Sunday, December 5, 2010

LPGA Tour Championship Sunday: Not-Quite-Live-Blog and Open Thread

Ryan Ballengee reports that the greens at Grand Cypress have been slowed and softened and that we should expect lower scoring today than the previous 3 rounds of the LPGA Tour Championship. Not everyone's playing great--one of my faves, Mina Harigae, just completed a birdieless 39--but Sandra Gal provides 1 good example of the better scoring conditions. After 3-straight 37s on the front, Gal fired a bogey-free 34 today to fight back to +4 overall. Player of the Year race leader Ya Ni Tseng's 36 was her lowest of the tournament, as well, but she's basically a bystander today, as both Cristie Kerr and Na Yeon Choi have chances to take the title from her with a win. With the leaders teeing off any minute, I'll be following the action from snowy Dunkirk. Stay tuned and feel free to chime in with comments!

[Update 1 (11:38 am): Na Yeon Choi has already clinched the money-list title, but an amazing performance today can net her the Vare Trophy and the Player of the Year award, as well. Assuming Kerr finishes between -12 and +1 for the week, all Choi has to do is make sure that she finishes within 6 shots of her to take the Vare Trophy. And with Choi's birdie on the 3rd hole, she's now 6 shots behind leader Amy Yang. It's worth noting that NYC's gotten off to a fast start each round--let's see if she can keep this one going when everything's on the line!]

[Update 2 (11:45 am): Mika Miyazato just matched Gal's 34 on the front and birdied the 10th for good measure to fight back to +2 overall. Not long after I profiled Harigae and her at the LPGA Championship, Mikan's been on quite a tear. She's currently riding a 7-event top-25 streak on the LPGA (where she's gotten 3 top 5s and 4 of her 5 top 10s on the season) and playing even better on the JLPGA (going wire-to-wire at the Japan Women's Open for her 1st professional win and finishing T2 at the Ricoh Cup last week). Mikan and Gal now have the low rounds of the day going--both are -3 as they get deeper into the back.]

[Update 3 (11:49 am): Just like in the 1st round, Cristie Kerr bogeyed the par-4 1st. She's now only -2 for the tournament, 2 shots ahead of Choi when she needs to be 7 ahead at the end of the week and 4 behind leader Amy Yang. To give herself a shot at the Vare Trophy and Player of the Year award, then, right now she needs to get to -7 (assuming Choi and Yang stay where they are). Obviously, this is going to be a moving target all day. I'll update as changes occur.]

[Update 4 (11:51 am): Nice little moves by Morgan Pressel and In-Kyung Kim--Pressel is now -2 after eagling the par-5 2nd hole; Kim has birdied her 1st 2 holes to join her. Both are looking to turn very good seasons great, Pressel by adding an LPGA victory to her JLPGA major and Kim by closing out her LPGA campaign with 2-straight wins.]

[Update 5 (11:55 am): Maria Hjorth birdied the 1st hole for the 2nd-straight day to join Amy Yang at -6. Seon Hwa Lee remains 3 off the lead, alone in 3rd right now, after parring the 1st hole from 1 group ahead of the final Yang/Hjorth pairing.]

[Update 6 (11:57 am): Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak has birdied the 1st and 5th holes to climb to -1 for the week; were it not for her opening 41 (capped off by a triple bogey on the par-4 16th) on the back way back on Thursday, she'd probably be leading the Tour Championship!]

[Update 7 (11:58 am): Pressel just birdied the par-3 4th to join fellow '06er Lee at -3.]

[Update 8 (12:02 pm): Earlier in the day, Suzanne Pettersen birdied her 1st 2 holes but bogeyed the par-4 3rd to drop back to +2 for the week. She now has 11 holes left in which to mount some kind of charge.]

[Update 9 (12:04 pm): Tseng birdied the par-4 14th for the 2nd day in a row to get to -2 on her round and +4 overall.]

