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.
In an exciting final round 2009 Rookie M.J. Hur outlasted Suzann Pettersen and Michele Redman in a two-hole playoff to claim her first tour victory. Down the stretch it was a question of who wanted to win as a series of errant shots, missed putts, and opportunities turned a would be blowout into one of the most exciting finishes so far in 2009.
When Suzann Pettersen reached the 13th she was in the lead by 3 at -15, with M.J. Hur & Michele Redman leading the charge at -12. M.J. Hur, playing a couple groups ahead of Pettersen and Redman hit her approach close on 14, and sunk the ensuing birdie putt to get within two of Suzann. M.J. continued her stealth iron play and hit another close shot at 15. In the meantime on the 14th, Suzann was on the green after her tee shot to the par 3, but was too agressive with her birdie putt and ran it by. In the short 3 footer coming back, Suzann missed it. Unbeknownst to Hur who now had a putt to tie Suzann. She did not make a solid putt and remained one back of Suzann.
Pettersen on the 15th hole, a par 5, laid up into a decent position after two shots. With a wedge in hand Suzann did the unthinkable, she badly flew the green actually going over the t.v. tower. After dropping to get eye line relief, Suzann hit her pitch short of the green. From there she hit a poor chip, and was finally on the green in 5. Unable to convert her putt for bogey Suzann had to settle for double. Dropping her a stroke behind M.J. Hur.
Meanwhile Hur had another birdie chance at the 16th, of similiar length as the one she had on 15. Hur, perhaps feeling rookie nerves of being in contention, again missed the putt. She would settle for pars at the driveable par-4 17th, and the tough as nails 18th, and posted the -13 number.
Suzann and Michele went to the 220 yard par-4 17th, and both missed the green with their tee shots. Michele, up first, missed hers badly to the left and had a buried lie in the primary rough. Suzann also missed left, but was a bit better, and had a clean lie in the bunker. Michele’s shot was a doozy, buried lie, green running away toward the creek. We had just seen Christina Kim’s pitch run past the hole, off the green, and nearly in the hazard. Michele showing her wily veteran skills, played a perfect delicate pitch that played off the ridge behind the pin, rolling just a few feet away. Suzann hit another good shot, a bit outside of Michele’s setting up two birdie putts for a share of the lead. They both sank to tie M.J. Hur at -13.
Quietly the final group on the course had two players at -11 when they got to the tee at the birdieable 17th. Ai Miyazato and Seon Hwa Lee both had birdie putts on the 17th hole. Ai made hers, Seon Hwa did not. Ai could seemingly birdie the 18th and get into the playoff.
That was if, Redman and Pettersen did not birdie the final hole. The 18th was playing very difficult on this day, and had only 2 birdies and that point in the day. Redman, after a picture perfect drive, hit hers short of a ridge, but directly on line to the pin. Suzann had the opposite fate, she pushed her driver far right, and it bounced off the rocks in the hazard, and landed in the rough. She layed up from there, and hit her third shot to 10-15 feet of the pin. Redman, didn’t quite hit her putt hard enough, but left an easy tap in to ensure there was a playoff. Pettersen had a test par putt, and found the nerve to sink it to make it at least a 3-way playoff.
Miyazato, needing birdie to get into the playoff, hit her tee shot wayward right, and it landed in the primary rough. She missed the green on her approach, made an aggressive pitch, then two-putted finishing at -11 and tied 4th with Seon Hwa Lee and Michelle Wie.
Pettersen had a 2-0 record in playoffs, M.J. Hur was playing in her first LPGA playoff, and Redman had not been in a playoff in 20 years I beleive. Who would settle their nerves?
All three of them had picture perfect drives all in line with eachother. Redman’s approach landed in a very similiar place to her shot in regulation, if not a few feet further away and to the left. Hur was long and to the left and in the rough. Suzann played a beautiful approach and had a 8-12 footed for birdie. Suzann’s was the only shot that looked makeable. Hur left her chip about 5 feet short, and after wrestling with those type of putts down the stretch, definitley left herself some work. Redman putted to 2 feet, marked, and it set the stage for Pettersen.
Suzann must have been the favorite to win out of these three, winning 5 times in 2007, and never losing in a playoff. Here she had a ten footer to claim the sweet feeling of victory. She missed to the left. Hur steadied herself and sank her 6-footer, but Redman missed her two footer. A sad end to a player who really fought hard this weekend, you never want to miss a chance to win like this.
