It's taken Anna Nordqvist only 48 putts to get around the 1st 36 holes of the LPGA Championship, so it's no surprise that she leads Nicole Castrale by 1. What is surprising are the huge dives down the leaderboard by some of yesterday's best players. Shanshan Feng was -4 with 6 holes to play, but took a 9 on the par-4 6th and then missed the cut with a double on the par-4 9th. Meaghan Francella was hanging tough at -3 with 4 holes to play, but bogeyed out for a 40 on the back that dropped her all the way back to T45. Moira Dunn and Ashleigh Simon were -5 with 8 holes to play, but stumbled on the front side to drop to T15. Amy Yang birdied 3 of her 1st 6 holes to get to -7, then played the last 12 in +5, thanks to a double-bogey-bogey stretch on the 4th through 6th holes, joining them and 7 others at -2. They got leapfrogged by Ji-Yai Shin (who was -5 over her last 12 holes), Lorena Ochoa (whose 69 also brought her to T11 at -3), Kyeong Bae (whose bogey-free 69 brought her to -5), Hee-Won Han (who also shot a 69 to join Bae and my pick Na Yeon Choi at T5), Katherine Hull (whose 2nd straight 69 moved her to T3), and Lindsey Wright (who matched Shin's 68 for low round of the day despite making a late bogey each side and joined Hull at -6). All in all, there are 14 players within 5 shots of the lead as we head into the weekend.
But there are many more players who can count themselves lucky to be playing on the weekend. People playing as well lately as Jee Young Lee, Natalie Gulbis, Ji Young Oh, and Sun Young Yoo made the cut on the dot at +3. It took a 71 from Momoko Ueda to join them after her opening 76. Others making nice bouncebacks included Cristie Kerr and Teresa Lu (76-70), Paula Creamer (74-70), Suzann Pettersen, Seon Hwa Lee, and Helen Alfredsson (74-71), Eun-Hee Ji and Mindy Kim (74-69), but they have a lot of ground to make up. So do those who moved in the wrong direction today, like Sophie Gustafson (69-74), Michelle Wie (70-74), Paige Mackenzie (68-77), Maria Hjorth (71-75), and Se Ri Pak, In-Kyung Kim, and Mika Miyazato (72-74). Still, at least they have a chance to make up the ground. Missing the cut by a single shot were such notables as Mi Hyun Kim and Brittany Lincicome (73-75), Morgan Pressel (74-74), and Christina Kim (who went +4 over her last 6 holes to go 71-77). Vicky Hurst (74-76) and Shiho Oyama (78-72) missed it by 3, Jane Park (75-76) missed it by 4, Karen Stupples (77-75) missed it by 5, and Laura Diaz (75-79) missed it by 7. And Angela Park, Laura Davies, and Sophie Giquel WDed after terrible 1st days.
It'll be interesting to see if those with hot putters can keep it going on moving day. I'm hoping I'll be able to watch some of this on early-morning Chiba TV the next couple of days!
[Update 1 (8:24 pm): Here's Hound Dog's 2nd-round recap.]
[Update 2 (8:26 pm): Jamie did some live-blogging at Crosscourt Birdies--welcome back!]
[Update 3 (8:56 pm): Nice focus on Nordqvist by Ryan Ballengee.]
[Update 4 (9:01 pm): Ryan also has posts on Lorena Ochoa, Katherine Hull and Lindsey Wright, and his experience as a marshall at Bulle Rock.]
[Update 5 (9:15 pm): Wondering if there's a New York Times jinx after reading Karen Crouse's post-first-round profile of Shanshan Feng.]
[Update 6 (6/13/09, 4:48 am): Chose to watch Ai-chan highlights and the leaders live at the Suntory Ladies Open on Chiba TV this afternoon, but watched the 1st half-hour of the tape-delay of the LPGA Championship and flipped back during commercials (nothing interesting to me on the men's side, with both Ryo Ishikawa and Shigeki Maruyama struggling big-time on the JGO). Saw how Hull and Wright slipped back to -6, and a few shots from Nordqvist, but of course the coverage mainly focused on Mika Miyazato and Momoko Ueda, neither of whom did much right. Ueda was moping around the course like she expected to miss the cut, thanks to all her missed birdie putts, while Miyazato at least had her game face on while she struggled to a 74. Both their swings looked really great to me, which is probably a function of being away from the course for so long (haven't played competitively in, yeesh, 5 years), but it could just be that they really are that good. I know Michelle Wie gets roundly mocked whenever she talks about that "fine line" between a good and a bad round after she shoots one of the latter, but the fact is, she's right. A few shots bounce differently, a few putts drop, and you could have a completely different day. The competition is so tough on the LPGA these days, players have to figure out how to get at least B results even when they only have their D game.]