Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Favorite Shots from The Blizzard of 2014

I've been tweeting some blizzard photos over @mlyhlssgolf (featuring such immortal hashtags as #futilitymeetexercise, #moveoverSisyphus, and #blizzardhacks), but that doesn't allow me to arrange related shots.  So here's a little tour of The Constructivist Family's neighborhood from Tuesday to Friday.

Let's start with the view from right near the end of my driveway on Wednesday morning.


Compare it to the view from my neighbor's flat roof looking in the opposite direction from a few houses to the right of mine relative to the previous picture.  This one was taken Friday morning.


Next up are a couple of shots of our front entryway (which fortunately we never use anyway), first from Wednesday morning (in the aftermath of round 1) and next from Thursday night (in the midst of round 2):



The snow and ice formations on our back roof were strange and beautiful.  The first 2 are from Wednesday morning:



This one's from just about 25 hours later:


Let's go back to some street views, these ones featuring my trusty shovel (which for maybe the 2nd time since we moved to Hamburg actually needed an assist from a neighbor's snowblower)!  First from Thursday morning (this one I did by myself); you can see half of the neighbor's house across the street that kicked off this photoessay:


Next is the same time, opposite point-of-view:


Here's a close-up from Friday morning:


I was excited because I had just reached the edge of my driveway.  Yup, I probably spent about 5 hours just shovelling off the road this week.  The plows just couldn't keep the streets their normal width.

So here are my 3 favorite shots of the week.  The first is from about lunchtime on Wednesday, when I had cleared my flat roof off for the 2nd time of the week and all seemed well with the world:


Next up is an action shot from Tuesday (while onechan and imoto were still excited about playing outside!):


I'm nostalgic for how low those mounds at the end of my driveway were back then!  Didn't realize my shovel photobombed that shot until just now, either!

Here's the Full Metal Archivist wishing everyone a good night yesterday evening:


Here's hoping this turns out to be the worst one we have to deal with in our entire time in Hamburg!

[Update (2:58 pm):  Onechan has other ideas.  After the Full Metal Archivist and I cleared enough snow off our garage roof that the girls could climb up onto and slide down it safely, she exclaimed, "This is the best day ever!!  I can't wait for the next huge storm!"  Here are some photos from this morning:




And to top it off:


Yup, hot chocolate and the FMA's own twist on kimchi jigae!]

CME Group Tour Championship Weekdays: Julieta Granada and Carlota Ciganda Step Up

With the top golfers on the LPGA apparently feeling the pressure of playing for $1.5M and having trouble dealing with the changeable winds and slower greens at Tiburon this week at the CME Group Tour Championship, the door is slightly ajar for some unsung heroes to make like Christina Kim and make a statement at the end of 2014.  Julieta Granada has been dinking her way around the course, while Carlota Ciganda has been bombing her ways around it, but despite the 55-yard difference in average driving distance between them thus far this week, they find themselves tied for the lead at -7.

With 36 holes still to be played, Granada and Ciganda have to keep the pedal to the metal on the weekend.  The hottest golfer in the field, Morgan Pressel, is -9 over her last 26 holes after suffering a birdieless +3 start over her 1st 10 holes of the week, which puts her 1 behind the co-leaders,  Michelle Wie has also bounced back from a rocky start, going -6 over her last 19 holes (which featured an eagle on the par-4 7th) and shooting up the leaderboard to tie Sandra Gal and Sarah Jane Smith at -5.  Chella Choi eagled the par-5 17th to catch So Yeon Ryu, whose double bogey from the sand on the par-3 16th on Thursday and walkoff bogey on Friday dropped her to -4.

But what of the LPGA's Big 3?  World #1 Inbee Park languishes at +1 after going +3 and birdieless over her last 10 holes on Friday.  Stacy Lewis, the leader in every major LPGA year-long race, had to battle back to -1 for the week after going +3 and birdieless over her 1st 16 holes yesterday.  That's 1 shot worse than Lydia Ko, who's been missing a lot of greens and scrambling her way to 7 birdies and 5 bogeys over her 1st 36 holes.

With Shanshan Feng, Suzann Pettersen, Na Yeon Choi, Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome, In-Kyung Kim, and Caroline Hedwall lingering with Lewis at -1, there's still plenty of time for them to make a big move.  It's probably too late for Mi Jung Hur (+6), Karrie Webb (+4), Pornanong Phatlum (+4), and Paula Creamer (+3), though.

With the big storm over and the big thaw about to begin, I'm hoping I'll actually be able to relax and watch some golf today instead of spending 11 hours shovelling, clearing off my roof, and helping my neighbors, as I did yesterday.  Still have to clear the snow off my garage and go foraging with the family once the driving ban is lifted in the Village of Hamburg, however.  Maybe Sunday!

