Sunday, March 11, 2007

Take This, Glenn Greenwald! or, Not-Quite-Live-Blogging the LPGA

I shall out-update you today--this I vow. (Updated below.)

I was going to start this post by congratulating Moira Dunn for grinding out her round on a day that hasn't been giving up many birdies--or if it was to some, like Lorena Ochoa and Mi Hyun Kim, taking them away with many bogeys--and making her second birdie to tie Annika Sorenstam for fourth in the second round of the MasterCard Classic. But I just went back to the leaderboard and found out she just double-bogeyed the 5th hole (her 14th) to fall back into a tie for ninth with Lorena Ochoa and a host of others. (Now 8th. They update their scores faster than I can type, it seems.) It will be very interesting to see how she handles this. Back when we were playing together in the 1980s, she had an even worse temper than I did, which is saying a lot--and I heard rumors that in her early years on the LPGA it was holding her back. But if a kid like Beth Bader can bounce back from a triple bogey on the par-5 18th hole of her first round and be having one of the best second rounds of the tournament (-4 for the day, surpassed only by Angela Stanford), I don't see why a veteran like Moira can't recover, especally with two par 5s coming up. But those last few holes on the front 9 can be tricky today--they killed Mi Hyun Kim's round, for instance. OK, here's the update: only a par on the par-5 6th hole--back in T9. Back with more later, after I get some sleep.

[Update 1 (3:58 am): How could I go to sleep when there were three dramas to follow as round two came to a close? (Not only Moira's fate, but the top of the leaderboard and the cut line, as well.) Here's what stands out to me now that round two is history.

Moira made another closing double-bogey on a par-4 preceding a par-5, this time on the 8th hole. Was she looking ahead to the par-5s and thinking ahead to making birdies and getting into in the top 3? Was the pressure of being in contention for her second win getting to her? Was it the temper? Whatever the cause, she couldn't birdie either of her final par-5s and is now in a tie for 26th at -1. Professional golf is cruel.

I hope Moira gets paired with Mi Hyun Kim--maybe they both can bounce back from deeply disappointing second rounds and get back into the top 10 by the end of the tournament. Or maybe playing with rookie Angela Stanford Park would inspire her. [sorry, I was sleepy--and, btw, it looks to me like Moira and Mi Hyun are in the same final round pairing--TC 5:08 pm] Many things can happen after a round like this, but two in particular stand out. With the pressure of being in contention off, Moira might go back to playing good golf. Or with money pressure dogging her and doubts and frustrations creeping in, she could go from bad to worse. Golf is just that way.

Annika Sorenstam must be furious after bogeying her final hole, the par-5 9th, to fall from a tie for third with Seon Hwa Lee at -6 to a tie for fourth at -5, now three shots behind the leader Meaghan Francella (a two-time NY State Junior champion, I just found out--but can she hang with the big names after posting two consecutive career-best LPGA rounds? she's had a lot of time to rest since finishing her second round yesterday--but also a lot of time to worry) and two behind Stacy Prammanasudh (who clearly is the hottest player on the tour right now). But then, Lee and Prammanasudh must also be disappointed by their matching bogeys on the 8th hole, their 17th, which was a two-stroke swing with Francella, who birdied the 8th on Saturday.

By contrast, Lorena Ochoa must be feeling pretty good about making her 6th birdie of the day on the 9th hole, also her final one, which got her to only four shots out of the lead, tied for 7th. If she weren't rusty (as evidenced by her making 6 bogeys in 36 holes, well above her career average), she'd be running away with the tournament (or at least right there with Lee and Prammanasudh, who have also made their share of bogeys). Oh well, woulda coulda shoulda, as my mom would always say to me when I complained about my latest score as a teenager....

Jeong Jang and Christina Kim showed what kind of professionals they are by weathering mind-numbingly disastrous "middle 18s" and holding on to make the cut. It would have been easy for them to pack it in after free-falling off the top of the leaderboard, but they're too tough for that. Expect good final rounds from them.

Natalie Gulbis and Paula Creamer missed the cut, but Paula showed what a fighter she is by putting up a late charge and birdieing 4 of her last 7 holes after doing nothing good the previous 29, while Natalie showed how to squander an opening-round 69 with a triple-bogey on her first 9 and a double-bogey on her second. What makes this just a little bitter for Paula is that the cut line suddenly moved from +2 to +3 in the final forty-five minutes or so of the round; if she could have just birdied the par-5 9th, she would have made the cut. But good for Nina Reis, who bounced back from a 77 to just make the cut with a 70 in her second round (almost as good as Marisa Baena's 77-69!)--and too bad for Kim Williams, who came one 18th-hole birdie shy of pulling a BaenaReis. The less said of Julieta Granada's entire tournament and Maru Martinez's double-bogey on the 17th that put her below the cut line, the better. On the bright side, Meena Lee vaulted into a tie for 15th place with a 69 today, guaranteeing her first paycheck of the year and vindicating my pre-season confidence in her.

Prediction: it's going to come down to Lee, Prammanasudh, Sorenstam, and Ochoa on the back 9 later today or early tomorrow...and Lee wins it.]

[Update 2 (8:10 am): This day can't end soon enough for Moira. Can we get another weather suspension of play, Astaroth? She's one of the few golfers over par in the opening holes of the final round--which was delayed by almost three hours due to dangerous weather yet again--and is firmly ensconsed in the middle of the pack at E after 5 holes (T38). Do they use air horns in Mexico to notify golfers of the end of the day? To paraphrase Melville, "Call it! Call it, quick!" Or how about, "Blow that horn! Ring that bell! (with apologies to Paul Robeson)?]

