Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Blogocalypse Carnival Is Coming! The Blogoc--We Interrupt This Announcement With More LPGA Blogging

Well, I'll hopefully get to see some of it on TV in Fukuoka later today, but I couldn't wait to point out that this Kraft Nabisco Championship is shaping up to be a classic. Se Ri Pak (-4) is going for her first win here and sixth career major. Paula Creamer (-3), Meaghan Francella (-3), Stacy Prammanasudh (E), and Lorena Ochoa (+1 after quadrupling the par-3 17th), are looking for their second win of the season. Europeans Suzann Pettersen (-4), Catriona Matthew (-1), and Maria Hjorth (-1) are looking for their first win of the year, along with Brittany Lincicome (-2), Shi Hyun Ahn (-1), Morgan Pressel (E), and Sarah Lee (E). Even amateur Stacy Lewis (+1) has a chance to win. And if these leaders falter, anyone between two- and four-over could come out of nowhere with the first really low round of the tournament and steal a win (despite the fact that you can count the number of rounds in the 60s thus far in this tournament on two hands).

This will definitely come down to the back 9 on Sunday, where scores have been high all week. The last 6 holes are some of the best in golf. I can't tell you how many people have come to the 13th tee under par for the day and walked away from the 18th green over par. But there are birdies to be had even in that stretch and anything can happen on 15 through 18.

Given that this is a major on national TV, these kinds of stories should be well covered. But there are interesting subplots worth following, as well.

The "If Only for That One Nine" Syndrome: There are several golfers a few shots over par who would be right in the thick of things now but for one disastrous nine, among them Karrie Webb (40), Mi Hyun Him (41), Christina Kim (41), Angela Stanford (39), and Sherri Steinhauer (40). I'd put these players as favorites to vault into the top 10--and long shots for the win. (Stacy Prammanasudh and Lorena Ochoa would be in this group, as well, but they actually are in contention.)

The Super Sophs Still Have a Chance to Dominate the Top 10: Meaghan Francella's 69 looks like it puts her in the final or next-to-final group on Sunday. The only other person to break 70 today was Ai Miyazato, who at +2 (like Jee Young Lee) is still chasing Morgan Pressel, whose 70 today brought her back to E for the tournament, with a realistic chance of winning. Brittany Lang is next at +3, but she was one of the few leaders to move backwards in a big way on Saturday.

Race for the Top 20: There are a lot of great golfers with a chance to salvage a moral victory from a disappointing tournament and get some momentum for the rest of the season. Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster, Julieta Granada, Laura Diaz and Jimin Kang all hung tough Saturday and could pass a lot of people ahead of them right now who will be dealing with the pressure of being in contention in a major on a Sunday. My friend Moira Dunn was three-over for her final four holes on Saturday but still shot a 72, which puts her at the front of this pack at +5.

And yes, the Blogocalypse Carnival will be here at the end of the day. Patience!

[Update: We went out to a small city called Karatsu to see cherry blossoms today, so I missed the golf on TV; in any case, here are the pairings for round 4!]

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