ElleAir Ladies Open Set-Up: Ai Suzuki's 64 Lifts Her to Top of Dozen Players Double Digits Under Par

Ai Suzuki followed up yesterday's 9-birdie 65 with a bogey-free 64 today to climb to the top of the heap at the ElleAir Ladies Open.  At -16, the 20-year-old major champion holds a 2-shot lead on LPGA Q-School-bound Sakura Yokomine (65), a 3-shot lead on Miki Sakai (66) and money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn (68), a 4-shot lead on Shiho Oyama (68) and Rui Kitada (71), and a 5-shot lead on Rikako Morita (66), Yumiko Yoshida (68), and 1st-round leader Momoko Ueda (70).  Esther Lee (66), Teresa Lu (68), and Erina Hara (69) round out the list of 12 golfers already double digits under par, while Bo-Mee Lee (66, -9), Ayaka Watanabe (66, -8), and Yuko Fukuda (66, -7) also made big moves up the leaderboard.

The only players not in tomorrow's final round who you might have expected to be in the mix on Sunday are Misuzu Narita and Mamiko Higa, who missed the cut by a shot, Yuri Fudoh, who missed it by 3 shots, and Ji-Yai Shin, who didn't tee it up this week.  Otherwise, we have a big showdown brewing between the vast majority of players near the top of the JLPGA money list.  Should be a great final round!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Picks for the CME Group Tour Championship

Well, it all comes down to this and I'm picking Inbee Park to complete her comeback on Stacy Lewis and take all the big awards in 2014 from her at the CME Group Tour Championship!

1. Park Inbee
2. Feng
3. Ko
4. Ryu
5. Wie
6. Choi Na Yeon
7. Pettersen
8. Lewis
9. Phatlum
10. Webb
11. Nordqvist
12. Creamer

Alts: Munoz; Pressel; Baek

I can't win the 2014 PakPicker competition, but maybe I can build on last week's lucky 3rd place finish and catch Tony Jesselli!

[Update (9:25 am):  Centurion and I are on the same wavelength--let's see if it's the right one!]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Around the World of Women's Golf in 10 Easy Links

Between being figuratively snowed in at work and literally snowed in at home in Hamburg (where I've spent something like 12 of the last 48 hours shoveling), I've taken an unexpected sabbatical from Mostly Harmless, but I'm back!  Let's catch up on what I've missed!

Christina Kim Prevails Over Shanshan Feng in Playoff at Lorena's Place.  I've gotta be honest, I erased the 1st 3 rounds on my DVR after watching the intros and still have the last 6 holes of so of the final round to watch, but I'll be sure to do so now that I finally gave in and saw that Kim won in a playoff over Feng!

Yoko Maeda Beats Satsuki Oshiro in Playoff for Early 30th Birthday Gift.  Maeda hasn't even been on the JLPGA often enough to be called a journeywoman, but she bounced back from a walkoff bogey at the Ito-En Ladies that opened the door for Oshiro, who was also looking for her 1st-ever victory on tour, by closing it on the 1st playoff hole with a par.  Momoko Ueda finished 1 shot out of the playoff, which moved her into the top 10 on the money list.  Sun-Ju Ahn continues to maintain a near insurmountable lead on Bo-Mee Lee (not to mention Ji-Yai Shin, Misuzu Narita, Teresa Lu, and Miki Sakai, who all have either cracked the 100 million yen barrier this season or have a hope of doing it).

In Gee Chun Wins for 3rd Time on KLPGA in 2014.  Chun's win came in dramatic fashion over the final 9 holes, but it was almost overshadowed by Kyu Jung Baek narrowly winning the Rookie of the Year race over Min Sun Kim and Jin Young Ko.  Also, Ha Neul Kim announced that she'll be playing in the final stage of JLPGA Q-School (she finished T1 at one of the previous stage's sites on 11/7).  Her last round in the last KLPGA event of 2014 may turn out to be her last start as a KLPGA member.

Xi Yu Lin Wins in Homeland on LET.  Congratulations to LPGA rookie Xi Yu Lin, who beat Charley Hull by 5 shots for her 1st-ever win on the LET!  Lin made her professional debut at the very same event in 2011, finishing 5th, so it's fitting her 1st victory off the CLPGA came here, as well.

Sakura Yokomine, Ha Na Jang, Sei Young Kim, Charley Hull, Stephanie Meadow, Minjee Lee, Ariya Jutanugarn, Su Hyun Oh Highlight LPGA Q-School's Final Stage.  But check the field list:  there are a lot of current, former, and maybe future LPGAers on it!  Names like Lorie Kane, Birdie Kim, Chie Arimura, Vicky Hurst, Cheyenne Woods, Ju Young Park (Hee Young's little sis), Alison Lee, Annie Park, Simin Feng, Ani Gulugian, Ginger Howard, and Madison Pressel are just a few that'll stick out to die-hard fans of women's golf.  It all starts the 1st week of December!

