Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Holding My Breath...

...on the latest handicap revision from GHIN!  For the first time in my adult life, my handicap index may rise high enough to disqualify me from even entering a qualifier for the New York State Golf Association's Mid-Amateur Championship.  Long story short, I hurt my lower back working out late last fall and even though I've worked really hard at healing and rehabbing it, it's still not quite right.  So I've been fiddling around with my swing and haven't been able to get everything synchronized.  My touch from 60 yards and in is finally starting to come back, so I've been scoring better of late, but my putting has ranged from horrific to mediocre for most of the season.

As you can see, I've been saving up excuses.  Will let you know in a few hours if I'm in or out!

[Update 1 (7/30/14, 10:50 am):  Wait, the next revision isn't till August 1st.  So I guess the question is should I play before I fly out to Austin?]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sadena Parks Wins on Symetra Tour

With her Sunday 62 and huge come-from-behind-victory in Albany, NY, Sadena Parks became the tour's 2nd African-American champion and moved up to 6th on the Symetra Tour's money list.  With 6 events remaining on the 2014 schedule, Parks is well behind 2-time winners Min Seo Kwak and Marissa Steen, as well as the consistent Yueer Cindy Feng (who uncharacteristically played as badly on Sunday as Parks played well), but she's put almost $9,000 between herself and #11 Brittany Altomare.  With Selanee Henderson currently at #48 on the money list, Cheyenne Woods at #51, and Ginger Howard at #72, it's looking more and more like they'll have to make it to the LPGA via Q-School.  So right now Parks has the best odds of becoming only the 5th-ever African-American LPGA member.

I'd be going to this week's event in Syracuse to see how all these players, along with my favorites Hannah Yun and Mitsuki Katahira, handle a Drumlins East course that I butchered this summer while trying to qualify for the NYSGA's Men's Amateur Championship, except that I've already committed to helping one of my best friends from grad school move into new digs in Austin, TX.  (And see if I can play a little better out of NY than in it.)  Too bad for me!  (Actually, I'm psyched for the trip!)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

MVPs in the International Crown

So who won the most points for their team during the inaugural International Crown?

Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu combined for 2 wins and each won a singles match, so together they accounted for 8 of Team Korea's 10 points.  Their only loss came to Sweden's Vikings on day 2.

Speaking of the Vikings, Anna Nordqvist got 3 wins and a halve, all of them coming with partner Caroline Hedwall except for her final individual victory against Japan's Mamiko Higa.  Hedwall had a tougher row to hoe, losing to Park today.  So together they contributed 7 of Team Sweden's 11 points.  Kudos, too, to Pernilla Lindberg for getting hot, contributing to a team win and getting a huge individual win against Ariya Jutanugarn, a much-higher-ranked young star who just had a bad week.  She's the reason they came in 2nd.

The champions from Spain had the most balanced team.  Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda contributed 2 wins in team play and 1 individual win each.  Beatriz Recari and Belen Mozo halved their match on Thursday, but won as a team on Saturday and as individuals on Sunday.  The team's only losses came to Team USA on Friday.

Pornanong Phatlum was responsible for 6 of Team Thailand's 9 points, 2 wins coming in team matches and 1 individually against In-Kyung Kim.  (Kim, by the way, actually played great this week, but didn't get the points to show for it.)

Sakura Yokomine and Ai Miyazato were great as a team, winning twice and halving once to account for 5 of Team Japan's 8 pool points.  But they couldn't get it done against great competitors, Ryu against Yokomine and Munoz against Ai-sama (although if things had gone differently in the Ryu-Yokomine match on 17, the Munoz-Miyazato match would have mattered a lot more and might have ended up differently).  Let's also give Mika Miyazato a lot of credit.  She got Japan's only individual win and combined with Mamiko Higa for a win and a halve.  But she was definitely overshadowed by all the fireworks and drama Sakura and Ai-sama brought to their matches.

So while Nordqvist was the top points-getter, and Park and Ryu were the heart and soul of Team Korea, I'd say that Ciganda was the MVP of the International Crown and Mozo was the Cinderella.

What awards would you give out?

[Update 1 (7/28/14, 11:14 am):  Here's bangkokbobby's take!]

International Crown Sunday: It All Comes Down to This!

Play has just started on day 4 of the International Crown, with Inbee Park 1-up on Caroline Hedwall through 2 and Pornanong Phatlum and In-Kyung Kim all-square through the 1st.  I'll be not-quite-live blogging every half-hour or so until the Golf Channel coverage starts.  In the meantime, check out my previews of each Sunday singles match.  I'm very interested in seeing how the under-22 crowd in the field--Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, and Mamiko Higa--handle the pressure!  Oh, and if you get a chance to watch Stacy Lewis's interview from Morning Drive, I guarantee your respect for her will go even higher, no matter how high it was before the interview.

[Update 1 (12:37 pm):  Here's how the matches stand thus far.

1. Caroline Hedwall vs. Inbee Park

Inbee is now 2-up through 5.  She won 2 and 3, lost 4, and won 5.  Too bad the scorecard is traditional match-play format, with no scores on the cards.  Would be nice to get a hint of whether eagle, birdie, par, or bogey won a hole!

[Update 1.a.1 (1:08 pm):  Inbee won the par-3 6th and lost the par-4 7th, so she is now 2-up through 8.]

[Update 1.a.2 (2:02 pm):  Inbee won 11 to go back to 3-up.]

[Update 1.a.3 (2:20 pm):  Inbee is 3-up with 5 holes to go.]

[Update 1.a.4 (2:36 pm):  Judy said that Caroline's been burning a lot of edges.  That won't do it against Inbee.]

[Update 1.a.5 (2:37 pm):  Inbee makes the 3-footer to be dormie with 3 to play.]

[Update 1.a.6 (2:51 pm):  Inbee gets the job done with another wedge on 16!  Caroline pitched to the fringe and fails to make birdie.  She concedes Inbee the birdie.  Inbee wins 4&2.  Korea now has 8 points.]

2. Pornanong Phatlum vs. In-Kyung Kim

Pornanong just won the 4th hole to go 1-up.

[Update 1.b.1 (1:10 pm):  Inky won the par-3 6th but Pornanong bounced back with a win on the par-4 7th, and she is now 1-up through 7.]

[Update 1.b.2 (2:03 pm):  Pornanong won 8 to go 2-up but Inky won 10 to go 1-down.]

[Update 1.b.3 (2:47 pm):  If Korea is going to win this thing, Inky has to saddle up.  She's 2-down with 4 to play.]

[Update 1.b.4 (3:03 pm):  Pornanong is 2-up with 3 holes to go.]

[Update 1.b.5 (3:12 pm):  Inky needs to make this putt on 16!]

[Update 1.b.6 (3:29 pm):  She blasted it through the break after getting a great read from Pornanong, who's now dormie.]

[Update 1.b.7 (3:33 pm):  Pornanong misses the 17th green short but dry with a 5-iron.  Inky has a hybrid in her hands and lofts it to the front of the green.  Maybe 30 feet for a birdie.]

[Update 1.b.8 (3:39 pm):  Too aggressive a chip from Pornanong leaves her with a 15-foot putt to win the match.  She couldn't make it.  Now Inky has a 3-footer to force the match to 18.]

[Update 1.b.9 (3:41 pm):  Inky made it and they go to 18.]

[Update 1.b.10 (3:46 pm):  From the right side of the fairway to a front-right pin, Inky just carries her iron far enough to stay on top of the shelf guarding the front of the green.  Not as extreme as on 16, but the bank kept her shot from bouncing forward right to the pin.  She's on the fringe.]

[Update 1.b.11 (3:47 pm):  Pornanong uses the shelf past the pin to bring her 8-iron back to about 8 feet.  Great shot!]

[Update 1.b.12 (3:55 pm):  Inky can't get her birdie try to the hole.  She's in for par.  Pornanong needs to 2-putt to win the match.  Rolled it 18 inches by.  Conceded.  Pornanong wins 1-up.]

3. Ariya Jutanugarn vs. Pernilla Lindberg

Pernilla won the 1st hole and remains 1-up through 3.

[Update 1.c.1 (1:11 pm):  Pernilla won the par-4 5th and is now 2-up through 6.]

[Update 1.c.2 (2:03 pm):  Pernilla won 7 and 10 to go 4-up.]

[Update 1.c.3 (2:22 pm):  Pernilla is now 5-up with 7 holes to play after winning 11.]

[Update 1.c.4 (2:35 pm):  Pernilla is now dormie and putting from the fringe on 13 to win the match.  6 inches short.  Ariya has to make her putt to extend the match.]

[Update 1.c.5 (2:37 pm):  Pernilla wins 6&5.  Now Sweden has 9 points.]

4. Carlota Ciganda vs. Na Yeon Choi

Carlota won the 1st hole and remains 1-up through 2.

[Update 1.d.1 (1:11 pm):  Carlota is taking it to NYC, with wins on 3, 4, and 5 to go 4-up.]

[Update 1.d.2 (2:04 pm):  Carlota won 6 to go 5-up and 9 to go 6-up.]

[Update 1.d.3 (2:22 pm):  Carlota is 6-up with only 8 left to play.]

[Update 1.d.4 (2:26 pm):  Carlota is dormie with 7 to play!]

[Update 1.d.5 (2:41 pm):  NYC misses a makeable birdie putt and concedes Ciganda the shorter birdie putt.  Ciganda wins 8&6.  Spain now has 9 points.]

5. Sakura Yokomine vs. So Yeon Ryu

So Yeon won the 1st hole and Sakura the 2nd, so they're all-square through 2.

[Update 1.e.1 (1:12 pm):  Sakura won the par-3 3rd and is 1-up through 4.]

[Update 1.e.2 (2:05 pm):  Sakura is now 1-up through 8.]

[Update 1.e.3 (2:25 pm):  Sakura is now 2-up through 9.]

[Update 1.e.4 (2:56 pm):  So Yeon won 10, but got her approach shot buried in a bunker on the par-5 12th and barely got it out; anyway, Sakura eagled the hole anyway to go back 2-up.]

