Saturday, August 29, 2009

Safeway Classic Saturday: Now That's What I Call Precision!

Between them, the 3 players within 1 shot of the lead at the Safeway Classic have missed a grand total of 4 fairways and made only 6 bogeys through the 1st 2 rounds. Anna Nordqvist at -10 has only missed 5 greens so far, while Seon Hwa Lee at -9 has taken only 51 putts and Ai Miyazato is right between them with 6 missed greens and 56 putts. Of the 3, Miyazato has played the front best (33-33)--particularly the turn--while Lee (31-33) and Nordqvist (32-33) have feasted on the back. For Ai-sama to get her 2nd win of the season, she'll need a stronger stretch run than she's previously put together; for Nordqvist to get her 2nd win, she'll need to play better at the turn; and for Lee to get her 5th career LPGA win (and 3rd over Ai-sama), she'll need to hit more greens and play better at the turn. However, if each accomplish this but fail to take advantage of the parts of the course they've already been playing very well, they'll open the door to a host of players in the lead chase pack. And this is precisely why it's so hard to win on the LPGA.

A comparison to the Yonex Ladies, a 54-hole event in its final round right now on the JLPGA, can illustrate this neatly. Mi-Jeong Jeon, like Nordqvist, was the only player double digits under par after 2 rounds there. But Miho Koga was the only player within 4 shots of her and there were only 8 players within 5. By contrast, there are 13 players within 4 shots and 20 within 5 of Nordqvist. Nothing against last year's money-list leader Koga or Shinobu Moromizato, this year's money-list leader (as she's clearly a much better player now than when she struggled to make cuts in her rookie season on the LPGA in 2006), but would you rather have them chasing you or Suzann Pettersen (-8), Angela Stanford (-7), Natalie Gulbis (-7), Christina Kim (-6), Sophie Gustafson (-6), Jeong Jang (-6), Cristie Kerr (-5), Michelle Wie (-5), or Hee Young Park (who bounced back from an opening 74 with the low round of moving day, a 65 that included 5 birdies in her last 7 holes on the front)?

Good thing for the leading trio at Pumpkin Ridge that the rest of the LPGA's best aren't bringing their A-game this week. A sick Lorena Ochoa has stalled at -2 with Brittany Lang at T37, while Ya Ni Tseng was -6 through 27 holes and closed with a 40, Ji-Yai Shin has a grand total of 1 birdie in 10 par-5 attempts thus far, and Song-Hee Kim hasn't capitalized on a hole in one--so all remain stuck at -1 (T46). Meanwhile, a walkoff bogey on the par-5 9th cost In-Kyung Kim a missed cut and 68s by Catriona Matthew and Katherine Hull were too little, too late for them to make the cut after opening 77s. And those were just some of the most prominent players who came close to the even-par cut line. Laura Davies (71-74), Inbee Park (76-70), Nicole Castrale (74-72), Brittany Lincicome (77-71), Helen Alfredsson (70-78), Hee-Won Han (77-72), Shiho Oyama (78-73), and Karrie Webb (74-78)? Not a chance.

So I'll be rooting for a classic Ai-sama/Seon Hwa duel tomorrow, hoping that the 3rd time's the charm for my favorite golfer on the planet, and wondering who among my friends in town will be willing to let me hijack their tv from 4 to 6 tomorrow.

[Update 1 (11:31 pm): Here's Hound Dog!]

[Update 2 (11:39 pm): Here are Jamie in the Rough and Nice Ballz. Nice preview of what's to come on when they finally post their notes and interviews for round 2.]

[Update 3 (11:59 am): For those interested in comparing somewhat new and very old new technology, be sure to follow GolferWriterGuy and NiceBallz as they live-micro-blog from Ghost Creek and check out the bulletin board on-course report threads on Seoul by Verdant Garden and Go-Kimmie-Go.]

[Update 4 (8/30/09, 12:05 am): I realize I haven't mentioned Jee Young Lee's 67, M.J. Hur's closing 30 on the back, Meena Lee's 3-hole closing bogey-train to drop her 4 back, Karrie Webb's 1st-round hole in one, or any other interesting tidbits. Plus, I haven't mentioned the weather (often rainy). Until now.]

[Update 5 (12:06 am): As for Se Ri Pak's WD before the start of play yesterday, I'm too distraught for words.]

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