Thursday, May 24, 2007

Corning Classic: Go Low or Go Home

Over in southern NY, the supposed also-rans in the field (17 of the top 20 on the money list are taking a break before next week's Ginn, which has a purse twice as big as this one, and where both Annika and Michelle will apparently be playing) at the Corning Classic are tearing up the course. It's a short one to begin with and it's playing even shorter because it's dry and hard; plus, with the temperatures unseasonably warm (in the high 70s and 80s all weekend), the balls are really flying. With scattered thunderstorms forecast for Sunday, players have to get as low as they can the first three days when the weather is expected to be perfect.

With 72 people under par thus far (many afternoon groups are still on the course), it's likely the cut line tomorrow will be at or under par. So there's pressure even on the people who shot 71s and 70s today to go lower tomorrow and certainly not to move backwards. Shooting a 69 doesn't get you in the top 20, nor does a 68 get you a top 10. It doesn't even look like a 67 will get you a top 5! What with Beth Bader firing a 65 (and Charlotta Sorenstam threatening to surpass it), Shi Hyun Ahn a 66 (and Paula Creamer and Diana D'Alessio threatening to surpass it), and 9 others at -3 or better with many birdie holes ahead of them, here's what the people who want to be in contention will have to do.

For every round between 69 and 72, you'll need a round between 65 and 68 to balance it. For every round between 73 and 76, you'll need one between 61 and 64 to balance it (or two in the next higher category). Better to just avoid those higher ranges entirely. It'll be interesting to see how many of the 23 people with a chance to do that for the rest of the tournament actually do it. Even if the weather is bad Sunday, the winning score is likely to be between 14 and 24 under. Better to err on the low side.

[Update 1 (12:12 pm): Congrats to Charlotta Sorenstam on her 64! Here are the first-round interviews and second-round starting times. More after lunch!]

[Update 2 (1:02 pm): It'll be interesting to see if the Creamer rises this week (she's the leader among those in the top 20 at 66; Kim and Miyazato are two shots behind her) or if the "also-rans" can outplay her over four rounds. Also interesting will be whether Super Soph in Waiting Hye Jung Choi (67) will be able to maintain her one-shot lead on Ai Miyazato and Seon Hwa Lee and two-shot lead on Sun Young Yoo at the end of the day Sunday (there are a lot of sophs hovering at the cut line who can join this race with a good round tomorrow); similarly, In-Kyung Kim (67) has a great chance to finish ahead of fellow rookies In-Bee Park, Na On Min, Ji-Young Oh, and Maru Martinez (70), not to mention Angela Park (71). Meena Lee, Kyeong Bae and Teresa Lu can't be happy with their rounds either, having gotten to -4, -4, and -3, respectively, but ending with 70, 71, and 73, thanks late collapses on the supposedly easier front side. Given how vulnerable the course is to scoring and how good the conditions will be tomorrow, they're going to have to watch their backs and pay attention to the cut line. Oh, and I'm trying not to use the "slump" word for Moira Dunn, Pat Hurst, and Virada Nirapathpongporn, but it appears they're going to have great difficulty making the cut this week.]

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