Friday, July 9, 2010

U.S. Women's Open Friday: Rain, Rain, Stay Away!

With the USGA's Justin Hancher handling "running updates" duty, focusing on changes at the top of the leaderboard and at the cut line, I'm freed up to do my own not-quite-live-blogging of the 2nd round of the U.S. Women's Open my own way.

But just to get everyone up to speed, here's how the leaders stand as they play their 1st 9s of the day. Brittany Lang continues to play very, very well, this time with a back-9 start. She's hit 2 of 3 fairways and 3 of 4 greens, making par on each of holes to stay at -2. Right now she's the only player under par in the field. Vicky Hurst, playing a couple of groups ahead of her, is also even-par on her day; despite hitting only 2 of 5 greens, she's bogeyed only the long par-5 12, but followed it up immediately with a birdie on the short par-4 13th. Like Hurst at +1 is Inbee Park, who's bogeyed 3 of her last 6 holes and offset them with only 1 birdie as she plays the 9th. Perhaps she's not bombing her drives with quite as much abandon--she's 0 for 6 in fairways hit thus far, her drive on the 400-yard 3rd today was 30 yards shorter than yesterday's, and she bogeyed the hole--but whatever the reason she's not taking advantage thus far of the last 6 holes on the front, which played pretty much the least difficult on the course yesterday.

There's a group of 6 golfers at +2 on the tournament, on which more after breakfast!

[Update 1 (10:25 am): Nice details from the LPGA's twitter feed, too. Inbee Park's day just went from bad to worse when she bogeyed the 9th to shoot a 39, 5 shots worse than how she ended yesterday's round. She exchanged spots on the leaderboard with Natalie Gulbis, who made 3 birdies on the front on her way to a 35 that brought her even with Vicky Hurst, who parred the long par-4 15th. But Lang extended her lead nevertheless with a birdie on the short par-4 14th. As she enters Oakmont's tough finishing holes (which she played in E yesterday), let's see whether she can maintain or extend her lead.]

[Update 2 (10:37 am): Na On Min is off to a solid start today. A birdie on the 170-yard par-3 6th brought her back to E on the day and +2 overall, but she just gave it back with a bogey on the long-par 4 she had birdie yesterday. Still she's hit 5 of 7 greens and hit her drive on the 3rd hole 10 yards longer today than yesterday, parring it instead of bogeying it. So she may be a player to watch today. Few among the other leaders are doing much good. Gulbis triple-bogeyed 10 to drop back to +4 overall. Cristie Kerr was -1 through her 1st 4 holes on the back, but doubled the long 15th and bogeyed the short 17th to drop back to +3 overall. M.J. Hur, like Inbee Park, is off to a +3 start on her day, but unlike Park it's on the back, so if she can stabilize her game she has a chance to make up some ground at the end of her round and improve on her +2 overall score. (She's hitting lots of greens; it's her putter that's been letting her down thus far.) Christina Kim failed to take advantage of the front, shooting a 37 that also leaves her at +2 right now.]

[Update 3 (10:40 am): In fact, the only player who's making a real move early today is Momoko Ueda. She shot an 80 yesterday, making 9 pars and 9 bogeys, but today she birdied the 11th, 12th, and 13th to fight back to +6. She's already hit as many greens in 6 holes today as she did all round yesterday. Let's see if she can keep it going on the tough finishing holes.]

[Update 4 (10:48 am): But mostly today it's been a big struggle. Ya Ni Tseng doubled the longest par 5 and the longest par 4 on the back (the 12th and 18th, respectively) to shoot a 38, 4 shots worse than yesterday, and fall back to +5 overall. That's 1 shot behind yesterday's Cinderella, Kelli Shean, who bogeyed 5 of her 1st 10 holes but has stabilized her round with 3 straight pars early on the back.

People are showing resilience, however. Amy Yang started with a 40 on the back, 6 shots worse than yesterday, but birdied the tough 1st to get back to +3 for the tournament. Gulbis followed up her triple with a birdie on the short par-4 11th. With Lang bogeying the long 15th to fall back to E on her day and -2 overall, what's needed by everyone chasing her is a lot of patience and ability to bounce back from disappointments and mistakes.]

[Update 5 (10:54 am): So far today, the 2nd hole is playing a lot easier, the 7th and 8th a lot harder, and the 9th a little harder than yesterday. It looks like the pin on 17 is in a much easier position, or maybe the tees are back and more players are laying up, but it's playing a lot easier than yesterday. In fact, it's looking like 11, 13, and 14 are also giving up a lot more birdies in today's play. So maybe early on the back is when we'd expect to see people make some serious moves, as well as on 4, 5, and 6. Don't tell Inbee Park, though. She just bogeyed the 11th.]

[Update 6 (11:00 am): Moral victory-in-progress note: Esther Choe, who's been the poster child for why not to turn pro as a teenager for several years now, opened with an 82 yesterday and bogeyed 2 of her 1st 2 holes today, but has since played 10 holes of bogey-free golf at -2 to fight back to +11 overall. With everyone within 10 shots of the lead making the cut, she even has an outside chance of falling within that range, provided she can take advantage of the 14th and 17th, hang on on the rest, and get some help from the rest of the field.]

[Update 7 (11:04 am): w00t! Choe birdied 14!]

[Update 8 (11:10 am): Speaking of turning pro as a teenager, Lexi Thompson is riding the roller-coaster today, hitting only 2 fairways in 9 attempts while bombing it 294 yard on the back. Approaching the 3rd, which is the other hole they measure drives on, she's +6 overall, having gone bogey-double to start the front after making 4 bogeys and 3 birdies on the back. Playing partner Stacy Lewis, a former Razorback teammate of Shean's and like her a one-time Open Cinderella, is now tied with Thompson and Ueda at +6.]

[Update 9 (11:18 am): The 17th may be playing easier for most today than yesterday, but it still had enough teeth for Lang to bogey it. She's now bogeyed 2 of her last 3 holes, on a side she fired a 33 on yesterday. Let's see how she handles her 1st hiccup of the Open. 18 and 1 are 2 of the toughest holes on the course.]

[Update 10 (11:21 am): Seon Hwa Lee is quietly hanging in there, +1 on her day and +3 overall, as she heads into the 18th and 1st. If she can get some momentum going this week, watch out for her. She's overdue for a win and is one of the best on the LPGA without a major. (Looking at that pre-season ranking, I'm going to have to update it after this one is over!)]

[Update 11 (11:22 am): w00t!! Ueda just birdied the 17th to go to -4 on her day and climb back to +5 for the tournament! She's hit all 8 greens in regulation today thus far!]

[Update 12 (11:25 am): Inbee Park, by contrast, just doubled the long par-5 12th to go +6 on her day and join Ueda at +5 overall. Somehow she's hit 6 of 12 greens despite hitting only 1 of 10 fairways, but the former Open champion had better get things sorted out, and quick, or she's going to play herself right out of this tournament!]

[Update 13 (11:26 am): Park missed the 13th green, but at least got up and down for par. She needs to birdie 14 and 17 to have a hope of salvaging a 75 today....]

[Update 14 (11:29 am): Gulbis has now bounced back from her triple with 2 birdies in her last 3 holes. She's now +2 overall and alone in 3rd among those on the course right now, thanks to a Christina Kim bogey on the long par-5 12th.]

[Update 15 (11:30 am): w00t! Stacy Lewis just eagled the par-5 4th to leap to +4 on the tournament!]

[Update 16 (11:33 am): Too bad that Choe bogeyed the 15th. She's going to need a couple of miracles down the stretch to make the cut now.]

[Update 17 (11:37 am): Vicky Hurst just matched yesterday's 35 on the back. She only 2 behind Lang as she starts the front.]

[Update 18 (11:38 am): But Seon Hwa Lee bogeyed 18 to fall back to +4 for the tournament.]

[Update 19 (11:43 am): Too bad--Ueda bogeyed 18 to settle for a 32.]

[Update 20 (12:12 pm): Cristie Kerr is such a fighter. She's birdied her last 2 in a row to return to +2 overall, 3 shots behind Brittany Lang and alone in 2nd among the morning pairings. Looks like she's hitting on all cylinders--driving the ball well, hitting a bunch of greens, putting well--so I have to make her the favorite heading into the weekend.]

[Update 21 (12:13 pm): Too bad--Vicky Hurst just doubled the short par-4 2nd, which has been playing much easier for most players today than yesterday, to join Christina Kim and Amy Yang at +3 overall.]

[Update 22 (12:15 pm): Too bad--Natalie Gulbis just doubled the long par-4 15th to fall back to +4 overall with Stacy Lewis and the KLPGA's So Yeon Ryu.]

[Update 23 (12:16 pm): Uh-oh--Momoku Ueda is on a 2-hole bogey train now. #18 and #1 got her back to +7 overall. Can she bounce back and create some new momentum?]

[Update 24 (12:18 pm): Gotta give Lexi Thompson and Kelli Shean a lot of credit--they fell quickly back to +5 overall with uneven/bad starts, but have hung tough ever since.]

[Update 25 (12:21 pm): Make that a 3-hole birdie train for Kerr!]

[Update 26 (12:23 pm): The hits just keep coming for Inbee Park--another double, this time on the long par-4 15th. At this rate, she won't break 80 today!]

[Update 27 (12:26 pm): Joo Mi Kim is another player making a move from back in the pack. She shot a 33 on the back, 6 shots better than yesterday, to get back to +8.]

[Update 28 (12:27 pm): Esther Choe bounced back from a pair of disappointing bogeys to birdie the short 17th and get back to E on her day, +11 for the tournament. Looks like she'll need to birdie the long par-4 18th to have a chance to fall within that 10-shot umbrella.]

[Update 29 (12:32 pm): So much for momentum for Seon Hwa Lee--she went bogey, double, double on 18 through 2. At +8 with 7 holes left on the front, she's gone from fighting to get into contention to fighting to make the cut.]

[Update 30 (12:36 pm): Also fighting to make the cut are Aussies Katherine Hull, Lindsey Wright, and Anna Rawson. They're all at +9 overall with Hull and Rawson on the front and Wright on the back.]

[Update 31 (12:45 pm): Shoot! Shean doubled 18 for a 79 that drops her back to +7. She has to hope she gets within the top 60 or falls within that 10-shot umbrella to have a chance to compete for low amateur on the weekend. Odds are definitely in her favor.]

[Update 32 (12:47 pm): Darn it! Momo-chan bogeyed the 3rd to fall back to -1 on the day and +8 overall.]

[Update 33 (12:49 pm): Lexi Thompson is also struggling, having bogeyed the long par-3 8th to fall back to +6 overall with Ya Ni Tseng.]

[Update 34 (12:51 pm): Vicky Hurst bogeyed the same par 5 that Stacy Lewis eagled. They're both at +4 overall with Natalie Gulbis.]

[Update 35 (12:53 pm): Shoot--Choe doubled 18 to end her great round on a sour note. Still, improving from 82 to 73 is a big deal for this young pro looking to get her career jump-started.]

[Update 36 (1:06 pm): The wind's started to pick up, the temperature's started to drop, and raindrops have begun to fall here at Dunkirk. As that midwestern line of storms has been avoiding both here and Pittsburgh all day until now--often just barely--I suspect our luck is going to run out. Hope at least most of the morning pairings can finish their rounds before there's a lightning delay!]

[Update 37 (1:08 pm): Cristie Kerr has a chance to fight back to E for the tournament with a birdie on the 9th. She was +4 standing on the 4th tee. That's how quickly things can change at Oakmont.]

[Update 38 (1:10 pm): Speaking of things changing for the better quickly at Oakmont, Stacy Lewis was +6 on the 4th tee earlier today. The she went eagle-bogey-birdie-par-par-birdie to shoot a 70 and climb back to +3 overall.]

[Update 39 (1:11 pm): Amy Yang bounced back from her opening 40 on the back with a bogey-free 35 on the front to match Lewis's +3 total for the tournament. Where Lewis went 75-70, Yang went 70-75.]

[Update 40 (1:13 pm): Christina Kim just birdied the long par-3 16th to get back to +2 overall. 17's been a lot less tricky today--so far it's played as the easiest hole on the course--so let's see if she can make it 2 in a row!]

[Update 41 (1:14 pm): Natalie Gulbis is scrapping today! She tripled 10 and came back with 2 birdies. She doubled 15 but just birdied 16 and 17. She's back to +3 overall.]

[Update 42 (1:18 pm): Nice walkoff birdie by Thompson on the par-5 9th to salvage a 74 today. At +5 overall, she's still right in the thick of things. She's shown she can make birdies at Oakmont, having made 10 in 2 rounds. Looks like she's a Sophie Gustafson/Hee Young Park kind of player! Fun to watch. Let's see how she does on the weekend. She may have a long wait, as it's just started to rain hard here in Dunkirk.]

[Update 43 (1:20 pm): Too bad--Gulbis just bogeyed 18 for her 2nd-straight 73. +4 is just fine at this point in the tournament, however. She's made 8 birdies in 36 holes, so she's shown she can go low here. She just needs to drive the ball better on the weekend to put herself in serious contention.]

[Update 44 (1:22 pm): Thankfully, Inbee Park stopped the bleeding by going -1 in her last 3 holes and salvaging a 78. At +6, she's going to need to have a great moving day to get back in this thing. But if it's raining in Pittsburgh like it's raining here, the elements could well be on her side.]

