Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jennifer Song Says, "Not So Fast, Ji-Yai!"

Or, to be more precise, Jennifer Song's clubs said words to that effect in the afternoon pairings in the 1st round of the ISPS HANDA Australian Women's Open. Just like Ji-Yai Shin did before her, Song posted a bogey-free 67, with 3 birdies on each side, down under today. And she even used Shin's playbook: keep the ball in the fairways, don't worry about distance, just hit greens and position each shot to maximize your birdie opportunities, and trust your putter to close the deal.

Sure, there were other good rounds (including 69s by Eun-Hee Ji and Becky Morgan, 70s by Ya Ni Tseng, Gwladys Nocera, Melissa Reid, and Guilia Sergas, and 71s by Laura Davies, Becky Brewerton, and Anja Monke), and plenty of players kept the leaders within sight with some solid golf (including just about all the ones you'd expect to be at or under par except for the ones I noted last night and a lot of Aussies and some Americans and LPGAers you may have been expecting or hoping for more out of), but to me the biggest story of the 1st round is the immediate impact Song has made. It's not every rookie who can go out and match the #1 player in the world on one of her better days. But this is some serious confirmation of my hunch that this year's Rookie of the Year race is likely to come down to Hee Kyung Seo and Jennifer Song. Now, if Tiffany Joh can keep playing well and improve her priority status early, she has the amateur and collegiate experience to maybe put herself in the mix, and there are others who could do so, as well, but that's for another post. Right now, I'm curious to see who builds on their 1st-round success or turns around a disappointing start in a big way tomorrow!

[Update 1 (12:54 pm): Some good observations and historical context by IceCat and Happy Fan over at Seoul's discussion thread.]

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