LPGA Championship Early Leaders
The name of the tournament is the LPGA Championship – sounds important. I guess it is – everyone who’s anybody showed up to play it. Unfortunately, Mother Nature showed up as well, and completely obliterated the first round – nulla, nada, niente. Two and one half inches of water fell on the course, and when Friday rolled around, players were surprised to find themselves teeing off on time, or at all.
At the end of the day, there was a fun pattern emerging on the leaderboard. They were not necessarily the adolescent sensations anymore, although Lexi Thompson is still in the late stages of it. They were the wunderkind sensations of yesterday, now adults with a few years of seasoning behind them. Being seasoned is good for pro golf, and despite the hype that accompanies the child stars to the point where you expect them to win everything in sight, they don’t. As a rule, they win more, later.
Chella Choi of South Korea is, in official terms, the leader, but there are miles to go before anyone claims this tournament. One of the happy surprises for Americans was the 68 shot by Morgan Pressel, one of yesterday’s brightest up and comers. Would you believe that she’s 25 now? That, I believe, bodes well for an improving career. Would you believe that she’s married now? Sorry, fathers of the world, it happens. They grow up. Of course, marriage can have a wide variety of effects on golf. Your inspiration button can get pushed and you’ll go out and tear the course to pieces – or…you can go to the first tee with your mind on something else, and play in a fog for a few weeks. Morgan has chosen the former, with an eye to getting on that Solheim team, something she wants very badly. It’s all a good omen for Pressel. Back then, she was just a talent. Now, she’s becoming a wise, thinking, adult talent. Her four birdies from 15 to 18 say so, as did her unwillingness to get into any serious trouble along the way.
Brittany Lincicome was there today as well, coming in with a 69. Born in 1985, she’s in that wonderful late twenties time where she can be at her mental and physical best – and it’s time to demonstrate that point. The young girl who led the U.S. Open as an amateur, and charged through an amateur career of one hundred events should be ready to get serious now. Like Pressel, she won the Kraft Nabisco, a major, so we know she can do it. However, this year – no top tens and five missed cuts. The kid who beat Michelle Wie, Lorena Ochoa and Julie Inkster in World Match Play, one of the longest hitters on tour (278 yards), and was appropriately nick-named “Bam Bam,” should be ready for a major coming-out party in her prime.
Needless to say, Lexi Thompson is lurking as well, and while still a teenager, I can’t picture her as a starry-eyed kid. She knows what she’s doing, and we’ll see her do it better and better when she gets into those, “OK, now I’m REALLY here” years.
There isn’t a profession in the world where all the participants peak at the same time. Humans are, needless to say, so varied that one couldn’t possibly predict their life success in a fixed time frame. Some are wickedly good in their later years, and some spend it all early and try to regain it for the rest of their lives. Regardless, I wouldn’t count out any of yesteryear’s child stars. They might be just getting started.