[Update 10 (12:06 pm): Song-Hee Kim followed up a birdie on the par-5 6th with a double on the par-4 7th to drop back to +1 on her round and +3 overall. It's not looking good in her last attempt to get that 1st LPGA win of her career this season.]

[Update 11 (12:07 pm): Now In-Kyung Kim birdied the 4th to join Lee and Pressel at -3. Way to go, Inky!]

[Update 12 (12:09 pm): Inky's playing partner Laura Diaz also birdied the par-3 4th. She's now E on her day and -2 overall and like Hjorth looking to win one for the moms on tour.]

[Update 13 (12:10 pm): Meanwhile, Kerr kept moving in the wrong direction with a bogey on the par-4 3rd. At -1, she's 5 off the lead and only 1-up on Choi.]

[Update 14 (12:11 pm): Pressel just bogeyed the 5th to fall back to -2, while Pak bogeyed the par-5 6th for the 2nd day in a row to fall back to -1.]

[Update 15 (12:15 pm): Angela Stanford just birdied the 5th and 7th to get to -2 on her day and E overall. Nice to be mentioning her name again!]

[Update 16 (12:16 pm): And check out the back-to-back birdies by Heather Bowie Young to get to -1 for the week thus far!]

[Update 17 (12:17 pm): A birdie on the par-5 15th gets Sandra Gal to -4 on her round and +2 overall. She's now got the low round of the day going all by her lonesome!]

[Update 18 (12:20 pm): Wonder if Yang and Hjorth are in danger of being put on the clock--it's been a while since their scorecards have been updated!]

[Update 19 (12:22 pm): Add Pettersen to the list of players shooting 34 on the front today. It's her best score of the week on that side, but she's never shot even an even-par 36 on the back. If she's going to make this Sunday memorable, she's going to have to end that trend today! She's +1 overall and 7 off the lead.]

[Update 20 (12:23 pm): OMG!!!! Yang just took a quad on the par-4 3rd. She's now only -2 overall!!!!]

[Update 21 (12:28 pm): We know who Golf Girl's rooting for today! Even with her bad start, Kerr still has a chance if Hjorth helps out the field. Inky bogeyed the 5th to drop to -2 and Pressel's now made it 2 bogeys in a row to drop to +1. Here's how the leaderboard looks right now:

Hjorth -6 through 3
Lee -3 through 4
Kim -2 through 5
Pressel and Young -1 through 6
Diaz -1 through 5
Kerr -1 through 4


[Update 22 (12:32 pm): You can follow Beth Ann Baldry, Ryan Ballengee, Ron Sirak, and the LPGA on twitter while I make lunch for my girls and take them to the rink for their badge tests at skating lessons!]

[Update 23 (2:38 pm): What a difference 2 hours make! Here's how the top of the leaderboard looks now:

Yang and Hjorth -4 through 13
Diaz -3 through 14
Choi -2 through 16
Kim and Kerr -2 through 14
Ilhee Lee -1 through 15
Pressel E through 14

More on how they got there in a sec!]

[Update 24 (2:46 pm): 1st, a quick note on how those not on that list did. Mika Miyazato doubled her last hole to settle for a 71 and a +4 finish that'll guarantee her her 8th-straight top 25 on the LPGA. Seon Hwa Lee bogeyed 6--count 'em, 6--holes in a row to drop to +3 overall and now sits at +2 after a birdie on the par-5 11th and 3 pars in a row. Angela Stanford bogeyed the 15th and 16th to fall back to E on her round and +2 overall. Suzanne Pettersen bogeyed 3 of her last 6 holes but birdied one of them to break her 3-round 73 run with a 72 and ended up tied with Sandra Gal at +3. After starting -2 over her 1st 5 holes, Se Ri Pak has not made a birdie and gone +4 over the next 12 to drop back to +3 overall, as well. Heather Bowie Young followed up her bogey-free 34 on the front with 2 bogeys and a double over her 1st 6 holes to join Pak and the gang still on the course at +3. Oh, and Mina Harigae matched her birdieless 39 on the front with another on the back to finish with a 78. So much for easier scoring conditions today, eh?]

