Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kapalua Classic Thursday: Who Will Join Pettersen and Lang Under 70?

Scoring is high at the Kapalua Classic. Suzann Pettersen birdied her last 2 holes, the 8th and 9th, to shoot a best-in-the-morning-pairings 68, 1 shot better than Brittany Lang, who earlier had birdied her last hole, the 9th, to become the 1st player in the field to break 70. Candie Kung is the only player in the afternoon pairings off to a blazing start, having made 4 birdies on the back to offset her bogey on the 10th.

But even those who got off to good starts didn't usually finish as strong as Pettersen and Lang. Anna Rawson was -4 with 3 holes to play, but ended up with a 70 after consecutive bogeys on the 7th and 8th holes. Bogeys on the 8th dropped both Cristie Kerr and Laura Diaz to -1. Pat Hurst's came on the 9th, her final hole, to drop her back to -1.

By contrast, many of those who got under par had to come back to do it. Ji Young Oh was +2 after her 1st 5 holes, but made 4 birdies in her last 13 for a 70. Hee-Won Han was +2 after bogeys on the 8th, 10th, and 11th holes, but came back with 3 birdies over her last 6 holes, including on the 17th and 18th, to shoot a 71. Kristy McPherson birdied 2 of her last 5 holes to join Rawson and Oh at -2. Both Jee Young Lee and Johanna Head notched 2 birdies in their last 4 holes to get to -1. Karin Sjodin had a a little bit of everything happen on her way to her 71: 3 birdies in a 6-hole stretch as she made the turn to get to -3, 3 bogeys between the 13th and 17th to drop back to E, and a final-hole birdie to join the big group T7 (for now).

With Juli Inkster opening with a 72 (T22), Maria Hjorth, Stacy Prammanasudh, and Christina Kim with 73s (T45), and Jane Park, Ai Miyazato, and Momoko Ueda with 74s (T67)--not to mention Angela Park shooting an 81 82!--it's clear that conditions for the morning groups were quite challenging. And with Annika Sorenstam +5 through 10, Karrie Webb +2 through 11, Ya Ni Tseng +1 through 11, and Lorena Ochoa and Morgan Pressel E through 10, it's pretty clear they're not getting any better for the afternoon pairings. But there's a lot of golf left to be played. More later!

[Update 1 (9:01 pm): No sooner did I post this than Alena Sharp made a double-eagle on the par-5 1st hole to jump all the way to -2 on her round!]

[Update 2 (10/17/08, 3:24 am): Well, the answer to my title question is...Tracy Hanson! Thanks to a hole in one on the 12th (a 7-iron from 156 yards) and a birdie on the 15th, Hanson was the only player to post a bogey-free sub-70 round in the entire field. Brandie Burton birdied 2 of her last 4 holes to join the T4 logjam at 70, along with Sun Young Yoo, who followed up a roller-coaster 38 on the back with a bogey-free 32 on the front. Junior Mint Katie Futcher was the only other player in the afternoon pairings to go under par, thanks to a 34 on the front and 2 birdies in her last 4 holes on the back that offset 2 bogeys in her last 5; she finds herself T10 for her troubles.

And Sharp? That double eagle was an scoring glitch; she actually parred the 1st hole and joined the NY contingent of Moira Dunn, Meaghan Francella, and Danielle Downey--not to mention Lorena Ochoa--T60 at 74. Speaking of scoring glitches, Momo-chan made 2 birdies on the back before finishing bogey-double bogey, so she actually shot a 73, good enough for T41 with afternoon players Seon Hwa Lee, Eun-Hee Ji, Katherine Hull, Meena Lee, Louise Friberg, and Stacy Lewis, among others. Of the 21 players who shot even-par 72 yesterday (T20), Ya Ni Tseng, Helen Alfreddson, Morgan Pressel, and Carin Koch were afternoon notables.

That means that many big names blew up in Kapalua: Karrie Webb (75), Laura Davies (76), Annika Sorenstam, Lorie Kane, Michelle McGann, and Rachel Hetherington (77), and Liselotte Neumann (79) will be joining Angela Park (81), Minea Blomqvist (79), Sarah Lee, Jimin Kang, Nicole Castrale, and Lindsey Wright (77), Linda Wessberg (76), and Giulia Sergas, Jennifer Rosales, Gloria Park, and Brittany Lincicome (75) in struggling to make the cut.

Turning to the interviews, Pettersen noted that the winds made putting very difficult and that she played with her "feel game" all day:

I don't think I hit one normal golf shot, except for the tee shots. Most approach shots, I'm trying to hit like three-quarter, knock-down shots. Especially if you hit uphill into the grain and into the wind, you have to make sure you take the spin off the ball. That's all you're trying to do is trying to control the trajectory of the ball.

Now there's someone who likes to play in the wind! We'll have to wait and see if she can take advantage of the early struggles of many of her top-ranked peers over the next 54 holes....]

[Update 3 (3:46 am): While we wait for Hound Dog, Jaymes Song's AP story and Golf Channel's highlights will have to do.]

[Update 4 (1:14 pm): Hound Dog helpfully bolds the Bubble Girls' scores in his 1st-round recap.]

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