Thursday, July 30, 2009

Women's British Open Thursday: Hanging in There

The winds are only in the 20 mph range at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, so we may see some decent scoring from a handful of players at the Women's British Open. The JLPGA's Yuko Mitsuka has picked up where she left off last week, offsetting her 3 front-side bogeys with 3 birdies and an eagle on the par-5 7th, but back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15 dropped her back to E on the day until she birdied the par-4 17th to secure her 71. The only player on the course right now with a great chance to beat her today is Angela Stanford, who has played 13 holes of bogey-free golf, including an eagle on the 7th and a birdie in the par-4 13th.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Stanford and Mitsuka are the only 2 players under par at the end of the day. My favorite to win this thing, In-Kyung Kim, took an 11 on the par-5 6th and bogeyed the 7th to add insult to injury for an opening 42, then proceeded to shoot a 39 on the back. She'll need a round near or under par tomorrow just to have a hope of making the cut. Jeong Jang, who knows a little something about winning at the WBO, shot a birdieless 79. Ji-Yai Shin, the defending champion, opened with 2 consecutive bogeys and closed with a pair of walkoff doubles for her 77.

So I'm pleased as punch that Mika Miyazato's roller coaster ride ended with her only taking a 76 (of her 7 bogeys, 6 came in back-to-back pairs evenly spaced over her 1st 12 holes), that despite taking a double on the par-3 12th Morgan Pressel is only +1 with 2 to play, and that Ai Miyazato has fought back from 3 straight opening bogeys (and 6 in her 1st 14 holes) to get back to +2 with 3 holes to go.

[Update 1 (7:33 am): Darn it, Morgan followed up her birdie on 16 with a bogey on 17 to drop back to +2. Her playing partner, the JLPGA's Shinobu Moromizato, also bogeyed it to join her and Kristy McPherson there. Ai-sempai (yes, I'm sticking with Mika Miyazato's formulation) parred 16 while her playing partner Lorena Ochoa birdied it to fight back to +2 (Ochoa bogeyed 4 and 6, then birdied 7, 8, and 10, then went double-bogey-bogey on 12 through 14, so she's riding a roller coaster of her own today). I'd say par is 74 today.]

[Update 2 (7:36 am): Looks like Stanford's 14-hole bogey-free streak may have come to an end. The leaderboard has her at -2 through 15, even though her scorecard hasn't yet been updated on]

[Update 3 (7:37 am): Yeah, I'm using, even though they don't have any performance stats, because both the WBO's and the LET's live-scoring options are deeply disappointing.]

[Update 4 (7:45 am): On the other hand, the WBO twitter feed is teh awesome. And I'm not just saying that b/c I want them to retweet my link to this post. Well, not only.]

[Update 5 (7:47 am): Whut the..?! McPherson and Moromizato finished with 74s, but Pressel tripled 18 for a 77?! Not seeing confirmation of her terrible finish on her scorecard yet. Let's stay calm.]

[Update 6 (8:15 am): Darn it, Ai-sempai and Lorena bogeyed 18 for 75s. Stanford needs to par it to match Mitsuka's 71.]

[Update 7 (8:45 am): Great birdie on 18 for Stanford. Nobody's going to beat that 70 today, but Hee Young Park's giving it the old college try after a 33 on the front. Tough day for my picks, though. Cristie Kerr parred her 1st 8 holes and birdied the par-3 9th, but then went double-par-bogey-bogey-bogey to open the back and couldn't make any birdies down the stretch. Still, a 76 won't prevent her from winning if she can put together 3 good rounds to finish the tournament. The same holes tripped up U.S. Women's Open champion Eun-Hee Ji--she had shot a 35 on the front, but went bogey-bogey-double-par-bogey on the way to her 76.]

[Update 8 (11:46 am): One of my picks is doing well: Song-Hee Kim just fired a bogey-free 32 on the front. Hee Young Park rocketed her way to a great 71. Looks like she's figuring out how to play steady golf in majors. Also under par so far are 3 other volatile players: Ya Ni Tseng (-1 through 10), Michelle Wie (-1 through 11), and Maria Hjorth (who birdied 3 of her last 4 holes on the front for a 34). We'll see if they prove me wrong over the course of 72 holes.]

[Update 9 (11:49 am): Solid 73s today from Christina Kim and Kyeong Bae, 74s by Sophie Gustafson, Vicky Hurst, and Meena Lee, and 75s by Stacy Prammanasudh and Katherine Hull. If they can fight their way back to par over the next 2 days, they'll be in contention on Sunday.]

[Update 10 (11:50 am): But things can change in a heartbeat out there. Shiho Oyama birdied her 1st hole and was only +2 through 13, but she just tripled the 14th.]

[Update 11 (11:52 am): The JLPGA's Mi-Jeong Jeon would have had a solid round, too, were it not for a quad on the 4th. You gotta figure over 72 holes everyone's going to have at least a couple of doubles or worse. It's how you bounce back from disasters that will determine whether you can make the cut and contend this week.]

[Update 12 (11:54 am): Even 1 bad 9 doesn't necessarily kill you, but Stacy Lewis and Sun Young Yoo, who both went 35-44, will need to put 2 good ones together tomorrow if they want to play on the weekend.]

[Update 13 (11:55 am): Seon Hwa Lee's Dr. Jekyll (35 on the front) and Mr. Hyde (47 on the back) performance may be too painful to recover from, though. We'll see.]

[Update 14 (11:57 am): Brittany Lang, another one of my picks, was +10 through 14, but she just birdied 16. Let's see if she can break 80 and build some kind of positive momentum for Friday.]

