Friday, July 25, 2008

Evian Masters Friday: The Times They Are A'Changin'

During the first few months of the season when Lorena Ochoa was winning 5 events in dominating fashion, an opening-round 65 would have struck fear into the hearts of just about everyone in the field, paving the way for a wire-to-wire win. Well, when she shot an un-Lorena-like 73 today at the Evian Masters--finishing 2-over-par for her final 8 holes (where she had gone -5 the day before) and again making only 1 birdie on the 4 par 5s--a total of 9 players roared past her or pulled even with her, lead by Angela Park's 68. With Park at -10, Helen Alfredsson at -9 (thanks to a tournament-record bogey-free 63), and Cristie Kerr leading a large group at -8 (on the strength of a 66 that included 4 consecutive birdies to close out the front after a double bogey on the par-4 5th, which was even more impressive than her comeback from a triple bogey on the par-4 13th yesterday), Ochoa is by no means out of the tournament at -6 (T8), but there are now 30 golfers within 5 shots of her.

Joining Park in the sub-70 club for the 2nd straight round are In-Kyung Kim (68, -8, T3), Juli Inkster (69, -8, T3), Meena Lee, and Shi Hyun Ahn (69, -6, T8). Na Yeon Choi fired the 3rd-best round of the day, a 67, to catch Ochoa, and there were only 2 other 68s (by Sun Young Yoo and Wendy Doolan, which helped them move up into the middle of the pack) all day.

Scoring conditions were definitely tougher today than yesterday. Ochoa wasn't the only leader to go over par; she was joined by Seon Hwa Lee (75, E, T39), Sun-Ju Ahn (74, -4, T16), Suzann Pettersen (74, -3, T23), Laura Diaz (73, -4, T16), and Amy Yang (+1, -3, T23). But they shouldn't feel too bad: Hall of Famers Se Ri Pak (76) and Karrie Webb (75) blew up, falling back to T53 and T61, respectively, while the LET order of merit leader, Gwladys Nocera, missed the cut with a 75. Joining her were the JLPGA's slumping Bo-Bae Song and the LPGA's yo-yo leader Jee Young Lee; Jane Park, Nicole Castrale, and Laura Davies fell on the right side of the cut line by the skin of their teeth.

For more on the second round, check out Hound Dog's recap, the Armchair Golfer's overview and commentary, Bill Jempty on Park's lead and the race for the Solheim Cup, and the ever-lovin' notes and interviews. Ai Miyazato and Momoko Ueda were among the LPGA players who participated in the annual soccer match with "Zizou" and other European pros. Didn't hurt their games any, as Ai-chan held steady at +2 with a 72 and Momo-chan moved to T11 with Paula Creamer and Hee Young Park, who matched her 69.

[Update 1 (11:56 pm): With Lorena out of the lead, Graham Dunbar picks up his game for the AP.]

[Update 2 (7/26/08, 12:01 am): With Hound Dog out of the highlights business, we have to rely on the Golf Channel.]

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