Sunday, October 26, 2008

Grand China Air Sunday: Can Helen Alfredsson Do It?

It's not that 1st-round leader Laura Diaz (35) or 2nd-round leader Karen Stupples (36) played the front 9 all that badly in the final round of the Grand China Air LPGA event on Hainan Island today. It's just that Helen Alfredsson opened with a 31 to get to -10 and then kept her momentum going on the back with birdies on the 10th and 14th while Stupples bogeyed the 11th and 12th and birdied the 13th to fall to -9 and Diaz birdied the 11th and 12th and parred the 13th to climb to -11. Ya Ni Tseng, meanwhile, birdied the 13th and parred the 14th and 15th to join Stupples and Christina Kim, whose birdies came on the 10th, 11th, and 14th, in a tie for 3rd. So it's a 5-player race to the finish as Alfredsson plays the par-5 17th that's given up its share of birdies but also inflicted a good number of double bogeys on the field.

More soon!

[Update 1 (3:00 am): Ouch! Diaz just entered the stretch of holes that she played -3 on Friday and +4 on Saturday by bogeying the par-4 14th. And Kim's bogey on the par-4 15th gives her 2 in her last 3 holes, the last things she needs, particularly when Alfredsson birdied the 17th to get to -13. Tseng made her 3rd straight par to remain stalled at -9 with 2 holes left to play. She's going to have to take some risks to be a factor now.]

[Update 2 (3:08 am): Kim is toast after her double on the par-3 16th drops her to -6, only 1 shot ahead of leader in the clubhouse Shanshan Feng (68).]

[Update 3 (3:30 am): Yeesh, go to the JLPGA scoreboard to see if it's finally unfrozen and you sure miss a lot! Kim's travails continued as she bogeyed the 17th. And even though Alfredsson joined her with a bogey on the par-4 18th, she still holds onto her 3-shot lead, as Diaz bogeyed the 15th and parred the 16th while Tseng parred the 17th. Young Kim birdied 2 of her last 3 holes for a 71 that snuck her past Feng and into her 1st top 5 finish since the Stanford International. Despite bogeying 3 of her last 4 holes, Junior Mint Allison Fouch notched a solo 8th, 1 stroke ahead of a host of golfers who either played their way (Pettersen 68, Lang 71, Wright 71, Castrale 72) or stumbled their way (Oh 74, Seon Hwa Lee 74) into a top 10. Unless, that is, both Candie Kung (+3 today) and Na Yeon Choi (+2) can birdie the 18th to join Fouch at -4. That lone bogey down the stretch for Hong-Mei Yang could well be the only thing keeping her out of the top 10; still, her closing 68 gives her the best finish (-2, T17 with Annika Sorenstam) among the non-LPGAers in the field.]

[Update 4 (3:33 am): Well, Tseng parred out for a 68 and a -9 finish, which could be good enough for yet another runner-up in her rookie season if Laura Diaz can't mount a last charge over her last 2 holes. And by parring the final hole, Tseng's rival Na Yeon Choi assured herself yet another top 10.]

[Update 5 (3:42 am): Ugh, uncharacteristically bad play by the young guns down the stretch today. Seon Hwa Lee finished with 3 straight bogeys, Na Yeon Choi didn't make a birdie after the 3rd hole and closed with a 38, and Ji Young Oh responded to her 2-birdies-in-her-1st-3-holes start with 4 bogeys and no birdies over her final 15 holes. Louise Friberg dropped out of the top 10 entirely--and almost out of the top 20--with her birdie-less +5 round with 1 hole to play. But I guarantee they don't feel as bad as Laura Diaz, who just made her 3rd bogey in the stretch that killed her round yesterday, or Karen Stupples, who had it to -12 through the 4th today, but has since dropped 4 strokes to par and is tied with Diaz at -8 as they limp onto the 18th hole.]

[Update 6 (3:48 am): Speaking of ugh and ouch, Christina Kim bogeyed the 18th as well to give Allison Fouch quite a gift--a mutual T7. Candie Kung hung on for a 75 that allowed her--barely--to stay in the top 10. Congratulations to Helen Alfredsson for her 2nd win in 2008! All that's left is for Diaz, Stupples, and Friberg to get off the course.]

[Update 7 (4:02 am): Nice Beth Baldry piece on Vicky Hurst and Mindy Kim. But, Beth, Mindy is going to be overshadowed by many more players than Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, and Hurst, if all goes as expected at Q-School--namely, Sun-Ju Ahn, Shiho Oyama, Miki Saiki, Martina Eberl, Melissa Reid, Alison Walshe, Anna Nordqvist, Mika Miyazato, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Tania Elosegui, and Beatriz Recari will all have more buzz than Mindy in the Class of 2009. Speaking of buzzkills, Stupples bogeyed 18 for a 75 that dropped her to a solo 4th behind Diaz, who managed to par it. Friberg's score is yet to appear--ominous.]

[Update 8 (4:04 am): Sorry, Louise, the JLPGA scoreboard just updated--and guess who won? LPGA-bound Shiho Oyama got her 1st win of 2008!]

[Update 9 (9:56 am): Here's Hound Dog and The Florida Masochist!]

[Update 10 (12:23 pm): Whoops, linked to Hound Dog's epilogue before his final-round recap!]

[Update 11 (3:26 pm): The interviews on are wonderful!]

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