The LPGA's Last Event of 2014 and the JLPGA's Next-to-Last Are on Tap This Week.  Check out the pre-tournament notes and interviews for the CME Group Tour Championship (where season-ending race leader Stacy Lewis, world #1 Inbee Park, and 2014 Rookie of the Year Lydia Ko have the best shot at winning the $1M Race to the CME Globe) and live scoring for the ElleAire Ladies Open (where Momoko Ueda has jumped out to an early lead).

So buckle your seat belts, everyone!  (That's something I've practically forgotten how to do, as The Constructivist Family has been housebound the last 2 days and we have no idea when the state of emergency or travel ban will be lifted!)  2014 is going out with a bang!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

LPGA Announces 2015 Schedule

The LPGA announced its 2015 LPGA schedule at 3:00PM today, and continued its current trend of upward momentum. 

LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann hosted the live stream which took place at the CME Tour Championship in Naples, Florida. Commissioner Michael Whan and Chief Commercial Officer John Podany jointly announced increased prize money, increased television coverage, and another increase in the  total number of tournaments.

Here are the highlights:

1- There will be 33 official tournaments in 2015, up from  32 in 2014. 

2- The 2015 LPGA season will kick off on Jan 28-31 with the Coates Golf Championship, in Ocala Florida. This is a brand new event. It will have a Saturday finish as the next day is the Super Bowl.

3- There will be 33 tournaments televised in 2015 (32 official tournaments and the Solheim Cup). The Mizuno Classic remains the only tournament with no TV coverage.

4- There will be 410+ hours of television coverage, up from 380 hours in 2014. Television ratings for the LPGA were up 15% this past season.

5- Prize money will be a record high $61.6 million. That is up over $4 million from 2014.

6- ANA Airlines will be the new sponsor for the first major championship of the year (Formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship). All Nippon Airlines (ANA) has signed on through the year 2019.

LPGA Tour 2015 Season By the Numbers:
2014 Schedule  
2015 Schedule   
Total Official Money Events 
32
33
Total Purse
$57.55 Million 
$61.6 Million
Average Purse 
$1.79 Million
$1.81 Million 
Official North American Events
21
22
Official Asian Events
9
9
Official European Events
2
2
Televised Events
32
33
Televised Hours
380+
410+
Unofficial Team Event 
International Crown
Solheim Cup

Once again Commissioner Michael Whan must be commended for the continued growth in the sport that we all love. The Commissioner took over a "sinking ship" 5 years ago that had only 23 tournaments on its schedule.

Cross posted from  http://www.tonyslpgareport.com/

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Picks for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational

There are only 2 tournaments left on the LPGA schedule and both have even more limited fields than the just-completed Asian Swing.  The Lorena Ochoa Invitational is the most exclusive of all and it has big implications for the $1M Race for the CME Globe, which ends with a bang in the year's final event next week.  So who will be the best of the best this week?  Here are my picks!

1. Park Inbee
2. Ryu
3. Wie
4. Feng
5. Lewis
6. Ko
7. Pettersen
8. Creamer
9. Kerr
10. Munoz
11. Nordqvist
12. Stanford

Alts:  Thompson, Phatlum, Pressel

Tony Jesselli has completely outclassed me down the home stretch and is now in 2nd place in the season-long PakPicker competition.  Good luck to Tony, GDSmyth, Elf, and Ghinhee in the last 2 events of the year!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mizuno Classic Weekend: Mi Hyang Lee Prevails in Classic Barnburner

21-year-old Mi Hyang Lee won the 2nd tournament of 2014 among major women's professional tours by firing a final-round 63 in New Zealand and blowing past Lydia Ko, among others.  And she's just won the Mizuno Classic, the 2nd of November--and her 1st on the LPGA--by blowing past 51-year-old Laura Davies, among others, catching Ilhee Lee and Kotomo Kozuma at -11, and beating them with a birdie on the 5th playoff hole.  With 9 players finishing at -10 and 5 at -9, it's amazing that Lee could prevail, but somebody had to do it.  Here's how it happened.

Lee had sprung into contention with a 2nd-round 67, but it wasn't nearly the best round on moving day.  The JLPGA's young star Ai Suzuki birdied her last 4 holes in a row (and 5 of her last 6) for a 64 that got her a share of the lead with Davies (67) and Ilhee Lee (66) at -9.  Na-Ri Lee birdied 6 of her last 11 holes to post a 65 that got her into solo 7th, 2 shots off the lead and 1 behind Mi Hyang Lee, Kozuma (67), and Chella Choi (68).  With Jessica KordaMisuzu Narita, and Teresa Lu firing 67s of their own to move to -6, -5, and -4, respectively, and with big names Karrie Webb (68), Sakura Yokomine (69), and Bo-Mee Lee (69) lurking, Sunday dawned with 21 players within 5 shots of the lead.  The only disappointment was that the 2 biggest names in the field, LPGA money-list leader Stacy Lewis and JLPGA money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn, were not in that group.

