Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Desert Ridge
Second-Round Notes and Interviews
March 20, 2015
Ha Na Jang is the current leader at the JTBC Founders Cup at 11-under-par through 11 holes of her second round. Jang caught fire with seven birdies in her first 11 holes, including four straight before play was called for the night.
Fellow South Korean Hyo Joo Kim shot rounds of 65-69 on Friday to hold the clubhouse lead at 10-under-par through two rounds while Lewis sits two shots back at 9-under-par (64-71). For all of the players, it was an exhausting day that featured a lot of golf for some and a lot of waiting around for others.
“I was sleepy this morning,” said Kim, who had 12 holes to play in her first round when play resumed at 7:37 a.m. on Friday morning. “I just played relaxed and I just think to myself, hit soft, and that’s the key for me. Because I came early this morning, I was very tired.”
PLAY TO RESUME TOMORROW
Round 2 was suspended at 6:38pm due to darkness. Round 2 will resume at 7:30am Saturday morning.
Round 3 is projected to begin at 11:15am with a 2-tee start. Pairings will be generated using the standard LPGA method with the leaders going off last on hole #1, the median scores first off of holes #1 and #10 and the higher scores going off last on hole #10. There are currently 82 players at -2.
THE REAL DEAL
Hyo Joo Kim may be a rookie on the LPGA Tour but she’s no stranger to many of the LPGA Tour players.
Kim burst onto the LPGA scene with her victory at the Evian Championship, as she birdied the 72nd hole to defeat Karrie Webb by a stroke. It was a pretty impressive performance by a 19-year-old who was playing in her first major championship.
Webb certainly remembers how impressive Kim’s performance at that event and it’s why she wasn’t surprised to see Kim’s name at the top of the leaderboard on Friday at the JTBC Founders Cup.
“I’ve only played that one round with her, but I felt like I was putting plenty of pressure on her, and she just hit good shot after good shot,” Webb said. “Even when I thought, you know, the nerves had gotten the best of her, she made one of the best up and downs I’ve ever seen under pressure on 17 and then made one of the best birdies I’ve of seen on 18.
“She’s definitely got game. Winning Evian wasn’t a fluke last year.”
A THREE-WAY RACE
For many years on the LPGA Tour, one player has emerged as the person to beat. But recently a “Big Three” has started to develop on Tour with Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park consistently finding themselves near the top of the leaderboard and in contention.
The top-3 ranked players in the world were paired together for the final round at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore with Park emerging as the victor. Park isn’t in the field this week at the JTBC Founders Cup but it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone to see Lewis and Ko once again near the top of the leaderboard through two days of play in Phoenix.
Lewis finished off her first round with a flourish on Friday morning, making seven birdies in a stretch of nine holes to shoot 64 and take the outright first-round lead. Lewis slowed her pace during her second round with a 1-under 71 but sits just two shots back.Ko, who shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday, was tied for the lead when first-round play was halted due to darkness on Thursday evening. She was 1-under through seven holes
For Lewis, this rivalry that is emerging on Tour is a positive not only for women’s golf but also for her own game as well.
“We’ve always had kind of a dominant player, which is not necessarily good for the Tour I think,” Lewis said. “So this rivalry that’s becoming, I think it’s really great for us. It’s making us better. It’s fun. I know Lydia is going to be up there every week. I know Inbee, even though she’s not here, she would be on the leaderboard if she was. It makes us better and that’s what you’re seeing, you’re seeing better golf out of all of us.”
Karrie Webb has seen various rivalries throughout her time on the LPGA Tour, including being part of one with Annika Sorenstam as the two dominated the Tour back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Webb played with Lewis during the first two rounds in Phoenix and continues to be impressed by the play she’s witnessing from this ‘Big Three’ right now.
“15 years ago, I don’t remember it ever feeling as automatic as it seems whenever you play with Stacy or Inbee or Lydia, that they just put themselves on the leaderboard,” Webb said. “This morning, we resumed early and Stacy 3 putted from nowhere and all of the sudden, she’s only 1 under. Then in the next 10, 11 holes, she shot 7 under in the next 11 holes.
“I think those players are playing with that sort of confidence that I don’t feel like they feel like they have to press; that the scores are just going to be there, and that’s a great feeling to have is to know that, yeah, I gave one away there but there’s plenty of opportunity still to go.”
TRIPLE COSTS ICHER LEAD
Karine Icher was cruising along at 12-under par before a tough closing stretch which included a triple bogey six on the par-3 16th where she flew the green and wound up in brush and had to try and chip out.
“I had no other choice,” Icher said of her choice to try and play from the brush. “If I declare it unplayable and go back in the bunker to drop my ball in the bunker, it will plug. So I mean, it would be probable the same number at the end. So I tried to be smart and drop far back, but in this stuff, I don’t know how to play that. I mean, it’s hard. It’s not the bunker. It’s not the fairway. It’s in between. So maybe I’m going to practice that the next few days.”
Outside of the final three holes, Icher has had an impressive first two rounds sitting at 8-under for the event and is right in the hunt going into the weekend.
“Same as the first two days,” Icher said of her approach entering the final two rounds. “I mean, you cannot approach differently. Have to be a little more aggressive on a few shots, a few holes. But it’s the kind of golf course you play like driver has to be in place and then second shot. So I’m going to attack next two days exactly the same.”
WALK WITH SANDRA
With this week’s JTBC Founders Cup honoring the LPGA’s strong foundation and bright future Girls Golf has taken to the forefront. Sandra Gal wanted to help out with the cause and came up with her own unique way to contribute to Girls Golf.
“I just had my time off in December and I was just thinking about how I can just give back to whatever I do with my job. I came up with this idea, and I created the Walk with Sandra inside the ropes,” Gal said. “So little girls enter a contest and they write me a letter and they paint some art, and then one of them gets picked by the coach of the girls at the local Girls Golf program. Then they get to walk with me 18 holes, and just chat with me and get a firsthand experience what it is like to be on the fairway at an LPGA event.”
Gal tried the program out for the first time this week and it’s already been a hit.
“I had such a good time,” Gal explained. “I had a really, really good time because they were very interested, had lots of questions, and they were just so excited to be there. It was so infectious even for me, motivational for myself just to be there and talk to them a little bit about what we do.”
The girls walking with Gal got to see some impressive golf as she currently sits at 6-under for the tournament.
“I think I’ve been really solid tee to green,” Gal said of her play. “So yeah, nothing too spectacular. I had an eagle yesterday in my first round. That kind of helps. The course is very scorable. You’re going to see low rounds so still got to catch up a little bit.”
NUMBERS TO KNOW
25 - Hyo Joo Kim has played in 25 LPGA events and has yet to finish outside of the top-25, with seven top-10 finishes
66 - 66 golfers finished their rounds and 66 golfers remain on the course after play was suspended
93 - 93 players are under par when play was halter
9 - Number of birdies recorded by Stacy Lewis in her first round
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think we have so many good storylines right now, I don’t think it really matters if one person dominates or not. It looks like right now Lydia could take that step where she’s going to dominate, but I really feel like Inbee and Stacy are definitely hungry enough to maybe not let her get too far ahead and there’s a bunch of other good players that will definitely have consistent years as well.” -Karrie Webb on the big three