[Update 1.e.5 (2:58 pm):  Hold on.  They updated the scoreboard.  So Yeon won 10 and 11 to briefly bring the match to all-square.  So Sakura's eagle only puts her 1-up.]

[Update 1.e.6 (3:07 pm):  So Yeon put it just past pin-high after Sakura went over on the par 3, but after a fantastic chip and a So Yeon miss, Sakura has 3 feet to halve the hole.  She missed it right.  I've seen that miss several times the last few days.]

[Update 1.e.7 (3:14 pm):  After So Yeon used the left bank on the 14th green to put a 4-hybrid about 25 feet past the pin, Sakura took it just right of the pin and left it about 10 feet away for birdie.  Great match!]

[Update 1.e.8 (3:35 pm):  Nice 2-putt save by So Yeon after "a rush of blood to her head" on the birdie try.  Wonder why they didn't show the birdie attempts on the coverage?]

[Update 1.e.9 (3:42 pm):  Sakura puts it right in the middle of the 15th green.  So Yeon was much closer to the green, but her approach didn't hold, either, and she ended up about 2 feet farther from the hole than Sakura.]

[Update 1.e.10 (3:48 pm):  Both make routine 2-putts.  Now they're heading into the 16th, where So Yeon made one of the most important birdies of her life last night!]

[Update 1.e.11 (4:00 pm):  So Yeon goes for the green in 2 and just carries it to the top of the shelf, right in the same neck that blocked Lexi twice yesterday.  She's on the fringe with an eagle putt ahead of her.]

[Update 1.e.12 (4:02 pm):  Yokomine laid up just into the left rough.  With the pin back, she had plenty of room to bounce it up to the green, but she just carried it too far and it went to the back fringe or 1st cut.]

[Update 1.e.13 (4:06 pm):  Amazing lag from So Yeon from maybe 80 feet almost went in.  Easy birdie after all!]

[Update 1.e.14 (4:07 pm):  Can Sakura bring the magic again on this chip?  Nope.  So Yeon is 1-up with 2 to play.]

[Update 1.e.15 (4:10 pm):  Dammit, So Yeon put it in the water on 17.  Don't get me wrong, I want Sakura to win, but I want it through great shots.  Oh well, Sakura guarded so much against the pond she went left of the cart path into the dining area!  So Yeon's still in this hole!]

[Update 1.e.16 (4:15 pm):  Yokomine did what she had to, lofting it over the trap and letting it roll out to the edge of the green.  She has about 30 feet for par and So Yeon has about 8 for bogey.]

[Update 1.e.17 (4:16 pm):  Maybe some more magic for Sakura here?  She needs it, as she's showing So Yeon the line on her par attempt.  Just missed it, right.  Now the pressure's on So Yeon to halve the hole and become dormie heading into 18.]

[Update 1.e.18 (4:17 pm):  So Yeon's taking a long look.  HUGE putt for her!]

[Update 1.e.19 (4:17 pm):  So Yeon's drive was leaking right but stayed at the edge of the fairway.  Nervous moment as the creek was only a few yards right of where she ended up.  Sakura got almost no roll on her drive; she's in the right side of the fairway.]

[Update 1.e.20 (4:30 pm):  Sakura hit a nice shot from about 150 out, putting it maybe 8 feet past the pin on 18.  So Yeon's approach went a little longer and a little lefter.  She'll have about 20 feet to close out the match.]

[Update 1.e.21 (4:38 pm):  Can't believe Golf Channel didn't show So Yeon's lag.  She's in for 4.  So Korea will get 2 points if Sakura misses and each team will get 1 if she makes.  She just missed on the left side.  So Yeon wins 1-up.]

6. Beatriz Recari vs. Mikaela Parmlid

Beatriz and Mikaela halved the 1st hole, so they're all-square through 1.

[Update 1.f.1 (1:13 pm):  Beatriz won the 2nd and 3rd and is 2-up through 4.]

[Update 1.f.2 (2:06 pm):  Beatriz won 5, Mikaela won 6, and Beatriz won 8 to go back to 3-up.]

[Update 1.f.3 (2:23 pm):  Beatriz is now 4-up with 9 holes to go.]

[Update 1.f.4 (3:04 pm):  Mikaela wins 11 to get back to 3-down.]

[Update 1.f.5 (3:10 pm):  2 in a row for Mikaela!  Only 2-down now with 6 to play.]

[Update 1.f.6 (3:51 pm):  Too bad!  Parmlid can't get the 18-foot par putt to drop to halve the 14th.  Back to 3-down.]

[Update 1.f.7 (4:22 pm):  Parmlid couldn't make the 6-footer on the par-5 16th to extend the match.  Recari wins 3&2.]

The remaining matches have not yet completed a hole as of the 1st update.]

[Update 2 (1:14 pm):  See above for updates on matches already in progress at last update!

7. Mamiko Higa vs. Anna Nordqvist

Anna won the 3rd to go 1-up through 3.

[Update 2.a.1 (2:07 pm):  Mamiko won 4 and 5 to go one-up, but Anna brought it back to all-square by winning 7.]

[Update 2.a.2 (2:20 pm):  Anna makes it 2 holes in a row to go 1-up through 8.]

[Update 2.a.3 (2:49 pm):  Mamiko won 9 but couldn't sink a 12-footer to halve 10.  Nordqvist is still 1-up.]

[Update 2.a.4 (3:01 pm):  Great putt by Nordqvist on 11 for birdie to go 2-up.]

[Update 2.a.5 (3:36 pm):  Another great mid-range putt from Nordqvist for another win, this one on 12.  She's 3-up.]

[Update 2.a.6 (3:44 pm):  Just when you thought she might be on the ropes, Mamiko makes a 20-footer for birdie on the par-3 13th to go back to 2-down.]

[Update 2.a.7 (3:59 pm):  Anna's too much for Higa--and probably anyone--today.  With Higa in the bunker on 14, Anna calmly bounces 1 in to 8 inches.  Higa needs to make like Ai-sama just to halve the hole.]

[Update 2.a.8 (4:10 pm):  1st tentative stroke I've seen today from Anna, but she halves the hole and goes dormie with 3 to play.]

[Update 2.a.9 (4:33 pm):  Anna had 2 putts from 10 feet on the fringe to win the match, and she cozied the 1st right up there.  She wins 3&2.]

8. Belen Mozo vs. Moriya Jutanugarn

They're all-square through 2.

[Update 2.b.1 (2:07 pm):  Moriya won 4 and 6 and Belen won 5, so Moriya is 1-up.]

[Update 2.b.2 (2:28 pm):  Belen won 7 and 8 to go 1-up.]

[Update 2.b.3 (2:44 pm):  A par is enough for Mozo to make it 3 in a row.  She's 2-up through 9.]

[Update 2.b.4 (2:52 pm):  Nice shot and nice bounce for Moriya on 10.  Let's see if she can make the 6-footer.]

[Update 2.b.5 (3:11 pm):  Moriya made it on 10 and then Belen missed a makeable 10-footer on 11, so Belen remains 1-up.]

[Update 2.b.6 (3:49 pm):  Belen makes a tap-in birdie on 12 to go 2-up.]

[Update 2.b.7 (3:53 pm):  After a lot of discussion, Belen goes to the back-left of the pin on 13.]

[Update 2.b.8 (4:04 pm):  Nice lag from Mozo on 13 to halve the hole.]

[Update 2.b.9 (4:47 pm):  Golf Channel's been ignoring this match until they got to 16 and because I had to talk to a man about a tree (literally), I'm still behind on the DVR, so haven't looked online to see the results.  They finally realized that Belen can clinch it for Spain and showed her hitting a good lay-up on the par-5 16th.  She's 2-up and Moriya needs to make something happen!  She backs off from her fairway wood.  She restarts her routine and then lands it too far short of the top of the bank, so she rolls back down the hill.  If Belen can get up and down, she not only wins the hole and the match, but also the crown!]

[Update 2.b.10 (4:49 pm):  Nice approach from Belen, hitting it just past the pin and spinning it enough to stop it before it ran down to where Yokomine ended up on this hole earlier.]

[Update 2.b.11 (4:50 pm):  Great pitch from Moriya.  Now it's a putting contest.]

[Update 2.b.12 (4:52 pm):  Mozo sinks it!!!  Now Moriya needs to make hers to extend the match.]

[Update 2.b.13 (4:54 pm):  Moriya misses low side.  Mozo wins 3&2.  The crown is Spain's!]

[Update 2.b.14 (4:58 pm):  When you think about how high was on day 1 and how low they were on day 2 after Team USA swept them, the way they played on the weekend is even more impressive.  Carlota destroying NYC really set the tone for them today and Beatriz and Belen responded against opponents they knew they had a good chance to beat.  Bottom line is they did what they had to do.  Great job!]

9. Mika Miyazato vs. Onnarin Sattayabanphot

They're all-square through 2.

[Update 2.c.1 (2:08 pm):  Mikan won 4 and 5 and is 2-up through 6.]

[Update 2.c.2 (2:27 pm):  Mikan wins 7 to go 3-up.]

[Update 2.c.3 (2:38 pm):  Nice putt on 8 by Onnarin to get back to 2-down.]

[Update 2.c.4 (3:30 pm):  Mikan sticks it on 11 to tap-in range.]

[Update 2.c.5 (3:33 pm):  Onnarin halves the hole with a fantastic 20-footer for birdie!]

[Update 2.c.6 (4:12 pm):  Thought Mikan had the birdie putt from the back fringe on 13, but it veered left on the last roll.]

[Update 2.c.7 (4:13 pm):  Onnarin has about a 5-footer to save par and she makes it dead-center, halving the hole.  She's still 2-down with 5 to play.]

[Update 2.c.8 (4:32 pm):  Mikan's birdie try on 14 seemed to wobble its way around the hole.]

[Update 2.c.9 (4:36 pm):  Yikes.  Mikan missed her tap-in to fall back to 1-up.]