Even without them in the hunt, what a Sunday it turned out to be!  Hall of Famer and 2006 champion Webb kicked off the festivities with a bogey-free 31 on the front from the 3rd-to-last group to move to -11 at the turn.  Playing in the next-to-last group, Choi and Mi Hyang Lee birdied 4 of her 1st 7 holes and 3 of her 1st 7, respectively, to join her.  Meanwhile Korda, sandwiched between those 2 groups, got it to -10 with a birdie-free 32 on the front.  But all of them were chasing Choi's and Lee's playing partner Kozuma, who birdied 4 holes in a row after parring the 1st and got it to -13 with a birdie on the par-5 7th.  As the 2nd-round co-leaders stumbled out of the gates--Suzuki bogeyed her 1st 2 holes and scrambled her way to a 37 that left her at -8, Davies offset her 2 birdies with 2 bogeys to stay at -9, and Ilhee Lee made 11-straight pars dating back to the end of moving day before making her lone birdie on the front that got her to -10--Kozuma suddenly gave everyone hope with bogeys on 9 and 11 that dropped her back to -11.

Even as the 22-year-old looking for her 1st JLPGA victory looked like she was starting to fumble it, other players entered the fray.  LPGA newbie Ayako Uehara, a 3-time winner on the JLPGA who was a fixture in the top 26 of their money list from 2006 to 2012, ended her 8-hole par train that closed out yesterday's round with a birdie on her 1st hole today and followed it up with 4 more in her next 12 holes of bogey-free golf to climb to -11 and into a tie for the lead with her playing partner Korda (who birdied the 12th to get there), Choi (who would follow up her birdie barrage on the 1st 7 holes with a par train over her next 7), Kozuma, and Ilhee Lee (who birdied the 7th and 11th to get there and had gone without a bogey for 33 holes and counting at that point).  But what of Webb, Davies, and the eventual winner?  Well, Webb went bogey-birdie-bogey to fall back to -10 with only 4 holes left to play, Mi Hyang Lee had bogeyed the 10th to join her there but fought back into a tie for the lead with a birdie on the 14th, and Davies birdied the par-5 13th to get to -10.

A bunch of late charges complicated matters yet further.  1st-round leader Morgan Pressel, who had stalled Saturday after an opening 67 due to an unexpectedly balky putter, followed up her bogey-free 33 on the front today with 3 birdies in her last 6 holes, including 2 in her last 3, to post her 2nd 67 of the week and become the leader in the clubhouse at -10.  She was joined a few minutes later by playing partners Sakura Yokomine and Saiki Fujita.  Yokomine had birdied 2 of her 1st 3 holes but stalled midway through her round, yet finished strong with 4 birdies in her last 8 holes, including 3 of her last 6.  Fujita, meanwhile, followed up her 4 birdies in her 1st 6 holes with a lone eagle on the 13th in a sea of pars.  Their final playing partner, Harukyo Nomura, had a great chance to become the 4th co-leader in the clubhouse, but despite making 5 birdies between the 7th and 15th holes, could not make another on the 540-yard par-5 16th, 180-yard par-3 17th, or 405-yard par-4 18th.

So the big question as the leaders entered the home stretch was who would join Pressel, Yokomine, and Fujita at -10--and who would surpass them?

The 1st to try was Webb.  She made a heroic birdie on 17 to get to -11, but had to settle for becoming the 4th co-leader in the clubhouse when she suffered a walkoff bogey.

Next up were Korda, Uehara, and Na-Ri Lee.  Korda had fallen back to -10 with a bogey on the par-4 14th and couldn't make a birdie coming home.  Lee did birdie 2 of her last 4 holes, but it was too little, too late.  So all Uehara needed to do to pass the 6 co-leaders was to stay at -11.  She did it with pars on 14, 15, 16, and 17, but she couldn't do it on 18.  Now there were 7 players at -10 and only 6 left on the course.  Would anyone break the logjam?

The next threesome featured up-and-coming golfers looking for their 1st win ever (Choi and Kozuma) or 1st win on the LPGA (Mi Hyang Lee).  Kozuma had righted the ship after her mid-round stumbles and had made 6-straight pars as she headed into the 18th at -11.  Lee had followed up her birdie on 14 with 3-straight pars to keep pace with the JLPGA's last hope for a homegrown winner.  But Choi had bogeyed the par-4 15th and needed a birdie on 18 or walkoff bogeys by her playing partners to have a hope of winning.  In the end, all 3 parred out, making it 8 golfers at -10--and 2 at -11.

Would anyone in the final group be able to beat Lee and Kozuma?  Davies couldn't do it, as she finished with 5-straight pars to become the 9th player to end the week at -10.  After her rough start, Suzuki had fought back to -9 with 2 holes to play, but parred out.  Ilhee Lee got it to -12 with a birdie on the long par-5 16th, but she ended her 38-hole bogey-free run with a bogey on 17.  Could she birdie 18 for the win?  Would she join Webb and Uehara in the walkoff bogey club?  Nope, she parred it to join the playoff with Kozuma and Mi Hyang Lee.

