Of Surreal Winds, Cristie Kerr Eagles & Suspended Play

A devilish desert wind became a big part of the story yesterday, during the first round of the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International Presented by Mirassou Winery.

It started out strong... then only got stronger as the day progressed. It buffeted the players as they set up their shots and occasionally stung the eyes of the audience, with biting desert sand. It even got to where the scoreboards had to be put down, having become a hazard in their own right.

The tournament is taking place at Papago the historic, City of Phoenix course, that's just been totally restored.

When I was in Phoenix, just a couple weeks ago, there wasn't even a discernible breeze. Just a hot sun, cool dry air and a cobalt blue sky. Area resident Cristie Kerr, and a several other LPGA players, played a practice round in Scottsdale in those calm conditions before their trip to Mexico. Obviously they're needing to call upon a rather different skill set this week.

Cristie herself summoned those skills yesterday in a gritty up-and-down round that included eagles on both of the back nine par 5s, finishing with a 4-iron shot that landed 5 feet from the 18th hole. An eagle putt then moved her to within one shot of the lead with a 3-under 69. Inbee Park and Jiyai Shin share second with Cristie as does Suzann Petterson, who described the windy conditions as "surreal". In-Kyung Kim finished the turbulent day in the lead with a 3-under 69.

Ultimately, first-round play was suspended when darkness fell on the desert, with several players still on the course. It resumed this morning on a far calmer course.
The forecast is calling for winds to remain at 10-15 mph today which will certainly be a welcome relief to the ladies battling on the newly refurbished fairways of Papago.