Sunday, March 29, 2009

J Golf Phoenix International Saturday: Webb Catches Kim, Shin Leapfrogs Both

Playing with the 1st- and 2nd-round leader and #3-ranked Junior Mint In-Kyung Kim, Hall of Famer Karrie Webb did just what she needed to do yesterday in the J Golf Phoenix International, breaking 70 for the 2nd day in a row and catching Kim (who struggled early on the back after twice getting to -10 on the front) with back-to-back walk-off birdies. But Rookie of the Year--and to some, Player of the Year--favorite Ji-Yai Shin made the biggest move of moving day, throwing down 7 birdies on her way to a Papago-record 66 that vaulted her to -10, 1 shot ahead of both Kim and Webb. Beth Daniel's favorite, Suzann Pettersen, failed to break 70 for the 1st time this week, but bounced back from an early double bogey with an eagle on the 10th and birdie on the 18th to pull within 2 of Shin. Eun-Hee Ji's road to her 70 was a little less hilly, but her mistakes put her 3 back. Meanwhile, Brittany Lang and Ya Ni Tseng also made big moves on moving day with matching 67s, the former with 3 birdies in both her 1st 6 holes and last 4 that brought her to -6, the latter with a birdie-par-birdie-eagle run on the front that helped her get to -5, tied with the steady Ai Miyazato and Angela Park, both of whom are so due to go low on a Sunday.

So Shin has a bunch of fantastic golfers looking to chase her down and pass her like every other leader going into a final round on the LPGA has been in '09. Sunday marks at least the third time Shin and Webb have put themselves in position for a final-round showndown, including last year's ADT Championship and Australian Women's Open, although this is the 1st time they're together in the final pairing. Who among the players within 6 of Shin will walk away with a win?

Start Time: 11:41 AM
Cristie Kerr
Song-Hee Kim

Start Time: 11:49 AM
Angela Park
Na On Min

Start Time: 11:57 AM
Ya Ni Tseng
Ai Miyazato

Start Time: 12:05 PM
Eun-Hee Ji
Brittany Lang

Start Time: 12:13 PM
In-Kyung Kim
Suzann Pettersen

Start Time: 12:21 PM
Ji-Yai Shin
Karrie Webb

I'm rooting for Ai-chan and In-Kyung! I think 7, 8, or 9 strokes back is too much ground to make up, even for Angela Stanford, Lorena Ochoa, and Jee Young Lee, respectively, but if anyone in the world of women's golf can do it, they can.

I'm off to read's notes and interviews before steeling myself for the AP and Golf Channel. Wish Hound Dog had posted already to help give me strength. Back in a minute!

[Update 1 (3:00 am): How good were Shin's 66 and Tseng and Lang's 67s? Here's what Webb had to say about the pin positions: "Where the pin positions were, it was hard to get it real close to have decent birdie putts."]

[Update 2 (3:03 am): OK, I'll go easy on Pettersen from here on out this week. She's fighting tendonitis in her knee.]

[Update 3 (3:06 am): It was kind of the AP writer not to note that Michelle Wie got beat by Morgan Pressel by 4 shots. Let's see if GC mentions it.]

[Update 4 (3:09 am): Nice job by Beth Ann Baldry calling Shin's moving day fireworks. OK, on to GC.]

[Update 5 (3:18 am): Golf Channel wasn't as terrible as they'd been the previous 2 days. Didn't even exploit the Pressel-Wie mini-showdown. Good taste!]

[Update 6 (3:33 am): Check out on-course blogging from Cactus Dave and the usual suspects at Seoul]

[Update 7 (8:46 am): Here's Hound Dog!]

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