Bienvenue! My name is Jamie and I like golf. I grew up playing tennis in eastern Massachusetts, but fell in love with the game after watching Se Ri Pak defeat Jenny Chausiriporn at the 1998 U.S. Womens Open. I studied Hospitality & Tourism Management (with a focus on Event, Tourism, and Convention Management) at the Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Tennis is my first love, but golf is a very close second. I believe style should equal substance, and the latter is nothing without the former.
When Anna Nordqvist calmly shot a 68 during the final round of the McDonald’s LPGA Championship to capture her first title (and obviously first major), they were a slew of questions that opened up. The biggest of all being, who is this unknown Swede, is she the next Annika, or is this a fluke?
On another important final round Nordqvist shined brightest shooting a 7-under par round of 65 to capture her 2nd title in her rookie season. To capture two titles in a year and to have them be the McDonald’s LPGA Championship & the LPGA Tour Championship is pretty impressive for anyone, especially an unheralded rookie! Anna utilized 8 birdies and a lone bogey to win two strokes up on World #1 Lorena Ochoa.
By finishing runner up today, and having points leader Jiyai Shin finish T8 Ochoa was able to capture her 4th Rolex Player of the Year title & Vare Trophy. In heartbreaking fashion Shin bogeyed the 17th hole to lose to Lorena by a mere point in the final point tally. Thus Jiyai couldn’t join Nancy Lopez as the only players to capture all four major titles in their rookie season, but being the Money List leader & Rookie of the Year is nothing to be scoffed at.
Na Yeon Choi took third place after shooting the round of the day, an 8-under 68 that left her 3 back of Anna. An eagle, 7 birdies (4 of them in the first four holes!) and a lone bogey should keep NYC’s spirits up going into 2010. With Choi’s clearly added confidence from gaining her first win, she could be someone to watch in the Player of the Year race for 2010.
Heather Bowie Young & Reilley Rankin were both unable to jump into the top 80 after Monday’s round. Bowie Young did herself proud with a season best T12, but it left her two spots outside of the top 80 at 82. Rankin struggled mightily on Monday dropping to T42 after she lead for some of the 2nd round. Rankin maintained her spot at #100 giving her some status for 2010, but certainly not what she was looking for when she started her rounds on Monday.
The cruel fate of #81 fell upon Moira Dunn who finished just under 2K behind #80 Irene Cho. While former tour winner Joo Mi Kim will be officially returning to Q-School as she finished at #101 a little under 5K behind Reilley Rankin.
Former Big Breakers Jeannie Cho-Hunicke & Kim Welch get the dubious distinction of finishing in the bottom of the money list in 2009 at 159 & 160, making $2,647 & $2,171 respectively.
With the second round of the Safeway Classic nearly complete, there are 16 players anxiously awaiting the finishes of Lisa Strom & Kristy McPhereson (playing the 9th and 18th holes, both their last, respectively). If either of them bogeys it will push the cutline up to +1 giving them a chance to play on Sunday. To miss the cut at T71 has gotta be brutal. Notables of this group of 16 players include Laura Davies (who bogeyed her last hole of the day, and three of her last four holes, a group ahead of McPhereson), Monday qualifier amateur Ayaka Kaneko, and tournament winners this season Pat Hurst, In-Kyung Kim, and Catriona Matthew. IK birdied 16 and 18 to give her a chance to make the cut, while Katherine Hull birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to also finish at +1. On the flip side Johanna Mundy & Alison Hanna-Williams both finished double bogey-bogey on 17 and 18 to fall below the cut line.
As I wrote that paragraph Stacy Lewis has birdied the 8th (her 17th) to go above the cutline, meaning Lewis, McPhereson, or Strom need to bogey the 18th to allow those players to make the cut.
Onward to players who will absolutely make the cut and be a factor tomorrow. On top of the leaderboard after 36 holes is McDonlad’s LPGA Champion and rookie Anna Nodqvist. The stauesque Swede had 5 birdies and 2 bogeyes for a 69, good enough for a one stroke lead over Evian Masters Champion Ai Miyazato (68) and Seon Hwa Lee (70).
Two veterans hoping to make the Safeway their first top 10 of the year are Michele Redman (T4, -8) & 1st round leader Beth Bader (T6, -7) who offset her three bogies on her front nine with four birdies on the back, before disaster struck in the form of a double bogey on the 15th. Who knows, maybe one of these vets can steal the show tomorrow.