And what a playoff it was!  They played the tough 18th over and over...and over.  All pars the 1st go-round...and the 2nd.  All birdies the 3rd.  All pars the 4th.  Finally Mi Hyang Lee prevailed with her 2nd birdie of the playoff on the 5th go-round!

If you had told me at the start of the week that Stacy Lewis, Na Yeon Choi, and Sun-Ju Ahn would finish outside the top 30 and Bo-Mee Lee, Ji-Yai Shin, Misuza Narita, Teresa Lu, and Mirim Lee would struggle to make the top 20, I would have told you that anyone could walk away with the victory (and that I'd be in contention for the wooden spoon, the cellar-dweller's prize in SeoulSisters.com's PakPicker, this week!).  In the midst of Morgan Pressel, Chella Choi, and Na-Ri Lee putting on a ball-striking exhibition, Ai Suzuki and Ayako Uehara putting on a putting exhibition, and Laura Davies and Karrie Webb showing the kids a thing or two, Mi Hyang Lee, Ilhee Lee, and Kotono Kozuma showed us all that you don't need to have a big name or a huge resume to create a lot of drama.  Mi Hyang Lee's 2nd win of 2014 will move her up my ranking of the top 22 under 22 on major women's professional tours.  Congratulations to Lee and condolences to everyone she surpassed!

[Update 1 (5:39 am):  Sunday was a day of playoffs, as Min Sun Kim broke through for her 1st career KLPGA victory and Lee-Anne Pace made it 3 Ws in her last 3 starts!]

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mizuno Classic Friday: Morgan Pressel Leads Laura Davies and Chella Choi by 1

Morgan Pressel fired a bogey-free 67 in the 1st round of the Mizuno Classic to take a 1-shot lead on Laura Davies and Chella Choi and a 2-shot lead on Pornanong Phatlum, Ilhee Lee, Mi-Hyang Lee, and Kotono Kozuma.

The 22-year-old Kozuma, who's currently #28 on the JLPGA's money list, outplayed the tour's finest, including Sakura Yokomine (-2 with 15 greens in regulation, among the most in the field on the windy day), Ji-Yai Shin (-1), Bo-Mee Lee (-1), Ai Suzuki (-1), Misuzu Narita (E), Yumiko Yoshida (E), defending champion Teresa Lu (+1), Erina Hara (+2), Sun-Ju Ahn (+3), Mamiko Higa (+3), Shiho Oyama (+4), and Rikako Morita (+4).  Unfortunately, last week's winner and 2-time champion Momoko Ueda had to withdraw before the tournament began.  So it wasn't a great day for the JLPGA.

By the same token, it wasn't easy for the LPGA's top players in the field, either.  Past champions Stacy Lewis and Karrie Webb scrambled their ways to 70s (tied with Harukyo Nomura, Ayako Uehara, Sun Young Yoo, Saiki Fujita, and Marina Alex, along with Yokomine), Jessica Korda, Angela Stanford, Catriona Matthew, and Beatriz Recari had to settle for 71s (Recari despite tripling the 165-yard par-3 11th), young guns Mirim Lee and Moriya Jutanugarn shot 73s, Na Yeon Choi, Hee Young Park, and Ya Ni Tseng shot 74s, and Sandra Gal made a double and 4 bogeys on her way to a 75.

Jennifer Johnson had the lone eagle on the front, taking advantage of the 485-yard par-5 7th hole, while Morita, Laura Diaz, and Danielle Kang eagled the 495-yard par-5 13th.  Kang is on an eagle tear of late, but this time she couldn't do it on a par 3, as she's done her last 2 starts.  Well, there's still 36 holes to be played and 8 more chances to get a hole-in-1 hat trick!

I'm excited for Pressel, who hasn't been her usual accuracy machine off the tee in 2014, but who's putted the lights out all year.  Choi's quest for her breakthrough victory on the LPGA (and her dad's to retire from caddying for her!) is another great story.  As is Davies's quest to win her way into the LPGA Hall of Fame.  They're all improbable leaders, though, so let's see how the biggest names in the field respond on moving day!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Picks for the Mizuno Classic

I want to thank Tony Jesselli for cross-posting his Mizuno Classic preview from his own blog here at his old stomping grounds yesterday.  The field may be weak by LPGA standards, as he points out, but it's a great opportunity for some of the top JLPGA players to make a case that they deserve to be considered among the best in the world this season.  Here are my picks for the next-to-next-to-last PakPicker competition of 2014!

1. Lewis, Stacy
2. Choi Na Yeon
3. Shin Ji-Yai
4. Ahn
5. Ueda
6. Lu
7. Choi Chella
8. Lee Bo-Mee
9. Lee Mirim
10. Oyama
11. Webb
12. Narita

Alts: Uehara; Nomura; Yokomine

Here's Centurion's preview, too!  So who do you see making Stacy work this week?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mizuno Classic Preview & Pairings


With the Constructivist swamped at work, I thought I would keep things moving here with a copy of my Preview of the Mizuno Classic.

