I would love to be able to say "I told you so" about Mika Miyazato's bogey-free 65 and Chie Arimura's 7-birdie 67 in the opening round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, but I didn't have time to write up my observations of both players from the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Take my word for it, though, these rounds were definitely coming. There's a reason I picked Mikan and Arimura to finish 2nd and 9th this week, respectively: both have been playing much better golf in the last month than the beginning of the season, both have started making birdies in bunches again, and both have been becoming used to hanging around the top of the leaderboard again. We'll see if they can avoid the kind of blow-ups over this weekend that have knocked them out of contention or prevented them from winning when they were in the hunt recently, but it's official: their games are heating up just in time for summer.
I wish the same could be said for the golfer I picked to repeat as the winner this week, Ai Miyazato. Inexplicably, she bogeyed 3 holes in a row early on the back 9 to start off her day; her 38 on the back was 7 shots worse than Mikan's and Arimura's performances and she bounced back weakly with only 2 birdies all day. At +2, she's in danger of missing the cut. I'd like to say that's shocking, but even as she's shown flashes of brilliance all season, she hasn't yet been able to reliably extend or sustain them and her greens in regulation rate has been declining fast. Where Arimura hit 17 greens yesterday and Mikan 16, Ai-sama hit only 13. That's going to have to improve if she wants to score like she did in the 3rd round of the LPGA Championship, which was not just her 2nd-lowest round of the season but may well be her best (I'd rate a 66 at Locust Hill better than a 63 at the RR Donnelley, given the difficulty of the former set-up and conditions and occasion).
I know there's lots more to talk about: So Yeon Ryu and Angela Stanford in the hunt with opening 66s, local favorite Stacy Lewis only 2 shots off the pace, along with Suzann Pettersen, Azahara Munoz, Beatriz Recari, Mina Harigae, and Danielle Kang, Ya Ni Tseng, Morgan Pressel, and Momoko Ueda impressing with opening 68s (tying players you'd expect to shoot such numbers like Ji-Yai Shin and Paula Creamer), young guns Lydia Ko, Moriya Jutanugarn, Carlota Ciganda, Pornanong Phatlum, and Jennifer Song starting with solid 69s (matching world #1 Inbee Park), Michelle Wie disappointing with an opening 75 and Hee Kyung Seo with a 77, and Cristie Kerr withdrawing. But it's late, we're heading into NYC tomorrow early, and we stayed out in Fort Lee so long this evening that I entirely missed Golf Channel's coverage. Hopefully we'll get to Connecticut in time for me to catch some of today's round!