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Friday, March 22, 2013

The First Lady Starts Out T16 (-2)

Stacy Lewis is #1 in the world now, but her first tournament at that position has her a bit farther back. But she's not the only player who's not where she expected to be this week.

As you probably know by now, Yani Tseng -- the defending Kia Classic winner -- missed her pro-am time and, just like with the PGA Tour players, wasn't allowed to play in the tournament proper. As I understand, she was a bit under the weather Tuesday night and overslept Wednesday morning. She apologized to the sponsor and fans, but I'm guessing she's going to lose more ground in the Rolex Rankings this week.

Natalie Gulbis also WD'ed due to fatigue. You might not know that Nats missed the Founders Cup last week because she caught malaria while in Asia. (And we thought the 90mph car wreck with Paula Creamer, Ai Miyazato, and Suzann Pettersen was bad!) She's doing alright, she's just not back up to full strength yet.

For those of you interested, GC said Natalie's going to stop by the tournament and spend some time with the announcing crew. That's at 6:30pm ET today if you want to see it.

Jane ParkThe leader after the first round is Jane Park (-6), who's been struggling with a variety of problems since she won the 2004 Women's Amateur and turned pro in 2007. Lower back problems, tendenitis, and even some family problems have made it hard for her to get anything resembling consistent play going. It'll be interesting to see how she does with the lead this week.

In addition, the leaderboard's pretty well packed. It's got everybody from players who have struggled this year -- like Caroline Hedwall and Amanda Blumenhurst -- to perennial contenders like Karrie Webb. And Paula Creamer's sitting at -3, off to another good start after getting banged up in that wreck.

I'm thinking the player to watch this week might be Jessica Korda (-4). She's been playing well this year and has even been improving a bit from week to week.

But given the uncertainty of March Madness (the college basketball playoffs, for those of you who don't live in the US or follow the sport) and the resulting number of upsets we typically see in those tournaments, it's hard to say anything for sure.

Except that Yani Tseng won't win it this week, that is. Nobody ever gives any love to the former First Lady, do they?

The photo came from Park's bio page at LPGA.com.

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