Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ginn Tribute Thursday: Bring Your 'A' Game or Go Home

As Hound Dog reports from Charleston, the morning rain stayed light, the wind died down, and the rough was trimmed for the opening round of the Ginn Tribute. As several players discussed in their post-round interviews, the overnight rain made the fairways and greens receptive. So it's no surprise that scores were low today. 2 65s. 29 players under 70. 59 under par. 74 at par or better. But who shot what may be a bit more surprising.

On the up side, Karrie Webb's 65. On the down side, Angela Stanford's birdie-less 76. Sounds like Webb could have easily gotten into the low 60s today! My "awesome talent and incredible inconsistency" characterization of her from late April still stands--you never know which Karrie Webb will show up. Meanwhile, except blips like her missed cut last week on a course she's never played well, Stanford has been the definition of consistent excellence the last 2 seasons. So of course she couldn't find the fairway today and blew up....

On the up side, Cristie Kerr's 67. On the down side, Hee-Won Han's 78. I thought Han had put her recent struggles behind her with her fine weekend at Corning, while Kerr would be rusty from her layoff. Shows what I know!

On the up side, In-Kyung Kim's 65. On the down side, Eun-Hee Ji's 74. Based on their play this year, I had replaced Kim with Ji as the 2nd-ranked Super Soph. But it appears from her interview that Kim has recovered from an early-season injury and now she leads all her classmates who have been outplaying her since then--Inbee Park by 2, Song-Hee Kim, Jane Park, and Kristy McPherson by 3, Ji Young Oh by 4, Angela Park by 7, and Na On Min by 8.

On the up side, H.J. Choi's 67. On the down side, Catriona Matthew's 73. I wasn't sold on Choi's comeback from the depths of the worst slump of her career but I believed Matthew was most of the way back to her 2007 form. Instead, we have Choi leading all the top Junior Mints--Seon Hwa Lee and Teresa Lu by 1, Minea Blomqvist and Linda Wessberg by 2, Morgan Pressel, Jee Young Lee, Ai Miyazato, and Sun Young Yoo by 3, Kyeong Bae and Katie Futcher by 4, Brittany Lang and Julieta Granada by 5--and tied with classmate, Futures Tour graduate, and fellow big surprise Allison Fouch.

On the up side, Heather Young's 67. On the down side, Annika Sorenstam's 72. Who would you have thought would be more likely to suffer a triple bogey today? I mean, come on!

On the up side, Mi Hyun Kim's 67. On the down side, Maria Hjorth's 76. Well, maybe what's surprising is that my prediction actually came true for Hjorth when it didn't for Webb, Kerr, Sophie Gustafson (66), Jee Young Lee, Inbee Park, or Blomqvist (although, to be fair to Hjorth, Christina Kim did shoot a 73). And that my sense that Mi Hyun Kim is back was verified, despite the wet course playing so long for her.

It's only 1 round, but the leaders this week face the same challenge as last week's first-round leaders did after Jeong Jang and Paula Creamer's so-so starts in Corning. With the tournament's Big 3 in the middle of the pack at best--Sorenstam is T60 at E, Pettersen is T42 at -1, and Creamer is T17 at -3--the 16 players at 68 or better have a great chance to put some distance between themselves and the most dangerous players in the field tomorrow. Will Webb, Kerr, Mi Hyun Kim and Gustafson establish themselves as the frontrunners heading into the weekend? Or will young guns with hot hands like In-Kyung Kim, Inbee Park, Song-Hee Kim, Teresa Lu, and H.J. Choi continue to set the pace as they race for their first win? One thing is for sure: the Big 3 will do better tomorrow than they did today. Who else will be able to say the same thing at the end of the day tomorrow?

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