The 2 biggest trends in the world of women's golf during the early months of 2014 have been Americans winning on the LPGA and the under-22 crowd winning nearly everywhere on the planet. Well, after the 1st round of the Airbus LPGA Classic, it seems that European superstars Catriona Matthew and Suzann Pettersen have just about had enough of the former, while Charley Hull's 1st professional win earlier this year seems to have only whetted her appetite. Matthew opened with a 7-birdie, 1-eagle, 23-putt 64, Hull with a bogey-free 65, and Pettersen with a bogey-free 66 today to take the top 3 spots in the field, although Pettersen does share hers with Stacy Lewis and Eun-Hee Ji.
Oh, and there are more Americans near them, including Moira Dunn, Jessica Korda, and Nicole Castrale at -5 (hey, I can put my ol' golfing buddy 1st in that list even if she's the least famous of the 3, right?), Brittany Lang and Jennifer Song at -4, and Pat Hurst, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Vicky Hurst, Jenny Suh, Amelia Lewis, and Amy Anderson at -3. Ji, too, has plenty of company in the upper reaches of the leaderboard, what with Se Ri Pak and Jenny Shin shooting 67s, Hee Young Park a 68, Na Yeon Choi and Chella Choi 69s, and So Yeon Ryu and In-Kyung Kim 70s. What about the top-ranked Korean in the world? #1 Inbee Park had a tough day, settling for a 5-bogey 74. Not quite as bad as Beatriz Recari's 77 or Mika Miyazato's 75, but not even as mediocre as 73s by Chie Arimura, Caroline Masson, Moriya Jutanugarn, Mina Harigae, and Mirim Lee or 72s by Carlota Ciganda and Ashleigh Simon or even 71s by Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer, Ya Ni Tseng, Michelle Wie, and Sun Young Yoo. In short, Park will be fighting to make the cut tomorrow and has to hope the leaders don't keep the pedal to the metal.
From their point of view, however, that's just what they need to do. My pick for the week, Lexi Thompson, is lurking at -2; she got her putter going for a little while on the back, with 3 birdies in a 4-hole stretch, but a walkoff bogey put that run to an end. No problem! I'm sure she'll start rolling it consistently better as the week goes on! And if she doesn't, there are 34 players ahead of her who will try to leave her in the dust, too, including Euro stalwarts Azahara Munoz and Jodi Ewart Shadoff at -3. And Monday qualifier Ariya Jutanugarn is tied with her....
That's just life on the LPGA these days. It's definitely a go low or go home situation tomorrow!