It's the weekend--and I can't wait to do some LPGA blogging. Here's why. You'll note big names in the top 10 at this point in the first round (play has been suspended) of the MasterCard Classic down in Mexico, like my picks for great years Annika Sorenstam (-3) and Mi Hyun Kim (-3), along with Natalie Gulbis (-3) and Stacy Prammanasudh (who's leading at -5--talk about a hot start to 2007 for the LPGA's leading money winner and only player in the field with a winning streak to extend). You'll see that Lorena Ochoa and Jeong Jang didn't shoot themselves out of the tournament, although they're already 4 and 5 shots off the lead, respectively, with only two rounds to go. What you'll probably overlook is that Moira Dunn is tied for 6th place at -3. Why should you care? Why do I care?
Well, I can't really answer the first question, so I'll stick with the second. I was paired with Moira in the first-ever junior golf tournament I ever played in. I tied her that day, although I doubt I ever did as well against her the rest of my quite undistinguished junior golf career. (If you ever happened to visit onechan's and imoto's grandma and grandpa's house a few years ago, you'd have seen literally dozens of golf trophies that my younger brother won, along with one of mine--and that was literally won by entering more tournaments than my nearest competitors; that and playing just well enough in them to get the most points over the course of the season in my age group. They've since forced my brother and I to take the trophies to our houses, which obviously has been much more of a burden for him than me, what with the four kids under 6 and no space and all. And yet somehow he gets to play more golf than me. Probably helps that he works in the golf industry....) By the time I started playing Division III college golf in the Northeast (the only level and region I could have possibly played college golf in), Moira and I were no longer playing together very much at all, but for a few summers in the 1980s we were friends and rivals. (And yes, she could outdrive me from the start, dammit.)
So of course I've been following Moira's LPGA career since she turned pro in the mid-'90s. It's been a roller coaster. Peaks include her first (and only win) in 2004, a 64 in 2001 (in a tournament in which she tied Annika Sorenstam for second, at -18), two top tens in majors (in 2004 and 2005, years in which she finished 35th and 42nd on the money lists, respectively--her best finishes since 2001, when she was 32nd), and winning $1.8M in her 12-year career. Unfortunately, last year was one of the worst in her life--bad driving, bad putting, bad results--and she dropped to 115th on the money list. She remains an "exempt" player, which means she can get into most tournaments she wants to play, but only because of her 2004 win, which will no longer "count" for determining status for the 2008 season.
In 2007, then, Moira Dunn is playing for her career. Missing the first two cuts of the year, as she did in Hawaii, is not unexpected for a golfer who grew up in central NY (I'd say upstate, but NYCers would think I mean Westchester County!)--where right now the low temperatures are hovering around zero Fahrenheit (winter came late, cold, and snowy). Since she doesn't normally start playing really well until mid-summer, a good finish in Mexico would be just the start to the season she needs.
So keep an eye on Moira Dunn this year, Oaktown Girl, and see if you can get Astaroth, Gojira, and 3Tops to intimidate the golf gods into smiling on her this year!