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 Jessica Korda joined the LPGA last season many eyes were pointed her way to be one of the contenders for Rookie of the Year. With a sparkling amateur career, and professional athlete pedigree (her father Petr was a top tennis player winning the Australian Open), it wasn’t a question of will she, but when she. It wasn’t her rookie campaign which saw her finish just inside the top 100 on the money list. While adjusting to the professional lifestyle, and trying to find some momentum is the sparse playing schedule for rookies last year, Korda never got anything going. It took her one week to turn that around.
Jessica Korda showed some nerves of steal when she birded the second playoff hole to knock out 5 other women in the sudden death playoff for the ISPS Handa’s Women’s Australian Open. Korda started the round magically with three birdies in the first 8-holes to get up to 7-under par. Then the wheels started to fall off. She doubled the 9th, broke even with a bogey/birdie duo on 10 & 11, before a 3-bogey stretch on holes 14-16. The mini-choke was truly just miniature, because she rebounded with a birdie on 17 to finish at 3-under, which lead to her impressive playoff victory.
The tough weekend scoring conditions saw them finish at just 3-under par, 3-shots worse than the 6-under par So Yeon Ryu posted to take the 36-hole lead.
For Ryu, it’s another troubling so close, but cannot close moments. She bogeyed her 72nd hole to fall back to 3-under. She lead for most of the weekend last week at the Australian Ladies Masters before closing with an even par 72 to fall one stroke short. Today she entered the final round one-behind Korda and again shot even par, which was enough to get in the playoff, but still equals the same result, a runner-up finish. Ryu got the reputation as a clutch competitor at the U.S. Women’s Open last year where she stared down Hee Kyung Seo in the aggregate playoff, but these type of runner-up finishes seem more accurate. Aside from the U.S. Open Ryu has only won one other time in the past two years, and has faltered down the stretch and was unable to win a single KLPGA End of Season award. While these back-to-back runner-up finishes are promising for the rookie, the manner in which she got there leaves some troubling feelings in my opinion.
It’s nice to see Julieta Granada secure a runner-up finish as well. After strong 2006 and 2007 seasons which saw her win the ADT Championships (and the million dollar payday) Julieta has struggled. She hovered around the 100 on the money list range for three years, before a mini-resurgence last year brought her into the top 70. This might be a nod to say Julieta’s back!
Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome also found themselves in the playoff and look to continue to push Cristie Kerr & Paula Creamer out of the top of American golf. Hee Kyung Seo, the runner-up to Ryu at the US Open rounded out the 6 way playoff. Seo matched Ryu’s even par round, and also matched her 72nd hole bogey, to get into the playoff that would be won by Korda.
And what a way to win your maiden LPGA title by birdieing the second playoff hole to knock out 5 talented women out. Korda was a teenage prodigy, and had a mountain of expectations laid upon her last year. In just one week she’s tripled her career money won. Heck, even if she had lost in the playoff the share of runner-up money would’ve been more then she gained in 2011! Jessica Korda has always had the game to be one of the best, now that she has proven belief how far will she go?
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!