[Update 2.c.10 (4:51 pm):  Mikan has a 4-footer to win 15.  Hits the right corner of the cup and spins out.  Still 1-up, now with 3 to play.]

[Update 2.c.11 (5:03 pm):  Great approach by Mikan on 16.  She's in that same range she's missed from the last 2 holes, but this time for birdie.]

[Update 2.c.12 (5:07 pm):  Onnarin took a run at her birdie putt, assuming Mikan will make hers.  Now if she misses the comebacker Mikan won't have to putt.  Onnarin makes the 4-foot par putt, though.  Can she dodge a 3rd bullet in a row?  Mikan's little water bottle ritual is getting a lot of humorous commentary the last few holes!  She makes it and goes dormie with 2 to play.]

[Update 2.c.13 (5:14 pm):  Onnarin concedes a long par putt to Mikan on 17.  Mikan wins 3&1.]

10. Ai Miyazato vs. Azahara Munoz

Aza won the 1st hole.]

[Update 2.d.1 (2:09 pm):  Ai-sama won 4 and 5 to go 1-up.]

[Update 2.d.2 (2:30 pm):  Aza won 7 to square up the match.]

[Update 2.d.3 (3:02 pm):  Great 12-footer by Aza to halve 9.  Still all-square.]

[Update 2.d.4 (3:37 pm):  Aza sticks it on 11!  Pressure's on Ai-sama!  She gets it in birdie range--maybe 8 feet short right of the cup.]

[Update 2.d.5 (3:40 pm):  Yikes, both players missed!  Ai-sama must feel like she dodged a bullet.]

[Update 2.d.6 (4:07 pm):  Ai-sama didn't miss the tap-in for birdie on 12, so she's 1-up!]

[Update 2.d.7 (4:18 pm):  Fantastic 15-footer for birdie by Aza.  Back to all-square through 13 now.]

[Update 2.d.8 (4:43 pm):  Aza made a nice try from about 20 feet on 14.  Looked good all the way but rolled about 2 feet by the cup.]

[Update 2.d.9 (4:59 pm):  Aza made a great birdie on 15, again from medium range, right after finding out her team had won the crown.  She's 1-up with 3 to play.]

[Update 2.d.10 (5:01 pm):  Great drive by Aza on 16, dead center.  Good one from Ai-sama, to the right side of the fairway.]

[Update 2.d.11 (5:04 pm):  Bad lay-up by Ai-sama with a fairway wood.  Deep in the right rough.]

[Update 2.d.12 (5:09 pm):  Ai-sama's 121 out with Aza in perfect position.  The rough closed her club face and the ball rolled into the front-left trap.  Munoz is about half the distance from the hole and puts it about 2 feet outside where Mikan had left hers.  Munoz can win the match on this hole.]

[Update 2.d.13 (5:11 pm):  After a bad bunker shot, Ai-sama rolls in the 25-footer to make a huge par save.  Rueful smile and raised eyebrows from Ai-sama say it all.  Big let-down.  I'll bet she's hoping Aza makes the putt.]

[Update 2.d.14 (5:12 pm):  Aza's putt rolled by the right edge of the cup at a snail's pace.  They halve the hole and Aza remains 1-up with 2 to play.  Sorry, she would have been dormie if she had made it.]

[Update 2.d.15 (5:18 pm):  Good shot by Aza, landing it front-left on the green and letting it roll out to almost pin high.  Not a good shot by Ai-sama, leaving it on the front-right fringe.  The atmosphere here would be totally different if Sakura could have put her approach on 17 on the green, eh?]

[Update 2.d.16 (5:21 pm):  Good speed, bad line for Ai-sama.  3 feet right.  Aza has maybe 20 feet to win the hole and the match.  18 inches short.  Ai-sama concedes and Aza doesn't.  Wonder if Ai-sama will be concentrating on this one.  Nope.  Aza wins 2&1.]

[Update 3 (1:19 pm):  At times, I'll try to sum up where the teams currently stand.

Japan (8): up in 1, all-square in 1, down in 2
Spain (7): up in 2, all-square in 1, down in 1
Sweden (7): up in 1, down in 3
Thailand (7): up in 1, all-square in 2, down in 1
Korea (6): up in 1, down in 3

Wish they had flags by the players' names on the scoreboard!]

[Update 4 (2:11 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Japan (8): up in 3, all-square in 1
Spain (7): up in 2, all-square in 1, down in 1
Sweden (7): up in 1, all-square in 1, down in 2
Thailand (7): up in 2, down in 2
Korea (6): up in 1, down in 3

Can't wait for the tv coverage to start!]

[Update 5 (2:32 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Japan (8): up in 2, all-square in 2
Spain (7): up in 3, all-square in 1
Sweden (7): up in 1, all-square in 1, down in 2
Thailand (7): up in 1, down in 3
Korea (6): up in 1, down in 3

K, it's tv time!]

[Update 6 (2:40 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Sweden (9): won 1, all-square in 1, down in 2
Japan (8): up in 2, all-square in 2
Spain (7): up in 3, all-square in 1
Thailand (7): up in 1, down in 2, lost 1
Korea (6): up in 1, down in 3

Tightening up!]

[Update 7 (2:43 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Spain (9): won 1, up in 2, all-square in 1
Sweden (9): won 1, all-square in 1, down in 2
Japan (8): up in 2, all-square in 2
Thailand (7): up in 1, down in 2, lost 1
Korea (6): up in 1, down in 2, lost 1

Tightening up!]

[Update 8 (2:54 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Spain (9): won 1, up in 2, all-square in 1
Sweden (9): won 1, up in 1, down in 1, lost 1
Japan (8): up in 2, all-square in 1, down in 1
Korea (8): won 1, down in 2, lost 1
Thailand (7): up in 1, down in 2, lost 1

Tightening up further!]

[Update 9 (3:57 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Spain (9): won 1, up in 2, all-square in 1
Sweden (9): won 1, up in 1, down in 1, lost 1
Thailand (9): won 1, down in 2, lost 1
Japan (8): up in 1, all-square in 2, down in 1
Korea (8): won 1, all-square in 1, lost 2

Tightening up even further!]

[Update 10 (4:23 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Spain (11): won 2, up in 1, all-square in 1
Sweden (9): won 1, up in 1, lost 2
Thailand (9): won 1, down in 2, lost 1
Japan (8): up in 1, all-square in 1, down in 2
Korea (8): won 1, up in 1, lost 2

It's looking like Spain right now!]

[Update 11 (4:35 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Spain (11): won 2, up in 1, all-square in 1
Sweden (11): won 2, lost 2
Thailand (9): won 1, down in 2, lost 1
Japan (8): up in 1, all-square in 1, down in 1, lost 1
Korea (8): won 1, up in 1, lost 2

It's still looking like Spain!]

[Update 12 (4:39 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Spain (11): won 2, up in 1, all-square in 1
Sweden (11): won 2, lost 2
Korea (10): won 2, lost 2
Thailand (9): won 1, down in 2, lost 1
Japan (8): up in 1, all-square in 1, lost 2

It's more and more looking like Spain!]

[Update 13 (4:55 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Spain (13): won 3, all-square in 1
Sweden (11): won 2, lost 2
Korea (10): won 2, lost 2
Thailand (9): won 1, down in 1, lost 2
Japan (8): up in 1, all-square in 1, lost 2

It's Spain!]

[Update 14 (5:15 pm):  Here's how the teams stand right now:

Spain (13): won 3, all-square in 1
Sweden (11): won 2, lost 2
Korea (10): won 2, lost 2
Japan (10): won 1, down in 1, lost 2
Thailand (9): won 1, lost 3

They're just playing for position now!]

[Update 15 (5:22 pm):  Here are the final results:

Spain (15): won 4
Sweden (11): won 2, lost 2
Korea (10): won 2, lost 2
Japan (10): won 1, lost 3
Thailand (9): won 1, lost 3

Congratulations to Team Spain!]

Century 21 Ladies Sunday: Bo-Mee Lee in da House!!

Bo-Mee Lee secured her 7th career JLPGA victory today at the Century 21 Ladies, but luck had nothing to do with it.  She flat-out outplayed her playing partners--the #1 and #3 golfers on tour, Sun-Ju Ahn and Misuzu Narita--by getting to -12 for the week with 7 holes to play and forcing the field to chase her down.  Narita had put herself in the hole early with an opening triple and back-to-back bogeys late on the back, but Ahn was -2 through her 1st 4 holes and -10 overall.  However, she then went cold, making 1 bogey and 13 pars the rest of the way.  Narita, meanwhile, ended the week at -5, tied with the player she beat in last week's playoff, Kotono Kozuma.

The players who did take runs at Lee were too far back at the start of the day to be much of a threat to her.  Keiko Sasaki posted an early 69 to finish at -9, but 2 consecutive opening bogeys and a closing one kept her well behind Lee.  Asako Fujimoto was -10 and bogey-free with 3 holes to play, but finished par-bogey-par.  Natsuka Hori made 6 birdies in her last 10 holes, but it was too little, too late as she finished at -8.  Hikari Fujita posted a bogey-free 67 and Momoko Ueda made an eagle during her bogey-free 68, but they both finished in a big group at -7.

In the end, Lee made 6 pars and a bogey down the home stretch to cruise to a 2-shot victory.  It wasn't enough to move her from #2 to #1 on the JLPGA money list, but she's now within real striking range!

