Saturday, April 30, 2011

Avnet LPGA Classic Friday: Sandra Gal Goes Low, Takes Lead

The 5 birdies in her last 8 holes by Sandra Gal live and en direct on Golf Channel must have gotten Stephanie Wei excited, as she beat the rest of us to posting on the 2nd round of the Avnet LPGA Classic! Let's hope for Gal's sake that making her 13th birdie of the week on the penultimate hole of her Friday round doesn't bode ill for her chances on the weekend. With Amy Yang 1 shot behind on the strength of her back-9 31 (which, because it was her 1st 9, we didn't get to see on tv!), Stacy Lewis, Song-Hee Kim, and Karen Stupples 2 back, Suzann Pettersen (who matched Yang's 31 on the back but got some good tv time because of her starting time), Se Ri Pak, Sarah Kemp, and Jenny Suh 3 back, and a total of 20 golfers within 5 shots of the lead heading into moving day today, Gal doesn't need any bad luck over her next 36 holes. Not with Na Yeon Choi, Christina Kim, Morgan Pressel, and Lexi Thompson (as well as Grace Park and Mi Hyun Kim) in the mix!

At least the leaders can breathe some small sighs of relief that world #1 Ya Ni Tseng's birdie barrage on the back 9--5 birdies in her last 6 holes--still left her a couple of shots on the wrong side of the cut line. And that Michelle Wie's 2 birdies in her last 4 holes on the front left her 1 shot away from making the cut. Others missing the cut include Ai Miyazato, who had trouble with her approach shots and short game this week, Vicky Hurst, who at least did 10 shots better on Friday than Thursday, and Mika Miyazato, whose 5th bogey of the day on the 17th hole was the one that finally kept her from playing golf this weekend. (Hey, at least the Miyazatos get to leave early for Japan and have some extra time to prepare for the Salonpas Cup next week!)

For the leaders to have golfers of this caliber safely in the rear-view mirror is important, because even a 10-shot lead at the Crossings Course can evaporate in virtually 1 cold 9 by the leader and 1 hot 9 by the chaser. So even though Jennifer Song, Hee Kyung Seo, and Mina Harigae are 10 back, Karrie Webb, Cristie Kerr, and Kristy McPherson are 9 back, Anna Nordqvist, Jee Young Lee, and Brittany Lang are 8 back, Angela Stanford, Laura Davies, and Hee Young Park are 7 back, and Paula Creamer, Katherine Hull, and Juli Inkster are 6 back, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them move within striking range of the lead today. It seems like Magnolia Grove is vulnerable to birdie runs from golfers who get hot with their irons and putters, particularly on the back. Stacy Lewis, Song-Hee Kim, and Na Yeon Choi seem to be the only golfers playing steadily and avoiding lots of bogeys thus far this week. If any of them can catch a ride on the birdie train at any time over the weekend, the rest of the field had better watch out!

[Update 1 (7:00 am): Hound Dog just finished his 2nd-round post, and he has details on who qualified for the Sybase in mid-May and much more worth reading. See's 2nd-round notes and interviews page for even more.]

No comments: