Saturday, February 19, 2011

Honda LPGA Thailand Saturday: Tseng Plays Leapfrog with Kim and Wie, Creamer and Webb Lurk

After the 1st round of the Honda LPGA Thailand, it looked like In-Kyung Kim was going to run away and hide from the rest of the field after her record-tying 63. Yesterday, the tournament looked like it was shaping into a huge game of tag, as Kim's 73 opened the door to a host of golfers, including the charging Michelle Wie and lurking Ya Ni Tseng. Today, Tseng's walkoff eagle leapfrogged her into a 1-shot lead on Kim and Wie, a 2-shot lead on Paula Creamer, and a 3-shot lead on Karrie Webb. On a day when Na Yeon Choi plunged from the top of the leaderboard with a 77, Momoko Ueda and Maria Hjorth dropped out of contention with 75s, and other highly-ranked golfers blew up (Ji-Yai Shin and Brittany Lincicome had 76s, while Song-Hee Kim and Morgan Pressel had 77s), the leaders were fortunate their game of leapfrog didn't turn into Shoots and Ladders.

2nd-round leader Kim bogeyed 3 holes in a row early in her round, Tseng followed up a double on the par-4 2nd with a pair of consecutive birdies on 7 and 8 but ended up going back over par on the front with a bogey on 9, and Wie bogeyed 3 of her 1st 6 holes. It's not like Creamer started off much better--she went bogey-par-birdie-par-bogey-birdie in her 1st 6 holes. In fact, she was +1 through 13 before rattling off 3 birdies in a row to get to -7, where she stayed after pars on 17 and 18. But by then Tseng, Wie, and Kim had righted their ships, as well. Tseng has birdied 3 of her 1st 6 holes on the back to get to -9, Wie had birdied 3 holes between the 7th and 13th to get back to -6 (thanks to a bogey on 12), and Kim had managed to play even-par golf between the 6th and 14th holes to remain at -5. Then they exploded: Tseng's eagle offset back-to-back bogeys that had dropped her back into a tie with Creamer, Wie ended her round with back-to-back birdies to get to -8, and Kim joined her with birdies on 3 of her last 4 holes. They made Webb's great day--which had started with 3 birdies in her 1st 10 holes, seen her stay at -3 through 15, then finish bogey-birdie-birdie for a 68 that got her to -6--seem the slightest bit futile, as she went from 1 off the lead to 3 off the pace.

Still, with only 1 other player within 4 shots of the lead and 10 in all within 5, Webb has to feel pretty good about her chances of reminding her younger peers how she got into the Hall of Fame. If she can prevent Tseng from getting her 4th win in her 4th start of 2011, Wie from getting her 3rd career LPGA win, Kim her 4th, and Creamer her 10th, 2011 will become an even more interesting year in women's golf!

[Update 1 (10:06 am): Hound Dog points out that a quarter of the field is within 6 shots of the lead, so it's still anyone's tournament tomorrow.]

1 comment:

Mike said...

It sure seems that the final 5 or 6 holes determine the scores. Apparently the first and middle 6s cancel each other out in difficulty.

I thought Jules might do something magical when I last saw the scores Friday night. But all of the scores have me a bit mystified. I was hoping to figure out why when I watched the tape-delayed broadcast Friday.

The greens are admittedly tricky, but it looks like the wind might be the problem. Do they change direction a lot like the Hawaiian kona winds? If so, that might explain why Wie is doing better than expected this first week.