Lydia Ko and Meena Lee share the 1st-round lead at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic as Golf Channel coverage ended. Ko played with Stacy Lewis and Beatriz Recari and outplayed them both, sprinkling 6 birdies around her around while Lee started on the back 9, eagled the par-4 13th, and closed with 3 birdies in her last 7 holes to match Ko's 68. Both 2-time LPGA winners finished -5 on the par 73 Ocean Club course, putting them 1 shot ahead of Lewis, Brittany Lang, veteran Candie Kung, and newbies P.K. Kongkraphan and Austin Ernst, while Na Yeon Choi, veteran Becky Morgan, and newbie Mo Martin were 2 shots back.
It's a great mix of youngsters, players in the prime of their careers, and newbies leading the tournament from the morning wave, all scoring much better than I expected. The winds were down, but I give the players credit for starting the season sharp! And Golf Channel, as well. The funniest moment I've seen in their coverage in quite some time came after Lydia Ko's post-round interview, when they showed what happened right before it. Lydia's mom was fixing her shirt collar and she gave a kind of low-level "Aww, mom...!" look for just a second. Hilarious!
I'll have more later. Time for me to head to Albany and get back to work.
[Update 1 (11:25 pm): OK, made it to Albany and checked into the hotel with minimal drama (all self-inflicted stupidity). Done with work. Checking leaderboard. Here are a few observations:
"Not So Fast, Lydia!" Rookie Mi Rim Lee, my pick for #2 in the Class of '14, shot a bogey-free 69 in her 1st round as an LPGA member, sparked by 4 birdies in her last 7 holes. Jaye Marie Green, my #5 pick, fired a bogey-free 33 on the front (her back) to finish with a 71. Amy Anderson, my #4 pick, had it going early on but made back-to-back bogeys on the back (her front), then recovered, then doubled the 9th (her last hole) to settle for a 73. (She shouldn't feel too bad about it; Lexi Thompson also suffered a walkoff double on the very same hole.) Other rookies at E for the day included Line Vedel (my #8) and Megan Grehan (my #23). Not a bad start!
Welcome Back, Golfer! Great to see that Jennifer Song ('11er) made 4 birdies in her last 11 holes to post a 70, hitting every fairway and 16 greens. Sweet walkoff eagle by Pernilla Lindberg ('10er) to match Song's -3 start, too. Hopefully a sign of things to come this year for these much-heralded and much-struggling young prospects! Also nice to see unheralded '12er Thidapa Suwannapura bounce back from a double on 10 with an eagle on 18 and join them at -3. And unheralded '13er Paz Echeverria made 2 early and 2 late birdies to post a 70, too. (Plus, recently underachieving Brittany Lincicome opened with a 6-birdie 70.)
Mo' Mo', Please! No, this one isn't about Mo Martin, who continues to overachieve on the LPGA with a 6-birdie 70. I'm talking about more momentum for recent winners Pornanong Phatlum and Sandra Changkija, who both opened with 71s today.
Two You'd Expect, Two You Wouldn't. Hee Young Park and Jessica Korda opened with 69s, as did Amelia Lewis and Danah Bordner. Ain't golf grand? In all, 12 players broke 70 on the par-73 Ocean Club course.
Japan Watch. Ai Miyazato struggled coming home with a birdieless 39 on the front (her back) to fall to +2/T77, Harukyo Nomura also made 3 bogeys on the front (also her back) to drop back to E/T38, and Ayako Uehara made a walkoff birdie to post a 72/T24. The culprit for Ai-sama was her putter; despite hitting 17 greens, she took 37 putts!
Asian-American Watch. From Monday qualifier Jenny Suh at -2 to Michelle Wie at -1 to Tiffany Joh, Danielle Kang, and Hannah Jun at E to Vicky Hurst at +1, it was a solid start to 2014 for a group that doesn't get much attention as a group.
Well, that's all I have time for today. My hotel has Golf Channel, so maybe I'll catch a rerun of round 2....]
[Update 2 (1/24/13, 6:41 am): Ruthless Mike is impressed by Lydia Ko. To which I say, yeah, people were overreacting and concern trolling her last month, and she did have a great start to the season. But it is just 1 round. A very impressive round. But there are going to be, like, 90 more....]