Saturday, March 21, 2009

MasterCard Classic Saturday: Rookie of the Year Race Reprise?

With Ya Ni Tseng and Na Yeon Choi tied for the lead at -7 after the 2nd round of the MasterCard Classic, 1st-round leader Lorena Ochoa wasn't talking so tough in her post-round interview this time around, as her 2-shot lead on Choi turned into a 1-shot deficit heading into the final round tomorrow. With the likes of Pat Hurst (1 down despite a double bogey-bogey-bogey finish), Se Ri Pak (2 down after a 31 on the back), and Grace Park (3 back despite making 2 bogeys on the back) very much in the hunt--not to mention Song-Hee Kim, Sun Young Yoo, and Suzann Pettersen--anything can happen tomorrow.

And that includes huge numbers from the lead pack and a huge charge from behind like we saw last year. So don't count out Jane Park (who made 3 birdies in her last 7 holes to pull within 5 of the lead), Eun-Hee Ji (who shot a bogey-free 68 to pull within 5 of the lead), Brittany Lang (who bogeyed 3 of her final 5 holes to fall 5 back), Jee Young Lee (wh shot a 33 on the back to draw within 6 of the lead), and Seon Hwa Lee (who settled for 12 straight pars after a double bogey on the par-5 6th dropped her to -1). All of these players have gone low on Sundays past.

In fact, even Cristie Kerr (72, E, T19), Vicky Hurst (73, +1, T25), and Johanna Mundy (76, +2, T30) could pull a Louise Friberg tomorrow and find herself in the winner's circle. The same can't be said for Friberg herself, who missed the cut badly, but at least she was in good company. Katherine Hull, Karen Stupples, Helen Alfredsson, Stacy Lewis, Christina Kim, Inbee Park, Julieta Granada, and Sarah Lee couldn't make it to +6. Neither could Hee Young Park, who followed up her 1st-round 69 with an 87 today. Or Liselotte Neumann, who went 70-81. So when you take into account that Shiho Oyama (69-78), Natalie Gulbis (70-78), and Mika Miyazato (70-78), barely held on to make the cut--and that Brittany Lincicome went 81-68--it looks like Sunday's round should showcase some of the severest ups and downs on tour all season.

[Update 1 (11:24 pm): Here's Hound Dog's 2nd-round recap.]

[Update 2 (3/22/09, 12:33 am): Get a load of the final-round pairings!

Start Time: 10:45 AM
Eun-Hee Ji
Jane Park
Brittany Lang

Start Time: 10:55 AM
Sun Young Yoo
Suzann Pettersen
Grace Park

Start Time: 11:05 AM
Lorena Ochoa
Song-Hee Kim
Se Ri Pak

Start Time: 11:15 AM
Ya Ni Tseng
Na Yeon Choi
Pat Hurst

And that's just the last 4 groups! Earlier, Oyama is paired with Creamer, Miyazato with Gulbis, and Uribe with Vicky Hurst. And check out the "avoid-last-place" trio of Han, Bae, and Blomqvist. Wow!]

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