Thursday, February 18, 2010

Honda LPGA Thailand Thursday: And They're Off!

Amy Yang, Stacy Lewis, Maria Hjorth, and M.J. Hur have gotten off to fast starts on the Old Course at Siam Country Club as the 1st round of the Honda LPGA Thailand gets underway. Yang birdied 3 of her 1st 7 holes, went on a 7-hole par train, and birdied the par-4 15th to get to -4 on her day; she's now playing the par-5 18th, looking to post a 67 with a birdie. Lewis also birdied 3 of her 1st 7 holes and offset her only bogey of the day (on the par-4 6th) with a birdie on the par-5 10th before augmenting her birdie total on the par-4 15th. Hjorth cancelled out her bogey on the par-4 2nd hole with 3 birdies in her last 5 holes on the front, then followed them up with another birdie on the par-4 13th. Starting a little bit later than the other early leaders, Hur had birdied 4 of her 1st 8 holes to join Yang and Lewis in the lead at -4, but bogeyed the par-4 9th to settle for an opening 33.

In the later wave of starts, both Paula Creamer and Na Yeon Choi have birdied their 1st 2 opening holes.

Not everyone has gotten off to fast starts, though. In-Kyung Kim bogeyed 3 of her 1st 5 holes, Eun-Hee Ji bogeyed 3 of her last 4 holes on the front to open her 2010 with a 39, and Sophie Gustafson's 40 on the front included 2 birdies, 2 bogeys, and a 9 on the par-5 7th (but she quickly bounced partway back with back-to-back birdies to open the front, only to give 1 more stroke away with a bogey on the 13th).

Unfortunately, it looks like the LPGA still can't afford to keep performance stats in Asian events, as nobody's scorecard is giving any information on fairways, greens in regulation, or driving distance. Or maybe they're keeping the stats, but just not updating them live online?

Ah, well, Ai Miyazato and Lorena Ochoa are about to tee off and I'm about to go to bed. If I can get up early enough, look for an update here in less than 7 hours....

[Update 1 (7:01 am): Oh, man! Yang doubled 18 to settle for a 70. Too bad for her! Lewis finished strong for a 68, and Hjorth finished steady for a 69, but they got passed by a lot of players, starting with Hur, who finished with a 66 after making birdies on 3 of her 1st 6 holes on the back. The only player in the later groups to match Hur was Suzann Pettersen, who played bogey-free golf all day and exploded with a birdie-par-birdie-eagle finish (note the 4-shot swing on Yang on 18 alone!). Others who went low include my fave, Ai-sama (bogey-free 67), Song-Hee Kim (walk-off eagle for another bogey-free 67), and Hee Young Park (who made an eagle, 6 birdies, and 3 bogeys on the way to her own 67). In all, 16 players broke 70, including notables Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, and Ya Ni Tseng at 68, and Paula Creamer, Lorena Ochoa, and Karrie Webb at 69. 40 players shot par or better, but among those who didn't were the long-driving pairing of Jee Young Lee and Vicky Hurst, who ballooned to 78s, the worst score of the day. It's going to be an endurance test, as few in the field are accustomed to the Chonburi heat and humidity, so anything can happen over the next 54 holes. Stay tuned!]

[Update 2 (7:09 am): Here are the 2nd-round pairings. Among the notable pairs, I would single out major champions Pressel and Ji at 9:42 am, Wie and Moromizato at 9:50 am (Michelle can practice her Japanese with Shinobu!), Choi and Nordqvist at 10:22 am (neither have missed a cut in their LPGA careers), Ueda and Pak at 10:46 am (the young Japanese star and legendary Korean Hall of Famer), Hull and Yang at 11:26 am (the Australian connection!), Ochoa and Creamer at 11:34 am ('nuff said!), and of course the last 5 groups:

Start Time: 11:58 AM
Cristie Kerr
Angela Stanford

Start Time: 12:06 PM
Ya Ni Tseng
Brittany Lincicome

Start Time: 12:14 PM
Ai Miyazato
Stacy Lewis

Start Time: 12:22 PM
Hee Young Park
Song-Hee Kim

Start Time: 12:30 PM
Suzann Pettersen
M.J. Hur

You don't need me to tell you what's interesting about every one of them! But I'd say the Ai-sama/Stacy one is probably the least interesting of the bunch, and I say that as someone who loves the former and really likes the latter.]

