Friday, January 31, 2014

Lydia Ko and Charley Hull Chase Stacey Tate and Seonwoo Bae in New Zealand on LET

Ruthless Mike has already noted that Lydia Ko and Charley Hull are part of a big group at -3 in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, 1 shot behind co-leaders Stacey Tate and Seonwoo Bae, and has conveniently listed the 1st-round scores of some of the biggest names in the field.

So I'll add a few notes and observations.  First, about Ko, who opened her round on the back with a birdie but proceeded to bogey 3 of her next 5 holes, then bounced back with a bogey-free 31 on the back to post a 69.  Her playing partners, Hull and Stacey Keating, also ran into some trouble early on, but righted the ship, as well, with Hull making 5 birdies in her last 13 holes and Keating salvaging a 71 with birdies on both par 5s on the front and no bogeys in her last 14 holes (and counting).

Second, I'll note that my picks to challenge Ko are right in the hunt.  Kyu-Jung Baek, the early favorite for Rookie of the Year on the KLPGA, opened with a 70, making 4 birdies in her 1st 10 holes but 2 bogeys in her last 11.  Christel Boeljon, who tied Ko in the LPGA's season-opener, offset her 3 birdies with a bogey on the back (her front) and a double on the front (her back), while ex-JLPGAer Nikki Campbell joined her at 72 when she made 3 birdies and 3 bogeys in her last 12 holes.  Even Joanna Klatten, a 3-time winner on the ALPG this month (although 2 were 1-round pro-am shootouts), who struggled coming home with a 3-bogey 38 on the front (her back), is only 5 shots off the pace set by Tate and Bae.

Third, it's worth noting that Ko's former junior and amateur rivals Ashley Ona and Cecelia Cho had more trouble and less resilience than the world #4.  Ona bogeyed 4 of her 1st 11 holes before bouncing back with back-to-back birdies on the back to salvage a 74.  And Cho opened with a birdieless 39 on the front, bounced back with a pair of birdies early on the back, but bogeyed the 363-yard par-4 17th to settle for a 73.  They're not out of it, but they'll need to play better tomorrow to even assure themselves of making the cut.

Still, they played as well as or better than a number of better-known and/or more-experienced golfers, including

  • Xi Yu Lin +2
  • Amelia Lewis +3
  • Minea Blomqvist +4
  • Sarah Kemp +6
  • Carly Booth +7
  • Julia Boland +8
  • Jia Yun Li +8
not to mention many of the bigger names that Ruthless Mike focused on.

Let's see what happens tomorrow!

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