[Update 25 (2:49 pm): OK, let's start with Amy Yang, who amazingly still has a chance to make her 1st LPGA a wire-to-wire affairs, even after she followed up her early quad with a bogey on the 5th. Once again, she's mounting a great comeback on the back, with birdies on 10, 11, and 13!]

[Update 26 (2:51 pm): Things haven't gone so well for Maria Hjorth, who bogeyed the 12th and 13th to fall back into a tie for the lead with Yang. Both parred the 14th and are playing the par-5 15th, which neither have birdied yet this week.]

[Update 27 (2:52 pm): Laura Diaz had fallen back to E with a pair of bogeys lates on the back, but birdied 10, 11, and 14 to pull within 1 of the lead. Unfortunately for her, she just bogeyed the 15th for the 2nd day in a row.]

[Update 28 (2:53 pm): In-Kyung Kim bogeyed the par-5 11th, a hole she had birdied each of the 3 previous rounds, to drop back to -1, but a birdie on the 14th keeps her within 2 shots of the lead.]

[Update 29 (2:55 pm): Cristie Kerr birdied the par-5 6th and 11th holes, but made her 3rd bogey of the day on the par-4 9th to join Kim and Diaz at -2.]

[Update 30 (2:56 pm): Na Yeon Choi made 4 birdies between the 8th and 14th holes, but bogeys on 15 and 17 have dropped her back to -1. She needs to birdie 18 and get a lot of help from everyone else if she wants to sweep the season-ending awards!]

[Update 31 (2:57 pm): Morgan Pressel had erased her great start with 3 bogeys in her last 5 holes on the back, then more than erased her birdie on 10 with bogeys on 14 and 15 to drop back to +1 overall.]

[Update 32 (2:59 pm): IlHee Lee mixed 3 birdies and 3 bogeys on the front, but made 2 birdies in a row on 14 and 15 to briefly get into the mix at -1. So of course she just tripled the par-4 16th to drop out of contention just as quickly.]

[Update 33 (3:01 pm): Choi couldn't birdie 18, so her chances of winning are pretty slim. But it's pretty clear that Kerr isn't going to beat her by 7 shots this week, so despite her disappointing finish to today's round, she'll soon become the 3rd Korean (after Se Ri Pak and Grace Park) to win the Vare Trophy. Way to go, NYC!]

[Update 34 (3:04 pm): Nice to see rookie Mariajo Uribe nab a top 10 with a fine 71 today.]

[Update 35 (3:05 pm): Hjorth birdied 15 for the 1st time to take a 1-shot lead on Yang! Diaz and Kim are 3 back with 2 to play now.]

[Update 36 (3:06 pm): Kerr is 3 back with 3 to play.]

[Update 37 (3:13 pm): Beatriz Recari made 5 birdies today, but a double on the 16th meant that she'd finish at +2, tied with Stanford, Uribe, and Ilhee Lee. Still, a top 10 is a top 10!]

[Update 38 (3:15 pm): Diaz and Kim are 3 back with 1 to go and Kerr with 2 to go. Looks like they'll need help from Hjorth and Yang to have a shot at a playoff.]

[Update 39 (3:17 pm): Seon Hwa Lee's bogey on 16 makes me sad as a fan, but happy as a participant in Seoul's PakPicker competition. She brings 3 of my picks into the top 12 if she doesn't make a birdie the rest of the way in.]

[Update 40 (3:21 pm): Hjorth and Yang both parred 16.]

[Update 41 (3:24 pm): Like Mikan before her, Pressel doubled 18 and ended up doing 1 stroke better than her, but her +3 still gets me points in the PakPicker.]

[Update 42 (3:25 pm): Oh, and it's ok for Lee to birdie 18 now. Go for it, Stone Buddha!]

