Friday, December 3, 2010

LPGA Tour Championship Friday: Amy Yang Takes 3-Shot Lead into the Weekend

As Hound Dog already noted, Grand Cypress remained resistant to scoring in the 2nd round of the LPGA Tour Championship. Sure, Maria Hjorth got hot with 5 birdies in a 7-hole stretch as she made the turn, but all she posted was a 68 that brought her into a tie with Seon Hwa Lee at -4, 3 shots behind leader Amy Yang, who needed a fine bogey-free 32 on the back to recover from a 3-bogey 38 on the front. The only player with a real chance to go lower than Hjorth today, Kyeong Bae, is -3 on her round, but will have to play the 15th through 18th holes starting at 7 am tomorrow, so it'll be a challenge for her to even match the 69s put up by Morgan Pressel and Se Ri Pak.

Other than that, it was the kind of day where keeping pace with Yang's 70 meant you leapfrogged a lot of players, as Katherine Hull, Il-Hee Lee, Mika Miyazato, and M.J. Hur did, and perhaps a handful of golfers who haven't yet completed their rounds will do. Heck, even shooting an even-par 72 was an accomplishment today. Unlike her countryman Ryo Ishikawa, who bounced back from an opening 76 in the JGTO's season-ending event with an amazing 62 today to put himself right back in contention for the win and money-list title, Ai Miyazato needed 4 birdies just to get back to even par for the day and +8 for the tournament. Too little, too late, thanks for trying, have a great off-season--right? Well, thanks to horrific rounds by the likes of Ji-Yai Shin, Paula Creamer, and Mi Hyun Kim, Ai-sama, along with the defending champion Anna Nordqvist, will apparently live to play another day (at least), as they're all tied for 66th place right now and it looks unlikely that they'll be bumped past the 70th spot when 2nd-round play is completed tomorrow morning.

That's only 5 shots outside where the top 30 golfers and ties stand after 2 rounds, but how high will the next cut line be after 3? And who's to say all those currently under par won't put up at least 1 high number on the weekend, like seemingly everyone else has been doing already this week? With Na Yeon Choi hanging tough at E through 36 holes--despite double bogeying the par-4 13th for the 2nd day in a row and offsetting her eagle on the par-5 11th, her 2nd hole today--and having to worry about holding off Cristie Kerr, who's put up 2-straight solid 71s thus far, in the race for the Vare Trophy, and Ya Ni Tseng going +3 over her last 11 holes to drop to +4 overall, there's always the chance Shin or Miyazato could go incredibly low over the weekend and put themselves back in contention for the win and perhaps even the vindication of my predictions.

Hey, it's golf--anything can happen, right?

[Update 1 (11:33 pm): Nice of Louise Friberg to give playing partner Juli Inkster props for her hole-in-1 on the 12th!]

[Update 2 (11:54 pm): Oh, yeesh, the AP is claiming Yang hasn't won since she was 16. News flash, y'all--she's won twice on the LET since then!]

[Update 3 (12/4/10, 12:06 am): Here are's notes and interviews from day 2.]

[Update 4 (4:58 pm): Here's Hound Dog's update on the race for the card after the completion of the 2nd round.]

[Update 5 (7:05 pm): Here's bangkokbobby on the 2nd round.]

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