KirkwoodGolf: ANA Inspiration LPGA Tour Major report, scores

Friday, April 03, 2015

ANA Inspiration LPGA Tour Major report, scores

Sei Young Kim's 65 earns her a two-shot lead

Sei Young Kim smoked a beautiful high-arching hybrid into the peninsula-protected par-5 18th green at Mission Hills Country Club to five feet and rolled the putt in for eagle to vault to the top of the leaderboard at 7-under-par Friday at the ANA Inspiration at Rancho Mirage, sunny California.
Kim’s 7-under-par 65 is the best round of the tournament thus far by two shots and was seven shots better than her first-round 72. She leads American and first-round leader Morgan Pressel (72) by two shots.
“I feel really great because I was 7-under today,” Kim said. “I really hit the ball good and putting really good, everything really good. I’m very happy.
As for how the 22-year-old LPGA rookie plans to stay atop the leaderboard come Sunday, she turned to a famous company slogan.
“Just do it,” Kim said. “Just do it!”
Kim’s round Friday was a ball-striking masterpiece on a day she hit 17 of 18 greens. She hit it to within 15 feet on each of her four birdies on the front nine and was out in 4-under 32. She had short-range birdies on Nos. 11 and 15 with her only blemish coming on No. 16, where she hit her tee shot in the rough and hit her approach way to the back of the green for a three putt. But she saved her best for last, making eagle on the last to take the 36-hole lead.
Only once before has Kim held the 36-hole lead, the 2015 Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, which she ended up closing out for her first LPGA win in a three-player playoff. She’s one of those players that doesn’t seem to be bothered by any pressure and won four of her five KLPGA Tour victories in playoffs.
This is her third appearance in an LPGA major and her best finish at one is 46th at the U.S. Women’s Open last year. She tied for 61st at this event a year ago.
Pressel, the 2007 champ, had three birdies and three bogeys in her even-par round. Three players are in a tie for third at 4-under par including the 2009 winner Brittany Lincicome, Jenny Shin of South Korea and Scotland’s Catriona Matthew.

End to the Streak

Lydia Ko’s record-tying streak of 29 consecutive sub-par rounds came to a close Friday, ending in a tie with Annika Sorenstam’s record of 29 after Ko shot a 1-over-par 73. Ko, the 17-year old world No. 1, was disappointed for the streak to end but won’t be upset to see the hype around it go.
“I mean, it was pretty awesome that I was near Annika’s record last week and even yesterday, and then I tied it,” Ko said. “It was so cool that I’m tying with someone amazing and as great as her. I was like, man, I would love to reach 30 in a way. But as I said before, I’m relieved that this question is not going to be asked, but I think 29 – I wasn’t counting and 29 under-par rounds is pretty good in my book.”
Ko headed to the 17th hole at even par for the day with a solid chance to keep the streak rolling after hitting her approach to 10 feet on the par-3 17th with a hybrid. 
But the putt just slid by the hole. All eyes were on her as she approached the par-5 18th tee with a chance to make a birdie to continue the streak. 
She missed her drive just to the right, though, off the tee, leaving it in the rough. She couldn’t go for the green as a result and got a bit aggressive with her 6-iron layup and dunked it in the water in front of the green. 
Ko was so shocked the lay-up went in the water that she asked a volunteer when she got up to the pond where her ball was.
“It was like 160 something to the end of the fairway, and then there was like 20 yards of rough, so I’d say it was 190 approximately,” Ko said. “I just hit a three-quarter 6 iron, and I would have never guessed that I was going to hit a 6-iron 190, not even if I was Lexi. Yeah, so obviously that was the wrong club at the end of the day, but I thought it was 6-iron even if it flew out of there, it would have at least stopped.”
Instead, that unexpected flyer caromed into the drink and stopped her streak.
“I applaud Lydia and her play over the last few months,” Sorenstam said. “I am impressed with the composure she shows at such a young age and I think we’ll be hearing a lot about her in the years to come.”
With the record complete, Ko can now focus on chasing down the leaders. She’s seven shots back heading into the weekend at even par, but it hasn’t been for a lack of birdies.
 Ko’s nine birdies through two days are just one shy of the amount of leader, Sei Young Kim, but Ko’s struggled with her driver and made more bogeys through two rounds – nine – than she made through the first two rounds in the three prior events combined.
“I just wasn’t hitting fairways, and then it just kind of becomes no fun,” Ko said. “It’s fun because you’re trying to hit hook shots and low shots out of the trees. In that way it’s fun, but no, I just really couldn’t get my driver going, and when you’re in that kind of position, it’s not easy around this course.”
Ko typically hits 82 percent of fairways – good for 28th on Tour – but she only hit 6 of 14 fairways Friday. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that Ko shot her first over-par round since November 15th, 2014 – the third round of the 2014 Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Cheers to the Weekend

The cut this week fell at 73 players at 3-over par 147. Notables to miss the cut: Jessica Korda (+5), Lizette Salas (+6), Beatriz Recari (+6), Yani Tseng (+8).