Crowds follow youngsters
There has been a lot made this week about the debuts of Morgan Pressel and Ai Miyazato as they compete on the LPGA Tour for the first time as members.
The galleries following both young golfers at this week's SBS Open at Turtle Bay have been notable at the first full-field event of 2006. Miyazato's galleries are made larger still by the number of Japanese media following her wherever she roams on the golf course.
And she did a lot of that yesterday as she followed her opening-round 70 with a disappointing 3-over 75 that left her barely making the cut at 1-over 145. By comparison, Pressel backed up her first-round 70 with a 3-under 69 to find herself tied for seventh with a host of golfers at 5-under 139.
"I'm not as close to the top of the leaderboard as I would like, but who knows, maybe I have a really good round in me for tomorrow," Pressel said.
Miyazato finds herself 10 strokes off the pace and not in any danger of winning. She said through a translator yesterday that she was a little disappointed with her play in the second round. She was one of 27 golfers who had to finish her rain-delayed first round early yesterday morning, then come back for 18 more 30 minutes later.
"I didn't play as well as I wanted to," Miyazato said. "But the experience has been very exciting."
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ai Miyazato has been a crowd favorite at Turtle Bay this week, with a large group of fans and media following her progress.
Fellow sensation Michelle Wie
will join the other young guns next week at the Fields Open in Hawaii at Ko Olina Resort. Pressel was asked yesterday by the Golf Channel whether she has any ill feelings toward Wie.
Pressel recently said that Wie should have to qualify for the Women's U.S. Open like anyone else and added she wasn't sure what Wie was afraid of in having to qualify after she received a one-time exemption last year.
Pressel said yesterday that she sticks by her statement, but: "I didn't mean anything, especially (toward) Michelle, by it," Pressel said. "Obviously, it comes down to what the USGA says. But it was definitely nothing personal, that's for sure. We get along fine. We obviously don't see each other that often. Whenever we do, there's never any problem. We sit and chat or say hi when we go by. There's certainly nothing there."
Pressel also said she was honored to be considered one of the bright stars of the future and was glad to be a member at the tender age of 17.
"The tour is doing great things to change women's golf," Pressel said. "And I think the LPGA is definitely on the upswing right now. Not just the young players, but all the storylines that go with it. It's really exciting to be placed in that category with all the other great names. The main thing I can do is perform well and make it exciting and interesting for the fans and the sponsors and it will all fall into place."
Juggling two lives: Becky Iverson has shared the lead through the first two rounds of the SBS Open, but she conceded she doesn't know how much longer she will play, especially when her 2-year-old daughter, Emma, starts attending school.
These days, her daughter is traveling with her as she tries to juggle two careers. Thursday night, she woke up to find Emma sleeping on the mat in the bathroom and later that morning, Emma woke her up early as Iverson prepared for the second day of the 54-hole tournament.
Not that Iverson minds all that much, but at this point, her daughter is not a big golf fan.
"She doesn't like golf at all right now," Iverson said. "I can't get her to try. She has been out a couple of times, but she is more interested in playing in the bunker. She really likes the sand, and I have to rake it every 10 minutes."
As soon as Iverson's done, she's able to leave golf behind her and assume the role of mom. It's not always an easy transition.
"She usually says, 'I don't want you to go play putt-putt today'," Iverson said. "The hardest thing is you don't have any down time. I was used to a lot of down time after playing. Now as soon as I get done, I don't practice a lot, I go get my daughter. She wants to go to the pool or go do something. I stay a lot more active than I would probably like. But it's worth it."
Rosales withdraws: Defending champion Jennifer Rosales pulled out of the tournament yesterday, complaining her right hand was hurting. She was 5 over at the time. Last year, Rosales withdrew from six tournaments because of a right wrist injury.
She said on Tuesday that she had rested the past two months and hoped the wrist was fine, but apparently, that isn't the case. She is scheduled to play next week at the Fields Open, but told officials she was going home to the Philippines.
Grace Park shared the first-round lead yesterday, but shot a 2-over 74 to disappear from view. Like Rosales, Park has been fighting the injury bug the last year. Her back has been a problem. She said Thursday that her back was tight after every round and had hoped she would be pain-free through the weekend.
Inside the numbers: The scoring average improved dramatically yesterday from 73.537 in the first round to 71.886 in the second. There were 33 golfers after the first round who shot 71 or better and that number increased to 65 yesterday.
The hardest hole was the par-3 fourth with a scoring average of 3.354.
There were seven birdies, 80 pars, 33 bogeys and 10 doubles. The easiest hole was the par-5 third with a scoring average of 4.631. There was one eagle by Joo Mi Kim, 54 birdies, 67 pars, eight bogeys and one double bogey.