With 26 players within 6 strokes of the lead, and the fact that birdies come in bunches here this week, this tournament is still up for grabs. Perhaps the two unheralded Thais in the field Russy Gulyamanitia and the alternate for Paula Creamer’s withdrawl Pornanong Phatlum could really shock the field. Russy, who has been nearly invisble after opening the season last year with a runner up at the SBS Classic, was 7-under on the day through 12 holes, despite having two bogies coming in, she still is T-9 at -6. Phatlum, making her LPGA debut on American soil (she played in the HSBC Masters earlier this year, but for some reason that money was not counted as official), followed up her opening 71 with a bogey free 68, and is T15. If she can snag a top 10 she’ll get into the field next week I beleive.
Anna Rawson double bogeyed the 17th, giving the players currently T71 a fighting chance. McPhereson birdied and Strom parred, all their hopes rely on Rawson and Lewis at this point. Anna just birdied the 18th, so Lewis, who just jumped out of the T71, can put the axe on the cutline by parring the 9th.
Lewis did finish by parring the 9th, which means 16 players have missed the cut at +1 finishing a devasting T71.
Se Ri Pak withdrew from the tournament earlier today, after her opening round 69. Hope it’s not serious Se Ri!
If Beth Bader had a birdie for every round in the 60s she had this year, she would be two strokes worse then then the -8 (64) she fired in the opening round of the Safeway Classic. Nine birdies and a single bogey on the par 4 2nd has given Bader her best round of the year, and a one stroke cushion over 2009 Rookie and major champion Anna Nordqvist. Not a bad bounce back for Anna who is shaken off the dubious distinction of losing the point that allowed the U.S. retain the Solheim Cup.
A third of the field finished under par on opening day, and the birdies came in bunches, and for three of my favorite players Mindy Kim (82), Jeanne Cho-Hunicke & Jeehae Lee (83) struggled mightily.
The story of the opening day though belongs to Bader. The 9th year player hasn’t had a top 10 since 2007, and best finish in the last two seasons has been a T25 at the 2008 State Farm Classic. Currently 95th on the money list, a solid finish here could guarantee her Category 1 status for next year. Bader returned to Q-School last year, where she tied for 4th, giving her Category 11 status for the year.
Earlier in the week The Construcstivist posted the question: Will the Rookie of the Year Race Finally Get Interesting? In the post he referenced the #2 in the ROY race Michelle Wie as a potential player to threaten Jiyai Shin for the honor. McDonald’s LPGA Champion Anna Nordqvist may have something to say about that after her bogey-free 65 (-7). Anna may only have one top 10 this year (but, my was it a good one!), but has shown poise under pressure, and definitley has a chance to make a run at it. Shin, who only has one finish outside the top 25 so far this year, is in danger of missing the cut after a +2 74 which puts her in a tie for 83rd.
Seemingly always coming out of nowhere to win, Seon Hwa Lee is tied with Anna Nordqvist in T2. She may not have made the big leap into the top of the game like I expected her to this year, but that dosen’t mean she won’t grab a win or two before 2009 is done.
Nordqvist’s playings partners Angela Stanford (66, T4) & Ai Miyazato (67, T8) had similiar good rounds, and were the clear winners for group of the day. Solheim Cupper Janice Moodie, former Solheim Cupper Stacy Prammanasudh, and Lexus Cupper Candie Kung joined Stanford at -6, T4, while Moira Dunn and another former Solheim Cupper Michele Redman joined the red hot Miyazato at -5, T8.
Great opening rounds by two injury sticken players, Jeong Jang & Jennifer Rosales who both fired 68s to finish just out of the top 10 at tied for 11th with a quadruple of Solheim Cuppees Christina Kim, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle Wie, & Suzann Petterson, and the #2 player in the world Yani Tseng.
Pornanong Phatlum gained entry in the field after the withdrawl of Paula Creamer, and used her alternate status well, Phatlum shot a 71 and is T39. Amateurs and Monday qualifiers Ayaka Kaneko and Taylor Karle had two different rounds today, Kaneko is above the cutline (T66, 73) while Karle is below it (T125, 78).
Surprisingly joining Jiyai Shin, and Karle below the cutline are, Morgan Pressel, In-Kyung Kim, and Karrie Webb all who could only manage 74s today are are tied for 83rd. 2009 major champions Catriona Matthew & Brittany Lincicome were worse after their 77s.
With birdies available in Portalnd this week, we should be in store for an exciting weekend.