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥85.73M
2. Bo-Mee Lee ¥78.48M
3. Misuzu Narita ¥66.80M
4. Miki Sakai ¥56.30M
5. Erina Hara ¥40.04M
6. Ji-Yai Shin ¥39.33M
7. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥37.84M
8. Ayaka Watanabe ¥37.61M
9. Esther Lee ¥34.99M
10. Teresa Lu ¥34.45M
11. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥32.17M
12. Yuki Ichinose ¥31.61M
13. Rikako Morita ¥30.23M
14. Ritsuko Ryu ¥28.55M
15. Ji-Hee Lee ¥27.65M
16. Lala Anai ¥26.73M
17. Phoebe Yao ¥26.57M
18. Na-Ri Lee ¥24.84M
19. Hikari Fujita ¥24.28M
20. Mayu Hattori ¥23.30M
21. Shiho Oyama ¥22.23M
22. Sakura Yokomine ¥20.58M
23. Kaori Ohe ¥20.48M
24. Shanshan Feng ¥20.04M
25. Yeon-Ju Jung ¥20.02M
26. Yukari Baba ¥19.85M
27. Asako Fujimoto ¥19.27M
28. Mami Fukuda ¥18.59M
29. Junko Omote ¥18.29M
30. Momoko Ueda ¥18.18M
31. Mamiko Higa ¥17.80M
32. Saiki Fujita ¥17.63M
33. Rumi Yoshiba ¥17.44M
34. Megumi Kido ¥16.80M
35. Akane Iijima ¥16.52M
36. Soo-Yun Kang ¥16.01M
37. Natsuka Hori ¥15.63M
38. Kotono Kozuma ¥15.62M
39. Yumiko Yoshida ¥15.18M
40. Na-Ri Kim ¥14.29M

Next up on the JLPGA is the Meiji Cup, which Da-Ye Na won last year.  Amazingly, both Sakura Yokomine and Mamiko Higa are on the field list!  Wonder if they'll take a week off if they can help Team Japan win the International Crown today!  Maybe not:  Teresa Lu and Onnarin Sattayabanphot are also in the field....

Sizing Up the Sunday Singles Showdowns at the International Crown

Here are the final singles match-play showdowns at the International Crown:

1. Caroline Hedwall vs. Inbee Park
2. Pornanong Phatlum vs. In-Kyung Kim
3. Ariya Jutanugarn vs. Pernilla Lindberg
4. Carlota Ciganda vs. Na Yeon Choi
5. Sakura Yokomine vs. So Yeon Ryu
6. Beatriz Recari vs. Mikaela Parmlid
7. Mamiko Higa vs. Anna Nordqvist
8. Belen Mozo vs. Moriya Jutanugarn
9. Mika Miyazato vs. Onnarin Sattayabanphot
10. Ai Miyazato vs. Azahara Munoz


Let's break down each of the matches:

Caroline Hedwall:  #33 Rolex Rankings (2.57), #34 Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (71.00), #32 Mostly Harmless Career Ranking (-10.7%).  Don't let the numbers coming into this match fool you.  Hedwall is a match-play demon.  She made 3 birdies on day 1, 2 eagles and 3 birdies on day 2, and 3 birdies on day 3.  Given her aggressive style of play, she was out of a lot of holes over the 1st 2 days, but was in every hole on day 3.  If she can take advantage of her power, she'll be a force to be reckoned with.  She and Nordqvist earned 5 points for Team Sweden in pool play.  Can she get any more against the former world #1?
Inbee Park:  #3 RR (9.54), #5 GSPI (69.32), #5 MH (+4.3%).  If anyone can be the ice to Hedwall's fire, it's one of the most unflappable (least flappable?) players I've ever seen.  She made an eagle and a birdie on day 1, an eagle and 3 birdies on day 2, and 4 birdies in regulation on day 3, with another in the playoff.  (Never mind day 1, when she was shaking off the effects of a long flight from Korea back to the States.)  If putting is going to make the difference today, my money's on the world's best putter.  Hedwall's already gotten 1 win against Park on day 2, which limited Inbee and So Yeon Ryu to only 4 points thus far this week.  I don't see it happening again, especially without Nordqvist to back her up.

Pornanong Phatlum:  #28 RR (2.84), #25 GSPI (70.64), #42 MH (+14.9%).  This is one of the most even matches on paper, despite the fact that Phatlum came into the week pretty hot and Kim pretty cold.  Phatlum made only 2 birdies on day 1 and 3 on day 2, but she was heroic on Saturday, making 7 birdies to help Sattayabanphot take down Lewis and Creamer.  Only question is whether she can keep rolling the ball so well without her partner backing her up.
In-Kyung Kim:  #23 RR (3.23), #27 GSPI (70.83), #12 MH (-4.1%).  Inky's been streaky in recent weeks, going low to win on the LET the week before missing the cut at the Women's British Open.  But she's been pretty darn great this week, making 3 birdies in a losing effort against Webb and Lee on day 1, going off for 7 birdies on day 2 in the epic battle she and NYC won against Lindberg and Parmlid (who shot a team 62 and lost!), and dropping 6 birdies in a valiant but losing effort against an inspired Sakura Yokomine and Ai Miyazato.  Basically, pretty much everybody has played their best round of the week against her.  So she's ready for anything from Phatlum.  This one's a toss-up and it ought to be dramatic.

Ariya Jutanugarn:  #43 RR (2.16), #56 GSPI (71.41), n.r. MH.  On paper she looks to have a big advantage here, but she got carried by sister Moriya the 1st 2 days and has made only 2 birdies each on days 1 and 2, improving to 3 on day 3.  She just hasn't really ever gotten it going this week.  Maybe she's due.  Or maybe her nerves will be worse on day 4.  Hard to say.
Pernilla Lindberg:  #135 RR (.86), #88 GSPI (72.06), n.r. MH.  She and partner Mikaela Parmlid have been on fire the last 2 days.  After making only 2 birdies on day 1, she bounced back with 4 on day 2 and 5 in only 13 holes on day 3.  Only thing is, she's been feeding off even better play by Parmlid (on whom more soon), so how she'll respond to going it alone will also be a bigger question than it ought to be for more seasoned and accomplished players.  This one is anyone's game.

Carlota Ciganda:  #63 RR (1.67), #75 GSPI (71.79), #48 MH (-26.6%).  She's having a Jekyll and Hyde year, playing just fine on the LET and in match play, but not doing much of anything in stroke play on the LPGA thus far this season.  Good thing for her she's going up against NYC in match play.  Like Hedwall against Park, Ciganda's going to have to harness her aggressiveness without her more consistent partner to back her up.  The funny thing is, she hasn't made all that many birdies this week.  She got 2 on day 1, 2 in her and Munoz's only loss this week, and 3 birdies in 13 holes on day 3.  So maybe she'll actually have to ramp up her aggressiveness against NYC?
Na Yeon Choi:  #18 RR (3.73), #13 GSPI (70.19), #7 MH (-4.8%).  After a cold day 1 (only 1 birdie), she's really heated up, making 8 birdies against Lindberg and Parmlid on day 2 and 4 against Yokomine and Ai-sama on day 3.  This should be another very interesting fire-and-ice match for Team Korea, who can make an early statement and force everyone else to play catch-up if they play to their potential.

Sakura Yokomine:  #38 RR (2.35), #22 GSPI (70.57), n.r. MH.  It's fitting that the 2 hottest players for Team Japan and Team Korea get to go mano a mano in Korea's last match of the day.  Nobody's made more improbable shots--and more of them--than Yokomine this week, but does she have any more left in the bag?  She's been a really streaky player this week, as she birdied 2 of her 1st 4 holes on each side on day 1, made 2 birdies in a 5-hole stretch during day 2's amazing comeback, and went eagle-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie as she and Ai Miyazato took over the match on the back 9 on day 3.  So if she can go on one of her runs, she might be able to hang with Ryu and get Japan's day off on the right foot.  She's got to look at this as a nothing-to-lose match (given Team Japan's 2-point advantage in pool play on Team Korea) and freewheel it against one of the best players in the world.
So Yeon Ryu:  #9 RR (5.81), #7 GSPI (69.51), #8 MH (-3.2%).  Ryu not only looks good on paper, she made 4 birdies and an eagle on day 1, 4 birdies (all on the back) on day 2, and 6 birdies in 15 holes of regulation golf on day 3, along with her playoff-winning birdie on 16.  If she can win this match, she erases the 2-point lead Team Korea spotted Team Japan in pool play.  This is a HUGE one, a true must-win.  If she can handle the pressure of batting clean-up for her team, it might be just what she needs to find her way back to the winner's circle in stroke play, too.

Beatriz Recari:  #37 RR (2.39), #118 GSPI (72.70), #27 MH (-8.2%).  She's been playing solid this week, building on her recent upswing in stroke play with steady improvement from 1 birdie on day 1 to 2 on day 2 to 3 on day 3.  But if Parmlid can keep the birdie barrage going for one more day, Recari will have to be able to respond in kind!
Mikaela Parmlid:  #236 RR (.43), #253 GSPI (74.45), n.r. MH.  On paper, this ought to be no contest, but consider that Parmlid has been on fire the last 2 days, with 6 birdies and an eagle on day 2 and 3 birdies in 13 holes on day 3 after managing only 1 on day 1.  And yet, if she can keep it going against Recari, I'll be super-impressed--almost as impressed as I was by Catriona Matthew's WBO victory right after giving birth!

Mamiko Higa:  #68 RR (1.60), #73 GSPI (71.74), n.r. MH.  Last year's JLPGA Rookie of the Year surprised me by playing really good golf this week, despite missing the cut in 3 of her last 6 starts in Japan heading into this week.  Teaming up with fellow Okinawan Mika Miyazato, she was probably the leading half of a giant-slaying duo in pool play.  She made 2 birdies on day 1 against Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall to help Mikan tie the Solheim Cup Vikings, 6 birdies in 16 holes on day 2 as she and Mikan took down Karrie Webb and Minjee Lee, and 3 birdies in a valiant but losing effort against Ryu and Park on day 3.  Now she's got to do it on her own against a formidable opponent with lots more international and match-play experience.  But she's gotta be used to being the underdog by now....
Anna Nordqvist:  #11 RR (4.98), #14 GSPI (70.22), #14 MH (+16.0%).  She's playing with great authority and confidence this year and she has the results this week to go with that mindset:  3 birdies against Mamiko and Mikan on day 1, 2 birdies in a mostly supporting role with Hedwall against Park and Ryu, and 6 birdies in only 15 holes on day 3 against Webb and Lee.  She's on a roll and knows she needs to win 2 points in Team Sweden's final match of the week, particularly against a player from Japan, the only team with more points than Sweden after pool play.