Pettersen & Hur went to the 17th and hoped to get on the green and one. Hur again was short and to the left, but left a doable pitch shot to get a birdie. Pettersen hit one of the worst shots I’ve ever seen her hit, and she was short and to the right, luckily not rolling into the creek that was short of the hole. Her shot was that poorly hit that it was short of the hazard.
Hur pitched to 6 feet, leaving an uphill birdie putt. Pettersen’s approach nearly bounced into the cup, but rolled 20 feet past. Pettersen gave it a good aggressive go for birdie, but it wasn’t good enough. Hur with the tournament in her hands, finally sank a short birdie putt giving her her first career win.
She is the third rookie to win on tour this year after Jiyai Shin & Anna Nordqvist, and made only her 7th cut this year. We’ll see if Hur can continue an ascension upward on the LPGA, or if she’ll fall into Eunjung Yi land.
Christina Kim got up to -12 at one point, but struggled down the stretch. Seon Hwa Lee never got it going today, and even though finished at T-4, was not really a factor. Neither was Anna Nordqvist.
Russy Gulyanamitta had a surprise top 20 finishing T-12 at -7. Her compatriot Poranong Phatlum, had a hole in one, but struggled mightily dropping all the way down to 60th after a 78. Jeong Jang joined Gulyanamitta at T-12, and Jennifer Rosales notched a top 20 finishing at -6 and T-17.
It was adorable watching Haeji Kang try to spray M.J. Hur with champagne after the finish. After not being able to get the spray action she wanted, and Hur fleeing for safety in the gallery, Kang settled for dumping the champagne all over her. Hur teared up hugging her parents, and spoke solid English in a post tournament interview.
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.
Michelle Wie on being the defacto player messiah for the LPGA… and stuff.
After what feels like forever, the LPGA is finally back in action at the Safeway Classic in Portland, Oregon this week. The Safeway is the tour’s first 54-hole event since the Mastercard Classic in March, which was won by Pat Hurst. In 2008 Cristie Kerr was cool in the clutch, sinking a 15-hole birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Helen Alfredsson and Sophie Gustafson.
The return to tour could not have come any sooner for the lower ranked fully-exempt (or high priority) players no the tour this year. For any of those unable to qualify for the European Swing, and not able to get an entry into this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, the Safe Classic will be their first event in eight weeks. Almost has the feel like the beginning of the year for some of then I’d imagine!
With the LPGA taking center stage last week with a brilliant event at the Solheim Cup, this is a great opportunity to ride that momentum here in Portland. This will be the last regular LPGA tour event that ESPN will cover for at least 10 years, due to the exclusive deal the LPGA tour struck with the Golf Channel earlier this year. Hopefully some of the drama from last week in Rich Harvest Farms will follow.
With only Angela Park the only LPGA regular ranked in the top 50 in the Rolex World Rankings not in the field at the Safeway has got to be one of the strongest events of the year. So, who has the best chance to come through this week?
Of the Americans, current money list leader and defending champion Cristie Kerr is coming off a solid 2-1-1 performance at the Solheim Cup. Kerr, the most consistent player on tour this season is playing as good as golf as anyone.
I’ll get to the big question, is this week, or at least this fall, going to be when Michelle Wie finally breaks through? I don’t take lightly the indelible experience Wie gained last week at the Solheim Cup. She seemed to have the same lightness, the same fun, and the same power that she had when she was a 14 year old dominating nearly all of the events she entered. The 3-0-1 record is the best of the USA team, and the only player with three wins to go undefeated. Paula Creamer and Christina Kim the other players to get gain three wins, also had one defeat.
Perennial LET star Gwladys Nocera was the only player on the European team able to secure three wins (she matched Michelle Wie with the best record of the cup) is returning to Europe this week. We’ll see if Suzann Petterson, who fighting a bad back, was only able to go 1-4 last week can bounce back in a big way.
With the top three players in the world returning to action (Lorena Ochoa, Yani Tseng, and Jiyai Shin) it’s anyone’s guess as to who will finish on top this weekend. Remember, before we broke Ai Miyazato was on quite a hot streak winning in Evian and finishing top 3 at the WBO. With all of that said, who are my picks for the top 12?
Like I’ve said many times In-Kyung Kim is my pick to finish as Player of the Year, so it’s no wonder I’m picking her to win again. I expect Michelle Wie & Brittany Lang to some solid play at the Solheim and have strong finishes this week. Very impressed by Lang’s finish against Laura Davies on Sunday.
Finally, big props to Taylor Karle and Ayaka Kaneko for taking advantage of open Monday qualifying and gaining a spot in this year’s event.