Friday, June 7, 2013

Wegmans LPGA Championship Friday: Chella Choi Leads Ji-Yai Shin and Morgan Pressel by 1

I can't tell you how impressed I was by Morgan Pressel's 68, Brittany Lincicome's 69, and Se Ri Pak's and Jessica Korda's 70s this morning in the long-delayed 1st round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship, so you may be able to imagine how shocked I was that Chella Choi surpassed Pressel by a shot and Ji-Yai Shin tied her from the afternoon wave.  To tell you the truth, I was expecting -1 to be the best anyone would be able to manage on a soaked and nasty Locust Hill today.  Instead, Laura Davies, Angela Stanford, Che Arimura, Amy Yang, Catriona Matthew, Anna Nordqvist, Lexi Thompson, Ilhee Lee, and M.J. Hur find themselves 4 off the pace after shooting what would normally be considered fantastic 71s.  Sure, I figured something on the order of 25 golfers would finish at par or better (it was actually 23)--and today the likes of Inbee Park, Na Yeon Choi, Ya Ni Tseng, and Suzann Pettersen hit that number on the dot--but I never expected anyone to break 70.

Why am I so amazed by the 4 who did so and the 15 who got under par today?  Just consider the damage some of the world's best female golfers--or at least big names who have been playing well of late--sustained today:

80 Hee-Won Han (who just WDed), Amanda Blumenherst
79 Azahara Munoz, Sandra Gal, Gerina Piller
78 Karine Icher, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Jenny Shin
77 Mika Miyazato, Lydia Ko, Caroline Hedwall, Mo Martin
76 Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer, So Yeon Ryu, Melissa Reid, Guilia Sergas
75 Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park, Jennifer Johnson, Lizette Salas
74 Stacy Lewis, Ai Miyazato, Shanshan Feng, Hee Kyung Seo, Beatriz Recari, Moriya Jutanugarn
73 Haeji Kang, Nicole Castrale

To be sure, it could have gone either way for a lot of the players I've mentioned already.  Ya Ni Tseng recorded her 1st-ever LPGA hole in 1; Stacy Lewis doubled 2 holes and birdied 2 holes; Cristie Kerr was E through 10 but bogeyed 3 in a row, then played bogey-free the rest of the front (her back); Inbee Park doubled 18 to fall back to E, while Suzann Pettersen birdied 2 of her last 3 holes to get there; Morgan Pressel birdied 4 in a row to close out her round, while Amy Yang followed up a 10th-hole par with 4 birdies in a row to kick off her round.  And the list goes on.

In any case, that's just the golfers you might have expected to do better than that today.  If Locust Hill was that evil to them, what was it like, you might wonder, for those who hadn't been playing well?  Yes, a good number of them played well beyond expectations today (MP, BL, SRP, LD, AY, MJH, to initial a few).  But   when 20 players failed to break 80 today, you know conditions were brutal.

That just underscores that the bottom line today for today was just surviving.  It's not expected that a whole lot of rain (if any) will fall the rest of the tournament, so course conditions should improve markedly the next two (or more) days.  Assuming Locust Hill remains pretty evil tomorrow, despite that, the cut line will be +5 or (much) higher, while it's very easy for all 4 players who broke 70 today to come back to the field.  Frankly, I think anyone at E through 54 holes will have a chance to win this thing.

I wasn't able to go up to Pittsford today (took imoto with other parent-chaperones to the Niagara Aquarium) and won't be able to go tomorrow (we're helping out a friend whose husband passed away unexpectedly by taking her youngest out to the movies), but the entire Constructivist family will descend on Locust Hill on Sunday.  So for now, enjoy the major-quality notes and interviews from and let me know in comments what you saw on Golf Channel!

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