Friday, November 14, 2008

Lorena Ochoa Invitational Friday: Can Stanford Extend Her Lead?

From the looks of the 2nd-round leaderboard for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, the Guadalajara course Ochoa grew up playing has some teeth. Sure, Angela Stanford has made 7 birdies and only 1 bogey in her 1st 14 holes today to become the 1st player to get into double digits under par, but given that yesterday's trend of hot starts fizzling is continuing today, it's too soon to conclude the course is easy to go low on. Just ask Suzann Pettersen. She was -4 through 10 holes but bogeyed 3 of her final 6, including her last 2, to fall back to a 71 that brought her to +2 heading into the weekend. An 18th-hole double bogey--her only over-par hole of the day--kept Angela Park from shooting anything better than a 70, which brought her to -1 for the tournament. And even those who finished strongly--like Jane Park, whose eagle on the par-4 14th hole helped her fight back to E for the tournament--had dug themselves into such a deep hole earlier in the day that they couldn't make a big jump up the leaderboard.

While many people who played badly yesterday ended up doing better today--lead by Jeong Jang, whose bogey-free 68 lifted her to -3 and a tie for 11th so far--many people who played well yesterday were unable to sustain their momentum today. Christina Kim, Helen Alfredsson, Na Yeon Choi, Sophie Gustafson, and Hee-Won Han are all over par so far in their rounds. Seon Hwa Lee and Karen Stupples are stuck in neutral.

In fact, only 3 other players have a great shot at joining Stanford in the double under-70 club. Meena Lee has bounced back from back-to-back bogeys early in her round to make 5 birdies in her last 11 holes and with 2 holes to go has a chance to improve on her -7 standing. Nicole Castrale has gone birdie-par-birdie-eagle between the 7th and 10th holes to also leap to -7 for the tournament. And Ya Ni Tseng has just birdied the 14th hole to get to -3 on the day and -7 for the tournament.

How will the leaders handle the tough closing holes? Who will take advantage of their birdie opportunities? Should be an interesting hour!

[Update 1 (4:52 pm): If even Ochoa can bogey her last 2 holes to fall back to -1 on the day and E for the tournament, nobody can breathe easy until she's signed her scorecard today! When Juli Inkster is the only player besides Jang to have broken 70 so far today--her 69 brought her to -4 and T6 for now--you know that either the weather conditions or course set-up or both have ratcheded up the difficulty level. And right on cue, Meena Lee bogeyed the long par-3 17th to drop to -6 and put pressure on herself to match yesterday's 69 with a par on the par-5 18th.]

[Update 2 (5:01 pm): Now Castrale bogeyed the tough 15th hole.]

[Update 3 (5:03 pm): Annika, by the way, birdied 3 of her at 5 holes on the back to get to -3 for the day and -7 for the tournament, but she, too, proceeded to bogey the 15th and hasn't made another birdie yet. Whoops, she bogeyed the 17th, too, just now.]

[Update 4 (5:06 pm): Sophie Gustafson isn't helping her cause in the race for the ADT Championship. With Sun Young Yoo posting her 2nd straight 70 to sit comfortably at T6 right now, Gustafson has bogeyed 3 of her last 4 holes and now stands at +1 for the tournament heading into the 18th. Right now Gustafson is $4K ahead of Yoo in the race for the last wild card into the ADT. There's definitely more than a $4K gap between them right now.]

[Update 5 (5:07 pm): Tseng is bucking the trend right now. Her birdie on the 16th brings her within 2 shots of Stanford.]

[Update 6 (11/15/08, 11:38 am): Hound Dog's got the final results covered.]

[Update 7 (11/16/08, 12:48 am): Still catching up after 2 holiday celebrations for 2 of onechan's 3 "schools," here's some commentary on Ochoa and Stanford from Golf Channel.]

[Update 8 (1:16 am): Ah, these notes and interviews kept crashing the ancient Mac I was using at onechan's yochien in Buffalo yesterday morning.]

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