Saturday, September 11, 2010

P&G NW Arkansas Championship Friday: Pressel Takes the Lead with a 66

Pinnacle Country Club was soft and lift, clean, and place rules were in place for the 1st round of the 1st round of the P&G NW Arkansas Championship, which might help explain that except for precision players Morgan Pressel (66), Gloria Park (67), and Janice Moodie (68), most of the rest of the top of the leaderboard was dominated by bombers--Ya Ni Tseng (67), Suzann Pettersen (68), Michelle Wie (68), and Jee Young Lee--or by straight shooters--Na Yeon Choi and Danielle Downey.

What is probably much more surprising is how nobody went super-low. Pressel hit 15 greens but had 30 putts. Moodie suffered a late triple to turn a great round into a good one. Choi was -5 with 5 to play but could only manage 4 pars and a bogey down the stretch on the front. Diana D'Alessio had a bogey-free 33 on the front but made 3 bogeys and only 2 birdies coming home. What's more, even though 62 players shot par or better, there were some surprisingly prominent high scores: 76s by Brittany Lang, Vicky Hurst, and Cindy LaCrosse, 75s by Karrie Webb, Mi Hyun Kim, and Amanda Blumenherst, 74s by In-Kyung Kim, Katherine Hull, and Mina Harigae, and 73s by Jeong Jang, Catriona Matthew, and Natalie Gulbis. Even players who have found magic here before had varying degrees of trouble yesterday: Jane Park shot a 73, Seon Hwa Lee a 72, Ji-Yai Shin a 71. When they're joined by Cristie Kerr (72) and Ai Miyazato (71), you know that Pinnacle is no pushover.

Which means that those who can break 70 for the 2nd-straight day today will have a huge advantage on those who failed to do it yesterday. But also that anyone who does go super-low on at least 1 round over the weekend will likely make up a lot of ground on a lot of people. Should be interesting!

[Update 1 (9/12/10, 12:38 am): Here's Hound Dog's 1st-round overview.]

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