_________________________________________________________________________________

After another exciting finish in Taiwan, the LPGA moves to Japan for the playing of the Mizuno Classic. This will be the 6th and final leg of the Asian swing. This is one of the longest running tournaments on the LPGA. It was first won in 1976 by Donna Caponi. It is also one of the few 54 hole events that remain on the LPGA schedule.

2013 Mizuno Classic Winner Teresa LU

This will be tournament #30 of 32 on the LPGA 2014 schedule.

Here are the Key details:

Course:  Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club
Location:  Shima-Shi, Mie, Japan
Defending Champion:  Teresa Lu (non-LPGA member)
Winning Score:  70-68-64 = 202 (-14)

Final Field:  78 players
Par:  36/36 = 72
Yardage:  6,506
Purse:  $1,200,000

My strength of field rating is just 36.5%, making it the weakest field of the year. The field will include Stacy Lewis, who will be attempting to take back the #1 spot. There will also be several top players from the JLPGA tour teeing it up.

I will post the pairings as soon as they become available.

There is no television coverage of this event.

Here are my Pak Picker Picks for this tournament:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Chella Choi
3- Na Yeon Choi
4- Sun Ju Ahn
5- Teresa Lu
6- Karrie Webb
7- Mirim Lee
8- Jessica Korda
9- Jiyai Shin
10- Ilhee Lee
11- Ayaka Uehara
12- Bo-Mee Lee
With the 3 weeks left I am currently in 3rd place, but still have an outside chance of coming out on top of our field of 21 players.

Other Tidbits:
Danielle Kang may not have won an LPGA tournament yet in her young career, but she sure is getting good at winning cars. For the second consecutive week she has aced the hole that had an automobile as the prize for doing so. I wonder what the Vegas odds would be for her doing it for a third consecutive time.

Azahara Munoz has become the 9th player this year to pass the 1 million dollar mark in 2014 LPGA earnings.

Stacy Lewis now has six second place finishes this year to go along with her 3 wins.

Since I had pointed out several times earlier in the season how the American players were dominating the first half of the schedule, it is only fair that I now point out that players from South Korea have now won 8 of the last 11 tournaments. They now have nine wins this year, but will need to win the remaining 3 events to tie the Americans.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Amy Yang moves up from #24 to #19, while Pernilla Lindberg jumps up from #108 to #97.

Race to the CME Globe:
Stacy Lewis continues to have a huge lead with 4,783 points. She is followed by Inbee Park with 3,912 and Lydia Ko with 3,313.

Who's Red Hot:
Inbee Park has now finished in the top ten, eight consecutive tournaments.
Mariajo Uribe very quietly has six top thirteen finishes in her last 8 starts.

Who's Ice Cold:
I.K. Kim has only 1 top ten finish in her 17 starts this year.
Ai Miyazato has now failed to register a top ten in her last 37 tournaments.






Monday, November 3, 2014

Recommended Reading: On Inbee Park's 3rd LPGA Victory of 2014

So once again I was unable to watch any LPGA that I DVRed this past week, due to work responsibilities reaching a white-hot pitch, imoto's interest in catching up on past seasons of Once Upon a Time, and my own interest in seeing Primus play live for what may well turn out to be the only time in my life.

As a result, I'm going to recommend some other people's writing on Inbee Park's victory at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship by 2 shots over Stacy Lewis:  Centurion's post over at LLLLet's Golf!,  LPGA.com's notes and interviews, the AP's game story, Ladies on Tour's summary, Elizabeth Bethel's post over at ProGolfNow/Fansided, and Rick Woelfel's post over at Women's Golf Center....

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies Sunday: Momoko Ueda Chases Down Junko Omote for 2nd Win of 2014, 11th of Her JLPGA Career

Momoko Ueda chased down Junko Omote over the home stretch of the Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies today, making up 4 shots in the last 7 holes and 3 in the last 4, to take her 2nd JLPGA title of 2014.

Ji-Hee Lee, the 1st- and 2nd-round leader who was going for her 18th career JLPGA victory, went from a bad back 9 yesterday to a worse front today and plunged down the leaderboard, even as  Omote, who's collected 3 wins in a 17-year career on tour, fired a bogey-free 32 to move to -11 and take a 3-shot lead on Ueda, a 4-shot lead on Erina Hara, and a 5-shot lead on Mika Miyazato and Yumiko Yoshida.  Even as Megumi Kido made a move on the back to get herself into contention, Miyazato birdied the 421-yard par-4 11th, and Yoshida, Hara, and Ueda birdied the 503-yard par-5 12th, Omote hung tough with a string of pars on the front.  But it all came apart for her as she made back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes, 2 of the longest par 4s on Morinaga Takataki Country Club in Chiba.  At that point, she was tied with Ueda at -9, 1 shot ahead of Hara and Yoshida, and 2 shots ahead of Miyazato and Kido.  With the latter 4 safe in the clubhouse, it came down to Ueda and Omote to decide the title.  When they both parred the long par-3 17th, whoever could birdie the 529-yard par-5 18th would win the tournament.  And that player was Momoko Ueda.

