My flight for Fukuoka boards soon, but I have time for some quick reactions to the LPGA's first major of the year. I even got to watch some of the Kraft Nabisco Championship's first and second rounds at my hotel, so for once I won't just be reacting to the leaderboard!
Lorena Ochoa's swing is looking great and despite a double bogey on her sixth hole of the second round came back with 4 birdies and a bogey in her final twelve holes. I got to watch Lorena's back 9 on the first day; she was paired with Karrie Webb and it was great to see them both playing well. I missed Webb's mid-round collapse the second day, but she's still in the top 20 at +3. As tough as the course is playing, if she can get back under par on Saturday, she still could have a chance to win. The birdies are out there--I watched Paula Creamer's back 9 on the second day and if she had putted just a little bit better she could have done three shots better than her 67--but so are the bogeys, so it's not inconceivable that all 9 people under par through two rounds could move backwards and open the door for the rest of the field.
I should get a chance to watch the Ochoa/Creamer/Petterson pairing, as Japanese TV should cover the weekend play because all four Japanese golfers in the field made the cut. I was also happy to see all the NYers make the cut, with Meaghan Francella T10 at even and Moira Dunn and Laura Diaz looking to break out from the middle of the pack, where Annika Sorenstam and Jeong Jang, both of whom I expected to see in the top 10 at this point, are also trapped. Another interesting story to follow is the steady play of Se Ri Pak and Shi Hyun Ahn, both of whom are within two shots of the lead, right behind Suzann Pettersen and ahead of Catriona Matthew, who continue their excellent play this year. Soon-to-be-Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak is looking to complete a career Grand Slam--the Kraft Nabisco is the only major she hasn't won.
Natalie Gulbis is officially slumping, having missed another cut by a wide margin. Also missing the cut were Seon Hwa Lee and Meena Lee. So we may have to start talking about a Mostly Harmless jinx, as I picked all three to contend for #1 on the money list and in the world this year.
Here are the pairings for Round 3. You'll note that Moira and Ai-chan are playing together, as are Se Ri and Shi Hyun. Should be fun--do yourself a favor and watch it on network TV this weekend!