[Update 43 (3:26 pm): Kerr couldn't birdie 17. She's 3 back with the 18th left to play, still tied with Diaz and Kim.]

[Update 44 (3:32 pm): Ouch! Yang bogeyed the par-3 17th to drop to -3.]

[Update 45 (3:33 pm): With her par, Hjorth takes a 2-shot lead into the final hole!]

[Update 46 (3:36 pm): Walkoff bogey drops Diaz to -1 overall, thanks to a 73 today. Kim's par gives her her 2nd-straight 70 after opening with a pair of 73s. It's her 10th finish of 8th or better in her last 13 starts. I'd say she's ready to defend her title in Dubai next week, wouldn't you?]

[Update 47 (3:41 pm): And how about Choi's end to the season? After missing her 1st LPGA cut ever midway through the season, she's finished 9th or better in 11 of her last 13 starts and hasn't finished outside the top 20 during that entire run. 2 golds, 3 silvers, and 2 bronzes, along with 2 other top 5s, show how close she came to an absolutely dominating 2nd half of the season.]

[Update 48 (3:45 pm): Kerr's par ties her with Inky at -2 in 3rd. That means she's gotten 2 golds, a silver, 2 bronzes, and 3 other top 5s as part of a run where she finished 8th or better in 10 of her last 15 starts.]

[Update 49 (3:46 pm): Ouch, Seon Hwa Lee bogeyed 18 for good measure to end up tied at +4 with Mika Miyazato, Christina Kim, and Heather Bowie Young for T17.]

[Update 50 (3:49 pm): Wow, Yang birdied 18 but Hjorth parred it for her 4th LPGA win and 1st since 2007!]

[Update 51 (3:52 pm): Here's how the leaders ended up:

1st/-5 Maria Hjorth (72-68-71-72)
2nd/-4 Amy Yang (67-70-73-74)
T3/-2 In-Kyung Kim (73-73-70-70), Cristie Kerr (71-71-71-73)
T5/-1 Na Yeon Choi (73-71-73-70), Laura Diaz (74-71-69-73)

They were the only players to finish under par all week.]

[Update 52 (3:57 pm): And here's how the season-long races ended:

Player of the Year: Ya Ni Tseng
Vare Trophy and money-list title: Na Yeon Choi
Rookie of the Year: Azahara Munoz
#1 in Rolex Rankings: Ji-Yai Shin [?]

I put a [?] in the last one because there's still the LET's Dubai event to be played and even if nobody at the very top of the rankings joins In-Kyung Kim, Laura Davies, Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, and the rest of the gang over there, the points differential could be small enough among them that they exchange places before the year is out.]

[Update 53 (6:00 pm): Here are Hound Dog, Brent Kelley, Ryan Ballengee, bangkokbobby, and Stephanie Wei on today's results from the LPGA!]

[Update 54 (7:03 pm): And here's Randall Mell.]

[Update 55 (8:14 pm): Here's's notes and interviews. They're aware their stats pages are screwed up and are working on fixing them.]

[Update 56 (10:10 pm): Here's Annika's congratulatory tweet to Ya Ni!]

[Update 57 (10:37 pm): Here's Hound Dog's epilogue.]

[Update 58 (11:14 pm): Here's bangkokbobby's take on the Hjorth-Yang duel.]

[Update 59 (12/8/10, 8:35 pm): Jason Sobel gives Ya Ni Tseng some serious props, suggesting she should be one of the frontrunners for a Global Golfer of the Year award. And he doesn't even mention that she won on the LET!]

1 comment:

courtgolf said...

so much for lower scores thanks to slower greens. There is very little difficult about the greens at Grand Cypress, no matter what speed - especially when most of the holes were cut dead in the middle of the green. All that whining about the greens comes across as a lot of excuse making and sour grapes.

It was cold and uncomfortable - nobody was expecting them to shoot 20 under under those conditions. Stop blaming the course - especially THAT course.