Thursday, July 8, 2010

U.S. Women's Open Thursday Morning: The Carnage, the Carnage! Oh, Wait....

OK, let's get this out of the way from the start. There's no doubt Oakmont is playing tough this morning for the start of the U.S. Women's Open. Michelle Wie opened with a 43 on the back and already has 3 double bogeys (1 on the drive-able 17th) in her 1st 14 holes. One of my favorite young players, Tiffany Joh, is getting a rude welcome to her 1st Open experience (hitting only 3 of your 1st 12 greens will do that to you), as are much-heralded amateurs Brittany Altomare and 14-year-old Yueer Feng, all of whom will be struggling to break 85. So, yeah, Oakmont is a beast, etc., etc.

But you know what? It's not like the best players in the world are embarrassing themselves. Last week's winner Na Yeon Choi is now +5; having hit 9 of 14 greens so far, she's heading into the tougher closing holes on the back. Ji-Yai Shin, a few weeks after an emergency appendectomy, eagled the 559-yard par-5 4th to fight back to +2 (then doubled the next hole to return to +4). Ai Miyazato opened with a 39 on the back, but is -2 on the front through the 6th. Suzann Pettersen fought back to a 35 on the back, but opened the front with 2 straight bogeys to join Miyazato at +2 overall. If they all hold it together and finish at or under 75, they'll be right in this thing with better play the rest of the way.

The best players from other tours are holding it together, as well. Sure, Mi-Jeong Jeon, the JLPGA's only repeat winner of 2010, was E through 7 until she doubled the 17th and 18th, then followed it up with a bogey on the 1st. And Shinobu Moromizato was -2 through her 1st 4 on the back, but had to settle for an even-par 35, then doubled the 1st. But Kia Classic champion and top KLPGA player Hee Kyung Seo has made 13 pars and only 2 bogeys so far. And some are doing better than that. Sakura Yokomine was -2 through 11, but doubled the 602-yard par-5 12th (the longest par 5 in Open history) and just bogeyed the short par-4 14th to fall back to +1. Chie Arimura got off to a slow start, but is -3 over her last 6 holes and tied for the lead at -1.

Now how about those playing about as well as Arimura? Song-Hee Kim came into the 477-yard par-5 9th 1-under on her day, but bogeyed it. She's one of 13 players at E or better thus far today. Morgan Pressel just birdied the 442-yard par-4 15th to join them. Angela Stanford, meanwhile, just bogeyed the 360-yard par-4 5th and 170-yard par-3 6th to fall back to +1. Fellow American Kristy McPherson made an early birdie and only just recently gave it back--she's E through 14. And hand surgery comeback kid Paula Creamer has a real chance to make a statement on opening day. She's -2 over her last 11 holes, -1 for the tournament, and has some opportunities to go even lower as she closes out the front. LET '09 money-list champion Sophie Gustafson is feeling it today, as well, with 4 birdies in her 1st 12 holes, she's also tied for the lead at -1 and has even more birdie opportunities ahead of her as she closes out her round on the front.

There's still a lot that can happen out there, good and bad. But early results suggest that hanging around par this week may not be as difficult as most people expected. Of course, playing in the afternoon heat is quite another story. But let's hold off on that one until the morning groups are in.

[Update 1 (12:32 pm): Beth Ann Baldry is live-tweeting this morning, following Creamer, Pettersen, and Stanford. Mhairi McKay posted the 1st even-par 71 of the day. She bogeyed 3 of her 1st 5 holes, but was bogey-free and -2 the rest of the way. Altomare ended up breaking 85, just barely.]

[Update 2 (12:37 pm): Gustafson now has 5 birdies on her day and is -2 with 5 to play. Pressel bogeyed that pesky 17th to fall back to +1.]

[Update 3 (12:41 pm): Lisa McCloskey, who got beat in the final round of the Women's Amateur Public Links recently, made a couple of doubles on the front but came back with 3 birdies; she's +1 after parring the tough 10th. Jennifer Song the WAPL and Women's Amateur national champion last season and now a new pro with a Futures Tour win already under her win in her 1st start, is -1 over her last 9 holes and +1 with 3 left to play on the back.]