Belen Mozo:  #112 RR (1.03), #108 GSPI (72.39), n.r. MH.  It's between her, Parmlid, and Higa to see who will be the Cinderella of the week.  She's coming off an eagle and 5 birdies on day 3 and made 4 birdies against the Jutanugarns on day 1, so we know she can make birdies in bunches on this course.  Only question is whether she can do it on day 4 all by herself.
Moriya Jutanugarn:  #120 RR (.96), #141 GSPI (73.03), #60 MH (-26.0%).  This may be the week she looks back on and sees her sophomore slump come to an end.  She carried younger sister Ariya in pool play, making 4 birdies each day.  If she can keep it going on day 4, Mozo's going to have her hands full against her.

Mika Miyazato:  #51 RR (1.95), #63 GSPI (71.53), #25 MH (-6.9%).  On paper, she's having the worst year of her LPGA career.  But for someone averaging 2.86 birdies per round and 1.86 putts per green in regulation thus far this season, she's been getting the ball in the hole quickly this week.  She made 4 birdies on day 1 against Nordqvist and Hedwall, made 5 birdies in only 16 holes as she and Higa beat Webb and Lee, and made 4 birdies in that valiant but losing effort against Park and Ryu on day 3.  She's birdied the 1st hole every single day of pool play.  If she can keep it up, she'll earn Team Japan a much-needed pair of points.  I hate to say it, but Team Japan are the underdogs in their 1st 2 matches of the day.  It may be up to Mikan to keep hope alive on day 4.
Onnarin Sattayabanphot:  #88 RR (1.25), #62 GSPI (71.48), n.r. MH.  She's played great despite coming into this week among the coldest golfers in the field.  She could manage only 1 birdie on day 1, but made 4 on day 2, including the game-winner against Ya Ni Tseng and Phoebe Yao on the 18th hole, and also sank 4 on day 3, getting Team Thailand off to a fast start against Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer and making key shots and putts down the home stretch to preserve the 1-up victory that ended up helping eliminate the Americans from Sunday competition.  It's kind of funny that the Japanese player in this match isn't a JLPGA member while the Thai player not only is but also speaks Japanese.  This should be a comfortable setting for Sattayabanphot, but she's in a must-win situation, batting clean-up for Team Thailand.  Expect a hard-fought match between 2 golfers with a lot to prove.

Ai Miyazato:  #58 RR (1.81), #76 GSPI (71.81), #10 MH (-5.1%).  Like Mikan, Moriya, and Belen before her, Ai-sama has a great chance to turn her 2014 around this week.  She's no stranger to match-play heroics, as she lost in the HSBC World Match Play finals in a heartbreaker to Seon Hwa Lee back in 2007.  But frankly, she's been mostly riding Yokomine's coattails in pool play this week, making only 1 birdie each on days 1 and 2.  Still, she bounced back with 5 on day 3 (and not all of them were due to concessions after Yokomine heroics!).  It's all going to depend on how well she putts, I think.  Although holing out more shots from the sand would be welcome, too!
Azahara Munoz:  #20 RR (3.48), #15 GSPI (70.35), #18 MH (+5.1%).  Aza's 2014 just keeps on getting better, as she opened this week with 3 birdies on day 1, made 4 on day 2, and closed pool play with 5 in only 13 holes on day 3.  So she's the obvious favorite in this match.  If she can draw on her Solheim Cup experience and her victory at the Sybase Match Play Championship back in 2012, she should be able to handle the pressure of being Team Spain's clean-up batter with perhaps a chance to win the crown in the final match of the week!


I'm not going to bother forecasting who's going to win this thing.  Any of the 5 teams can.

[Update 1 (11:54 am):  Here's Ruthless Mike's thoughts on the Saturday shockwaves!]

Saturday, July 26, 2014

International Crown Saturday: Either Team USA or Team ROK Won't Be Playing for the Crown Tomorrow

It's playoff time in the International Crown!  To see how we got to the point where Team USA and Team ROK are in a playoff for the 5th and last spot in Sunday's singles play, check out my play-by-play post.  Either the #1 or #2 seed will be out of the race for the crown in a few minutes.  Who will it be?  Time to go back to not-quite-live-blogging!

[Update 1 (7:18 pm):  Here's the deal with the playoff:  they switch to hi-lo, where both balls count, and play until somebody wins.]

[Update 2 (7:21 pm):  Correction, it's only hi-lo in the sense that if the low balls tie, the high ball loses the match.]

[Update 3 (7:22 pm):  As expected, it's Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu vs. Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr.  They'll start on the par-5 16th.]

[Update 4 (7:28 pm):  Team USA has the honors.  Kerr puts her drive in the right-center of the fairway.  Lexi puts hers about 20 yards past Cristie.  Ryu puts hers about 10 yards and a little right of Cristie's.  Inbee hits it low and straight, but maybe 20 yards shy of So Yeon.]

[Update 5 (7:34 pm):  Inbee lays up even with trap on the right side of the fairway.  So Yeon goes for the green but flies it right into the neck's hill guarding the front of the green.  Cristie tries to draw a 5-wood in and it kicks off the backstop at the back of the green hard left and roll back to the front-middle-left of the green.  Lexi has a 5-iron and lands maybe an inch short of the top of the bank, almost hangs there, but rolls back down to where she was earlier in the day.]

[Update 6 (7:35 pm):  Looks like Lexi will get to chip before So Yeon.  Let's see what Inbee can do with her approach.]

[Update 7 (7:36 pm):  From 70 yards, she spins one back to maybe 7 feet past the pin.]

[Update 8 (7:38 pm):  Lexi decides to putt it and barely makes it past the top of the hill and maybe makes it to the edge of the fringe.  Cristie's next.]

[Update 9 (7:40 pm):  Let's see if Cristie can hit as nice a lag here and now as she did a little while ago.  Almost as nice.  Maybe 3 feet for birdie.]

[Update 10 (7:41 pm):  So Yeon is looking to bump a wedge up the hill.  Nice touch, maybe 3 feet by the hole on the high side.]

[Update 11 (7:43 pm):  Lexi has a longer birdie try than Inbee.  But it's uphill.  After everyone who's allowed to looks at it, Lexi putts and has it a tiny bit left the whole way.  If Inbee and So Yeon can both make their putts, they defeat Lexi and Cristie!]

[Update 12 (7:46 pm):  They're taking a long time to look at Inbee's putt.  She puts it in the left-center of the cup with perfect speed!  Now Cristie has to match Inbee's birdie.  Dead center for Cristie.  Up to So Yeon to seal the deal now.]

[Update 13 (7:47 pm):  And she makes it.  Team ROK knocks out Team USA!]

[Update 14 (7:48 pm):  Cristie is a great teammate.  She's absolutely right that Lexi's par was not the problem.  Day 1 was.]

[Update 15 (7:54 pm):  The playoff was designed for a fast resolution, but I'm wondering about other formats.  The teams tied, so why not send out all players on each team out in singles matches?]

[Update 16 (7/27/14, 5:34 pm):  If you're not reading Staying in the Short Grass, you should.  Here's an example of why!]

International Crown Saturday: The Plot Thickens

All the matches are under way on day 3 of the International Crown and already there have been fireworks galore!  Check back here for updates throughout the afternoon and evening.  And feel free to check out Ron Sirak's and Randall Mell's twitter feeds as they're live-tweeting this thing!

Sweden vs. Australia

Anna Nordqvist has birdied 4 of her 1st 6 holes to lead teammate Caroline Hedwall (2 birdies) to a 2-up lead on Minjee Lee (2 birdies) and Karrie Webb (1 birdie).

Pernilla Lindberg and Mikaela Parmlid have picked up right where they left off, with 4 team birdies in the 1st 5 holes to go 2-up on Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright.

[Update 1 (2:06 pm):  Hedwall birdies the 7th to bring Sweden's A-team 3-up.]

[Update 5 (2:14 pm):  Nordqvist birdied the par-4 7th; they're now 4-up.  Kirk and Wright both bogeyed the 7th to fall 3-down.]

[Update 12 (2:53 pm):   Lindberg birdies 9 to bring her team to 4-up!]

[Update 21 (3:25 pm):  Hedwall just misses eagle on the par-5 12th with a fantastic sand shot, while Lee leaves her 20-foot eagle attempt 6 inches right of the hole.  Still a 4-up lead there.]

[Update 26 (3:33 pm):  Parmlid made her 3rd birdie of the day and Kirk couldn't follow it up, so Team Sweden is now 5-up!]

[Update 42 (3:56 pm):  Ouch, GC is showing Wright and Kirk's approaches on 12 and reminding us all this is where things started to go bad for them yesterday.]

[Update 43 (3:58 pm):  Forgot to mention Lindberg birdied 12, so she and Parmlid are 6-up.  I really thought Kirk and Wright would be stronger than Sweden's B-team before the week started!]

[Update 46 (4:06 pm):  Parmlid and Lindberg played their last 31 holes in -16 and win 7&5 to get 2 points for Team Sweden!]

[Update 47 (4:09 pm):  Webb and Lee have to win out to force a halve in the match and then they need Team Japan to sweep Team Korea, but even then I think the tie-breaker is the original seeding, so it looks to me like Australia has been eliminated.]

[Update 50 (4:13 pm):  Nordqvist has a birdie putt to win the match, but it rolls 3 feet by after Hedwall failed to make her par save.]

[Update 52 (4:17 pm):  It's automatic for Nordqvist and they win 4&3.  Sweden finishes pool play with 7 points.  They now lead Pool B.]

Spain vs. Taiwan

Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda have combined for 2 birdies in the 1st 3 holes against Ya Ni Tseng and Phoebe Yao and won the par-5 4th when the Taiwanese team both bogeyed it.  They are now 3-up.

Meanwhile, Teresa Lu started eagle-birdie but she and Candie Kung are only 1-up on Beatriz Recari and Belen Mozo, as Mozo responded with a birdie on the par-3 3rd.

[Update 2 (2:07 pm):  Spain's A-team is now 4-up through 5 as they dropped a pair of birdies on the par 4.]

