Friday, October 8, 2010

Navistar Classic Friday: Jet Lag? What Jet Lag? Mika Miyazato and Na Yeon Choi Catch Cristie Kerr at -12

Cristie Kerr played another really good round of golf on day 2 of the Navistar Classic, making 4 birdies in a row to close out the back (her front), going 31 holes before making her 1st bogey of the week on the par-5 5th, and then bouncing back with a birdie on the par-3 7th to return to -12. But fresh from her 1st professional victory at the Japan Women's Open last week, Mika Miyazato went on a 5-hole birdie run on the front and a 4-hole encore on the back to match the tournament record of 63 held by Stacy Prammanasudh, Amy Hung, Maria Hjorth, and Ya Ni Tseng. In the process, she matched her 72-hole total at the JWO, extended her own bogey-free run to 30 holes and counting, and caught Kerr at -12. But just to show that Mikan isn't the only golfer who can overcome jet lag, Na Yeon Choi, who tied for 5th at the JWO, closed with a 30 to finish off a bogey-free 34 that also got her to -12. Her own bogey-free run stands at 21 holes and counting. Plus she's averaging 265 yards off the tee!

Another member of the frequent flyer club, Eun-Hee Ji, who got a top 10 at the JWO, is also in the hunt in Prattville. She rode a 17-hole bogey-free streak all the way to -9, right behind Brittany Lincicome at -11 and Amy Yang at -10. Yang, by the way, has made 11 birdies in her last 32 holes of bogey-free golf and has hit all but 2 greens in regulation thus far this week.

Meanwhile, Katherine Hull, who almost chased down Ya Ni Tseng at the Women's British Open, is riding a 28-hole bogey-free run, has hit only 1 fewer green in regulation than Yang, and has joined Ji at -9. In addition, the LPGA's '09 long-drive champion, Vicky Hurst, is averaging close to 300 yards off the tee and would be doing even better than Hull and Ji if she hasn't followed up her eagle on the par-4 14th with a double bogey on the par-5 17th. And Guilia Sergas fought right back to -9 with 3 birdies in her last 6 holes after she went double bogey-bogey on the par-3 2nd and par-4 3rd.

Yet another JWO top 10er, Hee Young Park, would be right with them but for a walkoff bogey on the 18th hole today. As it stands, she's T10 with Se Ri Pak, Anna Nordqvist, Haeji Kang, Irene Cho, and Allison Fouch. It seems to be world #1 Ai Miyazato who's suffering the most from jet lag (and illness)--she's "only" -5 after her 69 today, tied with with Morgan Pressel and Dorothy Delasin, who moved backwards in a big way thanks to their 73s.

In the midst of all these fireworks, matching 69-68 starts by 15-year-old Lexi Thompson (averaging 295 yards off the tee) and veterans Sherri Steinhauer (almost 234 yards) and Laura Diaz (238 yards, but she owns the longest bogey-free streak of the week at 36 holes and counting) were virtually overshadowed. A 65 by Karine Icher (with a 30-hole bogey-free streak and counting) and a 66 by Brittany Lang (21 holes and counting)? Kind of ho-hum, actually.

The fact is, Lorena Ochoa's 72-hole tournament record of -18 is in serious danger. With the leaders going so low over the 1st 36 holes, everyone who barely made the cut--from In-Kyung Kim, Karen Stupples, Jane Park, Gwladys Nocera, and Mina Harigae at -2 to Lang, Natalie Gulbis, Jeong Jang, Seon Hwa Lee, and Azahara Munoz to Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford, Christina Kim, and Moira Dunn at -4--will be looking to break the tournament record and catapult themselves into the weekend mix. What do they have to lose? Everyone's got to put the pedal to the metal to get to double digits under par ASAP!

[Update 1 (8:20 pm): Here are the jet-lag twins (Mikan and NYC) on their rounds:

Lots of youtube clips from Prattville up there already and more coming!]

[Update 2 (10/9/10, 9:31 am): Hound Dog keeps track of those at the top--and those fighting to keep their cards.]

[Update 3 (9:39 am): Awesome notes and interviews over at Turns out Eun-Hee Ji got sick in Japan, just like Ai-sama.]

[Update 4 (10:36 am): Nice work by Tim Gayle!]

[Update 5 (10:50 am): Pretty awesome pairings for the 3rd round! Mikan/NYC in the last group, preceded by Cristie/Brittany (3rd day in a row for them). There's an Australia connection between Katherine Hull and Amy Yang, while Vicky Hurst and Hee Young Park can have long-drive contests all day. It's a study in contrasts, with Laura Diaz and Lexi Thompson paired together, as well as Brittany Lang and Jeong Jang. Spain's Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari get to play together, as do California's Jane Park and Mina Harigae.]


courtgolf said...

Fantastic round from Mika. A shot off setting a new course record ? Now we'll see if she can put back to back rounds together or if the old below average round follows the exceptional round.

It's a shame the greens are as chewed up as they are. Hardly any courses in this part of the south got off unscathed from this past summer.

The Constructivist said...

As a certain #1 would probably say, "They are what they are." Wait, Tiger always complains about greens, doesn't he?

Anyway, this is an interesting cast of characters at the top of the leaderboard. Mika was chasing Cristie in Rochester, Katherine Hull is used to chasing hot golfers from her pursuit of Ya Ni Tseng at Birkdale, Na Yeon Choi has been knocking on the door almost as often as Suzann Pettersen, Yang and V Hurst are due to break through, Eun-Hee Ji is looking for a comeback, Lincicome hasn't yet put 4 good rounds together in a row....