[Update 4 (12:47 pm): Whoops, they just fixed Gustafson's scorecard--that was her 4th birdie of the day and she's actually -1 overall.]

[Update 5 (12:49 pm): My bad--it was her 5th birdie, but she bogeyed the short par-4 5th to fall back to -1.]

[Update 6 (12:55 pm): Karrie Webb is starting to get it going. She bogeyed 3 of her 1st 5 holes on the front, but is -1 over her last 8. No such luck for fellow Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak; she's got a birdie-less round going so far and is +5 with 5 to go.]

[Update 7 (12:57 pm): Arimura just bogeyed the shortest par 3 on the course to fall back to E. Creamer just bogeyed the longest to leave Gustafson alone under par.]

[Update 8 (1:03 pm): Feng's threesome is taking a long time on the short par-5 9th. Bit of a backup there for the rest of those who started on the back in the am. Feng parred it for her 83. Not bad for a 14-year-old!]

[Update 9 (1:05 pm): Stanford's slide continues--she's just made her 5th bogey on the front to drop back to +2. But the 9th is birdie-able, and she'll have plenty of time to collect herself.]

[Update 10 (1:06 pm): Oh, man! Pressel finished bogey-double for her 74.]

[Update 11 (1:08 pm): Shin couldn't birdie the 9th and had to settle for a disappointing 76. Miyazato did and fought back for a 73. Wie bogeyed it for an 82.]

[Update 12 (1:10 pm): Looking to see if In-Kyung Kim can finish strong on the front --she's +3 with 3 to play.]

[Update 13 (1:13 pm): Nice 72 for Seo, who's been playing terribly osince she won the Kia Classic. Great walkoff birdie on the 445-yard 18th for Yokomine, who posted the 2nd 71 of the day. She averaged 267 yards off the tee and hit 13 greens. Not bad!]

[Update 14 (1:14 pm): Mina Harigae just birdied the longest par 5 in Women's Open history to fight back to +1 through 12!]

[Update 15 (1:16 pm): Brittany Lincicome hit 15 greens and made 4 birdies, but had to settle for a 73, just like Miyazato, Maria Hjorth, and Sandra Gal.]

[Update 16 (1:17 pm): Well, all of Lincicome's birdies came in her last 5 holes, so let's say instead she fought back heroically for her 73!]

[Update 17 (1:19 pm): Gustafson just made her 5th bogey of the day to fall back to E. Typical roller-coaster round from her--never a dull moment! Just the long par 3 and short par 5 to go for her....]

[Update 18 (1:20 pm): Inky birdied the same hole Gustafson just bogeyed--the 392-yard par-4 7th--to claw back to +2.]

[Update 19 (1:21 pm): Creamer had a chance to break 70, but a bogey-bogey finish knocked her back to a 72. Wouldn't want to be the 1st person to talk to her after that finish.]

[Update 20 (1:24 pm): Pettersen and Stanford finished with matching 73s. Nobody's going to be happy in that threesome.]

[Update 21 (1:28 pm): Song-Hee Kim bogeyed the short par-4 14th and Chie Arimura bogeyed the long par-4 15th to fall back to +1 with 3 left to go.]

[Update 22 (1:31 pm): Amanda Blumenherst finished bogey-bogey for her 74. Playing partner Kristy McPherson also had trouble with the long par-4 18th and had to settle for a 72. Na Yeon Choi parred it to fight back to a 75.]

[Update 23 (1:39 pm): Arimura's slide worsens--she's bogeyed 3 of her last 4 holes to fall back to +2 overall. Michele Redman has birdied 2 of her last 3 to become the only player under par right now at -1 through 13. But she has some tough finishing holes still to play.]

[Update 24 (1:44 pm): Jennifer Song suffered a walkoff bogey for her 73, but she still beat defending U.S. Women's Open champion Eun-Hee Ji by 4 shots and defending Women's British Open Catriona Matthew by 7!]

[Update 25 (1:47 pm): So far in the morning pairings, slightly more people look like they'll fail to break 80 than are likely break 75. So, yeah, Oakmont is hard. I'll be back with the exact numbers later.]

