Saturday, August 2, 2008

Women's British Open Saturday: Career Opportunities

There are career opportunities galore on moving day in the Women's British Open for those at the top of the leaderboard. Let's use some more song titles from The Clash to organize our consideration of them.

Rock the Casbah
This one's for the Americans. Like Juli Inkster, who's gotten her campaign for her 8th career major off to a great start with an eagle-birdie opening to take the lead at -12. Or Cristie Kerr, who's only 3 back in her quest for her 2nd major after birdies on 3 of her 1st 8 holes. And let's not forget Natalie Gulbis (-9 through 8) and Stacy Prammanasudh (-6 through 15), who would love to get their 1st major at Sunningdale.

Should I Stay or Should I Go
This one's for Lorena Ochoa, who's playing like the world #1 again after moving to -11 and a tie for 2nd after a fantastic 32 on the front. It's also for Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, who gave herself many chances to make a big move today after 6 birdies in her 1st 10 holes, but who couldn't sustain her momentum down the stretch and finished with a 69 to fall to T18 right now at -6. Major #3 for the former or #8 for the latter would taste equally sweet.

Clash City Rockers
This one's for the really young guns. Like Na Yeon Choi, who's come so close so often this season and who was -6 through 14 before bogeys at the 17th and 18th dropped her to -8, 1 shot behind fellow LPGA rookie Ya Ni Tseng, who's -4 through 13 in her attempt to capture her 2nd major of the season. Super Soph Eun-Hee Ji has been knocking at the door often following her win at the Wegmans this summer, and she's also in the mix at -9 after a bogey-free 1st 11 holes, along with the JLPGA's Bo-Bae Song, who's not only bouncing back in a big way from 2 straight missed cuts heading into the WBO, but is showing remarkable staying power.

The Magnificent Seven
That leaves the 7 players with impressive track records but not quite Hall of Fame careers to date. Head of the class is the JLPGA's leading career money winner, Yuri Fudoh (-11 through 8), who's looking for some redemption in the majors, where she's never finished in the top 10. Next up is Ji-Yai Shin (-11 through 8), who's broken almost every single KLPGA record on the books in her brief career. Mi Hyun Kim has been recovering from off-season knee surgery all season, but her 67 today has brought her into the mix at -9. Batting clean-up is 14-time winner on the JLPGA, Ai Miyazato, who fired a bogey-free 33 on the front and kept it going with a birdie on the 10th to get to -11. Next is Hee-Won Han, who's lurking at -6 with a few holes left to play, tied with Suzann Pettersen. Finally, Momoko Ueda is right in the mix at -8 through 11 today.

More later!

[Update 1 (1:59 pm): In the spirit of my 1st commenter, I offer:

I Fought the Course (and the Course Won)
Fudoh and Shin had a great chance to open up a big lead on the field, but late bogeys by each kept a lot of players who also stumbled down the stretch right in the midst of the year's last major. Fudoh bogeyed the 17th to post a 69--her 3rd sub-70 round in a row--and end the day at -13. Shin, meanwhile, made her 1st bogey of the day on the last hole to finish with a 70 and fall 1 off Fudoh's pace. That leaves Miyazato as the only other player in the field to break 70 3 times in a row, but her 68 included her only bogey of the day, at the 17th, to drop 2 behind Fudoh. Kerr had it to -11 through 14 but bogeyed the 18th for a 70 that put her in a tie for 4th at -10 with Inkster, who made hers on the 17th for a 71.

Other stumbles, though, were a little more serious. Mi Hyun Kim, who played the last 4 in -1 and the back in 33 to post her 67, found herself in a tie for 6th at -9 with several players who couldn't finish as strongly as she did--Ji made a bogey on the 16th, Tseng on the 18th, and Gulbis on both. Matching Choi's 2-over-par finish over the final 4 holes was Ochoa, whose 39 on the back dropped her into a tie at -8 with Choi and Ueda, thanks to her only bogey of the day on her final hole. Seon Hwa Lee recovered from a 3-hole bogey train on the 11th through 13th with birdies on the 14th and 16th to salvage a 70 and keep herself in contention at -7. The only player to match Kim's finish was LPGA rookie Hee Young Park, who was -4 over her final 12 holes to tie Lee at -7.

But the rest of the field didn't just stumble--they fell. Matching Webb's fall to -6 was Anja Monke, who bogeyed her last 2 holes. Even worse was Bo-Bae Song, who was -10 through the 10th but ended up tied with them at 15th. Ji Young Oh pulled even with them after a slow start, thanks to a -3 finish over the last 10 holes. Meanwhile, In-Kyung Kim got it to -8 through 10, but fell all the way to -5 at the end of the day, joining Han (+2 over her final 4 holes) and Pettersen (bogey on the 16th). Matching Pettersen's big numbers from her 1st round was Shi Hyun Ahn, who followed up an early triple bogey yesterday with a late double bogey today to drop her to -5. They all were caught by Ji-Hee Lee (68) and Paula Creamer (70), who also made a bogey each down the stretch, along with Katherine Hull (69), who didn't.

