Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wegmans LPGA Championship Thursday Morning: Tseng and Creamer Set the Pace

Ya Ni Tseng opened the Wegmans LPGA Championship with 6 birdies in her 1st 11 holes at Locust Hill Country Club and held on despite some errant drives down the stretch to post a 66 and take a 1-shot lead on Paula Creamer, who fired a bogey-free 67 that included a 3-putt par on the par-5 17th. Among the mini-surprises at the top of the leaderboard are Meena Lee (bogey-free 68), Hee Young Park (4-birdie 69), and Ryann O'Toole (4 birdies in her last 6 holes for a 69)--Lee's been accurate off the tee this season and putting the lights out, but missed the cut at the year's 1st major; Park has been driving the ball great but not doing anything else all that well; and this is O'Toole's 1st major. Less unexpected was Morgan Pressel's bogey-free 69, but I don't think anyone would have predicted she'd do that on a day she hit only 7 of 14 fairways.

Although these players made Locust Hill look easy, it was anything but for the majority of the morning groups. Sure, Amy Yang, Mindy Kim, Katherine Hull, Eun-Hee Ji, M.J. Hur, and Azahara Munoz shot 70s, but Yang had to come back with a bogey-free 31 on the front (her back) to do it, Kim sprinkled 3 bogeys into her round despite hitting 15 greens, Hull needed an eagle on the par-5 17th to offset back-to-back bogeys earlier on the back, Ji only hit 6 fairways and 11 greens but scrambled like mad and limited her damage to only 2 bogeys as she made the turn on to the front, Hur hit 6 and 10 but made 6 birdies and 4 bogeys, and Munoz hit 14 greens but still managed both a bogey and a double. Only 4 other players went under par, but Hee-Won Han made a double and a bogey in her last 3 holes, Candie Kung bogeyed 3 of 4 holes as she made the turn onto the back, Jimin Kang broke a 16-hole bogey-free streak on (of all holes) the 17th, and Beatriz Recari had 26 putts after hitting only 7 fairways and 9 greens, but still made 3 bogeys. Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen, Michelle Wie, Christina Kim, and Yoo Kyeong Kim needed strong finishes to salvage 72s, Kristy McPherson and Jennifer Song had to scramble like crazy for theirs, Karen Stupples, Moira Dunn, and Amelia Lewis played 1-step forward, 1-step back all day, and Jee Young Lee collapsed with 3 bogeys in her last 5 holes on the front for hers while Kyeong Bae followed up a bogey-free 35 on the back with 2 bogeys and a double on the front.

If even those who scored well had to work for their numbers, how about those who didn't? Catriona Matthew, Inbee Park, and Julieta Granada have beeen playing well lately (although Park struggled recently in Japan), but had to hold on for 73s. Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, and Juli Inkster, who have also been playing well, could only manage 74s. Sandra Gal and Ai Miyazato hung in there for 75s that could have been worse. Seon Hwa Lee and Amanda Blumenherst stumbled out of the gates with 76s. Mina Harigae and Belen Mozo blew up with 77s. And stars on other tours Lindsey Wright (ALPG/78), Chie Arimura (JLPGA/78), and Gwladys Nocera (LET/80) got off to horrific starts.

It's raining and thundering here in Hamburg, so I'm wondering how the weather is for the afternoon groups in Pittsford. Looks like they might get another hour in before the storms sweep in....

[Update 1 (4:40 pm): I have to agree with Jeff Skinner's criticism of the Golf Channel's decision not to stick with the Wegmans during the Transitions weather delay. The paucity of actual golf they show in early rounds is a recurring theme, however; in fact, they had more cameras on the course than usual today. I haven't been bothered by the taped segments, because they allow time for scene-setting, context, and storytelling, all of which the tour needs. If it were spread out over a 5-hour show, it wouldn't be so annoying, I think. And if the announcers were better prepared to do some of this themselves as they're showing golf, they could shorten the segments to allow for more coverage of the competition itself.]

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