Friday, June 25, 2010

LPGA Championship: The Usual Suspects... AND

The first day of the (now) Wegmans LPGA Championship had no big surprises... except for Ai Miyazato's +4 round. Ai came in as the favorite, having won 4 LPGA tournaments this year. But she's continuing her poor showing in this year's majors -- she missed the cut in the Kraft Nabisco nearly 3 months ago. Perhaps she's just trying too hard, as Locust Hill seems to be a perfect track for her game -- relatively short, with narrow fairways. However, Ai didn't hit many fairways Thursday, and heavy rains made the rough nearly impossible to navigate. She's got her work cut out for her now.

Also a bit of a surprise is Stacy Lewis's -4, which tied her for the lead. She's had 4 Top 20s so far this year, but her only Top 10 is a 2nd at the Tres Marias Championship. Seems girlfriend got herself an EAGLE at the 511-yard par-5 11th! It should say something about course conditions that Stacy's driving distance was about 15 yards shorter than usual.

Seon Hwa Lee, the 2nd of the leading trio, also posted an eagle... on the 261-yard par-4 12th. You go, girl! Neither of these two hit it more than 236 today, so that was really some good play on a wet course.

The 3rd member of the trio, Cristie Kerr, made her -4 the old-fashioned way -- 5 birdies, 1 bogey. She managed to hit it her normal distance -- nearly 260 -- so she must get her distance mostly from carry. (A big advantage in wet conditions, in case you hadn't realized it. If you're shopping for a new driver, you might want to try for one that gives you mostly carry. In dry conditions, almost any well-struck ball will run.) Unlike the other two players, Cristie has played well this year; and having broken the American win drought just a couple of weeks ago, she probably has high hopes. She does have a tendency to get in her own way at majors -- you could argue that she should have 3 by now, not 1 -- but she is clearly the top American player right now. (She's now been in the Top 10 of the Rolex Rankings for 323 straight weeks.)

The next closest of the Top 10 players is -- surprise! -- Jiyai Shin, still hurting from that appendectomy... and she's back at even par, tied for 20th. Paula Creamer and Jeong Jang, both coming back from injuries, are tied at -1. Beware the walking wounded...

Several other players sniffed the lead, including Yani Tseng (who jumped back ahead of Kerr in the rankings last week) and Juli Inkster, but both fell back as the wet rough took its toll. Inkster finished -1 and Tseng fell all the way to +3 -- just 1 behind Suzann Pettersen's +2. This is shaping up to be a rough week for the Top 10.

Just for the record, here are the current Top 10 and their scores:
  1. Ai Miyazato +4
  2. Jiyai Shin E
  3. Suzann Pettersen +2
  4. Yani Tseng +3
  5. Cristie Kerr -4 (currently tied for the lead)
  6. Anna Nordqvist +1
  7. Michelle Wie E
  8. Karrie Webb E
  9. Angela Stanford +2
  10. Na Yeon Choi +1
Granted, it's only the 1st round...

A few other players who might be of interest... Azahara Munoz, the player from Spain who made a bit of a splash doing impromptu commentary for TGC at the Sybase, is at E; Mariajo Uribe, the Colombian who beat Amanda Blumenhurst (+2) at the 2007 U.S. Women's Amateur, is at -1; and Laura Davies, still trying to get those last 2 points for automatic entry into the LPGA Golf Hall of Fame, is at +3.

Remember, you can keep up with the scoring here. Both HoundDog and the Constructivist are posting detailed updates on the tournament. And TGC will be covering the tournament again today from 12:30pm-2:30pm

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