Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sybase Classic Sunday: And They're Off!

Perhaps in anticipation of the potential for afternoon thunderstorms in the NYC area, the final round of the Sybase Classic has already begun. Here's hoping they get it all in. And that Na On Min, Ya Ni Tseng, Seon Hwa Lee, and Song-Hee Kim make like the early bird! But with the final groups going off at 9:01 am, I think it's fair to say everyone who made the cut has a chance to do that....

[Update 1 (10:42 am): While Lorena Ochoa pulls away from the field, Christina Kim is making a bid for 2nd place. She wouldn't be Christina without a bogey on her first hole to get off on the wrong foot, but she followed up with 5 birdies to shoot her 2nd 32 in 3 tries on the front. At -7, she's 4 behind Ochoa and tied with Na Yeon Choi, Sophie Gustafson, and Teresa Lu. But also making an early move are Morgan Pressel (-3 throgh 8 holes and tied with Brittany Lang at -6 for the tournament) and Minea Blomqvist (-4 through 12 despite making 4 bogeys in her round thus far and tied with Kristy McPherson, H.J. Choi, and Catriona Matthew at -5).]

[Update 2 (11:03 am): Also making nice moves are Angela Park (a bogey-free 33 on the back has gotten her under par in the tournament for the first time since the 7th hole on Thursday) and Ya Ni Tseng (who's also -3 on her round thus far, and has passed Taylor Leon to pull into second among the rookies in the field). Speaking of rookies, Na Yeon Choi is back within 3 of Ochoa. But with a birdie-eagle start on the back, Pressel has passed Lu at the top of the 5-way race for top Junior Mint and is now only 2 shots behind Ochoa!]

[Update 3 (11:08 am): Not everyone is moving in the right direction. H.J. Choi at +1 through 8 is not keeping pace with her Junior Mint peers who have passed her. Annika Sorenstam shot a 37 on the front--we'll have to see how she motivates herself now that she's well out of contention. Stacy Prammanasudh is +2 through 12 and Ai Miyazato is +3 through 11 and both have fallen back to E for the tournament.]

[Update 4 (11:30 am): Is it possible Lorena Ochoa's not going to run away with this thing? The next few holes may tell--she's birdied 10 and 11 often and bogeyed 12 twice--and with her bogey on the 9th she's just let a host of people within 2 shots of her lead. A Christina Kim birdie and Morgan Pressel bogey bring them together at -8 with Teresa Lu and Na Yeon Choi.]

[Update 5 (11:44 am): Correction: Pressel didn't eagle 11--just a birdie (someone a got a little excited, I think). She and Kim have made it through the dangerous 12th unscathed and Ochoa and Choi failed to birdie the 10th. Tseng, Blomqvist, and Nicole Castrale are all at -5 for the tournament and -4 on their rounds, but it's too late for them to contend for 2nd with the leaders playing as well as they are--and Blomqvist just responded with a double on 17. Lu bogeyed 10 to drop off the leaders' pace for now.]

[Update 6 (12:02 pm): With a birdie on 10 and an eagle on 11, Lang has gotten herself into the mix in a big way--at -9, she's tied with Na Yeon Choi 2 back of Ochoa, who did birdie the 11th. And Catriona Matthew has birdied the 13th and 14th to get to -4 on the day and -8 for the tournament. With Sophie Gustafson also at -8, there are now 7 players within 3 of Ochoa as she plays the dangerous 12th.]

[Update 7 (12:12 pm): In perhaps a preview of how significant the 18th will be today, Nicole Castrale birdied it to shoot a 67 and get to -6 on the tournament, while Ya Ni Tseng bogeyed and dropped to 69 and -4. Those 2 shots are likely to be the difference between being in and out of the top 10 this week--and could be much more significant if anyone can pull even with Ochoa heading into the final hole. With her first par of the week on the 12th, Lorena's not making it easy for the rest of the lead pack.]

[Update 8 (12:21 pm): Jimin Kang is making a huge comeback after an opening-round 73; at -4 with 2 holes to play, she has caught Castrale and Lu, who also bogeyed the 11th, 5 shots back of Ochoa. Inbee Park is also -4 on her round after 2 indifferent rounds to start the tournament; if she can handle the tough 9th, she'll have snagged a top 20 finish.]

[Update 9 (12:27 pm): At the other end of the spectrum, Lindsey Wright has bogeyed 5 holes since the 9th and has been caught by Shi Hyun Ahn and Angela Park at E for the tournament. And Ai-chan is turning in the 2nd-worst round of the day--at +4, she's dropped all the way back to +1 for the tournament. Ugh!]

[Update 10 (12:31 pm): Gustafson started cold and has gotten hot--3 birdies in her first 4 holes have brought her back within 2 of Ochoa. And Cristie Kerr has bounced back from a late double on the front with an eagle-birdie-birdie run to match Inbee Park's performance to date.]

[Update 11 (12:41 pm): So far the rain has stayed west of the course, but shows a big cell that may drift further east than previous ones. Hope they play fast! If Christina Kim can birdie or eagle the tough 18th, she'll get to -9 or -10, which could be good enough for the win if the leaders get caught out in the rain.]

[Update 12 (12:50 pm): Annika's birdied 3 of her last 5 holes down the stretch and seems to be fighting for a top 10. But that cell is definitely heading the players' way and there seems to be a bottleneck on the last 3 holes.... Think they'll wipe this round if the rains make finishing the last few holes impossible?]

[Update 12 (12:54 pm): The final group has reached the last 3 holes and Ochoa remains at -11, the only player double digits under par in the field. This is another stretch during which she has separated herself from the field the previous 2 rounds. But will she get to play them?]

[Update 12 (2:30 pm): Well, it seems like everybody birdied 18 except the two players who needed it most, Na Yeon Choi and Sophie Gustafson, who had to settle for T2 with Morgan Pressel, Catriona Matthew, and Brittany Lang. Ochoa bogeyed 17 to give Choi and Gustafson a chance to force a playoff, but they couldn't get to double digits under par in the end. I'll let those with tv access handle the "how" part....]

[Update 13 (2:56 pm): Hound Dog has his pre-tv final-round recap up already. Looking forward to his post-coverage update and highlights!]

[Update 14 (5:03 pm): Tom Canavan in his AP story does a fine job, but inexplicably pays almost no attention to the ROY leader Choi as well as comebacker Junior Mint Lang and resurgent mom Matthew in his recap of who could have caught Ochoa today.]

[Update 15 (11:42 pm): Nice highlights as usual from Hound Dog--the first clip alone kicks ESPN's entire highlight reel's butt.]

[Update 16 (5/19/08, 10:25 am): Just to rub it in, Hound Dog posted more highlights today. And a growling tournament epilogue.]

[Update 17 (12:51 pm): Uh oh, does it seem like the Golf Channel's LPGA highlights are getting better and better lately? Could there be a bidding war between ESPN and TGC for the LPGA tv deal in the works?]

[Update 18 (5/22/08, 12:45 am): Nice recap by TGC's Tom Abbott.]

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