Saturday, July 28, 2012

Evian Masters Friday: Stacy Lewis Gets to -12 Early, Then Stalls, Opening Door a Bit

Stacy Lewis started yesterday's round at the Evian Masters just as hot as she ended Thursday 's, with a birdie on the par-4 4th and an eagle on the par-5 7th to get to -12 for the week, but she cooled off after that, needing 2 birdies in her last 4 holes just to get back there.  Still, she holds onto a slim 1-shot lead over Ilhee Lee, who followed up yesterday's 66 with a bogey-free 67 yesterday.  Lewis has had a hot putter so far this week, but Lee has been incandescent, taking only 49 putts over her 1st 36 holes.  Only Julieta Granada, who put up a 65 today with only 20 putts, has taken as few strokes on the greens as Lee. 

But lots of golfers have their putters working for them in Evian, most notably Paula Creamer, who's only 3 shots off the lead on the strength of a 36 hole-and-counting bogey-free run in which she's gone 68-67 with only 55 putts, a particularly impressive number given that she's hit 28 greens in regulation.  Inbee Park, who shot the low round of the day, a bogey-free 64 with only 24 putts, joined her at -9; she's hit 23 greens so far and taken only 51 putts in all.  Mika Miyazato, one of the very few players in the field to be hitting the ball and putting as well as Lewis and Creamer thus far, is alone at -8 after a bogey-free 69 today; she's hit 29 greens and taken 57 putts.  Hee Young Park, who got it to -10 with 7 holes to play, responded with 4 bogeys in that stretch but got it back to -7 with a walkoff birdie; despite her hiccups, she's got the same GIR and putting stats as Mikan, even though she has hit fewer fairways.  Ditto for Beatriz Recari, who put up a 66 on Friday.  Teenage amateur Hyo-Joo Kim, meanwhile, also has her putter working for her, with 52 putts thus far, but she's hit only 26 greens in regulation, so joins the group at -7 for the week after a 68 yesterday (which, by the way, included an eagle on the par-5 9th!).  So Yeon Ryu, who matched Granada's Friday 65, has taken 60 putts with 29 greens in regulation, so she's another shot back at -6.  Ji-Yai Shin, who shot her 2nd-straight 69 in her 2nd tournament back after a long layoff due to hand surgery, has been hitting the ball as well as anyone (25 fairways, 31 greens in regulation), but has taken 61 putts.  Azahara Munoz, Meena Lee, and Natalie Gulbis have been hitting the ball a little worse than Ryu and Shin, but have putted a bit better, and they, too, are half a dozen shots off the pace.

Even those more than 6 shots back are still in this thing, given how many eagles are out there on the course.  Both Amy Yang and Cristie Kerr both finished birdie-eagle to climb to -4, tied with the likes of fellow eagler Hee Kyung Seo (hers came on the par-5 15th from the fairway with a little wedge), Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, Brittany Lang, and Cheyenne Woods.  Anna Nordqvist didn't get an eagle, but she did shoot a 67 to join Granada and a pair of Hall of Famers (Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak) at -5.  Brittany Lincicome and Christina Kim bounced back from opening 73s with fine 67s, as well.  Jessica Korda made an even more impressive comeback, improving 10 shots on Thursday's 77 yesterday.  So you're never quite out of it at Evian.  Me, I'm hoping defending champion Ai Miyazato can get her ball-striking to the level of her putting over the weekend, as she's hanging around at -3 with countrywoman Momoko Ueda, Kraft Nabisco Championship winner Sun Young Yoo, and KLPGA star Ha-Neul Kim, among others.

Correction:  you are out of it if you fail to make the cut.  And that's just what happened to Ya Ni Tseng, Angela Stanford, Vicky Hurst, Morgan Pressel, Tiffany Joh, Lexi Thompson, Melissa Reid, Candie Kung, Ryann O'Toole, and many others.  But I was glad to see promising young players like Mina Harigae, Jennifer Song, and Danielle Kang hang in there and live to play the weekend.

Moving day action has already started, so once again, I'll warn you not to click onto links for the players' scorecards if you do click on the link above, which takes you to the 2nd-round scoreboard only.  Golf Channel coverage starts at 1 pm today, so take a break this afternoon from the Olympics and see if Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer can continue to lead the way for Team USA!

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