[Update 6 (2:15 pm):  Aza has made her 2nd birdie in a row to bring her team 5-up!]

[Update 7 (2:17 pm):  Recari birdied the par-4 5th to bring their match all-square.]

[Update 14 (3:08 pm):  Wow!  Munoz and Ciganda are now 6-up through 9 after Yao couldn't save par from 12 feet.]

[Update 18 (3:17 pm):  Great approach by Lu to a tough pin on #9.]

[Update 22 (3:26 pm):  Lu follows it up with a fine putt to bring her team to 2-up.]

[Update 27 (3:35 pm):  Wow!  Great approach by Ciganda on 11--pulled the string and that's what kept it from being an eagle!]

[Update 31 (3:39 pm):  Lu knocks it stiff as Tseng's putt goes all the way around the hole and refuses to drop.  So Tseng and Yao are down 7 with 7 to play while Lu and Kung have a chance to go 3-up.]

[Update 33 (3:43 pm):  Missed seeing Lu win the hole while we got to see a bit by the Jutanugarn sisters.  Cute, but how about showing a match that could eliminate Team Spain?  Maybe after the commercial break?]

[Update 34 (3:44 pm):  Lu did make her 2nd birdie in a row but Mozo matched it.  Match stays at 2-up.  Sorry, I misread the leaderboard in the last update!]

[Update 41 (3:55 pm):  Another great approach from Lu.  She's playing like on Thursday!]

[Update 44 (4:02 pm):  Recari makes birdie on 11 and Lu follows it up.  Ya Ni birdies 12 and both Munoz and Ciganda miss makeable ones to close the the match, so they're "only" 6-up with 6 to play.]

[Update 51 (4:15 pm):  Yao makes the must-make to force Munoz to win the match with a 7-footer.  Money!  Just like the Solheim Cup!  Now Munoz and Ciganda, 6&5 winners, can go cheer on Recari and Mozo.  Spain is tied with Thailand with 5 points right now.]

[Update 66 (4:44 pm):  Mozo and Recari birdied 12 to get back to 1-down!]

[Update 72 (4:56 pm):  Recari cleans up par on 14 to bring the match to all-square with 4 to go!]

[Update 78 (5:06 pm):  4 birdie tries on 15.]

[Update 84 (5:15 pm):  No birdie for Recari.  Or anyone else.  Amazing we only got to see 1 putt on that hole!]

[Update 90 (5:30 pm):  Amazing pitch-in from heavy rough by Belen Mozo on 16!!!!  And great celebration with Beatriz!]

[Update 91 (5:31 pm):  Teresa Lu almost matched it from just off the green, but Mozo's eagle brings them to 1-up with 2 to play.]

[Update 94 (5:37 pm):  3 on the green on 17, nobody super-close or super-far, but Recari's on the stone border near the pond right.]

[Update 98 (5:43 pm):  Recari can't get the tough up and down, so it's going to be up to Mozo!]

[Update 99 (5:45 pm):  She can't get the birdie, but she gets her par and forces Lu and Kung to make their putts to square the match.]

[Update 100 (5:46 pm):  No birdie for Teresa.]

[Update 108 (6:07 pm):  Wow, Mozo makes a long one to win the match 2-up, eliminate Taiwan, and move to the top of Pool A with 7 points!!!]

Korea vs. Japan

It's pars galore as Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu square off against the Okinawan giant-slayers, Mika Miyazato and Mamiko Higa.  They're all-square through 3.

Na Yeon Choi and In-Kyung Kim dropped a birdie on Sakura Yokomine and Ai Miyazato on the very 1st hole, but the Japanese duo are used to coming from behind.  They're 1-down through 2.

[Update 3 (2:08 pm):  Inbee Park made the 1st birdie of the day to lift her and So Yeon Ryu to 1-up.]

[Update 9 (2:20 pm):  Ryu birdies 5 to bring them 2-up.]

[Update 10 (2:41 pm):  The M&Ms respond with a pair of birdies on the par-3 6th to pull back to 1-down.]

[Update 17 (3:16 pm):  Looks like Ai-sama birdied the 7th to bring her and Yokomine all-square with NYC and Inky.]

[Update 20 (3:23 pm):  Park sinks a sweeping left-to-right 18-footer for birdie to take the 8th and bring her team 2-up.]

[Update 24 (3:31 pm):  Ouch--Yokomine missed a sliding downhiller 5-footer and they go 1-down to NYC and Inky.]

[Update 25 (3:32 pm):  Wow, great approach by Ryu on #9--maybe even better than Lu's!]

[Update 30 (3:38 pm):  Ryu makes birdie to go 3-up.]

[Update 35 (3:47 pm):  Mikan pulls her approach short left of the green while Inbee pulls hers just past the pin on the green.]

[Update 45 (4:04 pm):  Yokomine eagles 10 and has the cutest reaction in the world!  NYC needs to jar it to halve the hole, but missed the green.  Inky takes her try and flies it a little past the pin.  The match is now all-square!]

[Update 49 (4:11 pm):  Higa couldn't get her 16-footer to drop, so they lose the 11th to go 4-down with 7 to play.]

[Update 53 (4:19 pm):  Ai-sama hits it to a foot on 11.  This is about where she and Sakura came alive yesterday.  They'll need a great push today to handle NYC and Inky!]

[Update 54 (4:23 pm):  Inky's birdie try just slides by.  Ai-sama's putt is conceded and they're 1-up!]

[Update 58 (4:32 pm):  Higa with an eagle try from the left fringe on 12 breaks hard right and ends up 5 feet away.  Ryu has an eagle chance.]

[Update 59 (4:34 pm):  From the back fringe, Ryu leaves her 20-footer short and low, but closer than Mamiko.]

[Update 61 (4:35 pm):  Higa side-doors her birdie try--in!]

[Update 63 (4:38 pm):  Ryu answers it.  Still 4-up, now with 6 holes to go.]

[Update 65 (4:43 pm):  Higa uses the backstop on 13 and it rolls back almost all the way to the cup.  She'll be conceded the birdie, so the pressure's on Park and Ryu to answer.]

[Update 67 (4:49 pm):  Ryu answers with a delicate downhill 20 footer.  Behind them, Yokomine makes a 90-foot chip for eagle on 12!

[Update 68 (4:51 pm):  Then Sakura almost one-hands her finish and sticks it on 13!  Holy cow!]

[Update 71 (4:54 pm):  Inky responds by leaving it in tap-in range!]

[Update 74 (5:03 pm):  Ryu has 4 birdies in her last 5 holes.  Yokomine sinks her birdie putt on the right edge; good thing, b/c Inky really did have a tap-in.  Good halves all around!]

[Update 79 (5:08 pm):  Ryu just babies birdie try on 14.  Higa has a 3-footer to extend the match--and makes it.  Korea is dormie in the 1st match.]

[Update 82 (5:13 pm):  Great approach by NYC on 14.  9 feet for birdie!!]

[Update 86 (5:18 pm):  No F-in way!!!! Ai-sama holes out from bunker!  All of a sudden NYC needs to make her birdie try to avoid going 3 down!  And it just swerves right at the end....  Only 4 to play in this match.]

[Update 95 (5:39 pm):  Park and Ryu beat the Okinawan giant-slayers 4&3.  Just too much:  -7 through 15 holes!  Minutes later, Ai-sama has a putt from near the back fringe to win her match:  it stops right on line 2 feet short of the cup.]

[Update 97 (5:42 pm):  Whoa, maybe that's 3 feet.  Looks longer after Sakura failed to make par.  But she knocks it in and they're dormie.]

[Update 106 (6:03 pm):  Sorry, had to take a minute to wash some rice for dinner.  A lot easier for one cup than for three with The Full Metal Archivist, Onechan, and Imoto still in Japan for another month!  Speaking of Japan, isn't it about time to see if they can close out their match?]

[Update 107 (6:06 pm):  Right on cue, Golf Channel goes to the 16th green.  And Yoko-meanie (sorry, Judy, 1st mispronounce of the day--then she goes to Yoko-mini!) just misses her birdie.  Nice mention of the Okinawa-centric nature of Team Japan.  Inky has a good birdie chance, about 12 feet, but it just veers off to the left in the last foot.  Now it's up to NYC.]

[Update 109 (6:08 pm):  NYC can't do it from the opposite side of the cup.  So Japan wins Pool B with 8 points and Korea has to go to the playoff for the last spot on Sunday.]

USA vs. Thailand

It's pars all around on the 1st hole as Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr take on Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn.

No scores in yet for the Stacy Lewis-Paula Creamer vs. Pornanong Phatlum-Onnarin Sattayabanphot match.

[Update 4 (2:10 pm):  Kerr birdied the par-4 2nd to bring her and Lexi 1-up, while Phatlum and Sattayabanphot both birdied the 1st to also go 1-up.]

[Update 8 (2:19 pm):  It's birdies all around for Lewis, Creamer, Phatlum, and Sattayabanphot on 2 as they halve the hole.  Note:  Just found out from Golf Channel's early coverage that Sattayabanphot snaked in a long one and Lewis matched it.]

[Update 11 (2:50 pm):  The Jutanugarns both bogey the par-5 4th to hand Kerr and Thompson a 2-up lead.]

[Update 13 (2:59 pm):  Nice stroke by Lexi on her 10-foot birdie putt to match the Jutanugarns' birdie on the 5th!]

[Update 15 (3:09 pm):  Wow, sweet chip in by Sattayabanphot when it looked like Team USA would have 2 birdie putts to win the hole!]

[Update 16 (3:13 pm):  Stacy hit her 20-footer through the break and Paula just pulled her 7-footer enough for it to hit the corner of the cup and not fall.  Sattayabanphot and Phatlum go 2-up.]

[Update 19 (3:19 pm):  Lexi left a make-able downhill 10-footer a foot short in her bid to bring Team USA 4-up in their match.]

[Update 23 (3:28 pm):  Nice lag from the back of the green on the par-3 6th by Lewis.  Sattayabanphot has an uphill 8-footer and saves par.]