[Update 3 (11:11 am): Is it just me, or has the writing on's notes and interviews page improved by, like, 500% since last year? It's almost as if someone who really knows the players and their histories and the history of the tour is writing them now....]

[Update 4 (11:24 am): Here's Jamie Belyea's quick and informative take on the top of the leaderboard.]

[Update 5 (2/19/10, 2:27 am): Nice focus on 14-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn's start by Jamie. I share his hopes that slightly older Thai players will make it back to the LPGA. I'm particularly eager to see how Virada Nirapathpongporn's recovery from last season's shoulder surgery proceeds and how well she plays on the Futures Tour this season. 75-73 is not the start I was hoping for from her!]


Morgs said...

Awesome blog, I'm glad to see someone is passionate about the LPGA Tour and all the women out there!! Thats what we need!

LPGA Fan said...

"Ai-sama/Stacy one is probably the least interesting of the bunch, and I say that as someone who loves the former and really likes the latter."

Ai-chan hope you have ear plugs cause "chatter box" can drive you crazy especially when she is "mikedup".

Hur & Pettersen could be interesting today since MJ won the Safeway Classic over Suzann.

And you know who I'm pulling for. Have to get busy for the 1st video of 2010. Go Ai-chan.

How come only 3 days of TV?

LPGA Fan said...

LPGA 1st 6 months TV schedule released.

lpga com / contest / lpga_schedule pdf

The Constructivist said...

Thanks for the comment, Morgs! Funny how I never heard of your blog until now. Drop me a line at the email address in my profile if you want to chat about doing an e-interview for MH sometime.

LPGA Fan, you know as well as I that I'm low-keying it on Ai-sama (I did pick her to win, after all). But in terms of the pairings, it's just super-cool that HY Park (who came from the KLPGA) and SH Kim (who came from the Futures Tour) are both so due to finally win on the LPGA, that Tseng and Lincicome can have a long-driving contest on every hole, and that Kerr and Stanford can do that and play "closest to the center line" at the same time--and of course that Hur and Pettersen, as you noted, can renew their rivalry head-to-head....

LPGA Fan said...

And the 2nd round has started.

I like the Start Time of 9:50 AM
Shinobu Moromizato & Michelle Wie.
I will follow Shinobu-sama progress. I seen to remember that Wie does speak some Japanese.

Among those I'll be watching besides Ai & Shinobu is Mika & Momo.

Haven't had any success is locating photos from 1st round from my usual sources. Bummer

TV time 7am for me on Friday

The Constructivist said...

Lucky you! Feel free to live-comment it in comments on my Friday post!

LPGA Fan said...

I was saddened with MJ’s day today. MJ's full name is “Mi Jung Hur”(Korean 허미정).
I still have the images of MJ’s win at the Safeway Classic and I cannot recall a more cheerful, exuberant, excited, lively individual.
And today seeing her struggle was not a pleasant feeling for me.
But Ai-chan and Momo-chan gave me something to smile about.
Even got a TV glimpse of Mika-chan.
Shinobu-sama didn’t have the good day playing with Michelle.
Ai & Momo should be a comfortable paring.
Mika pared with a bucket of nervous and a talker. Poor Mika
Shinobu paired with a amature.

And how will all this play out and as the Zen Master said “we’ll see”.

The Constructivist said...

MJ hung in there and almost salvaged the round in the end. Don't count her out of a top 10 just yet!

But who can chase down Pettersen? Can Ai-sama get into the mid-60s at least once on the weekend?