought up the Kraft Nabisco tournament, when Brittany Lincicome eagled 18 on Sunday to beat her and fellow runner-up Kristy McPherson by one shot.

Lincicome had never won a major, and McPherson hasn't won on tour, yet neither shrank from competition against one of the world's best players.

"I've learned to never underestimate anybody," Kerr said, "because you never know. On any given day, somebody could bring their best. It's up to me to do my job and bring my best and see how it matches up."

Wright isn't likely to shrink from the moment. Asked what she has learned about winning and the difficulty of winning on the LPGA Tour, she showed that she hasn't gotten ahead of herself.

"I haven't won out here yet," she said, "so I really can't answer that question. But I know what it's like to get in contention, and it really is a grind. It's hard work, but when you get in contention, you just don't know. You just give your best shot. It's going to be good. I'm excited. I'm ready to tee off now."

Dave Fairbank can be reached at 247-4637 or by e-mail at dfairbank@dailypress.com

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