[Update 28 (3:36 pm):  Cristie's putt broke the other way than Lexi's, so now Ariya has a 16-foot chance to win the hole.  She blasted it by, so now the sisters will have to make some tough putts to halve the hole.]

[Update 29 (3:37 pm):  Moriya hits it through the break and doesn't have an easy one for bogey.]

[Update 32 (3:41 pm):  No worries, as Ariya and Cristie clean up their pars.]

[Update 36 (3:48 pm):  Fantastic sand wedge from heavy rough by Lexi with the pressure on to about 16 feet by the pin.  Ariya does the same from a bit better lie to about 18 feet.]

[Update 37 (3:50 pm):  Stacy has a short downhiller for birdie to win the 7th and pull her and Paula within 1 hole of the Phatlum-Sattayabanphot team.  And she makes it!]

[Update 38 (3:52 pm):  With Moriya in for a bogey, Ariya tries to lag her putt but it rolls out 7 feet by the pin.  Now it's Lexi's turn:  and she hits the hole but the ball still rolls 6 feet by!  Now Cristie is closest with 4 feet for par.]

[Update 39 (3:53 pm):  Great putt by Ariya!  Now it's Lexi's turn.]

[Update 40 (3:54 pm):  Sweet follow-up by Lexi.]

[Update 46 (4:05 pm):  Big birdie putt by Paula on 8.  Phatlum hits it through the break and this match is now all-square!]

[Update 48 (4:10 pm):  Long birdie try from the back collar of the 9th green by Ariya ends up 1 inch to the right of the cup.  The hole is halved.]

[Update 55 (4:28 pm):  A pair of good birdie tries for Team USA on 10 while everyone needs to make tough pars saves on 9.  Cristie's 20-foot try on 10 was a roll short and left, while Lexi has a 10-foot downhill sweeper for birdie, but can't make it.  Halved.  Meanwhile, Phatlum saved par on 9 to keep their match at all-square.]

[Update 56 (4:30 pm):  Cristie hit a hybrid to the left corner of the fairway on 11 while Lexi puts an iron in the middle of the fairway.]

[Update 57 (4:31 pm):  Great explanation and visual of how Lexi went back to her old putting stance in 2013 and improved her putting as a result!]

[Update 60 (4:34 pm):  Moriya sticks one on 11!  Maybe she's coming alive today!]

[Update 62 (4:37 pm):  Lexi answers it, about a foot closer to the pin!  Ariya is about 2 feet outside Moriya.  Cristie pulls her sand wedge about 12 feet left of the pin.]

[Update 64 (4:42 pm):  Cristie thought she had it, but it slid by.  Meanwhile, Phatlum sticks it inside other good shots on 10.  Ariya made her birdie try to put pressure on Lexi, but she also showed her the line a bit.  Looks like about 5 feet.  Money!  Another halve.  Still 2-up with 7 to go.]

[Update 67 (4:45 pm):  Paula uses the entire cup to force Phatlum to make her 3-footer.  Money.  Still all-square heading to the 11th tee.]

[Update 69 (4:52 pm):  Ariya just misses 12 short on her 2nd shot from a fairway bunker.  Judy Rankin points out it's almost exactly where Yokomine just was.  Moriya puts her not far from where Ryu had put hers on the back fringe.]

[Update 70 (4:53 pm):  Announcers joking about Lexi having a 6-iron in instead of yesterday's 7-iron.  It tracks right by the hole and stops about 3 feet away!!!]

[Update 73 (4:58 pm):  After Paula sticks it on 11 to 6 feet, Pornanong gets hers to about 9.]

[Update 75 (5:04 pm):  Cristie and Moriya make good birdie putts.  If Lexi can sink her eagle putt, Team USA goes 3-up.]

[Update 76 (5:04 pm):  Bang!  Lexi eagles 12 for the 2nd day in a row!]

[Update 77 (5:05 pm):  Phatlum makes a great birdie, but Paula got the read from her and...misses her birdie putt right.  Team Thailand is 1-up!!]

[Update 80 (5:09 pm):  The backstop wasn't Cristie's friend on 13.]

[Update 81 (5:12 pm):  It was for Lexi and the ball almost rolled back in the cup for a tap-in birdie.  Ariya pushed her approach.  Juli Inkster's now talking about being Moriya's LPGA mentor.  Wonder if she ever gave her any advice relevant to this situation?  "Mo" put it about 15 feet short right of the pin.]

[Update 83 (5:14 pm):  Whoa, Phatlum birdied 11 as Golf Channel goes to commercials to bring her team 1-up!]

[Update 85 (5:17 pm):  No birdie for Moriya.  4-down with 5 to play.]

[Update 87 (5:19 pm):  Phatlum hits 12 in 2 but Lewis uses the undulations and gets her 2nd to about 7 feet away!]

[Update 88 (5:27 pm):  Phatlum's putt looks like 40 feet or more....  Described as downhill and sliding right.  Nice lag to 2 feet, right on line.  Now Paula will try to make her 25-footer to get the birdie in and show Stacy the line.  She burns the cup on the high side!  Now it's up to Stacy to get this eagle!  She's a very streaky hot putter, but she just hasn't locked in this week yet.  Not anymore! Eagle to square the match!!]

[Update 89 (5:28 pm):  Paula sticks her 7-iron on 13 6 feet left of the pin.  Nice shot!]

[Update 92 (5:32 pm):  Stacy goes about 12 feet past pin high.  Pornanong, who beat Stacy in Dubai last December, hit it thin, right and long on the green.  Sattayabanphot can't quite use the backstop to bring the ball as close as others have, but she has about 15 feet for birdie.]

[Update 93 (5:36 pm):  Moriya snakes in a long one on 14 to pull her sister within 3 holes with 4 holes to play.  Meanwhile, Phatlum's snakes by the cup just left with near-perfect speed.]

[Update 96 (5:41 pm):  Stacy just can't get the speed down on her birdie try, hitting it through the break.  Now it's up to Paula to make her maybe 7-footer to win the hole.  And it tails off on the last roll....]

[Update 101 (5:48 pm):  Lots of good approaches on 14 and 15.  But Stacy dumps hers in the trap, reminiscent of her approach on 17 yesterday, as both Jerry Foltz and I thought at the same time.  Phatlum hits it the closest on 14.]

[Update 102 (5:52 pm):  Neither Ariya nor Moriya could make their putts, so it's looking like Cristie and Lexi will go dormie.]

[Update 103 (5:53 pm):  Cristie Kerr is money!  I wrote that even before she made her 5-footer to take her team 3-up with 3 to play.]

[Update 104 (5:55 pm):  Paula's maybe got a 15-footer.  Stops about 2 inches shy of the cup.  Can Thailand go 1-up?  It's up to Phatlum.]

[Update 105 (5:56 pm):  Bang!  Never a doubt from the opposite side as Paula!  1-up with 4 to go.]

[Update 110 (6:10 pm):  So as the US-Thailand matches come down to the wire, Team USA would be in a playoff against Team ROK if the matches don't change!]

[Update 111 (6:12 pm):  Phatlum sticks her approach on 15, just missing an eagle!!!!  Great chance to go 2-up in that crucial match as Team USA has one chance to match it with about a 15-footer for birdie.]

[Update 112 (6:14 pm):  Lewis can't make the birdie and Team Thailand is 2-up with 3 to play!]

[Update 113 (6:17 pm):  Looks like Cristie and Lexi should close out Ariya and Moriya on 16.  Moriya flops it from the rough over the par 5 and lets it trickle down for an uphill birdie attempt.  Ariya's above the hole in 3 after a tough chip position from short of the green.]

[Update 114 (6:19 pm):  Cristie just needs to lag her 25-footer and she did it to perfection.  Team USA wins the key match to ensure they'll at least be in a playoff against Team ROK!]

[Update 115 (6:23 pm):  Wow, first Onnarin and then Paula hit terrible approaches on 16 when going for the green in 2 from the fairway.  Now it's up to Stacy Lewis.  Lucky it stayed on the green after double crossing her approach to the lower left tier.]

[Update 116 (6:25 pm):  Pornanong layed up and didn't hit a great approach.]

[Update 117 (6:31 pm):  Paula chopped it out from a terrible lie in the right rough and got it to the back tier.  Stacy leaves her--what, 80-footer?--about a foot short!  Amazing eagle try!!]

[Update 118 (6:32 pm):  Team ROK's been waiting for a while.  Looks like Inbee and So Yeon will be carrying the flag in the playoff.]

[Update 119 (6:34 pm):  Phatlum got her par.  Sattayabanphot needs to make hers from the fringe (after an even better shot from the rough than Paula had).  It seemed to go airborne as it left the fringe for a fraction of a second and stayed barely left of the cup all the way.  Team USA 1 down with 1 to play.]

[Update 120 (6:37 pm):  Big approach shots coming up on the par-3 17th!  Here's how the overall points stand for those teams we know are in:

8 Japan
7 Sweden, Spain

If Phatlum and Sattayabanphot hold on, Thailand will end up with 7 points.  And the USA and ROK would end pool play with 6.  If they halve, it'll be Team USA with 7 and Thailand with 6.  If Team USA can win the last 3 holes in a row, they'll tie Japan with 8 points!]

[Update 121 (6:41 pm):  Paula loses hers a little right but it lands on the fringe and bounces a little forward for a nice birdie chance.  Stacy hit her approach here yesterday in the water and ended up in about the same kind of position as Recari did a bit earlier today.  If either Phatlum or Sattayabanphot can stick it, the pressure's really on Paula.  But Phatlum puts it in the water short right!  Now all the pressure's on Onnarin!!!!  She's speaking Japanese with her caddy, by the way!  OK, she put it in the back left corner, about 30 feet from the pin!]

[Update 122 (6:44 pm):  Good break for Stacy that the wire or whatever was up against her ball, so she got to remove it and replace her ball without any penalty.  She's only about 20 feet from the pin, chipping off stone.  She's gotta pop it out and hope!  But Sattayabanphot is away.]

