Slam In Peril? Park Down 8 After Two
By Torleif Sorenson on 8/2/13
A young woman from South Korea with a major championship pedigree is atop the leaderboard at the Women's British Open at the Old Course at Saint Andrews. The problem for Inbee Park, who is pursuing a "grand slam" of major championships, is that the leader is not Inbee Park.

In fact, she's eight shots back.

Instead, 25-year-old Na Yeon Choi holds the solo lead after the first two rounds of the Open, having shot a pair of blistering 5-under 67s. Most impressively, Choi has sustained only two bogeys over the first 36 holes. On Thursday, she birdied five of the first ten holes, then birdied four of the first eight on Friday. She has played Saint Andrews' tough inward nine three-under-par, dented only by a bogey at the par-3 11th on Thursday.

She leads Japan's Miki Saiki by one (135), Florida native Morgan Pressel by two (136), and a trio consisting of South Korea's Jee Young Lee, Norway's Suzann Pettersen, and University of Southern California graduate Nicole Castrale by three (137).

While IBP got off to a hot start on Thursday with six birdies in the first ten holes, it came undone beginning with a bogey at 13, then a disastrous double-bogey at 16, and another bogey at 17. On Friday, with the wind a major factor, Park bogeyed the first, got it back with a birdie at 6, then suffered another bogey at 10. She canned a six-foot birdie putt at 12, and hit a really nice-lloking drive at 13 (the toughest driving hole), only for the ball to wind up in somebody else's divot. Leaving her approach short of the green, she missed a 10-footer for par. At the notorious Road Hole, her approach made the green, but left her 50 feet away from the jar. Another three-putt bogey.

Park has gone 69 - 73 = 142, eight shots adrift. She wasn't much in the mood to talk to the press about it, either:
"Five hours out there, this kind of weather, it's hard to remember."
The 36-hole leader, Na Yeon Choi, won the 2012 U.S. Women's Open at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin by a four-stoke margin (!), so with the experience of having played on the biggest stage under pressure, her winning the championship would not be a gigantic surprise.

Keep an eye on Miki Saiki, though.

A virtual unknown here in North America, the 28-year-old Saiki plays on the LPGA of Japan Tour — and has already won twice in two weeks this year, taking the three-day KKT Cup Vantelin Ladies Open and the Fujisankei Ladies Classic in consecutive weeks in April. They represent her sixth and seventh tour victories, respectively.

Saiki toured Saint Andrews with a bogey-free 69 on Thursday, then made a pretty big splash on Friday: She tied the Old Course record for the Women's British Open by shooting a 66 in relatively benign morning conditions. (Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth both shot 66 on Thursday.)

Twice she holed out for eagle — first with a 127-yard 8-iron at the par-4 4th, then with a wedge from 108 yards at the 7th. Interestingly, that 66 could have been a 64, were it not for bogeys at 2 and 16!
"I've been very consistent all year and it's always great to get a chance to play in the majors. At the moment, I'm happy playing in Japan but, in the future, I would like to go to America and compete on the LPGA Tour."
We're counting on it.

On Saturday and Sunday, ESPN2 will provide coverage from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET. What remains to be seen is if Inbee Park can make the most of "moving day" on Saturday. No less than 24 women are ahead of her this weekend, with a perfectly fine opportunity to win a major on the Auld Sod.

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Image via Ricoh Women's British Open

[ comments ]
joe jones says:
Inbee caught a strong south east wind on the front nine. All of the trouble is on the right side of the fairway (gorse) and that is her bad shot usually. It forces you to play to the left and the approach angles from there are almost impossible.On the inward nine that same wind again carries the ball to the middle on the left. The same problem with approach shots applies here again.You can't aim right because every hole has out of bounds on that side. Just about every player that had problems scoring today blamed the wind for that reason. It's a feature of St. Andrews and always has been.
mmontisano says:
it's a major at St Andrews, I'm not counting out IBP just yet.
[ post comment ]
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