Friday, June 25, 2010

LPGA Championship Friday Morning: We're Back!

Checking in real quick at the medis tent while my parents are watching the girls by the putting green. Would have been here earlier except imoto spilled a bunch of beads right before we were supposed to leave. A half hour later, we hit the road, and 3 fights later, we were in Pittsford. The girls were psyched the lot by the driving range was full, so we had to take the shuttle bus in. Saw JJ, Kimmie, Inbee, Song-Hee, and M.J. as were were looking for my parents. Got a quick update from them: they saw Moira Dunn miss a short putt on one hole, then dump a shot in a pond after a great drive, so they figured they'd better leave and change her luck (she's now +4 with 5 to play). They also saw Mika Miyazato make a birdie and she smiled at them when they clapped for her drive on the 1st tee.

As for the rest of the action on the course, Jimin Kang is making a huge move--she just eagled the par-4 2nd to get to -6 on her day and -4 overall. Ya Ni Tseng has fought back to E after her opening 75. She did 9 shots better on the front today than yesterday! Also -3 so far today are Shanshan Feng (E) and Amy Yang (-2).

More later! We're off to the 18th bleachers to watch Mina Harigae and Sakura Yokomine come in, then have to decide if we're going to walk a few holes with Ai Miyazato's threesome or not....

[Update 1 (6/26/10, 1:52 am): That's a definite not! While I was hanging out with onechan, imoto, and my parents near the putting green, 9th and 18th greens, 10th tee, and particularly the play area Sports Zone (sponsored by the University of Rochester!) at Locust Hill--seeing players like Mina Harigae (74, +2, T36), Sakura Yokomine (73, E, T18), and Teresa Lu (73, -1, T14) finish their rounds (but not Mika Miyazato because imoto was so restless and onechan was so cranky even though they had just eaten), seeing Laura Davies (69, E, T18), Natalie Gulbis (75, +3, T48), Azahara Munoz (69, -3, T6), Juli Inkster (74, +1, T23), Paula Creamer (72, -1, T14), Ji-Yai Shin (70, -2, T10), Ai Miyazato (71, +3, T48), Morgan Pressel (76, +4, T60), and Michelle Wie (74, +2, T36) tee off, and introducing the girls to Vicky Hurst (74, +1, T23; fortunately, she didn't see me go thin-thin-shank-shank-thin-decent at the swing analysis/golf simulation area--I hope!)--Cristie Kerr was opening up a 5-shot lead on Inbee Park and Mika Miyazato on the strength of a 5-birdie closing 32 that gave her a bogey-free 66 on the day and brought her to -10 for the tournament. Even though Kerr is hitting the fairway off the tee just less than half the time, she must be missing in good spots, as she's made only 1 bogey in 36 holes and missed only 5 greens in regulation. She's -2 on the front and -8 on the back and has shot the low score of the day each of the 1st 2 days of the tournament.

If she can keep this up, it'll go down as one of the best performances in an LPGA major ever. But given Kerr's history at majors last season, it's a little too soon to hand this one to her. 4 players figured out how to go low at Locust Hill: 67s by Amy Yang (who caught Brittany Lincicome at -4), Jimin Kang, Michele Redman, and Na On Min (who all kept within 7 of Kerr) showed everyone else that there are any number of ways to go low at Locust Hill. If Kerr's going to get caught, someone's going to have to do on the weekend what she and this gang of 4 was able to accomplish. But I sincerely doubt that Kerr will come back very far to the field, if at all. The odds of her stalling, however, are way greater than her odds of break 70 all 4 rounds. But if she breaks 70 tomorrow, that probably won't matter.

Even though 8 players broke 70 and 25 went under par in Friday's comparatively benign conditions (it was only 6 and 18, respectively, on Thursday), Locust Hill still had plenty of bite. Check out the scorecard of Karen Stupples, who missed the cut badly, for a representative example. Hitting 67.9% of her fairways and 72.9% of her greens, and averaging 30.5 putts and 3.85 birdies per round coming into this week, her comparable numbers at the LPGA Championship were 60.7%, 55.6%, 32, and 1.0 (she birdied the short 12th hole both days--and that was it!). An even more telling example is Na Yeon Choi, who had never missed a cut in her LPGA career--until this week. This season, her normal numbers coming into the LPGA Championship had been 74.2%, 68.8%, 28.61, and 4.37. At Locust Hill, they were 50%, 66.7%, 32, and 2.5 'Nuff said.]

[Update 2 (2:00 am): Here's Jeff Skinner on Cristie Kerr and with notes and interviews from the 2nd round.]

[Update 3 (2:30 am): Seoul's IceCat has the inside story on Grace Park's WD--her back started acting up again, dammit.]

[Update 4 (11:28 am): Here are Hound Dog and Mike Southern on where things stood at the halfway point.]

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