Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hana Bank Championship Saturday: Can Song-Hee Kim and Na Yeon Choi Stay Ahead of the Pack?

Inbee Park closed with a 31 today at the Hana Bank Championship to post the low score of the week, a 67, but even her birdie-par-birdie-eagle finish could only bring her within 3 shots of Na Yeon Choi and 4 of Song-Hee Kim, the only golfers in the field to break 70 each of the 1st 2 rounds. Despite 68s by KLPGA rookie Jung-Min Lee, major winner Jeong Jang, world #2 Ji-Yai Shin, and Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, Choi and Kim achieved a small measure of separation from the field by matching that number, each with 6 birdies and a pair of bogeys today. Kim bogeyed her next-to-last hole and birdied her last to regain a 1-shot lead on Choi, -8 to -7.

Still, with 11 players breaking 70 today and 12 within 5 shots of the lead heading into tomorrow's final round, we're much more likely to see a Sunday free-for-all than a duel on the Ocean course. Vicky Hurst also birdied her last hole of the day to pull within 2 of Kim, Inkster's only 3 back, Park, Suzann Pettersen, Hee-Won Han, Mika Miyazato, So Yeon Ryu, and Amanda Blumenherst are 4 behind, and Shin and Jang are 5 off the pace. With Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim, Jee Young Lee, Sun Young Yoo, Stacy Lewis, and Kristy McPherson among those at -2 and the likes of Paula Creamer, Katherine Hull, Michelle Wie, Karen Stupples, Maria Hjorth, and Catriona Matthew at -1, I wouldn't put it past any of them to mount an early charge tomorrow.

There are certainly birdies to be had out there. To give one example of many, the KLPGA's Ryu had 6 birdies yesterday and 7 today, but has gone only 70-70. Even though a pair of doubles on the front did her in today, Ryu's 1st 36 holes shows that there's still time for someone to put pressure on Kim, who's been seeking her 1st LPGA win for what feels like forever. It should be a very exciting Halloween!

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