Thursday, August 14, 2008

Canadian Women's Open Thursday: The Course Giveth, and the Course Taketh

I'll be amazed if anyone matches Meena Lee's a bogey-free round 68 today at the Canadian Women's Open. Right now there are only 3 players with a chance to do so: world #1 Lorena Ochoa, who's -4 through 14, Super Soph Song-Hee Kim, who's -4 with the 9th left to play, and much-heralded young American Nicole Castrale, who's -4 with 4 holes left to play on the front. (Oh, all right, Kirby Dreher has no bogeys heading into the back, but do you really think she can keep up that pace?)

Much more typical among those playing well is a round like, well, like the leader in the clubhouse, world #1A Annika Sorenstam, who sprinkled 3 bogeys among her 8 birdies, but followed up her back-side 31 with a front-side 36. Among those struggling, a round like Cristie Kerr's is more representative: a birdie-less 40 on the front followed by a bogey-free 34 on the back to put her in T76 (for now). But it's not like 1 side is clearly easier than the other: another good player who struggled today, Sophie Gustafson, shot a bogey-free 34 on the back and a birdie-less 39 on the front, while Hee Won Han's fine 68 began with a 33 on the front.

The bottom line is, you're going to have to be resilient if you want to win this thing.

[Update 1 (4:56 pm): Consider the following scores if you don't believe me. Suzann Pettersen's 69 came thanks to 3 consecutive closing birdies on the front (a feat matched on the back by Sorenstam), while Catriona Matthew's came with 2 in a row. Ya Ni Tseng came back from 3 bogeys in 5 holes on the back, her 1st 9, to post a 70, while Inbee Park came back from 2 in a row on the same side for hers. Shanshan Feng made 6 birdies to come back from her 1st-hole double bogey, but only shot a 72, while Laura Diaz also made 6 birdies but only managed a 70. Ai Miyazato bogeyed her last 2 holes to drop to a 74, while Moira Dunn bogeyed 2 of her last 3 for a 73, after coming back from a double bogey-bogey string late on the front. Heck, Junior Mints Brittany Lang and Linda Wessberg couldn't even break 80!]

[Update 2 (5:00 pm): Nice to see Lorena and Annika tied at the top of the leaderboard--that's been a long time coming, hasn't it? Although Lorena still has 3 holes to play. Also nice to see Se Ri Pak contending again--she's 1 back with 3 to go.]

[Update 3 (5:03 pm): Playing with Ochoa and Pak, Seon Hwa Lee had made a good comeback to get to -2 through 14, but a double on the par-3 15th erased her good work. Michelle Wie's in worse shape: after birdies on 2 of her 1st 3 holes got erased by a double on the par-5 6th, she broke a 6-hole par string on the par-4 13th with a bogey that dropped her to +1.]

[Update 4 (5:07 pm): Well, Song-Hee Kim's bogey-free bid ended on her last hole; it's still a great 69 on a day when possibly fewer than 10 players will break 70, but I'll still bet she'll be kicking herself all the way to bed tonight.]

[Update 5 (5:09 pm): Meanwhile, Dreher is still bogey-free: she doubled the 11th. It's down to Castrale and Ochoa, both -5 with 2 to go, on opposite 9s.]

[Update 6 (7:43 pm): Of course it was Lorena Ochoa who not only matched but outdid Meena Lee's bogey-free 68. Her birdie on the 18th gave her the only 66 of the day, 1 shot ahead of Annika Sorenstam. Amazing! Castrale, meanwhile, ended up with a fine 68, marred only by a bogey on her final hole, the 9th. In-Kyung Kim's birdie on that hole earned her a 69, but she was matched by rookie Eunjung Yi, who followed up her 64 in Monday qualifying with 4 consecutive birdies to begin the back. That makes only 11 players who broke 70, 34 who broke par, and 55 who avoided going over par. Michelle Wie's 75 matched Hee Young Park, Kyeong Bae, Teresa Lu, Julieta Granada, Shi Hyun Ahn, Giulia Sergas, Stacy Prammanasudh, and Karen Stupples, but T87 is most definitely not what she needed out of her 1st round.]

[Update 7 (8/15/08, 12:31 am): The Golf Channel highlights are much more interesting than the AP story. But as usual, Hound Dog and are the primary sources.]

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