Sunday, August 3, 2008

Women's British Open Sunday: Complete Control

With all the leaders now on the back 9 of the Old Course in the final round of the Women's British Open, there are 14 players double digits under par and 6 within 3 shots of leader Ji-Yai Shin's -15 mark at the turn, it was still anyone's tournament an hour ago. But now that she has now opened up a 3-shot lead on Ai Miyazato, who's gotten to -15, and a 4-shot lead on Yuri Fudoh and Ya Ni Tseng, who stand at -14, the right title for this post has leaped out at me. But let's roll out a few of the contenders from The Clash's song titles to talk about the rest of the field.

Stay Free
Former KLPGA and current JLPGA stalwart Eun-A Lim was -7 through her 1st 10 holes today and held on for a 65 that vaulted her all the way into a tie for 25th at -6. LPGA Super Soph Kristy McPherson matched her total with a 33 on the front and a 32 on the back, both bogey-free, to jump all the way to T21 right now at -7. Starting before 9 am this morning, they showed the rest of the field what they had to do if they wanted to catch the lead pack.

What's My Name
And many great players responded. Angela Park (67, -5, T34), Annika Sorenstam (68, -6, T25), Jee Young Lee (66, -8, T17 right now), Paula Creamer (67, -10, T9 right now), Hee Won Han (67, -10, T9), In-Kyung Kim (67, -10, T9), and Karrie Webb (68, -10, T9) all posted great final rounds from the middle of the pack to remind everyone not to take them lightly the rest of the season.

Overpowered by Funk
Unfortunately, some of my favorite players got off to bad starts. Mi Hyun Kim started double bogey-bogey and has struggled to recover ever since. Seon Hwa Lee started par-double bogey and even an eagle on the 10th and 4 straight birdies and counting since the 12th will not be enough to get her into contention. Lorena Ochoa got off to another fast start with a 33 on the front to get to -11, but again stalled on the back and needs to par the 18th to assure a top 10.

I'm So Bored with the U.S.A.
Once again, Cristie Kerr is making a lot of birdies and a lot of bogeys. At -12, she can still move into the top 5, but a win is out of reach unless she goes off and everyone ahead of her collapses. Natalie Gulbis, meanwhile, has eagled the 1st hole on each side but has made no birdies and 2 bogeys, so she's stuck at -11. And Juli Inkster is fading.

The Right Profile
Just as I predicted last night, Shin is taking control of the tournament, Fudoh is stalling, and Tseng is charging. The biggest--and happiest--surprise for me is that Ai-chan is doing just what she needed to do to give herself a chance to win. It's going to come down to how well she can play the final 4 holes.... It would really be too bad if she were to be the only player in the field to break 70 all 4 rounds and not win, but that just shows how good Shin is.

OK, I won't be back until the evening at the earliest. Feel free to give me updates in comments!

[Update 1 (8:48 pm): Wow, I guess I ought to apologize to Ai-chan for double jinxing her--1st with the call that no one will break 70 all 4 rounds, then with the complaint that even if she were to accomplish the feat, she still wouldn't get the win. That was one costly double bogey on 18! Oh well, I still believe her 1st LPGA win isn't far away.

But how about that Shin?! Hound Dog notes that she's got at least a year exemption on the LPGA (he wonders if non-member major winners get more than the usual year). What's also worth noting is that Shin now has membership on the 4 major tours in women's professional golf for 2009. She can make up her schedule completely as she pleases. So she could, for instance, take the KLPGA's young guns on in their majors, take Fudoh and company on in the JLPGA majors, focus on the big events that don't conflict in the LPGA, and enter some big-purse LET events if she's at all hesitant about culture shock or language barriers and up to the world traveller's lifestyle. Or she could jump in feet first and join the rest of the LPGA's young guns in vying to see who among them can first chase down Lorena Ochoa.

Now it's up to Michelle Wie to step up in the Canadian Women's Open. With Shin, Vicky Hurst, and Stacy Lewis likely to be the most prominent members of the Class of 2009, Michelle had better get serious about competing with her peers, or they'll continue to leave her in the dust!]

[Update 2 (8:52 pm): Also worth wondering is whether Shin gets into the ADT Championship with her win. And the answer is...yes! Awesome!!]

[Update 3 (9:27 pm): Be sure to check out Average Golfer's brisk recap, Annika's moving reflections, and the celebrations over at Seoul]

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