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Aug 10

PGA and LPGA: Unfamiliar Faces Leading the First Round

 

This Week’s PGA and LPGA Leaders Surprise


There are some initial surprises this week, as the women tee it up for the Jamie Farr Classic, and the men play the final major of the year. Some of it has gone according to plan, but there are some unexpected faces up top in both cases, and the leaderboard is looking even more international than usual.

What could be more all-American than the Jamie Farr Classic played in Toledo, Ohio? However, outside of Meredith Duncan being within striking distance, where are the Americans? The Ohio tournament is being led by a Swedish woman who is, apparently, all but unknown in this country, despite the fact that she played for Oklahoma State. She also played on the Duramed Futures Tour, and is an alpine ski racer – no shrinking violet.

Pernilla Lindberg, in her third year on the tour and at twenty six years of age, has never won an LPGA event. In fact, she’s never appeared in the top ten for an LPGA event. Her best effort is a tie for 12th, and she’s missed six of the last ten cuts. That’s not a sterling pedigree for suddenly leading an event hosting a fully international field. However, she did it by staging a putting clinic for the ages, a dream round come true. That round was came complete with a casual 50 footer, a mere 40 footer and three 25 footers. Such profound green work brought Lindberg in at -7 with a 64. Who knows if she’ll be around by Sunday, but it’s always fun to see a first round shake-up. Close behind, however, are Mika Miyazato of Japan, Karine Icher of France. Chella Choi of South Korea and Numa Gulyanamitta of Thailand. Almost anything could happen with such representation atop the board.

The situation over at the men’s PGA Championship looks similarly international. The one presence that comes as no surprise is Tiger Wood’s healthy start. As he has in previous weeks, the fourteen major winner is lurking, and one of these days, he’s going to step forward and dominate one of them.  In the first round lead is Carl Pettersen of Sweden. It seems to be a good day for Sweden on both tours. Close behind is Gonzales Fernando-Castano, a thirty-two year old from Spain, also not well-known in the west. A native of Madrid, he has won the Italian Open and the Barclay Singapore Open. Alex Noren of Sweden is in the hunt, and then come the names we know and fear – Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is, apparently, out of his slump and scary again. Australian Adam Scott is back after his recent collapse, but playing well, as he almost always has for the past few weeks. Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell must be taken into account as a past major winner.

Here’s the weird one, though. Two strokes back is the infamous John Daly at -4. At forty six years of age, he has been around the block in any life category you might mention, but he’s back, looks focused, and still plays a heck of a round of golf. Whether he can play four of them is the question, but it would be a hoot to have him in contention on Sunday. Banished from the PGA, he has spent the past few months in Europe and Asia, occasionally risking the same treatment. The ’91 PGA and ‘95 Open winner looks different, though, and he’s become a crowd favorite.

We’ll all be on Tiger watch tomorrow, and in general, to see if Sweden can continue to dominate American tournaments, and Big John can hold it together.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.