Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Saturday: Creamer's Lead Shrinks to 4 Over Ji

Hound Dog has the moving day action at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic covered and already has its notes and interview page up and running, so I won't rehash what you can find elsewhere. With Paula Creamer's 4-shot lead over Eun-Hee Ji (-14) and Ji's 3-shot lead over Rachel Hetherington, the 2 leaders have definitely separated themselves from the field. But there is an interesting race for at least 3rd place, given that there are 11 players within 3 shots of Hetherington. And with only 5 players breaking 70 each of the 1st 3 rounds--despite the easy scoring conditions--it's entirely possible for the top 3 to get stuck in neutral and others to make big moves up the leaderboard.

I'm rooting for a strong finish from Momoko Ueda (67, -8, T9), who's in a good race for low rookie with Shanshan Feng (64, -10, T4). Ueda's won in Japan this season, but needs to take advantage of the absence of the top 2 in the class of 2008, Ya Ni Tseng and Na Yeon Choi, from the field this week if she wants to make up serious ground on them. Feng took the final Women's British Open qualifying spot with her career-low round today, so she'll get another shot at Ueda in a few weeks no matter what happens tomorrow. It would also be nice to see Stacy Lewis (69, -8, T9) and Moira Dunn (69, -7, T15) snag large paychecks this week, as both are fighting for their 2009 cards. (Dunn has a much better chance of avoiding Q-School than Lewis, given that she's already exempt this year, while Lewis is looking to scrape together 3 more sponsors' exemptions in full-field events to give herself a real chance to match the top 80 in winnings.)

Lower down the leaderboard, I'd really like to see Stacy Prammanasudh and Amy Yang (both -3, T35) catch fire tomorrow. But I'd really love for Se Ri Pak (-4, T29) and Mi Hyun Kim (-1, T45) to show the young ones what they're made of. If Karrie Webb can come out of nowhere with a 62 today, maybe tomorrow will be their day. Good rounds from In-Kyung Kim and Michelle Wie (both E, T54) would be good news for both talented but struggling young guns, as well.

In the end, though, I'd be equally happy to see Paula Creamer get her 7th career win as for Eun-Hee Ji to get her 2nd tomorrow. Ji would be quite the giant-killer if she could chase down both Pettersen and Creamer over the final 9 holes of a tournament, now, wouldn't she? But a Creamer win would validate her place in the LPGA's new Big 3. It's a win-win for LPGA fans, if not for both players.

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