Saturday, May 24, 2014

Airbus LPGA Classic Friday: Catriona Matthew, -13, Leads; Inbee Park, +6, Misses Cut

It was the best of times and the worst of times at the Airbus LPGA Classic today.  Catriona Matthew fired a bogey-free 32 on the back to get to -13 and maintain a 1-shot lead on Charley Hull (who matched her 67) and a 3-shot lead on Hee Young Park (who eagled the par-5 16th to cap off a 66), Anna Nordqvist (who closed with a bogey-free 31 on the front, her back, to secure a 66 of her own), and Jessica Korda (who posted her 2nd-straight 67, this one bogey-free).  With a total of 14 players within 5 shots of Matthew, you know conditions were great for scoring.

Which is why it's so shocking that world #1 Inbee Park missed the cut by 8 shots.  And only slightly less shocking that former world #1 Ya Ni Tseng, who got her 2nd top 5 of the season last week and who you'd think would love the Robert Trent Jones layout, missed it by 4 shots.  With other big names not making it to the weekend (U.S. Women's Open qualifier Laura Davies, Lorie Kane, Angela Stanford, In-Kyung Kim, Mika Miyazato, Beatriz Recari, and Sarah Jane Smith, last week's runner-up with Tseng and Lexi Thompson ), and with others just barely making it (Paula Creamer on the dot, Azahara Munoz and Ariya Jutanugarn with a shot to spare, and Karrie Webb by 2), the Crossings course can't be playing that easy.  After all, nobody topped Matthew's opening 64 (although Harukyo Nomura gave it the ol' college try with a 9-birdie 65!).

So we still have an old-fashioned shootout on our hands heading into the weekend.  With Lexi Thompson only 4 back, Se Ri Pak, Stacy Lewis, and Suzann Pettersen 5 behind Matthew, and Moira Dunn, So Yeon Ryu, and Michelle Wie 6 off the pace, there's plenty of time for a high-powered Sunday showdown to emerge.  That said, I can't help but make Jenny Shin my dark horse pick--I love the way she bounced back from her back-to-back bogeys to start her day!  I'm also really encouraged by Chie Arimura's bogey-free 67 today.  Too bad Mikan couldn't match it (although a bogey-free 68 is nothing to sneeze at, it left her just on the wrong side of the cut line).

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