[Update 45 (1:26 pm): For the 2nd day in a row, Kerr couldn't birdie the par-5 9th. But she's +1 overall and T2 among those who have started or finished their 2nd rounds right now. Great place to be heading into the weekend, particularly if everyone else has to play in the rain for the next several hours or endure lightning delays.]

[Update 46 (1:28 pm): Another par on 9 for Ya Ni Tseng and she has to settle for a 76, which leaves her +7 with Shean and virtually certain to make the cut, but nowhere near where she hoped to be at the midway point.]

[Update 47 (1:30 pm): If I haven't been mentioning Lang much, it's because she Just. Keeps. Making. Pars. (5 in a row and counting.) Which is exactly what you need to do to win Opens! Oh, and by the way, the rain has stopped here and the birds are tweeting.]

[Update 48 (1:32 pm): Christina Kim pars 18 for her 2nd-straight 72. That's some fine golfing from anyone, but particularly someone who was stinking up 2010 until last week!]

[Update 49 (1:33 pm): Is it just me, or am I writing a lot about how well American golfers have been playing this week? If I would love to tell the AP "I told you so" this badly, imagine how the players themselves feel!]

[Update 50 (1:35 pm): Great 71 from Heather Bowie Young to join Tseng and Shean at +7.]

[Update 51 (1:40 pm): Uh-oh! Lang gave a stroke away on an easy par 4, the short 5th. Let's see how she handles being +2 on her day and back to E on the tournament. 6 is playing as the 3rd-easiest and 9 as the easiest holes on the course today, so she'll have some opportunities to get something back from Oakmont.]

[Update 52 (1:44 pm): Walkoff birdie on the tough 18th helps Jee Young Lee to salvage a 76 and join Inbee Park at +6. The way she's driving and putting, if she could just hit more greens, she'd have a good chance to get back in the mix on the weekend.]

[Update 53 (1:46 pm): Oh, man! That walkoff double for Choe may end up costing her a chance to play on the weekend. She's 2 shots off the projected cut line, which is a function of a USGA program that predicts how players still on the course will finish. My guess is that they're projecting Lang to finish with Kerr at +1....]

[Update 54 (1:48 pm): If they're right, Seon Hwa Lee, who's contineud to fall apart--she's now +9 with 3 to play--still has a fighting chance to make the cut. And Anna Nordqvist and Gwladys Nocera, who finished at +11 through 36 holes, may just get a chance to play 36 more.]

[Update 55 (1:49 pm): Ruh-roh! I'm hoping the Scooby Doo voice will break the tension for Lang, who just bogeyed another relatively easy hole, the par-3 6th, to fall back to +1 overall and +3 on her day.]

[Update 56 (1:51 pm): Aaargh! Ai Miyazato opened with a double on 1. Lots of bogeys among those just getting started. Weather must be bad in Pittsburgh.]

[Update 57 (1:53 pm): Man! Vicky Hurst needs to birdie the 9th just to salvage a 40 on the front! The wheels are coming off for lots of players lately.]

[Update 58 (1:56 pm): If Hee Young Park can make the 9th her 8th birdie of the week, she'll have shot a 70 today and fought back to +6 overall. Let's see if The Rocket can do it.]

[Update 59 (1:59 pm): Make that a 3-hole bogey train for Brittany Lang. Cristie Kerr is now your leader (assuming everyone tied with her right now will have trouble making pars in the rain).]

[Update 60 (2:02 pm): Yikes! M.J. Hur followed up yesterday's 70 with an 81. She's now +9 overall, but at least she'll be playing on the weekend. Nobody was able to follow up on their 70s: Yang shot a 75, Park a 78, and Shean a 79. Looks like Oakmont doesn't like it when you go under par.]

[Update 61 (2:03 pm): The rain's coming down here pretty steadily. Glad I decided to do this today instead of sneak in 18 holes at the Easiest Course in the World!]

[Update 62 (2:07 pm): Remember when Momoko Ueda was -4 through 8 and looking like she was going to erase every single one of the 9 bogeys she made yesterday? Well, she's made 6 bogeys in her last 8 holes to fall back to +11 overall. Does she have it in her to fight back and make the cut?]

[Update 63 (2:09 pm): OK, Lang stopped the bleeding with a par on the long par-3 8th. A birdie on 9 would make her co-leader in the clubhouse with Kerr.]

[Update 64 (2:11 pm): Instead of making her 2nd birdie on 9 in a row, Hee Young Park bogeyed it to settle for a 72 and stand at +8 heading into the weekend.]

[Update 65 (2:15 pm): Ditto for Vicky Hurst, whose 42 on the front gave her a 77 that dropped her all the way back to +7 through 36.]

[Update 66 (2:18 pm): Man, Ueda is now on the other side of the projected cut line. She needs to birdie the 9th to have a hope.]

[Update 67 (2:22 pm): Ji-Yai Shin has just birdied 2 and 3 to get to +4 overall.]

[Update 68 (2:28 pm): Lang made a gutty birdie on 9 to tie Kerr at +1. They're co-leaders in the clubhouse and I'd be shocked if anyone surpassed them from the afternoon pairings.]

[Update 69 (2:30 pm): The LPGA twitter feed just reported that rain started for the 1st time just a few minutes ago. So all the bad play in the last couple of hours has been due more to the course than the conditions. Yikes--how bad can it get out there if the conditions turn tough, too?]

[Update 70 (2:31 pm): Whoops, play is suspended! Both LPGA and Beth Ann Baldry just tweeted about a huge clap of thunder.]

[Update 71 (2:44 pm): Before they stopped, Momoko Ueda bogeyed 9 for a 43 on the front that left her 2 shots on the wrong side of the cut line. Huge disappointment, particularly when you consider she hit 14 greens in regulation today! Right now there are 99 players within 10 shots of Kerr and Lang. If they finish today, I guarantee there won't be more than 75. Case in point: after firing a 33 on the back, Joo Mi Kim has made 3 bogeys and no birdies on the front. But if she makes par or better on the 9th, she'll make the cut despite opening with an 81. Still, if someone who was so hot for her 1st 10 holes can go as cold as Ueda, Hurst, and Lang did on the front, then it's going to be real hard for anyone out on the course who's already +7 or worse to keep below the cut line.]

[Update 72 (2:54 pm): So Sophie Gustafson holds the lead at E after making a birdie on the 1st. She may not get back out on the course today, as the system is very slow-moving and it's dumping a lot of water in a short time. is warning of pea-sized hail and the possibility of flash flooding in the Pittsburgh area. I don't see how they get Oakmont ready to be played, even if the system moves through faster than I expect it to. This thing extends from the southern tip of Texas to the northern tip of Maine and is drifting eastward very slowly. I'm going offline for a few hours. Take it easy!]

[Update 73 (3:03 pm): BTW, if you're staying online, check out Golf Digest Woman's blog for some neat posts from Ron Sirak and Ashley Mayo. They're giving Golfweek's Beth Ann Baldry and Sean Martin and Golf Channel's Randall Mell runs for their money.]

[Update 74 (7/10/10, 12:41 am): Nice Gary Van Sickle piece on Cristie Kerr. Dave Shedlowski shines some spotlight Stacy Lewis's way. And Jerry Potter connects Brittany Lang to the Duke jinx.]

[Update 75 (12:41 am): David Shefter and Hound Dog provide the overview.]

[Update 76 (10:25 am): Jeff Skinner wonders whether the weather delay and new courses conditions will devalue Stacy Lewis's 70. I don't know and I won't until I finish my JLPGA update. But I'm sure curious!]


courtgolf said...

Pretty rough for the round one story of the day. Kelli Shean is +5 today, putting her at +4 with 5 holes to play. She was +5 through 10 holes, so maybe she's got it leveled out and will be around for the weekend.

Not looking good for finishing the day dry. Weather Channel has the chance for rain at 95% at 3:00 and 100% at 4:00. So I guess the question could be - how high will Michelle Wie's score be today since she has such a hard time keeping her balance in water ? :-D

The Constructivist said...

Man, maybe I'll change my plan to find a friend with a TV willing to watch with me this afternoon!

courtgolf said...

lol - well - she's keeping it fresh, starting +2 in her first three holes, BUT, they were holes she didn't bogey yesterday.

The weatherman was nice and she'll get to play on the weekend...just half of Saturday...but that's still the weekend. :-D

The Constructivist said...

I thought the cut was a lock to stay at +11, which you'd think would give her a chance, but if the course is softer and conditions are as good as they oughtta be tomorrow, we could see a few players leapfrog Kerr and Lang and knock a bunch of people out of the weekend.

courtgolf said...

The cut won't be +11. The way it's looking now, there is no way they can use the 10 shot rule or there will be over 100 players on the weekend. Look for something more like +9, maybe even +8 if the softer conditions help.