The quickest way to find out about the 1st day of the State Farm Classic--where Shanshan Feng lead a group of 8 players who shot in the mid-60s with a bogey-free 64, another 35 players shot in the high-60s, and 87 in all went under par--is to read Hound Dog's overview, but the most entertaining way might be to read LPGA.com's notes and interviews page. Randall Mell picks up on a couple of Juli Inkster's zingers from it, but there are many more there to be enjoyed. Meanwhile, Dave Kane helps everyone put this week in perspective. So I'm going to try to avoid repeating anything you'd be able to find there and highlight a few other interesting angles on Thursday's happenings.
First off, what's wrong with Vicky Hurst? 244 yards off the tee? 7 fairways? A birdie-less 40 on the back to start things off? A 77 in all at Panther Creek? I sure hope she looks at the way Inkster and Michelle Wie started their rounds and where they ended up (heck, or even how Christina Kim salvaged a 74 out of her round). Tomorrow is all about pride for Hurst. She'd need to shoot in the mid-60s just to have a hope of making the cut. I would love to see her bounce back from such a disappointing day in a huge way. But those driving stats worry me. I hope Vicky's not playing hurt.
Brittany Lang's putting woes continue--15 greens in regulation, 35 putts, and 4 bogeys adds up to a 73. Ouch!
Eun-Hee Ji (73) and Seon Hwa Lee (72) turned decent rounds into bad ones when they each bogeyed 7 and 8 coming down what was their home stretch. At least they each parred the tough 9th. I expect both of them to turn things around soon, but maybe not tomorrow.
At least Ai Miyazato's 72 ended with a 1-under par, 5-hole bogey-free run. She'll need to start making birdies in bunches, though, just to be playing on the weekend (ditto for Azahara Munoz, who averaged 272 off the tee and hit 11 of 14 fairways but could only manage 2 birdies on the way to her 71). Janice Moodie, who was averaging 4.22 birdies per round coming into yesterday's action, didn't have that problem, as she made 5 of 'em. It's the bogeys in bunches she'll need to avoid today to improve on her own 72.
Take a look at the different ways that Mi Hyun Kim, Jeong Jang, and Se Ri Pak shot their 70s today and Hee-Won Han her 69 and you'll see in a nutshell how different Korean players' games are (although usually Pak is more of a power player like Han). And, yes, I picked the vets in the prime of their careers because I am pumped at the prospect of yesterday's numbers being their highest for the week.
With her 69, Louise Friberg just matched her sub-70 total for all of last year. Yup, it's her best round since a 68 at the Honda Thailand event nearly a year and a half ago. Heck, she has the chance to quadruple last year's total this week alone. I'd love to see her take advantage of it! She shot a bogey-free 32 on the back to do it, so she has momentum coming into today's round....
Moira Dunn must have liked her early starting time yesterday--here's hoping she improves on that bogey-free 68 today! She's probably the biggest surprise among those at -4 except for maybe Tanya Dergal, who not only got into the field because of Ji-Yai Shin's (successful) appendectomy, but also had to deal with being in her prime-time pairing with the big-hitting Brittany Lincicome (71) and Maria Hjorth (74). Dergal averaged 229 yards off the tee yesterday, Lincicome only 254.5 and Hjorth 264.5 (low for them). Score 1 for the short hitters of the world!
Looking at those who shot 67 and better, I have to agree with Laura Davies that 4 68s won't be good enough to win this week (unless the weather turns nasty). Just take a look at Inbee Park's bogey-free 67. Park, who's known for her putting but not her driving, bombed it 273 yards and hit 12 fairways yesterday. This coming off a MC in Japan last week that at least had the effect of giving her more time to get over jet lag. Oh, and my pick to win this week, Jee Young Lee, doubled the 18th but bounced back with a bogey-free 32 on the front for her 67? And Mika Miyazato, Hee Young Park, Gwladys Nocera, and Sophie Gustafson finally getting it going this season with 67s of their own? This is just too cool!
I'd go on, but I expect everyone will take a peek at those who made it into the mid-60s. The question I'm most interested in now is how many players will make it to double digits under par at the halfway point? My guess is, oh, 18 (my lucky number).... Let's sit back and enjoy the fireworks come early today!