With 10 players going super low--including 65s by Jeong Jang, Jane Park, and Jill McGill, 66s by Cristie Kerr and Janice Moodie, and Lorena Ochoa among those lurking only 2 shots off the lead--another 11 breaking 70, and 52 in all going under par today, there's no time for rust at the Navistar LPGA Classic.
In fact, if scoring conditions remain about the same, you'll need to get or stay near even par by the end of the day tomorrow just to make the cut. So players like Karrie Webb, Hee-Won Han, and Stacy Lewis at E can't rest easy, those with Stacy Prammanasudh, Shi Hyun Ahn, and Meena Lee at +1 have to be on the ball, and those like Jee Young Lee, Laura Diaz, and Minea Blomqvist at +2 have their work cut out for them. Everyone worse--including Se Ri Pak (75), Seon Hwa Lee (76), Sun Young Yoo (77), and Morgan Pressel (78)--will need a fantastic comeback.
I begin with these cautionary tales to suggest that it's going to be very difficult for the lead pack to maintain this pace. For further evidence, you need look no further than the best rounds in the field today. Jane Park made 8 birdies in her 1st 14 holes but was +1 over her final 4. Lorena Ochoa opened with a 30, thanks to a birdie-eagle-birdie run to cap off her front 9, but could only manage a 37 on the back, also going +1 over that same closing stretch. Sure, there were some people who made a move there--among the top 20, Mi Hyun Kim lead the way with 3 birdies and no bogeys, Jeong Jang, Cristie Kerr, Janice Moodie, and Katie Futcher were -2, and Jill McGill, Ji Young Oh, Sandra Gal, Mikaela Parmlid, and Taylor Leon were -1--but for the most part, those who played well did their damage over the 1st 14 holes and hung on the rest of the way at best. If scoring conditions get any more difficult, then you can expect fewer than 10 players tomorrow to go under par on the 15th through 18th--and that fewer than half these players will be among that group.
That's the thing about Robert Trent Jones courses: if you're playing great, you can go really low, but if any problems creep into any aspect of your game, your score will reflect it. Morgan Pressel's triple bogey on the 395-yard par-4 4th, Seon Hwa Lee's triple bogey on the 517-yard par-5 5th hole, the nice pairs of double bogeys by Maria Hjorth, Brittany Lang, Meaghan Francella, and Anna Rawson, and Sophie Gustafson's 41 on the back following up a 34 on the front are all evidence of this quality of The Senator.
So right now there's no need for anyone to hit the panic button when they look at the top of the leaderboard. Breaking 70 twice if you stay around par in the other round should be good enough to put you in contention on Sunday.
[Update 1 (9/26/08, 12:13 am): Here's the LPGA.com notes and interviews page. The AP story was pretty much cobbled together from it.]
[Update 2 (1:40 pm): A death in the Hound Dog family will be limiting his blogging this week, so I'll do what I can to pick up the slack now that our own family crisis seems to be getting more manageable.]