Ueda's 11th career LPGA victory moved her to 10th on the 2014 JLPGA money list.  Even though the money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn and #4 Misuzu Narita sat this one out and Bo-Mee Lee, Ji-Yai Shin, Teresa Lu, and Miki Sakai had fairly disappointing weeks, there's still a pretty big gap between the tour's top 6 and the rest of its top players.

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥148.41M
2. Bo-Mee Lee ¥114.07M
3. Ji-Yai Shin ¥98.95M
4. Misuzu Narita ¥91.57M
5. Teresa Lu ¥88.92M
6. Miki Sakai ¥85.48M
7. Shiho Oyama ¥75.45M
8. Na-Ri Lee ¥70.40M
9. Erina Hara ¥65.83M
10. Momoko Ueda ¥61.95M
11. Ayaka Watanabe ¥59.57M
12. Esther Lee ¥56.93M
13. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥54.05M
14. Lala Anai ¥49.83M
15. Rikako Morita ¥47.15M
16. Ai Suzuki ¥46.72M
17. Ritsuko Ryu ¥45.64M
18. Ji-Hee Lee ¥42.41M
19. Yumiko Yoshida ¥42.29M
20. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥38.32M
21. Erika Kikuchi ¥37.59M
22. Junko Omote ¥36.02M
23. Sakura Yokomine ¥35.11M
24. Saiki Fujita ¥35.04M
25. Kaori Ohe ¥34.77M
26. Mami Fukuda ¥32.16M
27. Yuki Ichinose ¥31.61M
28. Kotono Kozuma ¥31.09M
29. Phoebe Yao ¥31.01M
30. Mayu Hattori ¥30.07M
31. Asako Fujimoto ¥28.08M
32. Megumi Kido ¥26.77M
33. Hikari Fujita ¥26.71M
34. Na-Ri Kim ¥26.20M
35. Yeon-Ju Jung ¥26.18M
36. Yukari Baba ¥25.72M
37. Soo-Yun Kang ¥24.16M
38. Rumi Yoshiba ¥23.92M
39. Natsuka Hori ¥22.60M
40. Akane Iijima ¥22.20M
41. Yukari Nishiyama ¥21.90M
42. Mamiko Higa ¥21.71M
43. Da-Ye Na ¥21.66M
44. Rui Kitada ¥21.22M
45. Shanshan Feng ¥20.04M
46. Miki Saiki ¥18.67M
47. Megumi Shimokawa ¥17.82M
48. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥17.54M
49. Eun-Bi Jang ¥17.47M
50. Yuri Fudoh ¥16.45M

Next up on the JLPGA is Mizuno Classic, which is of course co-sponsored by the LPGA and was won by Teresa Lu last year.  It's fun to see how Mizuno introduces the LPGAers in the field and compare it to how the LPGA introduces the JLPGAers.  But since I'm avoiding LPGA.com until I watch the coverage from Taiwan, I'll hold off on making that comparison for now!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship Saturday: Stacy Lewis's 64 a "Not So Fast, Inbee!" to World #1

Stacy Lewis fired a bogey-free 64 on moving day at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship to catch Shanshan Feng at -17, 4 shots behind leader Inbee Park, who made 3 bogeys today but offset them with an eagle and 4 birdies.  There are 7 other players double digits under par already, but only of them only Azahara Munoz has 3 rounds in the 60s, and she starts tomorrow's round 8 shots behind the newlywed and world #1.

It's probably too soon to say it's a 3-player race, but after about 6 holes tomorrow, we'll have a much better sense of how this will shake out.  There weren't as many big numbers today as in previous rounds, but some really good golfers had some awful fronts (Michelle Wie) and backs (Lydia Ko).  Mirim Lee, for instance, would be much closer to the top of the leaderboard if she hadn't closed out the front with 3 straight bogeys and made a bogey and a double in her last 4 holes.

Safe to say, though, that if Park, Lewis, and Feng can get off to good starts tomorrow, it'll be almost impossible for anyone else to insert themselves into their shootout.  Go to bed early tonight and take advantage of "falling back" so you can get up early and watch the finale.  That's my plan, at least!

Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies Saturday: Ji-Hee Lee Maintains Slim Lead, But Opens Door to Field

Ji-Hee Lee got it to -10 after a bogey-free front-9 32 today at the Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies, but a birdieless back-9 38 opened the door to her lead chase pack, which includes Momoko Ueda and Junko Omote at 7, Bo-Mee Lee at -6, Yumiko Yoshida, Yukari Baba, and Erika Kikuchi at -5, and Mika Miyazato, Erina Hara, Ai Suzuki, Esther Lee, and Megumi Kido at -4.

