Saturday, April 5, 2014

Kraft Nabisco Championship Friday: Lexi Thompson Fires Bogey-Free 64 to Catch Se Ri Pak at Halfway Point

Lexi Thompson birdied 8 of her last 13 holes today at the Kraft Nabisco Championship to post the low round of the week--a bogey-free 64--and catch Se Ri Pak, who put together a bogey-free 70 of her own, at -7.  The American phenom and the Hall of Famer are both looking for their 1st KNC victory, but they're going to get plenty of competition this weekend from the likes of Michelle Wie (71, -6), Cristie Kerr (70, -5), and 1st-round leader Shanshan Feng (73, -5), not to mention Catriona Matthew (who opened the week with 2 double bogeys in her 1st 6 holes and has been -8 and bogey-free ever since), Anna Nordqvist (who is looking for her 2nd career major victory), and Morgan Pressel (who's looking for her 2nd victory at Mission Hills), who have all fought their way back to -4.

In fact, there are plenty of golfers playing well enough this week to win:

  • -3:  Mo Martin (73-68), Amy Yang (68-73)
  • -2:  Gerina Piller (77-65), Charley Hull (73-69), Carlota Ciganda (73-69), Azahara Munoz (72-70), Sandra Gal (72-70), So Yeon Ryu (70-72), Chella Choi (70-72), Ji-Yai Shin (69-73)
  • -1:  Minjee Lee (75-68), Angela Stanford (74-69), Christina Kim (74-69), Karrie Webb (73-70), Stacy Lewis (73-70), Lydia Ko (73-70), Na Yeon Choi (72-71), Mi Rim Lee (71-72), Jennifer Rosales (69-74)
  • E:  Inbee Park (74-70), Candie Kung (74-70), Hee Young Park (72-72), Mi Hyang Lee (72-72), Mariajo Uribe (72-72), Pornanong Phatlum (71-73), Nicole Castrale (71-73), Haeji Kang (70-74)
And let's not count out the following players who roared back from bad starts:
  • +1:  Brooke Henderson (77-68), Jimin Kang (76-69), Sakura Yokomine (75-70), Sei Young Kim (75-70)
  • +2:  Juli Inkster (76-70), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (76-70)
  • +3:  Ilhee Lee (78-69)
  • +4:  Ai Miyazato (77-71)
Of course, the further back they are, the better they need to play and the more help they need from the leaders over the weekend.  But Thompson, Piller, and Feng have shown how to get into the mid-60s at Mission Hill this year, so why not one of them?  Or Caroline Hedwall (71-74), Ha Na Jang (73-73), Jessica Korda (73-73), Paula Creamer (72-74), or In-Kyung Kim (74-73)?  After all, it's even harder to put 4 good rounds together on a major-quality set-up than it is during a normal week.  Nobody who made the cut should consider themselves out of this just yet.

Let's see who takes advantage of moving day!  Here are some pairings to watch:
  • 8:16 am:  Danielle Kang, Alison Lee
  • 9:55 am:  Ha Na Jang, Jessica Korda
  • 10:21 am:  Juli Inkster, Tiffany Joh
  • 12:08 pm:  Karrie Webb, Stacy Lewis
  • 12:35 pm:  Ji-Yai Shin, Chella Choi
  • 12:44 pm:  So Yeon Ryu, Azahara Munoz
  • 12:53 pm:  Sandra Gal, Carlota Ciganda
  • 1:02 pm:  Gerina Piller, Charley Hull
  • 1:19 pm:  Amy Yang, Mo Martin
  • 1:28 pm:  Anna Nordqvist, Morgan Pressel
  • 1:37 pm:  Shanshan Feng, Catriona Matthew
  • 1:46 pm:  Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie
  • 1:55 pm:  Se Ri Pak, Lexi Thompson
Should be awesome!

[Update 1 (3:36 am):  I always love how Bill Rand focuses on the mental/emotional side of golf, but particularly this time through his run-down of interviews with the co-leaders!]

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