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Saturday, March 29, 2008


Safeway International 2008 - Saturday

Scored for Julie Inkster and Alena Sharp. Had 2 call for 2 official's rullings.
1) on one of the par 5s on the front 9, Alena had a valve cover that interfered with her stroke, she felt -- inkster agreed, so we called it in . . . but the official didn't agree, so she just had to chip over it

2) Inkster's drive on #14 drifted right, off of the grass, right of the cart path, but just short of the giant bushy barranca . . . so she wanted a drop -- her stance was on the cart path, but to go right would put her into the barranca, and the official agreed she could go left instead, back onto the grass. big difference.

She hit a high soft half wedge a foot from the pin for a kick-in birdie from fluffy rough, instead of some sort of gravelly hardpan. Great shot.

Inkster was on an amazing roll at that point. On the par5 #13 she'd flared her second off the grass there over the cart path onto the rocky desert . .. I tho't she'd need a drop, but she cautiously removed grapefruit sized impediments for a few minutes then picked the ball clean. It only went halfway to the green, in the rough, on a down hill lie --
oddly enough, when I was watching Ochoa on TV later, on that same hole, she wound up in the same exact place, in 2 shots. She tried a flop-shot that landed on the edge of the green, came up 10 ft short, missed the birdie. Nae lassie, that's noot the way to play it from the long rough with a downhill lie -- Inkster played a very scottish bump-and-run that had an in-the-hole look of it all the way . . . . for birdie . . . there was less than 30 of us around that green but we were all hootin' and hollerin after that one.

So then Inkster had the thingy on #14, another birdie, then, on #15 she had a standard great hole: middle of the fairway, high wedge close to the hole, kickin-birdie. The small crowd following Inkster had a buzz now!

on #16 Inkster didn't have a good look at the green (from the right side of the fairway) from which the fairway falls away hard, on a slant, as the green slants away from the fairway in a slicey-sort of way, so that it just looks *tiny*, but she bravely stuck it just on the right side of the green, pin high, leaving an uphill putt -- just like she meant to do it . . . 8^D . . . but she narrowly missed the birdie on the low side.

Meanwhile, "Sharpie" had hit her ball courageously over the trash (or it might have just been a pull) into the short rough, so she had a great look at the green, but she pulled her 2nd shot too onto the back fringe. She drained that little texas wedge tho' for a birdie . . . it seemed like every hole on the back 9, except 18, one or the other birdied. Very Exciting.

Inkster missed two more makeable birdies on 17 & 18, which is the way the rest of her round went too, except for that magical interlude. Happens to us all, doedn't it?

Mr Science Reports:

There must be some mysterious technique to predicting the number of players to make the cut, because I got a different starting time and a different group today than I expected:
Heather Young and Shanshan Feng.

Shanshan says "My Chinese name is Shanshan, but you can call me Jennie". We were able to chat a little, because these two played fast enough to be waiting for most of their shots, as opposed to the first two days where we were usually behind, and even were "on the clock" for a couple of holes yesterday. Shanshan is 18, from China, a rookie on the LPGA Tour, and living in Orlando now. I asked her why she chose Jennie for her American name, and she said just because it was easy.

In 2007, as an amateur, tied for ninth at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn exempt status for the 2008 LPGA season; turned professional immediately following the final round. Feng enjoyed a well-decorated amateur career that included nine wins in China. She won the China Youth Championship and the China Youth Open in 2004. She was a three-time winner of the China Amateur Tournament (2004-06). Feng was also the 2006 China Women’s Amateur Open Champion. She was a member of the 2006 All-China Championship Team and also earned medalist honors at the event. She was named Golfweek’s Top Chinese Amateur in 2007 after winning four tournaments on the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) in 2007. Feng also qualified for the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open.

This is her 2nd LPGA tournament, and will be her first payday. She struggled on the front 9, but finished with birdies on 17 and 18 to shoot even par (after we discussed some of the nuances of putting in the shadow of Superstition Mountain :)

Shanshan, if you're reading this, I offer this free advice, from least important to most:

Use your Chinese name. People who like you will want to learn it, and many
people will like you. When you win tournaments, everyone will learn
your name.

Take pride in your status as a Professional
Golfer. Lorena said in an interview that she spent 3 1/2 hours a day in
the off season working on her chipping. She was already the best in the
world, but she felt she could improve enough to spend that much time on one
little thing. Plus two hours at the gym, and a few hours on putting
and full shots. When the best in the world works that hard, and you want
to beat her, you have to work that hard, too.

Most important, have
fun. The next few years of your life are for fun. Make sure you keep
your card, but don't become a zombie. You will have many years to play
Professional golf, and while your job will always be important, it will
often not be the most important thing in your life.

Heather shot 70 and was on the verge of being listed on the leaderboard for a while. On 14, after she passed them walking on the cart path, her metal spikes clicking and clacking, one of the patrons commented to his buddy "I'm surprised they let them wear metal spikes anymore". My thought was "And how would you like to be the one to tell a woman what shoes she can wear?" . . . 8^D. . .

Heather's caddy, Jeff, was a character. As we walked off the 10th tee, he told me "You know, the scorer traditionally buys drinks for the caddies after the round". I said, "Yeah, meet me in the clubhouse after. And if I'm late, go ahead and start a tab for me." . . . 8^D. . .

The most colorful events were unrelated to my group today. When I arrived at the course I went to the 9th green to pass the time before my tee time, and Cactus Dave's group was just arriving. Once again, Dave was scoring for his favorite, Juli Inkster. He said she didn't recognize him from last year (thankfully - I guess she doesn't read his blog either) . . . 8^D . . .

Two groups later, Natalie Gulbis came through. She finished and was waiting at the exit, within a few feet of me, for Lorie Kane to putt out. The caddy was fetching a bottle of water from the bag, but it had fallen down too far into the sleeve that ran the length of the bag, and his hand wouldn't fit. Natalie reached in up to her elbow, and couldn't get the water out, either. Then, bent over at the bag, she announced that her hand was stuck. The caddy opened up a zipper on the bag, and tried to push it out from inside, to no avail. Then he asked the crowd "Someone call 911". Lorie came over and helped, Natalie eventually was freed, and disaster averted. . . 8^D . . .

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