Friday, March 21, 2014

JTBC Founders Cup Friday: Battle of the Rookies Shaping Up! Mi Rim Lee and Lydia Ko 1-2 through 36 Holes

Mi Rim Lee and Lydia Ko apparently have a shared flair for the dramatic.  Both LPGA rookies started their rounds today kind of flat and ended them with big bangs.  In the morning wave of the JTBC Founders Cup, 1st-round leader Lee made 3 birdies and an eagle in her last 8 holes to post a 67 and get to -13 for the week.  Late in the afternoon wave, Ko responded by making 4 birdies and an eagle in her last 7 holes to fire a 66 and move into 2nd place at -11.

On a day when Sun Young Yoo (-10) and Hee Young Park (-6) rocketed their way to bogey-free 65s, Ko's 66 was matched by Se Ri Pak (-3), Becky Morgan (-5), Anna Nordqvist (-6), Jessica Korda (-9), and Chella Choi (-9), and Lee's 67 was seen by So Yeon Ryu (-9), Lizette Salas (-8), and Victoria Elizabeth (-6), the biggest rounds of the day still belonged to the 2 rookies.  Jodi Ewart Shadoff got it to -11 but finished with a double and a bogey in her last 4 holes to drop back to -8, while Michelle Wie birdied 4 holes in a row as she made the turn to get to double digits under par herself before 2 bogeys in her last 5 holes dropped her back with Shadoff, but the fact that Ko might have a challenger for Rookie of the Year put those rounds on the back burner.  Amy Yang went 35 holes without a bogey but had to settle for a 69 and a -8 total of her own when her streak ended on the par-4 18th, and Inbee Park bounced back from a double on the par-4 8th with 2 birdies and an eagle on the back to finish with a 69 and climb to -9, but these 2 world-beaters took a back seat to a couple of rookies today.

OK, in other news, we've got 12 players within 5 shots of the lead, we've got players like Stacy Lewis and Karrie Webb 6 back, we've got 74 at -2 or better, and Na Yeon Choi was not one of them--for only the 3rd missed cut of her LPGA career.  But NYC wasn't alone:  Thidapa Suwannapura also missed the cut, thereby ensuring she'll fall further behind Onnarin Sattayabanphot in the race for the #4 spot on Team Thailand in the International Crown.  Ditto for Angela Stanford, who's now in danger of losing the #5 spot to Salas, Korda, or Morgan Pressel (72, -7).  Ditto for Chie Arimura, who now has no chance to make Team Japan.  Lindsey Wright did make the cut, so should solidify her hold on the #4 spot for Team Australia.  Other big names to miss the cut:  Ya Ni Tseng, Brittany Lincicome, Carlota Ciganda, Natalie Gulbis, Pat Hurst, Danielle Kang, Moira Dunn, Cheyenne Woods....  I'm happy to report, though, that Ai MiyazatoSeon Hwa Lee, and Tiffany Joh all broke 70, so they'll be playing on the weekend.

But, yeah, Mi Rim Lee, Lydia Ko, rookies on top of the leaderboard.  Big deal.  Pass it on!

[Update 1 (9:56 pm): Katherine Kirk's missed cut could drop her from #2 to #4 on Team Australia if Lindsey Wright pours it on this weekend.  Nice to see 68s from Jeong Jang, Candie Kung, Jaye Marie Green, Karine Icher, Belen Mozo, Hannah Jun Medlock, and Alex Stewart.]

[Update 2 (10:10 pm): In fact, Team Australia is so closely bunched that Sarah Jane Smith (69-69) can make a big move this weekend from the #7 spot!  And with Ji-Yai Shin contending in Japan and her closest LPGA pursuers playing well this week, In-Kyung Kim did not need a 74 today.  But that's what she got.]

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