Friday, April 18, 2014

LPGA LOTTE Championship Wednesday and Thursday: Best and Worst of Times in Hawaii

There's a Dickensian feel to the LPGA LOTTE Championship this year.  With the winds up Wednesday and down Thursday, most of the field were able to improve their scores in a big way.  Leader Angela Stanford exemplifies one such extreme.  She struggled her way to a 3-birdie, 3-bogey 72 in the 1st round, then exploded in the 2nd with 5 birdies in a row on the front and 3 on the back to post the low round of the week and move to -8.  But Stanford's 8-shot improvement--which put her 1-up on a resurgent Michelle Wie (70-67) and 2-up on Inbee Park (70-68), So Yeon Ryu (68-70), Cristie Kerr (72-66), and Hyo Joo Kim (68-70)--was not even close to the biggest of the week.

That belonged to Jimin Kang, who bounced back from an opening 80 that was lowlighted by a walkoff double with a 2nd-round 65 that was highlighted by a 5-hole birdie train to begin her day.  Others who made heroic efforts to make the cut, which fell at +4, included Jaye Marie Green (80-68), Amelia Lewis (77-66), Pernilla Lindberg (78-69), Seon Hwa Lee (78-70), and Ryann O'Toole (77-69).

Given the scale of the bouncebacks most in the field engineered yesterday, those who moved backwards have to feel even worse.  Ai Miyazato continued to hit the ball solidly and putt terribly (27 greens in regulation, 67 putts, 3 birdies in 36 holes), missing the cut at a tournament she won 2 years ago and finished in the top 10 in last year.  Anna Nordqvist made 4 birdies late on the front to claw her way back to +1, but then she doubled 10 and bogeyed 14 to put herself right near the cut line.  How did the 2-time winner this season respond?  By finishing birdie-double-quad to end up with a 44 on the back and a +9 total for the week.  Heck, even those who improved a great deal, like Jeong Jang (78-71), Paz Echeverria (78-71), Sei Young Kim (77-72), Belen Mozo (77-72), Jane Rah (77-72), and Perrine Delacour (77-72), came up just short of making it into the weekend.  Others who will be taking their troubles to the beach include such big names as Mika Miyazato, Hee Kyung Seo, Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, Lorie Kane, Pat Hurst, Karen Stupples, and Laura Diaz.

Back towards the top of the leaderboard, the volatility of the 1st 2 rounds means that players like Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak (68-71), global young guns Ha Na Jang (70-69) and Harukyo Nomura (73-67), and even those who made more modest improvements like Morgan Pressel (73-69), Chella Choi (74-68), Caroline Hedwall (75-68), and Gerina Piller (75-68) are by no means out of this one.  I was also pleased to see Tiffany Joh move on up to -3, disappointed that Ayako Uehara backed up her 7-birdie 69 Wednesday with a 1-birdie 74 Thursday, and glad to see my old golfing buddy Moira Dunn hang on to make the cut on the number.

Let's face it:  golf can be a cruel game to try to make your living at.  The key is to give yourself a shot at playing another day.  You never know when you're going to go low.  Can't wait to see who does it on the LPGA's Friday moving day today!

No comments: