If you want a quick and comprehensive rundown on round 2 of the State Farm Classic, where M.J. Hur took the lead with her 2nd-straight 66, go no further than Hound Dog's overview. If you want to know where the AP gets their player quotes from, go to LPGA.com's notes and interviews page. If you want someone's quirky take on topics not already covered on these sites, read on.
Ai Miyazato birdied 3 of her last 6 holes and played her last 13 holes in -3, but a bad start and a bogey on the par-4 15th dropped her back to -1 overall--1 shot shy of the cut line. Big itai for Ai-sama, but 6 birdies in 2 days at Panther Creek won't get you very far. Her ballstriking was just a little off, so even though she scrambled pretty well and made birdies on almost 1/3 of the holes when she hit the green in regulation, it just wasn't good enough this week. Still, I expect her to bounce right back next week. A little extra rest in this 5-week stretch isn't a terrible thing, right? Right?
If you had asked me yesterday morning, I would have expected Seon Hwa Lee (70) and Eun-Hee Ji (69) to miss the cut instead of Ai-sama, but they both made it on the number, despite both bogeying the 15th for the 2nd day in a row. And despite a terrible 75 today, Mika Miyazato made the cut, along with NYers Meaghan Francella and Laura Diaz, rookies Amanda Blumenherst, Mariajo Uribe, and Paola Moreno, and top players Angela Stanford and Catriona Matthew, among others. Let's see if any of them can make a big move on the weekend. 10 back is a lot, but all of them can go super-low.
Speaking of super-low, the winds made going there a lot more difficult yesterday--only Amy Yang and Katie Futcher could reach the mid-60s--Yang's 65 brought her to 1 behind Hur, while Futcher's put her at -7, among the 22 players within 5 of the lead. There were no 66s and only 7 67s, the most imposing by Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park, and Hee-Won Han and the most encouraging by Natalie Gulbis. The number of players who haven't seen the 70s thus far this week dropped from 43 after Thursday to 19 after Friday, which helps explain why there are only 6 players double digits under par through 36 rather than the 18 I expected. So now I expect there to end up being 6 players or fewer who break 70 all 4 rounds. It's possible to win with only 3 rounds in the 60s, but you'd need to get into the mid-60s twice to do it. I think the winner will finish in the -18 to -21 range....
So is there anyone back in the pack explosive enough to get there? Sure, plenty of players. Ya Ni Tseng's has only made 1 bogey and 1 double all week, the latter of which came on her final hole yesterday and dropped her back to -5. She's bombing her drives and hitting 3/4 of her greens in regulation, so 2 rounds in the mid-60s are entirely plausible for her this weekend. Don't count out bombers Brittany Lincicome and Azahara Munoz at -5, either. They're hitting a lot of greens, too, and starting to sink putts. Karrie Webb was -6 through the 10th yesterday, but finished +2 over her last 8 holes. She's certainly capable of getting hot and staying hot this weekend. And of course my projected winner in this week's PakPicker, Jee Young Lee is -7 without even putting all that well just yet.
Should be a great weekend in Springfield! We'll see who takes advantage of moving day and whether this will be the Sunday free-for-all I expect or more of a shootout at Panther Creek between a few players.
[Update 1 (6:27 am): If I were at Panther Creek this morning, I'd have quite the dilemma--who to follow?
Start Time: 9:32 AM
Start Time: 9:56 AM
Mi Hyun Kim
Start Time: 10:12 AM
Ya Ni Tseng
Start Time: 10:44 AM
Start Time: 11:08 AM
Start Time: 12:52 PM
OK, I'd follow In-Kyung and Brittany for the 1st 3, wait for Mi Hyun and Mina and follow them for the next 3, then wait and follow Ya Ni and Moira through 15, wait and follow Brittany and Azahara for the last 3, then pick up Cristie and Inbee for what's remaining of their round. Simple!]