Friday, February 10, 2012

ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open Thursday and Friday: So Yeon Ryu Keeps Right on Rolling

Royal Melbourne has been the big winner over the 1st 2 rounds of the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in the LPGA's 2012 debut.  Sure, my pick for Rookie of the Year, So Yeon Ryu, got it to -7 through 33 holes, breakout '09er Stacy Lewis outdid her by getting to -7 through 31 holes, last year's ROY Hee Kyung Seo made 7 birdies on the back 9 today, Jessica Korda has been bombing her way around the course with 7 birdies and and eagle in 36 holes, resurgent '06er Julieta Granada outdid her with 8 birdies and an eagle in the same span, and LET star Melissa Reid has been averaging a birdie every 4 holes.  But for all their fireworks, the top of the leaderboard looks like this at the halfway point of the tournament:

1st/-6 Ryu (71-69)
2nd/-5 Seo (75-66)
T3/-4 Korda (72-70), Reid (71-71), Granada (70-72), Lewis (69-73)

What happened?  Ryu went +1 over her last 3 holes, Lewis closed out today's round with a roller-coaster triple bogey-bogey-bogey-eagle-par finish, Granada has made 7 bogeys thus far this week, and Reid and Korda have made 5.  The only one among the leader to really keep her mistakes to a minimum today was Seo, as she made 3 more birdies on the front (her back) to help her offset her 2 bogeys on the day.  But yesterday was a different story, as she suffered through a birdie-less round with 4 bogeys that were partially offset by a lone (and quite welcome) eagle on the par-5 8th.

If the golfers playing really well had all this misfortune, what about the rest of the field?  #1 of everything Ya Ni Tseng got off to a good start, as Ruthless Mike noted, but after going -5 over her 1st 21 holes, the wheels came off late on the front today, as she went bogey-par-quad-bogey-bogey to close out the front.  Yes, she bounced back with a bogey-free 35 on the back to claw her way back to E, but she's got a lot of ground to make up on the weekend.  As does the player many of us would be dominating the LPGA by now, Ji-Yai Shin, who's offset her 7 birdies with 5 bogeys and a double, along with the Blonde Bomber Brittany Lincicome (averaging close to 320 yards off the tee today!!), who's offset her 8 birdies with 2 doubles in a row on the par-3 5th and 3 other bogeys, not to mention the player who denied Shin her best chance for an LPGA win in 2011, Sandra Gal, who was -5 through 22 holes, but made 3 bogeys and a double in a 10-hole stretch and needed a late birdie to join Lincicome and veteran Lorie Kane at -1.  Here's how the next tier of players looks:

T7/-1 Kane (72-73), Gal (71-74), Lincicome (70-75)
T10/E Katie Futcher (74-72), Cydney Clanton (74-72), Shin (72-74), Nikki Campbel (72-74), Jenny Shin (72-74), Sophie Giquel-Bettan (72-74), Tseng (70-76)

9 players under par and 16 at par or better is no great shakes, but the true measure of how tough Royal Melbourne has been playing is the number of notable golfers (well) over par.  Here's a sampling:

+1 Sandra Changkija, Victoria Tanco
+2 Lexi Thompson, Ha-Neul Kim, Gwladys Nocera, Beatriz Recari, Jennifer Johnson
+3 Angela Stanford, Lee-Anne Pace, Belen Mozo
+4 Karrie Webb, Morgan Pressel, Caroline Hedwall, Mina Harigae, Lydia Ko
+5 Suzann Pettersen, Azahara Munoz, Brittany Lang, Eun-Hee Ji, Ryann O'Toole, Kristy McPherson, Danielle Kang, Cindy LaCrosse
+6 Amanda Blumenherst, Tiffany Joh, Kyeong Bae, Jodi Ewart
+7 Cristie Kerr, Hee-Won Han, Anna Nordqvist, Katherine Hull, Guilia Sergas, Lindsey Wright, Jennifer Song, Ashleigh Simon, Chella Choi

MC: Sun Young Yoo, Diana Luna, Kristie Smith, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Harukyo Nomura, Inbee Park, Na On Min, Haeji Kang, Hannah Yun, Jane Rah, Sophie Gustafson, Christel Boeljon, Marianne Skarpnord, Junthima Gulyanamitta, Hee Young Park, Christina Kim, Jane Park, Karine Icher, Frances Bondad, Song-Hee Kim, Candie Kung, Laura Diaz, Tamie Durdin, Pernilla Lindberg, Laura Davies, Minea Blomqvist, Kathleen Ekey, Sydnee Michaels, Cathryn Bristow, Vicky Hurst, Irene Cho, Linda Wessberg, Pornanong Phatlum, Stephanie Kono

Given all this, and how roller-coastery a ride it's been even for those playing well, who knows what we'll be seeing this weekend?  Me, I have a beef with my DVR, as it failed to tape the 1st round for me.  Given that I'll be too busy at work to catch the 2nd round for a long while and I'll be at my girls' Japanese School while the 3rd round is being shown on Golf Channel Saturday morning, don't be surprised if I'm not back here until Sunday afternoon!

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