[Update 26 (1:50 pm): Turning to the Rookie of the Year race, Azahara Munoz hung in there for her 75, which puts her only 1 shot behind Blumenherst after round 1. Mina Harigae has a great chance to make up some serious ground on them this week. She's +1 with the last 4 holes on the course left to play.]

[Update 27 (1:55 pm): Song-Hee Kim birdied 17 to fight back to E on her round! Wendy Ward hit 13 greens and averaged 257 yards off the tee on her way to an opening 72.]

[Update 28 (1:57 pm): Man, Gustafson couldn't make 9 her 6th birdie of the day, so had to settle for an adventurous 72!]

[Update 29 (2:00 pm): KLPGAer Jeong-Eun Lee would become the 1st player to post an under-par round of this tournament with a birdie on the 9th!]

[Update 30 (2:01 pm): 2 more 72s, from Shinobu Moromizato and Shi Hyun Ahn. BTW, T-Joh ended up tying the Big Wiesy at 82.]

[Update 31 (2:02 pm): Nice 74 by In-Kyung Kim. Paige Mackenzie matched her, tying Pressel and Blumenherst, as well.]

[Update 32 (2:05 pm): Neat battle for low Australian going on at the end of either side. Karrie Webb needs to par the tough 18th for a 73, while dual LPGA-JLPGA member Tamie Durdin needs to birdie the 9th for a 72.]

[Update 33 (2:14 pm): Song-Hee Kim ended up hitting 13 greens, but bogeyed the 18th for her 72.]

[Update 34 (2:16 pm): Chie Arimura ended up shooting a 39 on the back to settle for a 74. Still, it's looking like many more players will break 75 than fail to break 80 in the morning.]

[Update 35 (2:17 pm): Karrie Webb made it a hat trick of bogeys on 18 and also ended up with a biding-her-time 74.]

[Update 36 (2:19 pm): Looks like the only international star to really lose it in the morning will be Mi-Jeong Jeon. She needs to birdie the 9th for an 85!]

[Update 37 (2:20 pm): If Karine Icher and Sarah Lee can finish strong, Jeon will be the last from the morning not to break 80, putting the total at 15 players.]

[Update 38 (2:22 pm): The injured Se Ri Pak ended up with a 77. Still waiting on Jeong-Eun Lee's results from the 9th!]

[Update 39 (2:23 pm): Redman doubled the long par-4 15th to drop back to +1. She's only hit 6 greens all day, so if she stays there over the difficult closing holes, I'll be amazed!]

[Update 40 (2:28 pm): Man, Lee bogeyed 9, too! Another 72.]

[Update 41 (2:29 pm): Durdin could only par it for a 73. Sarah Kemp would thus take low Australian of the morning with a par on the tough 18th.]

[Update 42 (2:37 pm): Nice 73 from sweet-swinging Chella Choi.]

[Update 43 (2:39 pm): Meanwhile, Mina Harigae needs to par the tough 18th to break 75. Those last few holes are going to be tough on a Sunday afternoon!]

[Update 44 (2:41 pm): Ouch! Shanshan Feng shot a great 34 on the back to start her week, but closed with a birdieless 42 on the front.]

[Update 45 (2:53 pm): Nice birdie on 9 gives Jeong Jang a respectable 73. Right now we have 2 71s, 9 72s, 11 73s, and 6 74s, with a few players still able to score in that range finishing out their rounds.]

[Update 46 (2:54 pm): Harigae won't be one of them. She bogeyed 18 for a 75.]

[Update 47 (2:59 pm): Former LET Rookie of the Year Louise Stahle hit 13 greens and shot a solid 73.]

[Update 48 (3:05 pm): Looks like if you're going to score on Oakmont, you have to take advantage of the last 6 holes on the front. Oh, and nice 73 from my pick for low amateur this week, Lisa McCloskey.]

[Update 49 (3:06 pm): Redman bogeyed 18 to become the 14th player to join the big group at 73.]

[Update 50 (3:07 pm): Amateur Danielle Kang became the 7th player to post a 74. Not bad!]

[Update 51 (3:10 pm): OK, with Allison Fouch the 8th to post a 74 and the KLPGA's So Yeon Ryu the last to post a score from the afternoon pairings, that's my cue to run some errands!]

No comments: