Friday, July 24, 2009

Evian Masters Friday: Can Mitsuka Keep It Going?

For the 1st 13 holes of the Evian Masters, the JLPGA's 3rd-ranked golfer, Yuko Mitsuka, was one of the coldest golfers in the tournament, having made 3 bogeys and no birdies in that stretch. But over her next 13 holes, she's been the hottest player in the field, with an eagle, 6 birdies, and no bogeys. Playing the par-4 9th now, she has a chance to open her 2nd round with a 31 and join Na Yeon Choi for the lead at -6.

[Update 1 (7:01 am): Song-Hee Kim also has a chance for a 31 on the front that would bring her to -6 for the tournament; all she needs to do is make her 5th consecutive birdie of the day on the 9th hole. This is what makes the 1st 2 rounds of the Evian so exciting, as players seek to distance themselves from the field. It's the kind of course where you can go very low, but also struggle greatly. Just ask the 4 Americans who are going to miss the cut: Solheim Cuppers Christina Kim (75-76) and Nicole Castrale (76-72) and those struggling to displace Natalie Gulbis from the last automatic qualifying spot or get a captain's pick Stacy Prammanasudh (74-76) and Laura Diaz (+8 on the tournament through 17).]

[Update 2 (7:09 am): Speaking of missing the cut, world #2 Ya Ni Tseng is going to need some help if she is to avoid this fate. She made 4 birdies in her last 8 holes of bogey-free golf (finally!) to fight back to E on the day and +3 for the tournament, but with 71 players at +2 or better and 8 players already safely on the right side of the cut line at T59 (including Juli Inkster, Angela Stanford, Katherine Hull, Jane Park, and the LET's Marianne Skarpnord), she needs at least 2 of maybe a dozen players near her to fall back to her level. And she can't afford for any of the 5 tied with or just behind her to pass her.]

[Update 3 (7:18 am): The problem for Tseng is that a lot of players can make late charges to get on the right side of the cut line. Amy Yang went -3 over her last 6 holes to shoot a 71 that brought her back to +1 for the tournament. Lorena Ochoa went -5 over her last 16 (after making back-to-back bogeys to start her round that had brought her all the way to +5 on the tournament). Lindsey Wright shot a bogey-free 68 to move to -2, where she was joined by Shiho Oyama, whose 68 came from 5 birdies--3 in her last 6 holes.]

[Update 4 (7:29 am): Back to the top of the leaderboard, I'm happy to report that Mitsuka and Kim both birdied the 9th for their 31s (the low 9s of the tournament thus far). Joining them at -5 on the day and -6 for the tournament is Sophie Gustafson who's having her 1st good tournament in what feels like forever. But 1st-round co-leader Becky Brewerton just birdied the 2nd and 3rd to take the lead at -7. Se Ri Pak would be tied with her were it not for yesterday's late triple bogey--she's gone -5 over her last 14 holes to fight back to -4 for the tournament. Also off to good starts are Ai Miyazato and Meena Lee, who are -2 through 5 and -5 for the tournament. But don't look now--defending champion Helen Alfredsson is also at -5 after posting a bogey-free 33 on the front.]

[Update 5 (7:33 am): Whoops, Pak's 2nd bogey of the day just dropped her back into a tie at -3 with Kristy McPherson, who's got a great chance to turn a solid bogey-free round into a great one if she can get hot on her last 4 holes. She'll need to do it if she wants to catch Stacy Lewis, who shot a 33 on the front and seems to have gotten over yesterday's difficulties with her putting.]

[Update 6 (7:36 am): U.S. Women's Open champion Eun-Hee Ji birdied 18 for a solid 69 that brings her to -2 on the tournament, tied with Wright and Oyama.]

[Update 7 (8:18 am): Girls woke up! Turns out it was Hee Young Park who shot the 69 to join Wright and Oyama at -2--she birdied her last 4 holes to do it, too. Ji shot a 70 and is at -1, with Suzann Pettersen, Michelle Wie, and Tania Elosegui. Also moving from flirting with the cut line to positioned for moving day was Ji-Yai Shin, who bounced back from a double on the 6th with 3 birdies over her last 10 holes to finish at -2 for the day and the tournament.]

[Update 8 (8:46 am): Wow, a lot can happen during breakfast! Brewerton's eagle on the par-5 7th brings her to -5 on her day and -10 for the tournament. Lewis has birdied 3 of her last 4 holes to get to -6 on the day and -7 for the tournament. Mitsuka is still -6 for the tournament with 3 holes to go--so far she's parred every hole on the back, but she went birdie-par-eagle here yesterday. Miyazato is -3 through 10 and tied with Mitsuka. Pak finished with a 67, McPherson with a 68. The cut line has moved back to +3 for now, but who knows where it will end up?]

[Update 9 (8:50 am): Actually, it's unlikely it'll move to +4, and even more unlikely that Emma Zackrisson and Lisa Hall will finish with a flurry of eagles to move it back to +2.]

[Update 10 (8:56 am): Don't look now, but Cristie Kerr is making a move. She's played 13 holes of bogey-free golf today and at -4 for her round is now at -6 for the tournament. Disappointing finish for Gustafson, though; after getting to -8 for the tournament with a birdie on the 16th, she bogeyed 17 and only parred 18 for a 66. Ai-chan joins her and Lewis at -7 with her 2nd birdie in a row on the back at #11. Over her 1st 11 holes yesterday and today, she's made 9 birdies and no bogeys. Let's see if she can close out her round today stronger than she did yesterday in the rain.]

[Update 11 (9:02 am): Looks like the Americans are on the comeback trail. Paula Creamer is -2 through 13 and tied with McPherson and Wendy Ward (E through 11 today) right now at -4. Despite an early double, Brittany Lang shot her 2nd-straight under-par round and sits at -3. Morgan Pressel's bogey-free streak ended at 22 holes, but she just made her 3rd birdie of the day to offset her back-to-back bogeys early on the front and stands at -3 for the tournament through 13. Brittany Lincicome shot her 2nd straight 71, while Pat Hurst and Michelle Redman have good chances to pass her over their final few holes.]

[Update 12 (9:08 am): Anna Nordqvist is making a charge today, too. She's -4 over her last 10 holes and in great position to improve on her -5 total for the tournament. And Meena Lee is hanging tough; her 4th birdie of the day, on #11, brings her to -7 for the tournament. Yesterday's co-leaders Na Yeon Choi (-1 through 8) and In-Kyung Kim (E through 8) had better get it going if they don't want to be left completely in the dust today.]

[Update 13 (9:10 am): Hey, Choi and Kim both birdied 9, making up a stroke on Brewerton, who had to settle for a 31 on the front (1 better than yesterday's start and tied with Song-Hee Kim and Yuko Mitsuka for low 9 of the tournament).]

[Update 14 (9:17 am): Choi just made it 2 birdies in a row to break the logjam at -7 and move into solo 2nd.]

[Update 15 (9:20 am): Mitsuka broke her 8-hole par streak with a birdie on the 18th for a 66, tied with Song-Hee Kim, who failed to make it 3 birdies in a row to close out her round but also tied Gustafson at -7 for the tournament and co-leader in the clubhouse. But Ai-chan was the next player to pass them; she's birdied 3 of her last 4 holes and is only 2 behind Brewerton.]

[Update 16 (9:29 am): Oh no! Lewis bogeyed 18 (mirroring her bogey on the 1st) to "only" shoot a 67. Now it's Kerr's chance to pass her for low American--she has the short 16th through 18th to go, as does Paula Creamer, who's -4 over her last 11 holes and is just a shot back of Lewis and Kerr.]

[Update 17 (9:35 am): Natalie Gulbis was another American who flirted with the cut line--twice, actually--but came back both times to close at -1 through 36 holes. The cut line, by the way, did end up at +3.]

[Update 18 (9:45 am): Kerr moved to -7, Creamer and Ward to -6, Choi to -9, and Brewerton to -11 with their recent birdies.]

[Update 19 (9:46 am): Alfredsson posted a fine 69 to join Pak at -5, but both will need to shoot in the mid-60s at least once on the weekend to have a chance for a win that would mean a lot to either of them.]

[Update 20 (9:48 am): Off to story time with the girls. Onechan would like to see Karrie Webb start making more birdies. I'd say the same about Seon Hwa Lee. Both are stalled at -3, where Pat Hurst ended up.]

[Update 21 (12:58 pm): Check out Hound Dog's 2nd-round overview for the final results.]

[Update 22 (1:32 pm): Onechan will be glad to hear that Karrie Webb made 3 birdies down the stretch to pull to -6 and only 3 shots out of the lead after Brewerton's late bogeys brought her back to Ai-chan and NYC. I'm dismayed at Seon Hwa Lee's finish (she dropped all the way to -1 for the tournament with her 74 today), and feel bad for Momoko Ueda (75, E), Candie Kung (74, E), and Mika Miyazato (76, +3), but with Ai-chan and Inky at the top of the leaderboard, I've still got plenty to root for.]

[Update 23 (1:37 pm): Only 7 players have broken 70 both rounds, while 24 have gone under par twice. I have to admit that I'm amazed that 66 is the lowest score of the tournament. I truly believe there are a couple of low 60s and several mid-60s rounds to come. My guess is the winning score comes between -16 and -21.]


Pyoung said...

Wow, I didn't expect Brewerton to hang it there... she's pretty impressive. Ai had at really awesome round. Now tied at the lead!! Maybe this could be her first win. Brewerton had two late bogeys at 16 and 17. Song-Hee Kim had five straight birdies... pretty impressive. Yuko definitely cooled down somewhat in the back nine today but still playing well and in contention.

This is a really exciting leadboard and some big names brewing just under the leadboard, too. Kerr, Webb, Pak, Alftedsson... it's going to be another exciting day tomorrow.

Mika and Yani just made the cut by the skin of their teeth. Momoko and Oh Ji Young couldn't keep their 1st round momentum. And Amy Yang seem to have shaken off her nasty hotel fire experience and made the cut comfortably.

Hee Young and Shiho did pretty well today but probably not well enough to really contend during the weekend. Same goes for Yiyai Shin unless she can really have a couple of her "final round queen" rounds.

Hey, Constructivist, I love your enthusiasm... it's contagious. This is a fun fun fun tournament.

The Constructivist said...

Thanks, I've been waiting for a win from Ai-chan on the LPGA since 2006, so I'm pretty psyched!