Sunday, July 27, 2008

Evian Masters Sunday: Duel or Melee?

There are low scores to be had out there in the final round of the Evian Masters. Hee-Won Han and H.J. Choi fired 65s to get under par for the tournament, while Karrie Webb and Giulia Sergas shot 66s to move into the top third of the field. A 67 by Christina Kim and 68s by Seon Hwa Lee, Becky Brewerton, and Wendy Doolan show the eventual winner what she has to do.

That may well be Na Yeon Choi. The rookie has fired a 31 on the front to get to -14, good enough for a 1-shot lead on Angela Park (+1 through 8), a 3-shot lead on Candie Kung (+2 through 8), Shi Hyun Ahn (-2 through 9), and Helen Alfredsson (-1 through 8), and a 4-shot lead on 6 golfers, including Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, and Juli Inkster.

Will this become a duel between last year's Rookie of the Year and the top contender to Ya Ni Tseng for this year's? Or a melee between the 11 players (so far) to get to double digits under par?

[Update 1 (9:24 am): Or maybe this will be a blowout by Choi? She's -6 through 11 after her 7th birdie of the day on the 10th hole and now has a 3-shot lead on Park and Alfredsson. But Annika Sorenstam may well be a cautionary tale for the streaking rookie. Sorenstam was -6 through 12 and got to -9 for the tournament before she bogeyed 3 holes in a row and finished with a 68 (-7). But even if she makes consecutive bogeys on the back like Ji-Yai Shin, maybe she'll come back with birdies on 4 of her last 5 holes--as the KLPGA superstar did to fire a 67 and move to -8 for the tournament--and run away with the tournament.]

[Update 2 (9:33 am): Wow! Choi has birdied 8 of her 1st 12 holes! But Park is beginning to respond--she got her 1st birdie of the day on the 11th to remain 3 back. Could this still become a duel? Nice 68 today by In-Kyung Kim to get to -9 for the tournament and replace Shin as the new leader in the clubhouse.]

[Update 3 (9:45 am): Make that 9 birdies in 13 holes!!!! Park's only hope is that she has played the last several holes the best of anyone else in the tournament....]

[Update 4 (9:54 am): Another great finish for Sun Young Yoo--a 67 that makes her the new leader in the clubhouse at -10. Too little, too late this week, but she may not be far away from her 1st win.]

[Update 5 (10:18 am): A bogey on the par-5 15th drops Choi to -7 on the day and her lead to 3 over Park and Alfredsson. How will she handle the tricky final 3 holes? If she does it as well as classmate Hee Young Park, who closed with a 67 to become the new leader in the clubhouse at -12, she should be just fine.]

[Update 6 (10:27 am): Correction: Park actually shot a 68 (-11). Her stay as leader in the clubhouse was brief, as Lorena Ochoa passed her with a 68 of her own to get to -12. The par 5s killed Ochoa this week, however. Her birdie on 18 was her first of the tournament and brought her to E on the par 5s Sunday, 1 worse than each of the 3 previous days.]

[Update 7 (10:31 am): Uh-oh! Choi bogeyed the 16th. Her lead is still 2, but she's giving Park and Alfredsson too much hope.]

[Update 8 (10:39 am): Super Soph Jin Joo Hong birdied the 18th for a 67 that brought her to -13. Not only is she the new leader in the clubhouse, but she's only 2 back of Choi, who just parred the 17th to remain at -15.]

[Update 9 (10:42 am): This may end up a duel, after all. Angela Park just birdied the 16th to pull within 1 shot of Choi!]

[Update 10 (10:44 am): And Alfredsson birdied the 17th to do the same!]

[Update 11 (10:50 am): Park could not birdie the 17th....]

[Update 12 (10:53 am): But Choi failed to birdie the 18th, leaving the door wide open....]

[Update 13 (10:56 am): Correction on Sun Young Yoo's card: she shot a 68 to finish at -9.]

[Update 14 (10:59 am): Well, nobody broke 70 all 4 rounds, but Shi Hyun Ahn gave it a great try. She birdied the 18th for a 70 and a T6 finish at -11. Not bad for the former Rookie of the Year!]

[Update 15 (11:02 am): Helen Alfredsson did it! She birdied the 18th for a 67 that tied Na Yeon Choi at -15. Unless Angela Park can eagle the 18th, we'll either have a 2- or 3-player playoff!]

[Update 16 (11:09 am): Park did it, too! We'll have a 3-way playoff on the 18th until a winner emerges....]

[Update 17 (11:32 am): Follow the action at Evian Masters TV Live!]

[Update 18 (11:48 am): Helen Alfredsson pushed her drive right and hit her 2nd shot in the hazard, so she retired from the playoff. Na Yeon Choi put her drive in the middle of the fairway and went for the green in 2. She hit it about 30 feet away from the pin, on the left fringe. Angela Park laid up to about 60 yards or so and pulled her wedge about 15 feet left of the pin, which was cut back right near a trap. Choi babied her long putt, while Park's dropped in on the side door. The pressure was on Choi to hole a tricky 2-foot downhill putt to extend the playoff...and she did. Back to the 18th tee!]

[Update 19 (11:51 am): This is something of a repeat of last week's finish, with a Super Soph against a rookie. Even though Choi shot 66 and Park shot 71, it was really Park who made a comeback on Choi, with birdies on her 2 final holes. Once again this finish shows how difficult it is to be the leader down the stretch. Last week, Ji Young Oh prevailed over the favorite Ya Ni Tseng; this week, the 2 competitors are evenly matched. Choi has an advantage in length, but Park has played the 18th hole better. Choi's birdie in the playoff was her 1st; Park's was her 5th!]

[Update 20 (12:05 pm): Park pulled her drive a bit into the left rough, but went it in 2 and hit it to the very front right of the green. Choi layed up this time--badly--into the right rough, at least 110 yards away--but stuck her approach 7 feet left of the pin, on almost the same line she had had before. Park's putt ended up 3 feet past the hole--a good lag. Choi missed on the high side--looked like she hit it through the break. Park won it with a dead-center putt!]

[Update 21 (12:44 pm): Well, apparently I can't tell Helen Alfredsson from Angela Park! Just switch the names in the last few updates....]

[Update 22 (12:50 pm): Color me confused. I don't know what they were showing on Evian Masters TV Live, but Alfredsson beat Choi on the 3rd playoff hole....]

[Update 23 (1:40 pm): Here's the LET's blurb. Maybe here's what happened. Maybe in update 18 back there I tuned in in the middle of the second playoff hole, and the player I identified as Alfredsson actually layed up instead of dumping her shot in the hazard as I thought. Everything else makes sense after that if Park was already out. The Evian people confused matters by showing a photo of Alfredsson from an earlier round--the LET site has a photo of what she wore in today's round.]

[Update 24 (7/28/08, 1:01 am): Hound Dog's final-round recap brings (me, at least) much-needed clarity!]


The Florida Masochist said...

I think we're looking playoff. Either Park or Alredsson or both of them birdie 18 to set one up.

Did you get my email? The Ginn Tribute is cooked. Those rumors about the company wanting to buy out of the 2008 event that were heard in April are sounding pretty true.

The Florida Masochist said...

3-way playoff between Alfredsson, Park, and Choi. Obviously Park and Choi haven't been here before, Helen is 0-2 lifetime in playoffs according to the 2008 LPGA media guidebook

she lost to Betsy King at the 1992 Mazda Japan Classic

she lost to Juli Inkster at the 1997
Samsung World Championship

The Florida Masochist said...

Alfredsson won.