Friday, August 15, 2014

Wegmans LPGA Championship Friday: Lydia Ko Gets to -5; Will Anyone Else Be There at the End of the Day?

Well, I'm back in Pittsford after failing to qualify for the New York State Mid-Amateur--and failing miserably.  Feel free to skip the next 2 paragraphs if you don't come here to hear me moan about my game.  And count yourself lucky it's as short as it is--I entertained myself on the ride here from Tuscarora by composing much longer and meaner posts in my head.  Obviously doing so didn't completely get the round out of my system....  Maybe the next paragraph will...or the one after that.

I was -3 after 3 holes and just missed a 30-foot birdie try on the 618-yard par-5 4th, then managed to miss the 4-foot comebacker and the 18-incher right after that for my 1st 4-putt of the year and 1st of 4 doubles on the day.  Even after double #2 on the next hole, a shorter par 5--from 12 feet away from the hole in 3, just off the green, no less--I hung in there and managed to shoot a 40 on the front when I avoided my 3rd double of the side on the 9th hole thanks to my 6th 1-putt of the side.  But I fell apart on the back, hitting only 1 fairway (and doubling that par 5, too, to add insult to injury) and ending up at the bottom of the pack.

It was a true Jekyll and Hyde round.  I was E for 9 holes and +15 for 9 holes.  In addition to my 4-putt, I had 3 3-putts (all on the back, and all due to badly-judged and/or -executed approach shots that left me facing monster putts with mega-undulations or hills to deal with), but I also had 7 1-putts and made all kinds of pressure putts to save 2-putts.  Tuscarora easily had the fastest greens of any I've played all year--and unlike last year I made a point to regularly play courses with fast greens this year, so I can't say I wasn't used to it.  But it was really my inability to handle the pressure of needing to put together a solid back 9 and absolutely butchering 3 short par 4s in a row to start it that killed me today.  For some reason I couldn't figure out how to avoid pull-hooks all day and I didn't do a great job clubbing myself, either.  Oh well, for what will probably be my last round of 2014, it was pretty representative of the good and the bad in my game this season.  Glad to put it out of its misery.

Given my mood, let's start my focus on the 2nd round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship with more bad news.  2 of my favorite golfers, Ai Miyazato and Mika Miyazato, will be missing the cut.  They battled all day, but a couple of late bogeys for each of them did them both in.  I'm also sad to see Amy Yang and Jeong Jang missing the cut.  It's not looking good for other faves like Moira DunnPaula Creamer, or Morgan Pressel, and rookies like Yueer Cindy Feng and Amy Anderson are on the wrong side of it at +3 right now.

On the bright side, Lydia Ko fired a 6-birdie 69 to move to -5 for the week, Tiffany Joh a 4-birdie 70 to get to -2, and Danielle Kang a 5-birdie 73 to hang in there at -1.  Plus Ya Ni Tseng, Jennifer Song, and Ayako Uehara will make the cut.  There are others golfers I particularly root for out on the course right now whom I don't want to jinx, so enough said about them for now.  The big question obviously is whether the bomb squad of Brittany Lincicome and Lexi Thompson will be able to continue threading the needle at Monroe Golf Club and finish the halfway point of the tournament ahead of Ko.  And whether the fighting Lees (Meena and Ilhee) will be able to finish their rounds ahead of last week's winner Mirim when all is said and done today.  And whether Inbee Park will be able to bounce back from losing to Lee as well as Suzann Pettersen did today.  Actually, there are a whole lot more questions than that, but I have to burn off this negative energy by following Chie Arimura as she finishes her round.  More later!