[Update 15 (11:58 am): 3 doubles kept my buddy Moira Dunn from breaking 80, but if she can keep from going double digits over par after 36, she'll probably make it to the weekend.]

[Update 16 (12:01 pm): 80 by Pat Hurst and 81 by Wendy Ward ought to mean the end of their Solheim Cup hopes, but maybe not if they can find a way to make the cut tomorrow. Having more luck in their bids to make their respective teams are Catriona Matthew (now -1, thanks to an eagle on 7 and a birdie on 13 that offset her 3 bogeys near them) and Jane Park (who bogeyed 17 for a 74).]

[Update 17 (12:02 pm): Song-Hee Kim is now -4 after a birdie on 13. The longest bogey-free streak I know of is Stanford's at 14....]

[Update 18 (12:06 pm): Good news. is adding performance stats after players finish their rounds. So far Hull (26 putts) and Gustafson (27) had the hottest flat sticks in the field. More after lunch!]

[Update 19 (1:51 pm): Wow, leave for a little and a lot happens. Hjorth is now -2 as she plays the 18th. Kim has dropped back to -1, having ended her bogey-free streak on the 14th hole and added 2 more for good measure. Wie was +2 over her last 7 to finish with a 73. Matthew finished double bogey-bogey for her 74. Lang held on for her 81. Momoko Ueda had an up-and-down 74, with 2 birdies in her last 3 holes offsetting 4 in her 1st 6 on the back, while Paula Creamer opened with a birdieless 74. Suzann Pettersen went 35-41, but the real breakdown occurred after she got it to -2 through 7. She bogeyed 8 and 9, doubled 14, and bogeyed 17 and 18. But she still finished 1 shot better than Karrie Webb (35-42), 2 better than Juli Inkster (35-43), 3 better than Natalie Gulbis (37-42), and 4 better than Yuri Fudoh (34-46).]

[Update 20 (1:54 pm): We could see half the field failing to break 80 today. Less than 30 players will break 75. I'll bet everyone in the field fails to break 75 at least once this week.]

[Update 21 (2:06 pm): Tseng was -2 through 8 holes of bogey-free golf, but since then has played 8 holes of birdieless golf at +3 as she heads into the holes that tripped up Pressel badly.]

[Update 22 (2:14 pm): Hjorth doubled 18 to shoot the 1st 72 of the day. Kim birdied it to tie Stanford for the lead at -2. Tseng bogeyed it to join the big group at +2 (T13 right now). Forget what I said about 74 being par. Probably 76 is.]

[Update 23 (2:16 pm): Will Sandra Gal, now -3 and bogey-free through 11 after making consecutive birdies to start the back, be the home holes' next victim?]

[Update 24 (2:18 pm): Like clockwork, Gal ends her bogey-free streak on the 12th. By my count, it was the 3rd-longest of the day.]

[Update 25 (3:50 pm): Yikes, another one of my picks will be struggling to make the cut tomorrow. Na Yeon Choi fired a birdieless 80.]

[Update 26 (3:52 pm): By contrast, Se Ri Pak's 2-birdie 76 isn't looking all that terrible.]

[Update 27 (3:57 pm): Looks like the key to playing Royal Lytham when the wind is blowing the way it did today is to take advantage of the 1st 7 holes (and if you're lucky, the entire front 9), then try to survive the last 11. But the winds will probably be different each day....]

[Update 28 (3:59 pm): I've been waiting for Katie Futcher to make a McPherson-like quantum leap this season; wouldn't it be cool if it came this week? She was bogey-free over her 1st 10 holes and is +1 on the 18th.]

[Update 29 (4:05 pm): Gal goes birdie-bogey-birdie as the sun goes down--can she break 70 before play is called for darkness? Would hate to have to start on 18!]

[Update 30 (4:07 pm): Case in point: Futcher doubled 18 for a 40 on the back that dropped her to +3 overall.]

[Update 31 (4:23 pm): Gal did it! She was the only player to break 70 all day! With 1 group left on the course, here's Jamie's take on the very early action over at Crosscourt Birdies. Amazing what a difference the back makes!]

[Update 32 (4:36 pm): OK, the final group got in, so that makes it 1 player under 70, 5 under par, 23 under 75, and 87 under 80. Tough, tough day. Wonder what tomorrow will bring. Initial reactions: very happy to see Kyeong Bae and Meena Lee continuing their good play of late; would love to see Stanford win, with everything she's been going through lately; would love to see Christina Kim, Michelle Wie, Vicky Hurst, and Jane Park keep playing well (they should play on a lot of Solheim Cup teams together over their careers!); would love to see Mitsuka and Moromizato of the JLPGA continue to play as well or better than Ai-sempai and Ueda, both for the competition-to-come in late summer on their tour and in hopes they consider (re)joining the LPGA next year.]

[Update 33 (5:15 pm): Every player in the field this week has a great story, even if few make it into the press tent for post-round interviews. Lisa Mickey discovers Haeji Kang's: she started the season choosing Monday qualifying on the LPGA over the Futures Tour, came in 4th at the Wegmans, and qualified for the WBO. If she can put it together tomorrow, she still has a chance to make the cut after today's 80. Like Amy Yang, who ballooned to an 83, she comes to the LPGA from Korea by way of Australia.]

[Update 34 (8:04 pm): Hound Dog's 1st round overview surveys the carnage. If Carnoustie is Carnasty, what's a good nickname for Royal Lytham? Only thing I can think of is that the players will need some Royal Lithium after 72 holes on it. I'm sure you can top that! What is Saint Anne the patron saint of?]

[Update 35 (7/31/09, 5:31 am): Here's Jamie's take on the 1st round.]

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