[Update 123 (6:45 pm):  No, wait, it's Stacy!  Oh, man, it checked up on her.  She's got about 15 feet for par.  She kinda scraped it in instead of getting the ball clean.]

[Update 124 (6:47 pm):  Good putt by Onnarin, about 18 inches or so past the cup on the high side.  Paula needs to make it to win the hole!]

[Update 125 (6:49 pm):  Man, Paula's putt dove at the end and she missed on the low side.  Sattayabanphot cleans up to bring Team Thailand dormie.]

[Update 126 (6:51 pm):  So Japan is guaranteed to be the top points-getter in pool play.  Now let's see who's got to face Park and Ryu in the playoff.]

[Update 127 (6:53 pm):  Nice drives by Paula and Stacy.  Phatlum outdrives Stacy.  Onnarin (who made the amazing putt to beat Ya Ni Yseng and Phoebe Yao team here yesterday) puts hers in the 1st left bunker.]

[Update 128 (7:00 pm):  Wouldn't it be cool if Golf Channel had hired someone who speaks Korean (and others who speak other languages) to translate non-English conversations the mikes pick up?  Never mind.  What a great shot by Sattayabanphot to get hers to the front fringe!  Stacy misses the backstop and is about 25 feet above the pin.  Paula misses it by more and is about 10 feet further away than Stacy.  Pornanong misses the green long and left, with what looks like a bad lie.]

[Update 129 (7:02 pm):  Wow, after carrying her for a good part of the day, Pornanong is putting a heck of a lot of pressure on Onnarin in these last 2 holes!  But she makes up for her bad approach with a great pitch!  Maybe 3 feet for par?]

[Update 130 (7:09 pm):  Paula makes a good effort but can't get it on the right line.  Onnarin is going to let Pornanong make what now looks like a 2-footer for par and she does (although she made her team nervous).  If Sattayabanphot can make her putt, this match is over.  Wow, her approach got much further onto the green than I thought it had!  She only has about 18 feet.  Nope.  Through the break.  Now it's up to Stacy Lewis, the #1 player in the world to win the hole, halve the match, and force Thailand to face Korea in the playoff.]

[Update 131 (7:11 pm):  OK, Thailand's in with 7 points.  New post for playoff coming right up!]

[Update 132 (7:11 pm):  Here's the link!]

Century 21 Ladies Saturday: Yun-Jye Wei Takes Slim Lead on Bo-Mee Lee, Sun-Ju Ahn, Misuzu Narita

Taiwanese veteran Yun-Jye Wei birdied 3 holes in a row late in the 2nd round of the Century 21 Ladies to post her 2nd-straight 67 and take a 1 shot-lead on Bo-Mee Lee (66) and a 2-shot lead on Sun-Ju Ahn (71), Misuzu Narita (66), Asako Fujimoto (70), and Megumi Kido (67).  Erika Kikuchi shot a 67 of her own to catch Ji-Min Lee at -7, while the low round of the day belonged to Kotono Kozuma, an 8-birdie 65 that brought her within 4 shots of the lead, tied with the likes of Esther Lee, Na-Ri Lee, Ritsuko Ryu, and Kaori Ohe.

With big names like Rikako Morita and Shiho Oyama at -4, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Momoko Ueda, and Yumiko Yoshiba at -3, and Miki Saiki at -1, they'll each have to try to post a score early and put pressure on the leaders.

Wei was a regular in the top 30 on the JLPGA money list from 2002 to 2008, with 2 top-10 finishes during that stretch, her best coming in 2006 when she won twice on tour.  She has 4 JLPGA wins in all, but the last came way back in 2010, so we'll have to see how she handles the pressure of facing off in the last group against Lee, a 6-time winner, and Narita, a 5-time winner.  They'll all get front-row seats on Ahn's play from the group right in front of them.  Most likely it'll be a showdown tomorrow between the players in the top 3 spots on the JLPGA money list, but as we've seen during the International Crown, pretty much anything can happen over the course of 18 holes!

International Crown Friday: Comeback Day for Team USA, Thailand, Japan

Once again, this time for day 2 of the International Crown, I'll simply point you to LPGA.com's scoreboard and the notes and interviews and move on to my observations and commentary.

I'm Stunned, Just Stunned.  First by Sakura Yokomine and Ai Miyazato's unbelievable comeback from being 6 down with 7 holes to play against Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright.  I'm speechless.  Kirk and Wright made 5 birdies in their 1st 7 holes as a team and looked unbeatable, as Yokomine missed a makeable putt on 11, failing to match the Aussies' 6th team birdie of the day.  What I didn't know from the tv coverage was that right after Yokomine made her 2nd birdie of the day on the 12th, the Aussies were put on the clock.  And from then on things went all Team Japan's way.  I'm sure you'll see the highlights.  Make a point to!

Next I'm stunned by how great Mika Miyazato and Mamiko Higa are playing this week.  That halve they got against Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall yesterday is looking even better after the Vikings threw 2 eagles and 5 team birdies against Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu, who made an eagle and 5 team birdies of their own to lose by a single hole to Team Sweden after fighting hard to extend the match to the 18th hole.  So what do Mikan and Mamiko do for an encore?  They get off to another quick start, this time against Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and world #1 amateur Minjee Lee, making 3 team birdies in their 1st 5 holes to race out from a 1-down deficit after 2 holes to being 2-up after 6.  This time it was Higa carrying the team early on (although Mikan matched 2 of her birdies), and she didn't cool off after that, making 3 more birdies in her next 11 holes (although Mikan also matched 2 of hers late in the day, too!).

No Rest for the Weary.  So what's the reward for the M & M pair from Okinawa on day 3?  They get to take on Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu!  I'll bet they see it as a chance to get a hat trick in pool play....  If they can pull off yet another upset, they'll be in the running for top points-getters in pool play with their own teammates, with the Jutanugarn sisters, and with Sweden's Vikings, who square off against Webb and Lee in another epic battle.

Speaking of Epic Battles....  As intense as the Nordqvist-Hedwall defeat of Park-Ryu was, can you believe that Na Yeon Choi and In-Kyung Kim shot a 61 and Pernilla Lindberg and Mikaela Parmlid shot a 62?!  NYC birdied 6 of her 1st 10 holes, but when she made her 7th of the day on the 13th hole, it only brought her and Inky back to 1-up, because the nearly-6-months-pregnant Parmlid had just gone birdie-birdie-eagle to start the back to go with her 3 birdies on the front!  And then it was Inky's turn to shine, as she sunk pressure birdie putts after Parmlid had made yet another birdie on 15 and Lindberg had just missed a hole in 1 on 17.  Plus she made the tough par save to halve the 18th and secure 2 points for Team Korea.

So NYC and Inky will be flying high as they enter the arena with Yokomine and Ai-sama tomorrow.  And Lindberg and Parmlid have to be feeling as good about their loss as Kirk and Wright are feeling bad about their halve, so Pool B is going to be epic tomorrow all the way down.  Even though Japan is leading the pool after 2 days of play, they could still end up in a playoff with the 3rd-place finisher from Pool A to make it into Sunday's singles matches if they get shut out by Team ROK and if either Australia or Sweden wins both their matches tomorrow.  If they are able to only halve 1 match, there's a chance that 3 teams could tie with 7 points (again, only if someone sweeps tomorrow's Australia-Sweden matches).  If they win even a single match, they'll win their pool.  And if they win both, Korea would be eliminated if Australia and Sweden each win a match or halve both their matches!  Do you see what I mean about Pool B being a pool of death?

So What's Pool A, Chopped Liver?  Not in the slightest.  Even though on Wednesday night I figured Team USA would dominate the pool and Thursday night that Team Taiwan would, what we have tomorrow is an even more volatile situation than in Pool B.  With Team USA and Team Thailand sweeping their matches today, only 2 points separate the 1st- (Thailand) and last-place (Spain) teams in the pool of, shall we say, the undead.  With Onnarin Sattayabanphot making as great a putt on the 18th as Ya Ni Tseng made yesterday for the win to secure the 1-up victory for her and Pornanong Phatlum, who played great team golf, and with Moriya Jutanugarn continuing to impress (she made 5 birdies in her and her sister's takedown of yesterday's heroes for Team Taiwan, Teresa Lu and Candie Kung), the #4-ranked team's confidence has to be rising as they face off against Team USA, who themselves showed a lot of grit in beating yesterday's top team in the pool in both matches.

Cristie Kerr made 3 birdies, but was overshadowed by teammate Lexi Thompson's 4 birdies and an awe-inspiring eagle on the short par-5 12th, as they defeated Beatriz Recari and Belen Mozo, 3&2.  And while Paula Creamer made 3 birdies in her 1st 12 holes and partner Stacy Lewis made 4, it was stumbles on 7 and 9 by Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda that helped the Americans go 3-up with 4 holes to play.  Yet just as Recari and Mozo didn't go down without a late charge, Munoz birdied 15 and 17 to force the match to the final hole and keep their hopes for a halve alive.  But Lewis slammed the door on them with a walkoff birdie to secure the 2-up win for Lewis was conceded birdie on 18 when Munoz and Ciganda couldn't hit good bunker shots, so Team USA ended up winning that match 2-up.

Sizing Up Pool A, Redux.  By the time the Jutanugarns face off against Kerr and Thompson and Phatlum-Sattayabanphot against Lewis-Creamer, we'll know the results of Spain and Taiwan's showdowns.  Problem is, I have no idea how those matches will go.  I've been pretty much right about Spain this week and totally wrong twice about Taiwan.  On paper, Munoz and Ciganda have a pretty decent advantage over Tseng and Yao, while Lu and Kung may have a small one over Recari and Mozo, but the most I'll say is that I expect both matches to be very very close.  In fact, I expect a photo finish in all 4 lanes....  Team USA could finish 1st or last in this pool.  The key is not to let down after clawing their way back into this event!

[Update 1 (9:14 am):  Thanks to my anonymous commenter for catching my error (now fixed), and to Ruthless Mike for exploring the mysteries of match-play pay back!]

[Update 2 (9:21 am):  Here's bangkokbobby, who's just a little bit excited about Thailand's play this week!]