Sunday, March 14, 2010

LET/ALPG Update: Ya Ni Tseng Denies Webb and Davies 2nd Down Under Swing Wins

What could have developed into a thrilling head-to-head battle between Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Laura Davies in the final round of the Women's Australian Open turned into another demonstration of how deep the worldwide talent level is in women's professional golf. Ya Ni Tseng made 7 birdies in her last 12 holes to blow by Webb and Davies like they were standing still.

It certainly didn't look like that would be the final result at the start of the day, when Webb birdied 3 of her 1st 5 holes to get to -9 overall. But bogeys on the 6th, 7th, and 9th opened the door for the field. Davies was the only one, it seemed, willing to take advantage, as she matched Webb's early birdies, yet, she, too, faltered with 3 bogeys in her last 6 holes on the front. When both veterans birdied the 10th, Webb stood at -7 and Davies was tied with Tseng at -5. But then Webb stumbled (going _2 the rest of the way), Davies stalled (going +1 until making back-to-back birdies to pass Webb), and Tseng found another gear (going -4 over her last 6 holes). Just like that, the chance for veteran domination of the LET's Down Under swing vanished in the face of a birdie barrage from the LPGA's top Young Gun.

The rest of the field couldn't keep up with the fireworks at the top of the leaderboard. But Katherine Hull made a nice little charge, going -3 over her last 6 holes, to catch Giulia Sergas at -4. And Lindsey Wright was -3 over her last 10 holes to grab solo 6th. So once again the top Aussies played very well against international competition.

The same can't be said for the Americans in the field, unfortunately. Stacy Lewis was the lone top 10, Alexis Thompson the lone top 20, and Mina Harigae the lone top 30 finisher. Sure, Harigae outplayed Jeong Jang and He-Yong Choi, Thompson tied Bo-Mee Lee, and Lewis beat Hee Kyung Seo, Shin-Ae Ahn, and Hyun-Soo Kim, but once again the KLPGA demonstrated its depth at the top.

Tseng's win helps her make the case that she's been one of the best women golfers in the world in the past calendar year. Not only does it mark her return to the top 10 with an exclamation point after ending an 8-event worldwide top-10 run with last week's T11 finish. But it also means that since this time last March, she's earned 2 golds, 3 silvers, 2 bronzes (in the 1st 2 LPGA events of 2010), 11 top 5s, and 16 top 10s in her last 28 starts. And as Tim Maitland recently pointed out, she weathered a big slump (by her standards) mid-way through it all. Wow!

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