Hound Dog, bangkokbobby, and LPGA.com provide excellent overviews of the 1st round of the Avnet LPGA Classic, in which Grace Park and Song-Hee Kim jumped out to a 1-shot lead on Stacy Lewis and Karen Stupples and a 2-shot lead on Na Yeon Choi, Se Ri Pak, and Angela Oh on the strength of sizzling 67s.
The conditions were tough, with the course playing long, changing breezes affecting approach shots, and very hard greens making it difficult to get the ball close to the pin. You'd think that players who hit it longer and higher would have an advantage under such conditions, but with Vicky Hurst opening with an 81, Ya Ni Tseng and Kimberly Kim with 77s, Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie with 76s, and Jessica Korda with a 75, things were pretty much tough all over. That makes it even more exciting that Park played so great, despite having to pull out of the Wednesday pro-am to protect her back. And that Stupples was able to play such good golf despite her and her husband(/caddy) having to find last-minute day care for their son, who was sick. In fact, many near the top of the leaderboard were making comebacks of various kinds: Kim from a cold start to 2011, Angela Oh and Sarah Kemp from far more frigid ones, Stacy Prammanasudh and Christina Kim from what feels like years of uninspired golf, and Marcy Hart from maternity leave. The only golfers I expected to do well (and who actually exceeded my expectations) were Choi, Lewis, and Pak.
Golf Channel coverage started off with a bang: Jenny Suh's great hole-in-1, but it was disappointing that they couldn't shoot any footage of the groups starting on the back before the tv window opened up. They missed Park's great start and basically had to mumble over her name whenever they showed the leaderboard because they had no images to go with it. Still, I enjoyed watching things like Laura Davies's roller-coaster even-par round, Paula Creamer's comeback for a 71, Amanda Blumenherst's eagle putt from way off the 16th green, and even Wie's off-tempo swing which led to some really great and really awful shots.
Personally, I was sad to see that Ai Miyazato couldn't sustain her comeback on the back or Tiffany Joh hers on the front, that Mika Miyazato, Jee Young Lee, Brittany Lang, and Moira Dunn fell apart at the end of their respective rounds, that Jane Park never got anything going, and that it went even worse for Seon Hwa Lee, Mina Harigae, and Mariajo Uribe (imagine how bad her round would have been if she hadn't snuck that eagle in!). Here's hoping they turn it around today!