Despite giving up 8 scores of 67 or below, Priddis Greens held up pretty well for a par-71 in the 1st round of the Canadian Women's Open. Sure, 35 players broke 70, 48 went under par, and 66 shot par or better, but that still means there were more rounds over par than anything else. Putting aside those who simply didn't have it today (including, shockingly, Michelle Wie, Hee-Won Han, Christina Kim, Eun-Hee Ji, and Na Yeon Choi), the true test of how tough a golf course is are the mistakes it can cause among those playing well. By that criterion, I'd expect Priddis Greens to show its teeth over the course of the next 54 holes.
Take the hottest golfer in the world right now, Ai Miyazato. She made 6 birdies between the 6th and 15th holes, but a double on the par-3 11th coupled with a bogey on the par-3 2nd and the par-5 18th forced her to accept a 69. She wasn't alone in letting a potentially great round slip away, either. Rookie Anna Nordqvist was -6 over her 1st 10 holes, but played her last 8 on the front in +3. Senior Standout Katie Futcher was -4 with 6 holes left to play on the back, but only a walkoff bogey secured her 68. Hall of Famer Karrie Webb got it to -4 with 4 holes left to play on the front, but played them in +2. Paula Creamer was -3 at the same point, but needed a walkoff birdie to partially offset her double on the par-4 7th and match Webb's 69. Despite making 3 birdies in a row late in her round on the front, Ya Ni Tseng joined them when she bogeyed the par-3 8th and failed to birdie the par-5 9th. Brittany Lincicome made 5 birdies in her round, but a pair of doubles on the back (her 1st 9) and a late bogey dropped her to 71. Meena Lee can top that, though: even after making 7 birdies Thursday, she walked off the course with a 70. Brittany Lang also made 7 birdies but only shot a 69. So it should come as no surprise that Sophie Gustafson birdied 2 of her 1st 3 holes and 4 of her last 5 but shot--wait for it--a 69.
The fact that Angela Stanford ended up with a 70 despite making 4 birdies in 8 holes as she made the turn from the back to the front is starting to make sense now. Jane Park made 3 birdies between the 4th and 9th, but had to settle for (you guessed it) a 70, as well. Meanwhile, Kyeong Bae compressed her Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde performances over the last several weeks into contrasting 9s: a bogey-free opening 33 on the back followed by a birdieless closing 37 on the back. Kristy McPherson made 3 birdies in a 6-hole stretch on the back, but finished +2 over her last 10 holes for her 71. For Candie Kung, her 71 was the result of 2 bogeys in her last 3 holes that erased her 3-birdie bogey-free run between the 9th and 15th.
That's not to say some players didn't finish strong. Last week's winner M.J. Hur needed a walkoff eagle on the 9th and a birdie on the 5th, her next-to-last par 5, to shoot a 68, despite making 4 birdies earlier on the back in a 6-hole stretch (it was interrupted by a double and a bogey). Stacy Prammanasudh birdied her last 3 holes to finish her round on the front and post her own 8-birdie 68 (check her scorecard--she only made 1 par that side and 5 on the day!). Catriona Matthew closed with a bogey-free 32 on the front for her 68. Paige Mackenzie's matching 32 wasn't bogey-free, but she did birdie 4 of her last 5 holes on the front for her 68. Hee Young Park bounced back from a costly double on the 9th with 4 straight birdies early on the back on her way to a 32 there that also earned her a tough 68. Carin Koch bogeyed the 2nd but didn't make another mistake the rest of the way as 4 birdies between the 6th and 15th vaulted her into Club 68. Seon Hwa Lee made 3 birdies in her closing 8-hole run of bogey-free golf to post her 69. And rookie Stacy Lewis had a little bit of everything happen after an opening 35 on the front: 1st she birdied 3 in a row, then parred 2 in a row, then bogeyed 2 in a row, then birdied her last 2 for a 33 on the back that was almost something much better. But when roughly twice as many golfers let a great round get away as upgrade theirs down the stretch, you know there's something about the course they're playing that's causing that.
We'll see who if any of these golfers can go low and who else squanders opportunities tomorrow at Priddis Greens!
[Update 1 (1:11 am): LPGA.com's notes and interviews page makes it very clear that the afternoon winds had a lot to do with players' struggles out there--which makes Pettersen's and Blumenherst's mid-60s rounds all the more impressive!]
[Update 2 (1:18 am): You know what, though? A lot of the players who let low rounds slip through their fingers played in the relatively calm conditions of the morning and early afternoon. Yeah, lots of players blew up in the wind, but relatively few really squandered their scoring opportunities.]
[Update 3 (4:05 pm): Here's Hound Dog's 1st-round overview.]