[Update 1 (7:41 pm):  Well, Lincicome played fantastic golf today, eagling the par-5 14th to get to -9 and staying there over her last 4 holes.  Lexi didn't play quite as well, but she did birdie the par-5 3rd to get back to -7 after finishing the back (her front) bogey-bogey.  Unfortunately, she bogeyed the par-3 6th and couldn't birdie 8 or 9, so she's tied with freakin' Inbee Park, who birdied 3 of her 1st 4 holes on the front and parred in to match Lexi and Meena Lee's 66s from yesterday.  But it's Julieta Granada who holds the 18-hole record at Monroe GC for this tournament, as she fired a bogey-free 65 today!!  She's tied with Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, Mirim Lee, Beatriz Recari, and Jennifer Johnson at -4.  And how about her fellow Park, Jane, who birdied 3 of her last 7 holes (on the front) to catch Ko at -5?!]

[Update 2 (7:54 pm):  I'm pleased and saddened to report the Mostly Harmless jinx is only at half strength today.  Pleased for Chie Arimura, who bounced back from a devastating double on the tough par-3 13th with 5-straight pars to make the cut on the number.  And saddened for Reilley Rankin, who scrambled her butt off after making a tap-in birdie on 10 to get to +2, but couldn't get the last up-and-down she needed on 18 and missed it by a shot.

I hate to say it, but that was among the easier attempts Rankin had coming home.  On 14, she swiped her 2nd shot right and it ended up in dirt near a green-side tree.  After maybe-purposely exploding it from the dirt (she looked concerned about a root and conferred with her caddie to be sure how she wanted to play the shot) and coming up short of the green, she punched a nice wedge to 4 feet and made the tester.  Then she left what looked like a 25-footer on 15 3 feet short and sank another key par save.  Then she was between clubs--3-hybrid or 4-hybrid--and chose the longer one while the wind was gusting.  But it died during her swing and she powered it through what was left and almost bounced it onto the 17th tee.  She played a classic Texas wedge to 3 feet and made it to stay on track.  Then on 17 she pulled her approach badly but was lucky enough to fly it a foot past Death Valley (that really deep trap left of the green that must be 20 feet below its surface).  She made another good chip, but it ran about 8 feet by and she made the putt to stay alive.  Then on 18 she left it in the front-right fringe and misjudged her putt up the gully or swale or ditch or whatever you want to call it that runs diagonally up the green, leaving it barely halfway to the pin tucked in the back-left corner of the lower tier.  That left her at least 18 feet, but the putt died left and low in the last foot or so.  And just like that, she was done for the week.

Of course the club pro Alison Curdt had a tough time out there, but she hit a lot of good shots and made several good chips and putts.  I got to see her make 2 of her 3 birdies on the day (on 10 and 14), plus she parred 13, so she shouldn't feel bad about her 79.

I'm devoting a separate post to Arimura's game, but 1st I have to grab something to eat you-know-where!]

[Update 3 (11:31 pm):  Home sweet home!  Finally!  Entertained myself on the ride home thinking of tweets I could do with #thisisyourbrainongolf as the hashtag.  As in:
  • disaster flashback and/or premonition in middle of downswing #thisisyourbrainongolf
  • Someone screamed "boo!" in the middle of my downswing. Oh. It was my brain. #thisisyourbrainongolf
  • Never point to the sand trap that would have cost you your 3rd double of the 9 after saving bogey with a 15-footer and mouth "FU" to it. #47onback9 #thisisyourbrainongolf
  • "Dear God, why do I have to suck so hard at a game I love so much?" #thisisyourbrainongolf
Don't know if all would stay at or under 140 characters, but you get the picture!  Why don't you tweet your own?  Let's vent together!]

[Update 4 (8/16/14, 12:36 pm):  Yes!  Mina Harigae made the cut!  Xi Yu Lin gets to play with Laura Davies later today!  Mo Martin and Kristy McPherson get to show the world how precision players handle moving day!  And the Jane Park is paired with Lexi.  So many good pairings to follow tomorrow.  I think I'll spread the Mostly Harmless jinx around by only following folks for 3 or 6 holes at a time.  First victims (if I wake up in time):  Salas, Arimura, Uehara.]

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