Friday, July 19, 2013

Marathon Classic Friday Afternoon: Can Anyone Pass Paula Creamer and Beatriz Recari?

With the LPGA near Toledo and the Constructivist family off soon to watch the Buffalo Bisons play against the Toledo Mud Hens and camp overnight in the stadium, I won't be able to finish this post on the afternoon wave at the Marathon Classic, but I can at least start it.  Beatriz Recari was the biggest story in the morning wave, as she went birdie-birdie-par-eagle-birdie on the back to post a 65 (without even birdieing either of Highland Meadows's 2 closing par 5s!) and catch Paula Creamer at -8.  With world #1 Inbee Park finishing birdie-birdie to close within 2 of them and defending champion So Yeon Ryu only 3 back, the leaders in the afternoon wave--Alison Walshe and Lexi Thompson, in particular--have their work cut out for them, but they also have a huge opportunity to pass the co-leaders and put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field.  Let's see if they can do it, or if someone from relatively back in the pack will make like Solheim Cup hopefuls Jennifer Johnson (66) and Michelle Wie (67)....

[Update 1 (2:32 pm):  Unknowns going in opposite directions.  Alison Walshe is -1 through 6 and 1 off the lead.  Jessica Shepley is +3 through 7 and -2 overall.]

[Update 2 (2:34 pm):  Gerina Piller and Lizette Salas pretty much have Solheim Cup Team USA spots sewn up (at least in my book).  But they still need to build some mo' heading into the actual event.  Piller is +1 through 3 and -3 overall, while Salas -2 through 5 and also -3 overall.]

[Update 3 (2:39 pm):  I've been writing as if Morgan Pressel's position on Team USA is assured, but she'll need to keep playing good golf (-1 today, -4 overall) to maintain her #2 spot in the Rolex Rankings among those not qualified by points or to catch Brittany Lang and beat out Gerina Piller for that last points spot.  She's peaking at the right time, with 5 top 26s in her last 6 starts and another shot at improving on her best finish in that run, T3 at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, this week.]

[Update 4 (2:49 pm):  Looks like win #6 at this event for Se Ri Pak isn't in the cards again this year.  She's bogeyed 3 of her 1st 5 holes today and is E for the week, closer to the projected cut line (+1/+2) than the lead....]

[Update 5 (2:53 pm):  Nice to see former Solheim Cupper Ryann O'Toole and rookie Jacqui Concolino playing well--both are -4 for the week off to solid starts today.]

[Update 6 (3:00 pm):  Amateur phenom Lydia Ko playing solid golf at -1 today; she's part of a big bottleneck at -3.]

[Update 7 (3:02 pm):  Right now Mitsuki Katahira is the only player in the field above the cut line (+4 with 9 holes left to play).  Chie Arimura and Ayako Uehara lead at -3, Mika Miyazato -1, Momoko Ueda E.  Let's see if they can get something going.  I want an excuse to drive to Toledo Sunday morning with the family!]

[Update 8 (3:25 pm):  Really surprised that Chella Choi has bogeyed 3 of her 1st 7 holes today to fall to -1 for the week.  She's been playing phenomenal golf this year and is so ready to win!]

[Update 9 (3:30 pm):  Speaking of surprises on the downside, Na Yeon Choi is in danger of missing only the 3rd cut of her LPGA career.  She's finished 131 of the 134 LPGA events she's entered as a member, the best finish rate among her peers in the classes of 2006 through 2012 (and by far the best in her generation).  She's E through 10 today and +1 overall.  Right not there are 71 players at +1 and 84 at +2.]

[Update 10 (3:36 pm):  Walshe (-6) and Thompson (-5) stuck in neutral, but at least they're hanging in there and staying near the top of the leaderboard.  Better than Cheyenne Woods in Spain or Jessica Shepley so far today (+4 and counting)....]

[Update 11 (4:06 pm):  Lydia Ko has birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to climb to -5, while Morgan Pressel birdied 16 and 17 to join her.  Concolino continues to impress--she's also at -5.]

[Update 12 (4:08 pm):  Walshe makes her 3rd birdie of the day, on the par-4 12th, to climb to within 1 of Creamer and Recari.]

[Update 13 (4:10 pm):  Ah, the life of an LPGA rookie.  Brooke Pancake fired bogey-free 34 on back and gave them all back with 3 straight bogeys to start the front.]

[Update 14 (7/20/13, 4:27 am):  Well, huge thunderstorms first delayed the game after the 7th inning and then struck right after the Bisons won it 2-1, so the fireworks, movie, and camp-out were postponed till August 16th, but it was quite a memorable night!  Biggest lightning display I've witnessed in over a decade!  It was a pretty memorable night for some surprises near the top of the leaderboard, as Alison Walshe shot a 69 and with her walkoff birdie ties Creamer and Recari for the halfway point lead, while rookies Jacqui Concolino and Chie Arimura climbed the leaderboard with a 68 that left the former in solo 4th and a 67 that tied the latter with Inbee Park in 5th (along with Lydia Ko, whose 67 was probably less of a surprise, although still the best round she's played against professionals in quite some time).  So with Lexi Thompson holding steady and joining So Yeon Ryu and Jodi Ewart Shadoff at -5, we have quite the top of the leaderboard after 36 holes!]

[Update 15 (4:37 am):  The cut line ended up at +2, which means that 72 players will be teeing it up later this morning!  NYC made it 132 of 135 starts that she's finished, Angela Stanford's closing heroics in the morning were not in vain, and Se Ri Pak and Laura Davies will be playing on the weekend, just to name a few who cut it close. Some neat pairings for those heading out to the course:  Pressel/Lang/O'Toole off 1 at 9:40, Miyazato/Uehara/Schreefel next, I.K. Kim/H.Y. Park/LaCrosse at 10:20, Yang/Thompson/Martin at 10:40, and the 3 leading threesomes going off after them.  None of the top contenders for the last spots on the U.S. Solheim Cup is paired together for moving day, but Wie gets to watch Pressel all day and Salas will be finishing on the back a little after Johnson does on the front.  Should be a very interesting round!]

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