It's survival of the fittest time at the Safeway Classic. On a day filled with thrills and spills for most of the field, 3 players are making it look easy as they head into their final holes. Angela Park is -6 through 15 bogey-free holes, while Sophie Gustafson is -5 with 2 holes on the front left to play to extend her own bogey-free streak and Helen Alfreddson is -4 with 3 left to do the same.
But bogey-free rounds have been the definite exception today. 2 rounds in particular--one fantastic and one disappointing--exemplify the scoring trends, with their exaggerated form standing in for less dramatic swings. Co-leader in the clubhouse Kelli Kuehne started the day double bogey-par-bogey but bounced back with 8 birdies in her final 13 holes for a gritty 67. Rookie of the Year race leader Ya Ni Tseng, meanwhile, twice followed up a double bogey with a bogey, but birdied 3 of her final 7 holes to salvage a scrappy 76. With Tseng playing for nothing but pride tomorrow and Kuehne playing to advance up the money list into the top 80 that will get their pick of tournaments in 2009 (she currently sits at #86 with just over $101K in winnings to her name thus far this season), we'll definitely see what these 2 are made of.
But that's true of most everyone in the field. Whether fighting to qualify for the ADT Championship, the Asian Swing, the top 80, or the top 100 of the money list, a lot is at stake for everyone, not just those trying to catch Lorena and Annika at the top of the leaderboard or join the million-dollar club. More on the lesser-known players after I put my girls to bed.
[Update 1 (8/23/08, 6:38 am): While we're waiting for Hound Dog's 1st-round recap, I'll note that Annika's webmaster has a funny post on her -1 round yesterday, which really captures the excitement of attending your 1st professional tournament. Verdant Garden gives a veteran's insight into Jeong Jang's, Hee-Won Han's, Jane Park's, and Angela Park's rounds over at Seoul Sisters.com.]
[Update 2 (6:48 am): LPGA.com's notes and interviews are interesting, as always. Didn't know Stephanie Louden was one of the tour's new moms, for instance. Hee Young Park is excited to be going to Korea next week. Sophie Gustafson and Liz Janangelo both had bad driving range sessions but played well anyway. Paula Creamer mentions that the putting greens were much slower than the actual greens.]
[Update 3 (6:45 pm): Whoops, imoto turned off the computer just as I was finishing off a long update, so I lost it (blogger doesn't save automatically when you're just editing a post). Then we had to get ready to go to onechan's Japanese school in Buffalo. So I think I'll just link to Hound Dog and try to recapture what was lost in my Saturday post.]