[Update 3 (10:15 am): Back from dropping off onechan at her yochien and overjoyed to see play was suspended 20 minutes after my last update. Praise Astaroth! Moira has 12 holes tomorrow to get herself back in the race for the top 10. At the end of the day Sunday, it's great to see Grace Park and Shi Hyun Ahn in the middle of this race in their first tournament of the year, as both struggled in the second half of last year. Brittany Lang and Cristie Kerr have grinded (ground?) their way into the mix, as well. Right now there are about twenty people who still have a chance to win if the leaders all falter, but I stand by my prediction in update 1.... Back in the evening, my time!]

[Update 4 (1:49 pm): Hey, we're all about the gender-equity here in our first not-quite-live-blogging-the-LPGA post, so I'm happy to report that Charles Howell III's final round -6 earned him enough to be on top of the PGA money list for 2007. When short guys do well on the PGA, you'll hear about it here from me.]

[Update 5 (4:49 pm): Since Glenn Greenwald's updates total for the entire weekend was a paltry 3, I'll extend this one-time-only-deal to count all his Saturday-through-Monday blogging updates to his total.]

[Update 6 (4:59 pm): Poor Lorie Kane! She had played her way into the race for the top 10 but signed an incorrect card after her second round and got disqualified. Julieta Granada forgot to sign hers entirely--another DQ--although she's probably so disgusted with her performance this weekend it couldn't get any worse in her eyes.]

[Update 7 (5:12 pm): Meaghan Francella blogs! Will blogtopia (h/t skippy) offer her mo' better support than her fellow NYer at MH has?]

[Update 8 (3/13/03, 3:41 am): Oh, ye of little faith and much sleep. Meaghan Francella has a chance to shoot her third consecutive 68 and win the tournament, despite a fantastic -6 round from Annika today, the best of the tournament. Wish I hadn't overslept and missed all the drama. More soon--she's on the 18th!]

[Update 9 (3:44 am): It's playoff time! Super Soph vs. Swedish Sensation!]

[Update 10 (4:18 am): While everyone gets organized at Bosque Real, it's worth recapping a few other things. Twin double bogeys killed another good round of Moira's--she had battled her way to -2 through 13 when the wheels came off again this round, as in the second, dropping her (with a nice birdie following the second double-bogey) to +1 for the tournament. Free-falling from T4 to T45 can't feel good, but that's what going 8-over on just four of the final 36 holes will do to you. You can't blame it all on her being a NYer, either, as Laura Diaz birdied three of her final five holes to claw her way to -2 and a top 20 finish, joining Cristie Kerr and Brittany Lang, who kept grinding as predicted, along with others at T19. And of course the person trying to deny Annika her third straight MasterCard Classic victory is a NYer. Way to go, Francella! On a day when Lorena's and Seon Hwa's and Stacy's birdie barrages rather surprisingly (to me) ended, you hung in there and played your own game while the World #1 was birdieing 7 of the first 14 holes--and made a crucial birdie right after an uncharacteristic late Sorenstam bogey to pull even with her and give yourself a chance to win in regulation.

Congrats also to Kyeong Bae, Angela Stanford, and Shi Hyun Ahn, who all shot 67s to get into the top 10. Condolences to Grace Park and Mi Hyun Kim, who could never get their rounds going and finished T35. And never mind my earlier prediction that Christina Kim and Jeong Jang had some momentum going into the final round; Jang began her day with a triple and hung in there the rest of the day to finish with a 75 (T63) and Kim made a bogey to offset each of her three birdies to finish the tournament at +2 (T50). So much for the Mostly Harmless Crystal Ball--I knew I shouldn't have bought it at that 100-Yen Store in Nishijin. Although I stand by my earlier characterization of what it's going to take to do well in a tournament with such a deep talent pool in the LPGA and predictions for the season.]

[Update 11 (4:22 am): I'll bet the Golf Channel is kicking itself for its decision not to televise this event's final day. If they have any brains, they left a camera crew there and got some footage, at least; and if they're really smart, they'll have figured out a way to televise the playoff live. As for me, I'm stuck watching the main page for progress reports. So the playoff format is to keep playing the 18th hole until they stop tying it. They tied it once, so they're still playing....]

[Update 12 (4:56 am): I've been supplementing with all the other sports websites you'd,, CBS, the various major golf publications with an online presence--and I have to say, if Tiger Woods was in a playoff against, oh, say, Camilo Villegas, would you expect to scramble to find any mention of it? Because you could make an argument that Annika should be a bigger story in the golf world than Tiger (you'd lose, but it would be a good one) and that the LPGA offers far better competition and more compelling stories than the PGA this year (although a few people by the names of Howell, Mickelson, and Singh are trying to prove me wrong). Whatever. It just annoys me that even the Golf Channel doesn't know how to cover, much less promote, women's golf.]

[Update 13 (5:14 am): Francella wins on fourth playoff hole! Wow! Head over to her blog to congratulate her!]

[Update 14 (5:40 am): Doesn't look like Greenwald's Salon overlords smile upon his love of the update--or maybe his readers haven't gotten into controversies that he feels a need to respond to over the past few days. Whatever the case, looks like the Mostly Harmless (14) vs. Unclaimed Territory (3) Update Playoff will end up having been much less exciting than the Francella-Sorenstam one!]

[Update the Last (3/14/07, 7:25 am): Take a look at the current money list and Rolex rankings when you get a chance! Francella jumped 253 spots to #77 in the world--that's gotta feel good. Moira fell 10 spots to #218. Hey, but at least she's #94 on the money list, hanging with Juli Inkster and Lorie Kane and Wendy Ward, as opposed to not showing up on it at all....]

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