Saturday, March 29, 2008

Safeway International Friday: Notes from the Halfway Point

Hound Dog has hit the high points of Friday's play at the Safeway International, so I'll just jot down a few things I happened to notice here (on tv at my folks' place) and there (on the site), in no particular order.

I'd sure love to see a clip of Ai Miyazato's eagle on the par-4 6th that vaulted her from the wrong side of the cut line all the way up to T54 (-1). When you look at all the great players who started on the back, got it to E somewhere in the middle of their rounds, then fell back below the cut line, you've got to figure that Ai-chan's grit (and luck) show she's on the comeback trail. Plus, her driving average for the tournament is now 251 yards--sounds like she busted out the driver today. I'm celebrating her first made cut in this hemisphere this season and hoping she can end this week surpassing her season-best results in Australia and Singapore (top 15s). When you look at the number of birdies people are making and how far people who didn't go under par today fell down the leaderboard, two good rounds from Ai-chan this weekend could net her a top 10.

With doubles on two of the last three par 5s--the 7th and 18th holes--offsetting her 4 birdies in yesterday's round, Moira Dunn had to figure she had blown her chances of making the cut, as the line was bouncing back and forth between -1 and E all day. But now she's only 5 shots behind the big group tied for 12th place. To keep her card this year, Moira's going to have maximize prize money every cut she makes, so I'm looking for her to take serious advantage of her break this week.

Looks like Cristie Kerr (74-64, -6, T8), Inbee Park (73-66, -5, T12), and Jee Young Lee (67-67, -10, 3rd place) are breaking out of their early-season slumps at just the right time. Nothing like a great moving day to continue their momentum and build their confidence, though. Today's round is going to be key for them.

Looks like Angela Stanford (62-69, -13, 1st place), Karen Stupples (67-70, -7, T6), Lindsey Wright (71-67, -6, T8), and Ji-Young Oh (71-67, -6, T8) are for real this season. But they have to go out every round and prove themselves all over again. Gotta like Stanford's confidence in her interview!

On the cusp of playing really well are Jeong Jang (69-70, -5, T12) Hee-Won Han (70-69, -5, T12), and Suzann Pettersen (71-68, -5, T12). A really good moving day can help build their momentum for the year's first major next week.

Also showing signs of getting closer to reaching their potential are Christina Kim (69-68, -7, T6), Birdie Kim (69-70, -5, T12), Mi Hyun Kim (71-70, -3, T29), and Angela Park (72-69, -3, T29). This weekend is going to mean a lot to these players in particular.

It's also going to be key for some big names who just haven't gotten their games in gear yet this week, from Paula Creamer (69-73, -2, T42) and Laura Diaz (72-70, -2, T42) to Natalie Gulbis (71-72, -1, T54) and Stacy Prammanasudh (70-74, E, T68).

Let's hear it for the vets! How about Candie Kung (71-71, -2, T42), Lorie Kane (71-72, -1, T54), Juli Inkster (74-70, E, T68), Grace Park (73-71, E, T68), and Meg Mallon (73-71, E, T68) making the cut with clutch birdies down the stretch? They certainly have to feel better than Sherri Steinhauer (66-77, -1, T54) and Laura Davies (71-71, -2, T42), who stumbled their way into the weekend. But they're all chasing Sophie Gustafson and Wendy Ward at -4 (T20) and Michelle Redman at -8 (T4) heading into the weekend.

The Prospector course hasn't been all that kind to Young Guns and veterans, so look for Stanford, Ochoa, and Sorenstam to distance themselves from the pack later today. I'll be rooting for Jee Young Lee to stay in contention, but she's going to need more from her driver, as she hinted in the post-round interview. Anybody not double digits under par at the end of moving day will just be playing for a top 10. How low Stanford and Ochoa can go will determine how far into double digits you'll have to be to have a chance for a come-from-behind win on Sunday. They're starting early and going out in pairs starting Saturday, so expect some nice head-to-head match-ups between Stanford and Ochoa, Sorenstam and Lee, Stupples and Kerr, Oh and Wright, Lang and Lincicome, Diaz and Lu, Davies and Kung, and Wessberg and Friberg (in reverse chronological order).

Too bad I'm heading home tomorrow afternoon so I'll miss all the action. Back to internet-only LPGA experiences until the next visit to the grandparents' place in May!

1 comment:

Hound Dog said...

Sorry - no Miyazato eagle - but I posted lots of other stuff from Friday night. The Parmlid one is my favorite.