Meijer LPGA Classic 1st Round Notes


Apr 4, 2014; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Sandra Gal tees off on the third hole in the second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Michelle Wie’s forced withdrawal from the Meijer LPGA Classic because of a wrist injury, on the whole the new LPGA Tourney got off to a good start.  At the end of the first round 54 golfers are at or under par, which says volumes about the playing conditions at Blythefield Country Club.  The weather was made-to-order for golf and Paula Creamer, who drained a 10-foot put for an eagle, summed up the fan support in one word: awesome!  Sandra Gal took some time during the Tour’s two-week break for a German vacation sans golf clubs, then found herself in the zone today and gave the gallery a very hot show, a string of six consecutive birdies that began on the 3rd hole and ended on the 8th, the best 2014 birdie streak on the Tour.  Gal carded the low round for the day, a 6-under par 65.

Taking a broader look at the field, how am I doing with my power pairings predictions?

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Sandra Gal, Shanshan Feng & Haru Nomura

I didn’t see it coming, but Gal outplayed both Feng and Nomura.  With four birdies and two bogeys, Feng carded a 2-under 69 and will start the 2nd round in an 11-way tie for the 10th slot on the board.  It’s quite a crowd and includes several power players — Suzann Pettersen, Lydia Ko and Paula Creamer — as well as 2nd year player Brianna Do and rookie Jaye Marie Green.

Nomura, who carded a first round 70, also has some work to do on Friday, but she’s keeping company with world ranked number 1 Stacy Lewis and two of the Spaniards who led their team to victory at the International Crown, Beatriz Recari and Belen Mozo.

Can Feng and Nomura catch Gal on Friday?  This is golf and anything can happen, but Gal’s going into the second round with a big lead.  They’ll both need to fire off lots of birdies to get the job done.

Belen Mozo, Gerina Piller & Brittany Lincicome

I predicted a close battle between Mozo and Piller in this group.  Piller, going into the 2nd round three strokes under par, has the edge over Mozo, who’s starting Friday at 1-under.  Both of them ran away from Lincicome, who will start the second round at +3.  Lincicome couldn’t seem to find the fairways today and she’s facing a +2 projected cut line tomorrow.

Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko & Suzann Pettersen

I predicted that Pettersen would establish a slight edge over Ko and Creamer during the first and second rounds.  They’re all starting the second round at two strokes under par.  Watch this group.  I’m looking for Pettersen pull ahead tomorrow and take aim at Gal.

Stacy Lewis, Karrie Webb & Jessica Korda

I predicted that Korda would jack rabbit out in front in this group while Lewis and Webb played a waiting game.  Webb’s at even par going into Friday and Lewis is at -1, just about where I thought they’d be.  But Korda didn’t come through.  Like Brittany Lincicome, Korda had some trouble finding the fairways and carded a first round 75.  She’s going to need to play hard to get even with Lewis and Webb on Friday and get above the +2 projected cut line.

Lee-Ann Pace, Sarah Kemp, Yuuer Cindy Feng

I looked for Feng, the rookie, to lead this group.  It didn’t happen.  Pace, starting the second round one stroke under par, is leading the group, and she’s keeping company with some very good players — Stacy Lewis, Catriona Matthew, Beatriz Recari, Belen Mozo, among others.

Kemp, starting Friday at +5, and Feng, at +7, are struggling.  Like Lincicome and Korda, they’re having trouble finding the fairways off the tee.

Inbee Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

In her post-round interview with MichiganLive Inbee Park explained the problem Lincicome, Korda, Kemp and Cindy Feng are having:

"There are some blind tee shots and a lot of dog leg holes.  You need an accurate tee shot."

Inbee Park, Cristie Kerr & Mo Martin

How did Martin’s game measure up against Inbee Park’s and Cristie Kerr’s?  With her laser-sharp accuracy off the tee, the former world ranked number 1 managed her game handily and out-shot her playing partners.  Park carded a 66 and will start the second round of the Meijer LPGA Classic trailing Sandra Gal’s lead by one shot.  The battle for the top of the leaderboard is on, but neither Martin nor Kerr appears in contention at this point.  They’re starting Friday one stroke over par.  Let’s see if they get those fairways figured out tomorrow.

The Amateurs

With her father on the bag, distracting her with stories about the family dog, Michigan State’s Lindsey McPherson had an up and down day, struggled with those elusive fairways, and carded a 73.  At +2 McPherson could make the cut if she can play a steady game on Friday.

It’s a different story for Michigan’s Grace Choi, who carded an 84 and will start Friday at +13 and on the bottom of the leaderboard.  Still, this is a valuable experience for the sophomore.  She has two more years of collegiate golf to hone her game and get it ready for the big stage.

Friday Schedule

Friday’s second round at the Meijer LPGA Classic begins again at 7:15am local time with players going off the 1st and 10th tees.  Golf Channel will pick up coverage of the round in progress at 5pm ET, and my colleagues and I at ProGolfNow will also provide updates on the Meijer Classic as well as other pro golf news.

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