Sunday, May 10, 2009

Michelob Ultra Open Saturday: Whut Da...?

By now you know the news: the Mostly Harmless jinx is back, in a mutated and more potent form. It hit Jee Young Lee first, whom I singled out in my preview as someone who always plays the River Course well. She missed the cut this week. But its biggest victim was Lorena Ochoa. After Friday's round, and after an entire year of harping on how much the field had been gaining on the world #1, I finally gave in to the evidence and admitted that it looked like Ochoa had gotten her groove back. So what happens Saturday but she stumbles to a 39 on the back and opens the door for 4 players who passed her, 2 who tied her, and 18 more who pulled back within 5 shots of her? Heading into the final round, Ochoa is 5 shots behind Cristie Kerr and Lindsey Wright, 4 shots behind In-Kyung Kim, and 3 shots behind Song-Hee Kim. Holy Unexpected Plot Twists, Batman!

What surprises me even more is that none of these players are the big hitters I expected would dominate this week, given Kingsmill's wetness. Where is Ya Ni Tseng? T13 at -6. Where is Michelle Wie? T28 at -3. How about Suzann Pettersen? T39 at -1. Karrie Webb? Ditto. Vicky Hurst? T51 at +1. Only Angela Stanford among this group is doing at all well this week, and she's only T10 at -7. So it stands to reason that the precision players I picked--Ji-Yai Shin (T51 at +1 after a 76 yesterday) and Katherine Hull (also T51 at +1)--are having off-weeks.

So you heard it here 1st: neither Lorena Ochoa nor Cristie Kerr can win the Michelob Ultra. The winner has to come from someone I didn't pick this week. But don't expect me to name any names!

[Update 1 (7:18 am): Sweet! They're literally going off in pairings for the final round! Betcha Hull and Shin weren't anticipating playing together so early (8:18 am). Sophie Giquel and Anja Monke can commiserate together about how tough the LPGA competition is at 7:54 am. Mika Miyazato has a chance to upstage Vicky Hurst at 8:26 am. Karrie Webb and Brittany Lincicome can compare notes on inconsistency at 9:50 am. Minea Blomqvist and Tseng can drive the ball all over the River Course and make a ton of birdies at 11:22 am. Angela Stanford and Shanshan Feng can show them how to drive the ball at 11:50 am. And that's just some of the more interesting warm-up acts for the final pairings:

Start Time: 11:58 AM
Na Yeon Choi
Il Mi Chung

Start Time: 12:06 PM
Lorena Ochoa
Shiho Oyama

Start Time: 12:14 PM
Wendy Ward
Natalie Gulbis

Start Time: 12:22 PM
In-Kyung Kim
Song-Hee Kim

Start Time: 12:30 PM
Lindsey Wright
Cristie Kerr

It's enough to make me wish I had TV!]

1 comment:

The Florida Masochist said...

I don't care if the golfer is tiger woods, but a player with a 1, 2, or 3 shot lead with 36 holes to go doesn't have a tournament 'in the bag'. That's how AP and much of the media reporting of the Michelob was presented going into the weekend. Last year the media was ready to crown Ochoa LPGA champion with 36 holes to go. What did she have back then, a 1 or 2 shot lead? We know who won, Yani Tseng.

Ochoa isn't Superwoman. With 9 holes to go, she is 8 shots back. Do you think the AP writer would like some ketchup as he eats his reporting from last Friday?