Sunday, July 1, 2007

U.S. Women's Open Sunday: This Is What It's All About

Well, my questions from last post got answered decisively. No, none of the big names stuck in neutral got out of it this morning--in fact, most put it in reverse, most disappointingly Se Ri Pak and Jee Young Lee, who at +1 are by no means out of it, but, like Jeong Jang, who fell back to E after bogeying her final two holes yesterday, must feel they've thrown away a great opportunity to be right in it. And no, the top 5 leaders did not come back to the field in a big way, either. Cristie Kerr's 66 puts her at -4, while Lorena Ochoa's 68, Morgan Pressel's 69, and Ji Yai Shin's 71 puts them at -3, and Angela Park's 74 puts her at -2.

But due to the struggles of the other Saturday-stoppage leaders, the top 5 have opened up a lead on the pack. Amy Hung (75) and Julieta Granada (75) fell behind Jang, Jin Joo Hong, and In-Bee Park at E (T6) and got caught by Pak, Lee, and Birdie Kim at +1 (T9), Shiho Oyama (73) got caught by Hye Jung Choi at +2 (T14), and Angela Stanford (73) and Catriona Matthew (74) got caught by Mi Hyun Kim, Seon Hwa Lee, and Brittany Lincicome at +3 (T16). Someone in this grouping is going to have to make an extraordinary effort on the front to get in the mix on the back. If these players don't watch their backs, they'll of course be passed by many in the +4 to +6 range, who are not playing all that badly this week.

So the race for the win is not the only race to watch. Can In-Bee Park catch her friend and Futures Tour rival Angela Park in the rookie race? Will Morgan Pressel solidify her standing at the top Super Soph over her cohorts who are all over par? Can Shiho Oyama stay ahead of Sakura Yokomine and Ai Miyazato in the JLPGA race (Mi-Jeong Jeon is shockingly in free fall)? You all can stay tuned--I'm going to bed and catching the 5-8 am coverage on Japanese tv!

[Update 1 (7/2/07, 4:54 am): With the leaders on the back 9 and Japanese tv coverage about to start, Kerr and Ochoa are neck and neck at -4 and Angela Park, Ji Yai Shin, Morgan Pressel, and In-Bee Park are the only other players under par, 2-3 shots back. The round of the day belongs to Ai Miyazato, but by bogeying the 14th and 18th and failing to birdie the par-5 10th or 15th, her 69 is clearly too little too late, even if it does make her the leader in the clubhouse (thanks to a double on the 9th by Jimin Kang, who with a par or birdie would have tied or passed Ai-chan), give her a chance for a top 10 (at +3, she's currently T13), give her a shot at low Japanese player in the field (Shiho Oyama is +1 through 13 and tied with her) and perhaps even second-low Super Soph (if Kyeong Bae, who's -2 through 16 and 1 shot ahead of her, falters down the stretch). What's surprising to me is that no one else has made a major move on the leaders. True, Mi Hyun Kim and Brittany Lincicome are -1 on the day through 14 and 1 ahead of Miyazato at +2, and Se Ri Pak is E through 11 and 1 ahead of them, but Jeong Jang, Jee Young Lee and Hye Jung Choi, who have been among the hottest players in the field on Friday and Saturday, are going in the wrong direction fast. And they are not alone. Just scroll down the leaderboard.]

[Update 2 (5:04 am): Blogger's not showing me updates to this post, so I started a new one (which updates update 1) that I can't see either unless I click on the "golf" tag on the sidebar.]

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