I'm Not Down
This is shaping up to be a classic free-for-all. As well as Fudoh is playing the par 4s and Miyazato the par 5s, I'm sad to say that the odds are against this pair breaking 70 for the 4th straight time. So if Shin doesn't go low again, the winning score could be as high as -13 to -15, which gives everyone I've mentioned a chance to win, provided they come as close to breaking the tournament record as they need to in order to get there.

On the other hand, Miyazato is the only one among the 5 players double digits under par who hasn't visited the mid-60s this week, so if she can join them tomorrow, the tournament--and her 1st LPGA win--could well be hers. But with Kerr, Inkster, and Kim due to break 70 again (only having done it once so far), and with Tseng, Choi, Ji, and Gulbis just as due to visit the mid-60s, she's likely to have some company even if she does go low. Not to mention the fact that Fudoh and Shin have shown few signs that Sunningdale will ambush them on Sunday....

Me, I'm rooting all-out for Ai-chan, but if I were to be happy with anyone beating her tomorrow, it would have to be Ji-Yai Shin, who's said all along she plans to join the LPGA in 2009. What better way for her to avoid trying to match Ai-chan's and Jane Park's recent dominating performances in the LPGA Q-School?]

[Update 2 (2:05 pm): Whoops! Forgot a few more collapses.

Straight to Hell
Laura Diaz (-3, T34): 38-37 75.
Candie Kung (-3, T34): a pair of consecutive bogeys on each side for a 74.
Sophie Gustafson (-4, T26): matches Kung's 37-37 74.
Stacy Prammanasudh (-4, T26): 2 double bogeys in her last 4 holes for a 72.

I wonder what Dottie Pepper would say.

And, yes, Moira Dunn shot the worst round of the day, a 77, and finds herself in a dogfight with Laura Davies to avoid last place. Golf is cruel.]

[Update 3 (3:51 pm): Ryan Ballengee hits the high points in his preview of Sunday's round, while Annika Sorenstam has been blogging the WBO.]

[Update 4 (10:58 pm): Here's Average Golfer's recap and's notes and interviews page. Shame on the LPGA for not mentioning the 6 runner-up finishes and 12 top 5s in majors by Ayako Okamoto.]

[Update 5 (11:20 pm): Interesting tidbit from the round 2 interviews that included and ASAP Sports didn't when I checked yesterday. Ji-Yai Shin mentioned that since she already had JLPGA membership due to her win there this season, she's planning to play in Japan full-time next year. My guess is those plans will change if she wins this one!]

[Update 6 (11:48 pm): Ji-Yai Shin is the only player within 5 shots of the lead to actually be under par over the final 4 holes of the Old Course this week. Distance isn't as much of a factor as I would have thought. The very long Ochoa and Tseng have played this stretch the worst of all and the very short Mi Hyun Kim would have played it by far the best if she could have bought a par in any of her 1st 3 rounds on the par-3 15th. Yet another reason to peg her as the favorite heading into Sunday's round!]

[Update 7 (11:57 pm): If you want a come-from-behind pick, I'd go with Ya Ni Tseng. She's actually scored the best among the top 12 over the last 8 holes, which is even more impressive than it sounds, given she's scored among the worst of the bunch over the final 4. So she has a great chance to go low over the 1st 14 and then finally figure out how to play those last 4. If she were to post, say, a 65, that would put her at -16 and put a lot of pressure on the final groups.... She's also in the best possible pairing for her, playing with Eun-Hee Ji, who's been playing great lately and is neither that much more experienced than Tseng nor her Rookie of the Year race rival, Na Yeon Choi, who's in the group ahead of her.]


The Flogger said...

I fought the blog and the blog won ... I fought the blog and the blog won ...

The Constructivist said...

Wait till tomorrow's title.... I've been saving it up all week!

The Florida Masochist said...


Whenever some golf commentators babble on about how this favors the long hitter, we been shown its the reverse. All of those par 5s at Interlachen were supposed to be a big advantage for Ochoa, remember?


The Constructivist said...

Bill, you're absolutely right--it's the length of the par 5s that matters. if they're reachable by most of the field, the long hitters' advantage is minimized (though not erased). But what I was referring to is the fact that the Old Course ends with 3 long pars 4s, which should favor longer hitters. That makes Ochoa's and Tseng's struggles over them surprising.