Saturday, July 10, 2010

U.S. Women's Open Friday, Part 2: After the Rains

A quick glance at the leaderboard of the U.S. Women's Open suggests that yesterday's storms didn't soften Oakmont up all that much, if not literally than at least figuratively. Nobody on the course to finish their second rounds is going low; there are already 10 fewer players on the wrong side of the projected cutline than when play was called yesterday; Cristie Kerr and Brittany Lang still have good odds of going from being co-leaders in the clubhouse to 2nd-round co-leaders.

Here's a quick update before I head out to play some golf myself before heading over to a friend's house to watch the NBC coverage. A birdie on the long par-4 18th, her 9th hole, has given Wendy Ward a share of the lead with the JLPGA's top player, Sakura Yokomine, who is playing the front a few groups ahead of her. Yokomine had bogeyed her 1st 2 holes yesterday, but she's -2 on the holes she's played today. Also under par today is Jeong Jang, who got her round started off with a bang--a birdie on the tough 1st hole--and ended up with a 35 on the front. Jang joins Paula Creamer (E through 14 today despite a double on the tough par-4 10th) and Sophie Gustafson (E through 12 despite making birdies on 4 of her 1st 5 holes today) at +1. There are 4 players tied with Christina Kim right now at +2: Suzann Pettersen, Song-Hee Kim, Angela Stanford, and Louise Stahle. Sarah Kemp is the only player joining Stacy Lewis and Amy Yang at +3, while there are 7 players hanging with Natalie Gulbis at +4, including Ai Miyazato, In-Kyung Kim, Chie Arimura, and my pick for low amateur Lisa McCloskey.

I'll do a few updates before I take off. Back soon!

[Update 1 (11:19 am): A few notes on the contenders' play today. Stanford is leaking oil a bit lately; having gone out in 34 and bogeyed 2 short par 4s on the back, she's entering Oakmont's tough closing stretch, with the only birdie hole left for her the short 17th. But that's better than Pettersen, who just bogeyed the long par-4 15th to drop back to +3 overall, and Kim, who just bogeyed 1 and 2 to drop back to +4. (If Pettersen was putting well this week, she'd be running away with the tournament, by the way.) Now the only other player at +2 is Stahle, who is leaking oil herself, having bogeyed 18 and 1 as she made the turn.]

[Update 2 (12:12 pm): Good talk with the Full Metal Archivist in Chiba just now. The girls are having an awesome time in Japan, even though a mean principal wouldn't let onechan experience 1st grade before they let out for a brief summer vacation. So I'll give a quick overview of how the Japanese players on the course are doing. Yokomine can be the 1st player to get under par on Oakmont in a long time if she birdies the par-5 9th, her final hole. She's hit her measured drives shorter today than yesterday, but she's hit more greens in regulation--looks like only Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome will be in her league there through 36 holes. Ai Miyazato is not hitting the ball well at Oakmont, so it's amazing she's only +5 after a walkoff bogey gave her a 74 today. The reason she's hanging in there so well? She's one of the best putters so far this week. Chie Arimura is +2 through 13 today, but has a couple of birdie holes ahead of her on the front to improve on her +5 overall score. Shinobu Moromizato's day has gone from bad to worse; after a 38 on the front that was salvaged by a birdie on 9, she's gone double-par-bogey-birdie-bogey-bogey-par to move to +6 on her day and +7 overall. Let's see if she can stop the bleeding on the short par-4 17th. The rest of the Japanese golfers will miss the cut. Mika Miyazato never could get anything going this week; unlike Momoko Ueda, who at least played 8 great holes yesterday, Mikan got to +13 simply by making a lot of bogeys and very few birdies. Ditto for Sakurako Mori, who qualified in Hawaii, except that Mori made more bogeys than pars this week. As for Aiko Ueno, whom I know nothing about, she at least made 4 birdies this week. In the time it took to write this, Yokomine parred 9 for her 2nd-straight 71, putting her in a tie for the lead with Creamer, who birdied 17 and parred 18 to fire a 70 that brought her to E overall (and made up a bit for her weak finish on Thursday). Jeong Jang is -2 on the day and tied with them as she plays the short par-4 14th. If she can birdie that and/or 17, she may well be the 2nd-round leader. But that's for another update.]

[Update 3 (12:15 pm): Sophie Gustafson has made 11 birdies already this week; if she can get her 7th of the day on her next hole, the short par-4 17th, she'll have a share of the lead, as well. It's hard to tell whether she's playing great and throwing away a lot of shots or playing bad and getting lucky a lot. Maybe a little bit of both. Can she keep riding the roller-coaster over her next 36 holes?]

[Update 4 (12:33 pm): Last update for now. Pettersen ended up with a 71, which puts her tied with Christina Kim at +2 overall. In-Kyung Kim could join them with a birdie on 17. Angela Stanford ended up at +3; for the 2nd day in a row, she started out hot with a 34, then limped home (this time with a 38 on the back instead of a 39 on the front). Let's see if she can play a complete round later today. Maria Hjorth matched her 72 and also joins Lewis and Yang at +3. Sandra Gal also had it going on the back, but stumbled on the front, ending up just like Natalie Gulbis with her 2nd-straight 73. Ji-Yai Shin had the same bug; she went out in 34 but shot a birdie-less 37 on the back for the 2nd-straight day to end up with Miyazato anbd Lexi Thompson at +5. Na Yeon Choi can pass them with a birdie on her closing hole, the 9th, and Kristy McPherson can join them if she does the same. Song-Hee Kim will need to pull herself together; she's +4 on the front (her back) with 3 holes left to go and +5 overall. Down at the projected cut line, Amanda Blumenherst needs to birdie 9 and hope that Jeong Jang doesn't go under par. Fellow rookie (and Dukie) Mina Harigae also needs to get back to +10 or better as she closes out the front. But Juli Inkster, Anna Nordqvist, Seon Hwa Lee, and European rookies Gwladys Nocera and Marianne Skarpnord have already missed the cut. Whoops, and Blumenherst doubled 9 to miss it, as well. Other big names missing the cut are Michelle Wie (82-76) and 2-time JLPGA winner in '10 Mi-Jeong Jeon (86/+1 through 15 despite making an eagle today). Catriona Matthew, the defending Women's British Open champion, will need to eagle 9 just to have a chance. Birdies on 9 would assure that defending champion Eun-Hee Ji and new pro Jennifer Song will live to play another 36 holes (they're right at +10 right now). So there'll be a lot to catch you up on when I get back from my round this afternoon! Until then....]

[Update 5 (3:30 pm): Man, that was a slow round of golf! For the first time all year, I was actually scoring better than I was hitting the ball, but I came back to earth in the last 3 holes. Anyway, I'll leave most of the 2nd-round overview duties to Hound Dog, because I have to shower and get to my buddy's house to watch what I can of the 3rd round!]

[Update 6 (10:12 pm): Lisa Mickey covers the fates of the Futures Tour players in the 2nd round of the Open and again gets great quotes.]

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