The leading Lee is looking for her 18th career JLPGA title and 1st since 2012, while Ueda hopes to collect her 2nd W of the season and 11th of her career and the trailing Lee is gunning for her 4th victory of the season and 9th of her JLPGA career.

I'll of course be rooting for Mikan to get her 1st professional win in Japan outside the Japan Women's Open, but would be really happy to see Ueda prevail in the end, as well.  A huge comeback from Teresa Lu (-1) or Ji-Yai Shin (E) isn't entirely out of the question, either.  Let's see what happens tomorrow!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies Friday: Ji-Hee Lee's 66 Gives Her 2-Shot Lead on Momoko Ueda

Ji-Hee Lee fired a 7-birdie 66 to take a 2-shot lead on Momoko Ueda and Mihoko Iseri into the 2nd round of the Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies.  Mi-Jeong Jeon and Esther Lee are only 3 back, Ji-Yai Shin, Yumiko Yoshida, Ai Suzuki, and Natsuka Hori are 4 behind, and Bo-Mee Lee, Miki Saiki, and the visiting Mika Miyazato are 5 off the pace.  Shin and Erika Kikuchi both got holes-in-1 on the 152-yard par-3 8th, while Kaori Makitani eagled the 487-yard par-5 6th.  With money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn and last week's winner Shiho Oyama sitting this one out, it's a great opportunity for for Shin and Lee to make up some ground.  Let's see if they can make a move tomorrow!

Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship Friday: Inbee Park and Mirim Lee Fire 62s; Park Leads Shanshan Feng by 3

World #1 Inbee Park followed up yesterday's 64 at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship with a 62 to get to -18 and take a 3-shot lead on Shanshan Feng.  Park's ten-under-par round included a bogey on the par-4 4th and an eagle on the par-4 8th, along with 9 birdies, while Feng's 65 was marred only by back-to-back bogeys early on the back 9.

Even as Park and Feng battle it out for world domination, the Rookie of the Year race is heating up.  Mirim Lee fired a bogey-free 62 of her own today to catch Lydia Ko (65) and Line Vedel (68) at -10.  Despite birdieing 6 holes in a row on the front and 7 of her 1st 10, ROY race leader Ko offset her last birdie of the day on the par-3 14th with a bogey on the par-4 15th.  As Lee racked up 5 birdies on each side, Vedel had an up-and-down front, with 2 bogeys and 2 birdies, but turned it on during the back with 5 birdies (and a lone bogey) in her last 8 holes.  If either Lee or Vedel are going to put any pressure on Ko down the home stretch, they're going to need to outdistance her over the weekend and challenge Park and Feng for the title.

That's a tall order, especially when you consider that Azahara Munoz joins them at -10, recent world #1 and leader in every significant year-long LPGA race Stacy Lewis is at -9, 2-time champion Suzann Pettersen is at -7, and there are a bunch of golfers at -8 playing well enough to win this thing, including So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, and Chella Choi.

Given how many big numbers have been posted already this week--Lewis doubled the par-4 9th, Michelle Wie made her 2nd triple of the week, this time on the par-4 4th (she's well back at -6), Brittany Lang tripled the par-5 12th (she's -7)--it's too soon to think that the lead chase pack near -10 can't chase down Park and Feng.  But it's likely that somebody in that pack will need to put together a course record on Saturday or Sunday to really put some pressure on them.

[Update 1 (8:10 am):  Congrats to Danielle Kang for winning her 2nd car in as many weeks with her 2nd hole in 1!!!]

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship Thursday: Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng Open with 64s

Coming off a 2nd-place finish to Hyo Joo Kim at a KLPGA major last week, new world #1 Inbee Park matched Shanshan Feng's bogey-free 64 at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship today.  Park and Feng were able to do what So Yeon Ryu, Michelle Wie, and Na Yeon Choi were unable to.  Where Ryu got to -9 but finished bogey-double bogey, Wie took a triple on the par-4 15th and had to recover for a 68, and Choi had to scramble for a 68 of her own after doubling the par-4 11th, the 2 co-leaders played spectacular and steady golf throughout the day, with each putting on a burst of her own.  For Park, it was 5 birdies in her last 7 holes, while for Feng it was 5 birdies in her last 10 holes.

There were eagles galore today, as well.  Feng, Line Vedel (66), and In-Kyung Kim (67) eagled the par-5 6th, Ryu the par-4 11th, and Harukyo Nomura (66) and Stacy Lewis (67) the par-5 2nd.  So no worries for Lydia Ko (69), Suzann Pettersen (70), or my fave Ai Miyazato (who fought back from a horrific start for a 73).  Looks like it's going to be all about getting on a roll and keeping on a roll this week!