Thursday, July 22, 2010

Evian Masters Thursday: Pressel, Reid, and Ahn Set the Pace

Sun-Ju Ahn eagled the short par-5 18th hole to join Morgan Pressel and Melissa Reid at -6, 1 shot up on Song-Hee Kim and M.J. Hur in the 1st round of the Evian Masters. The leaders got to the top in different ways. Ahn hit only 11 greens in regulation but took only 23 putts. Pressel, who hit her drives 15 yards shorter than Ahn but hit 2 more greens, also had a great putting day, making birdies in 5 of her 1st 7 holes. Reid, who like Ahn drove the ball around 260 yards off the tee, hit 16 greens and made 7 birdies in a 9-hole stretch in the middle of her round. Hur made a pair of consecutive birdies to close out her front, then birdied 3 of her last 4 holes on the back. Kim, who like Hur averaged around 250 yards off the tee, shot the only bogey-free round among the leaders.

This is what's so cool about the Evian course: it doesn't favor any one type of player. You could bomb your way around the course and get any number of results, as Michelle Wie (who averaged 281 yards off the tee and was +2 in her 1st 6 holes of birdie-less golf, then -6 over her last 12 holes of bogey-free play), Ya Ni Tseng (271.5 yards, 68, -4 in her last 12 holes of bogey-free golf), Alexis Thompson (286 yards, bogey-free 32 on the front, 3 bogeys in 4 holes mid-way through the back, then 2 consecutive closing birdies), Brittany Lincicome (272.5 yards, 70), Maria Hjorth (270 yards, 71), Amanda Blumenherst (270.5 yards, 73), and Tamie Durdin (269.5 yards, 73) discovered. Or you could play the precision game, as Jeong Jang (232.5 yards, 12 fairways, 16 greens, 68), Mika Miyazato (11 fairways, 16 greens, 68), Meena Lee (238.5 yards, 11 fairways, 14 greens, 68), Ai Miyazato (243.5 yards, 11 fairways, 14 greens, 69), and Ji-Yai Shin (234.5 yards, 10 fairways, 14 greens, 70) did--just not as well as Pressel. And you could go anywhere in between, as Suzann Pettersen (261 yards, 13 fairways, 16 greens, 69), Angela Stanford (257 yards, 11 fairways, 16 greens, 69 with a walkoff double), Momoko Ueda (258.5 yards, 13 fairways, 15 greens, 69), Mi-Jeong Jeon (256 yards, 68), and Na Yeon Choi (255 yards, 68) each did in her own way.

In addition, there were many different stretches of holes where players could go low--or not. You could get off to a strong start and finish weakly, as Sun Young Yoo, who shot a 31 on the front and was still bogey-free through 15 holes but ended her round bogey-bogey-par, and Sakura Yokomine, who was -2 after 12 holes of bogey-free golf, but who needed a walkoff birdie to salvage a 72, did. You could get in trouble in the middle of your round and salvage it at the end, as Kristy McPherson, who doubled 11 and 13, then birdied 4 of her last 6 holes, and Amy Yang, who like McPherson birdied her last 3 holes in a row, did. You could start weakly and finish strong, as Anna Nordqvist (+1 over her 1st 8 holes of birdie-less golf and -3 over her last 10 holes of bogey-free gold), did. Or you could never really fall into a clear rhythm or pattern, as Paula Creamer (71), In-Kyung Kim (71), and Cristie Kerr (62) did.

The bottom line is that nobody ran away from the field on the 1st day of play and very few players shot themselves out of the tournament. LET Rookie of the Year race leader Kristie Smith (80) was one of the unlucky latter bunch, while LPGA ROY race leader Azahara Munoz (70) was in the former. And Brittany Lang (76), Jee Young Lee (76), Katherine Hull (76), Eun-Hee Ji (75), Hee-Kyung Seo (75), Inbee Park (74), Christina Kim (74), Karrie Webb (73), and Natalie Gulbis (73), among others, will be fighting just to make the cut tomorrow. With 51 golfers under par and 25 below 70, the ones who persevere and find ways to make birdies in bunches, no matter how their rounds had been going previously, will be the ones playing--and perhaps contending--on the weekend.

[Update 1 (1:46 pm): I can make my overviews as scattered as they are because Hound Dog's are so organized!]

[Update 2 (1:51 pm): More on Reid at Waggle Room and Golf Babes.]

[Update 3 (4:04 pm): Friday's pairings are the same as Thursday's, with the players who went out early today going out late tomorrow.]

[Update 4 (6:22 pm): Here are's notes and interviews from Day 1.]

[Update 5 (7/23/10, 9:34 am): Mike Southern looks at the Evian leaderboard in a comprehensive overview of this week's professional golf schedule.]

[Update 6 (7:12 pm): Here are day 1 highlights:

Evian Masters TV 2010 - Best Golf Moments of Day 1 #15
Uploaded by evianmasters. - Basketball, baseball, pro wrestling and more sports videos.]

[Update 7 (7:24 pm): Golf Channel's highlights are more professional but less good.]

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