Thursday, June 26, 2008

U.S. Women's Open Thursday: And They're Off!

Since the USGA is live-blogging and the leaderboard seems bug-free, I'll just sit back and enjoy the action for awhile. Glad to see Momoko Ueda off to an early lead. Go, Momo-chan!

More later....

[Update 1 (3:49 pm): Definitely some surprises out there in the morning groups, both good and bad. Let's play "fortunately...unfortunately."

Fortunately, Ji Young Oh made 7 birdies, including her 5th par-4 birdie on the final hole, to post the low round of the day thus far, a 6-under-par 67. Unfortunately, Michelle Wie took a 9 on the same hole and accompanied it with 5 bogeys on her way to an 8-over-par 81, one of the worst rounds of the day.

Fortunately, Women's Amateur champion Maria Jose Uribe made 6 birdies on her way to a 69, tied with rookie MasterCard Classic champion Louise Friberg, who made 5. Unfortunately, Hall of Famers Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak couldn't find the fairway and ballooned to 75 and 76, respectively.

Fortunately, veterans Laura Davies and Helen Alfreddson built on their good rounds at the Wegmans LPGA, firing impressive 70s. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for fellow vets Liselotte Neumann and Jill McGill, who shot disappointing 78s.

Fortunately, Taiwan's finest, Ya Ni Tseng (71), Teresa Lu (71), and Candie Kung (72), got off to as fine starts as Japan's finest, Ai Miyazato (71) and Momoko Ueda (72). (We'll have to wait to see how Sakura Yokomine does this afternoon to see which country came out ahead today.) Unfortunately, both Tseng and Ueda made late double bogeys down the stretch and Lu did at the turn. [Update: It was a 71! Nice job.]

Fortunately, Mi Hyun Kim (72), Jee Young Lee (71), and In-Kyung Kim (71) played good golf this morning, despite the elder Kim's slow post-surgery knee recovery, Lee's missed cut last week, and the younger Kim's missed season so far this year. (Lee eagled the 2nd, by the way.) Unfortunately, troubles continued for the slumping Sarah Lee (78), the erratic Hee Young Park (76), and the hot but lately struggling Sun Young Yoo (76).

OK, that's enough for now. Time to watch me some Annika, Paula, and Suzann!]

[Update 2 (4:47 pm): More from the morning! Fortunately, new mom Catriona Matthew shot a bogey-free 70. Unfortunately, new mom Hee-Won Han bogeyed her last 3 holes to post a 74.

Fortunately, the big names at 73 (Lorena Ochoa, Christina Kim, Natalie Gulbis, Si Hyun Ahn, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Amy Yang, Stacy Lewis, and Allison Walshe) offset any bogeys they made with an equal number of birdies. Unfortunately, Maria Hjorth's bogeyless round included a triple-double stretch at the turn, but she managed to shoot a 76 nonetheless.]

[Update 3 (4:55 pm): Hound Dog's pumped up--he's posted a mid-round update! And Mulligan Stu has the low amateur watch going early. But how about that Song-Hee Kim? 5 birdies in her 1st 10 holes! Two Super Sophs who have done their share of contending this season at the top of the leaderboard today after Eun-Hee Ji showed her classmates how to win last week. Not half bad!]

[Update 4 (6/27/08, 5:50 am): Hound Dog's got the 1st round covered. For more must-click links, go to my tournament preview. And has loads of interviews.]

[Update 5 (7:08 am): Great turnaround by Pat Hurst today--she went -7 over final 14 holes and didn't make a bogey in that stretch on the way to her 67. Song-Hee Kim made 6 birdies in her 1st 13 holes and only her bogey on the tough 17th kept her from matching Hurst and Oh. Ji-Yai Shin birdied 3 in a row to start the back to help her to her 69; overall, she did a great job taking advantage of the par 5s. And speaking of great jobs, Louise Friberg had a bogey-free round going until the 9th, her final hole, which makes her 69 even more impressive. Paula Creamer (70), too, played fantastic golf and actually caught a bit of a bad break on her approach shot that got caught up in the fringe and failed to feed back down to the pin on the 9th; she also bogeyed the 18th, but my streaming video was jammed for that hole, so I have no idea how she and both Sorenstam and Pettersen butchered that hole so badly. Otherwise, it seemed she was making everything she looked at.

It wasn't all fun and games out there, though. Inbee Park bogeyed 2 of her last 3 holes and only an improbable birdie on the long par-3 8th kept her at 71 (T21). Jeong Jang, who had been -2 for most of her round, doubled the 17th to fall back to E (T33). Angela Park, who got hot in the middle of her round with 4 birdies between the 9th and 13th, promptly gave 2 of them back on the next 2 holes to fall back to E, as well. Moira Dunn birdied 2 of her last 3 holes but it wasn't enough to offset a bogey on the 17th and a double on the 10th, so she had to settle for 74 (T48), as did Morgan Pressel (who made 17 pars and a bogey) and Karen Stupples (who could only manage 1 birdie). Seon Hwa Lee couldn't make a birdie after the 2nd hole and ballooned to a 75 (T66), but she did as well as Annika Sorenstam, who made 2 in her 1st 7 holes but made back-to-back bogeys on both the back and the front.

And it gets worse: Wegmans champion Eun-Hee Ji could only manage 1 birdie on her way to a 76 (T77), where she was joined by Angela Stanford, Na Yeon Choi, and Sun Ju Ahn; Suzann Pettersen's bad play over the final 6 holes at the Wegmans continued, as she not only bogeyed 3 of her last 4 holes but also made back-to-back bogeys as she closed out her 1st 9, the back, on the way to her 77 (T95); Jane Park made 6 bogeys and a double in her 78 (T110), while Lindsey Wright came back from a 9 on the par-5 3rd (which she followed up with 2 straight bogeys) to join her. I didn't expect anything good from Bettina Hauert, and she delivered with a 79 (T124), but I did expect better from the LET's leading money winner this season, Gwladys Nocera, who shot 81 (T146).

So with perfect conditions only 6 players broke 70, 32 went under par, and 47 were at par or better, but only 1, as far as I know, achieved a bogey-free round. 90 players, by contrast, shot 75 or worse. With only the top 60 and ties playing on the weekend, along with anyone else within 10 shots of the leader, I'm sure a lot of players are hoping the top 6 come back to the field in a big way later today. We'll see!]

[Update 6 (9:15 am): Hound Dog comes through with some great highlights.]

[Update 7 (2:02 pm): Give Brian Hewitt credit for nice transitions in his round 1 commentary!]

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