Friday, November 7, 2014

Mizuno Classic Friday: Morgan Pressel Leads Laura Davies and Chella Choi by 1

Morgan Pressel fired a bogey-free 67 in the 1st round of the Mizuno Classic to take a 1-shot lead on Laura Davies and Chella Choi and a 2-shot lead on Pornanong Phatlum, Ilhee Lee, Mi-Hyang Lee, and Kotono Kozuma.

The 22-year-old Kozuma, who's currently #28 on the JLPGA's money list, outplayed the tour's finest, including Sakura Yokomine (-2 with 15 greens in regulation, among the most in the field on the windy day), Ji-Yai Shin (-1), Bo-Mee Lee (-1), Ai Suzuki (-1), Misuzu Narita (E), Yumiko Yoshida (E), defending champion Teresa Lu (+1), Erina Hara (+2), Sun-Ju Ahn (+3), Mamiko Higa (+3), Shiho Oyama (+4), and Rikako Morita (+4).  Unfortunately, last week's winner and 2-time champion Momoko Ueda had to withdraw before the tournament began.  So it wasn't a great day for the JLPGA.

By the same token, it wasn't easy for the LPGA's top players in the field, either.  Past champions Stacy Lewis and Karrie Webb scrambled their ways to 70s (tied with Harukyo Nomura, Ayako Uehara, Sun Young Yoo, Saiki Fujita, and Marina Alex, along with Yokomine), Jessica Korda, Angela Stanford, Catriona Matthew, and Beatriz Recari had to settle for 71s (Recari despite tripling the 165-yard par-3 11th), young guns Mirim Lee and Moriya Jutanugarn shot 73s, Na Yeon Choi, Hee Young Park, and Ya Ni Tseng shot 74s, and Sandra Gal made a double and 4 bogeys on her way to a 75.

Jennifer Johnson had the lone eagle on the front, taking advantage of the 485-yard par-5 7th hole, while Morita, Laura Diaz, and Danielle Kang eagled the 495-yard par-5 13th.  Kang is on an eagle tear of late, but this time she couldn't do it on a par 3, as she's done her last 2 starts.  Well, there's still 36 holes to be played and 8 more chances to get a hole-in-1 hat trick!

I'm excited for Pressel, who hasn't been her usual accuracy machine off the tee in 2014, but who's putted the lights out all year.  Choi's quest for her breakthrough victory on the LPGA (and her dad's to retire from caddying for her!) is another great story.  As is Davies's quest to win her way into the LPGA Hall of Fame.  They're all improbable leaders, though, so let's see how the biggest names in the field respond on moving day!

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