Friday, April 26, 2013

North Texas LPGA Shootout Friday: Caroline Masson Maintains Slim Lead after Late Collapse, but Inbee and Ya Ni Are Lurking

Caroline Masson got it to double digits under par early on her back 9 today at the North Texas LPGA Shootout, but bogeyed 3 of her last 4 holes to open the door for a slew of some of the most impressive gunslingers on the LPGA tour.

  • Carlota Ciganda, the LET's top money-winner last year, is only 1 shot back at -6, poised to take advantage of another chance to deny Masson a #1 spot.
  • World #1 Inbee Park went from 5 back to only 2 back in less than an hour.
  • Rookie of the Year race leader Moriya Jutanugarn fired a bogey-free 66 to join Park at -5.  (What idiot said she wasn't making enough birdies to maintain her lead in that race for much longer?  Oh, yeah, that was me!)
  • Picking up on yesterday's surprises, Kathleen Ekey fired a bogey-free 32 on the back to make it a threesome in 3rd!
  • Only 3 off the lead are Ya Ni Tseng, Shanshan Feng, Jessica Korda, Hee Young Park, and Brittany Lincicome.  'Nuff said.
  • 4 back?  Only Na Yeon Choi, So Yeon Ryu, Hee Kyung Seo, and Angela Stanford.  Yikes!
  • The biggest name among those 5 off the pace?  Suzann Pettersen.  The one I'm most excited about?  My old junior golf buddy Moira Dunn!
People further down the leaderboard will need special weekends to pass all 26 golfers ahead of them, but you should never put that past the likes of Ji-Yai Shin (-1), In-Kyung Kim (-1), Lizette Salas (-1), Haeji Kang (-1), Stacy Lewis (E), Paula Creamer (E), or even Michelle Wie (E) and Lexi Thompson (E).

So while we can point to little hiccups like Masson's today or Jutanugarn's at the end of her opening round (3 bogeys in a row) and tell the rookies "it's no big deal, there's plenty of time to recover from those mistakes, you're still right at the top of the leaderboard at the halfway point of the tournament," the music playing ominously in the background while we're saying this so reassuringly is the theme of Jaws.

Speaking of land sharks, even though the cut line fell at +3, saving 16-year-old Taylor Coleman, who fell back to earth after her opening 68, it was still a nasty predator.  My pick to win this week was its worst victim (from admittedly biased my perspective), as Ai Miyazato needed to birdie her last 2 holes in a row to make it to the weekend but couldn't do it on the par-5 18th.  Yep, the cut line was no respecter of persons, for it also took out veterans Juli Inkster, Sophie Gustafson, and Catriona Matthew by a single shot, along with Caroline Hedwall and Stacy Prammanasudh, among many others.  Other notables to miss the cut included Mika Miyazato, Amy Yang, Maria Hjorth, Laura Davies, Gerina Piller, Laura Diaz, and both Pressel sisters, along with young guns I've been following like Danielle Kang, Pornanong Phatlum, Mina Harigae, and Tiffany Joh.

Those who like cut lines get a bonus this week--there's a moving-day cut to the top 50 and ties tomorrow. That means we'll see a mad rush to get to E or better, which should make for some interesting drama at both ends of the leaderboard.

You all will have to fill me in on what happens, as I'll be celebrating imoto's 7th birthday tomorrow with grandma and grandpa from Clinton and baba from Chiba, not to mention the lovely Full Metal Archivist, and we'll be capping it off with an ice show in which onechan is playing Pinky from Pinky and the Brain and Animaniacs!  And then on Sunday, while the girls are at a birthday party, I'll be playing my 1st 9 holes of 2013!  w00t!!

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