Thursday, February 27, 2014

HSBC Women's Champions Thursday: Karrie Webb Takes Lead with Bogey-Free 66

Karrie Webb hit 16 greens in regulation and took only 28 putts as she cruised into the lead of the HSBC Women's Champions on the strength of a bogey-free 66.  With Paula Creamer and Caroline Hedwall only 1 back, Angela Stanford and Teresa Lu 2 behind, Azahara Munoz 3 shots off the pace, and 19 players in all under par after the close of the 1st round, Webb will have her work cut out for her over the next 54 holes.  Here are a few trends I noticed:

  • Drive for Show...:  Munoz was the only player in the field to hit at least 10 fairways and break 70 (she did so despite taking 32 putts), while Suzann Pettersen (11), Eun-Hee Ji (11), So Yeon Ryu (10), Brittany Lincicome (10), and Moriya Jutanugarn (10) were the only other players to go under par while doing so.  So why weren't they higher up the leaderboard?  A combination of bad putting and big numbers.  Same goes for bombers like Lexi Thompson (71) and Ya Ni Tseng (73), who drove the ball almost as accurately and just as long as, if not longer than, Lincicome and Pettersen, but couldn't go low.  Lydia Ko (73) hit 11 fairways, but couldn't do much with it, either....
  • ...Putt for Dough:  The players who broke 70 more or less struggled to find the fairway, but of them only Hedwall and Munoz took 30 putts or more (to give them credit where it's due, each hit 16 greens).  A little lower down the leaderboard, you'll see players like Danielle Kang and Gerina Piller in the same boat, but most everyone who scored well did it with the flat stick.  If you're not impressed by that feat, consider that world #1 Inbee Park (71) hit 14 greens but took 31 putts.  To say that's uncharacteristic is to undersell how well the leaders putted today.
  • And Don't Forget to Hit Those Greens:  Ji-Yai Shin was inaccurate off the tee by her high standards (only 9 fairways hit), but she putted well, so why did she open with a 74?  She hit only 9 greens.  Cristie Kerr hit 2 more, but offset every single one of her 5 birdies.  And Jessica Korda bombed it out further than anyone and took only 28 putts, but she hit only 8 greens--no wonder she made 3 bogeys on each side!
  • Worst of Both Worlds:  Stacy Lewis's stats were so bad (6 fairways, 34 putts) that it's amazing she only shot a 75.  Ai Miyazato's were almost as poor (8 fairways, 34 putts) and she also ended up at +3.  Hee Young Park only hit 9 greens and still took 30 putts, so it's no surprise she joined them at +3.
So when you see a 66 and 2 67s on a day when only 6 golfers broke 70 and 21 couldn't break 75, you should be impressed.  Let's see who can match or surpass that feat tomorrow!

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