Saturday, June 30, 2007

Looking Forward to Sunday at the U.S. Women's Open

Had a great time playing with the girls this morning. Between watching Pretty Cure 5 with onechan, which also involved doing the PC5puzzle we had already bought for her after it appeared in a commercial, and keeping imoto out of her mom's hair, not to mention some kakurembo, fusen catch, and chasing each other around the apartment, I only checked in on the U.S. Women's Open leaderboard a few times. It was enough to see what I was missing--charges by Lorena Ochoa, Cristie Kerr, and Se Ri Pak, while Ji Yai Shin, Angela Park, and Morgan Pressel were hanging tough--but given that Japanese tv coverage was over, the web is always on, and the longer I waited the more good recaps I could check out, I felt the choice to have fun with a 3-and-a-half year old and a 14 month old was a no-brainer.

So now that they're off with their mom to a friend's house to play, here are some things I'm most looking forward to on Sunday.

Can Anyone with the Front Ahead of Them Still Make Saturday Moving Day? Obviously the big question is just how low Se Ri Pak can go in her third round. She's already -4 through 13, with several birdie-able holes on the front ahead of her. At E for the tournament, she is only 5 shots off the lead, with a great chance that everyone in the top 7 will cool off on the challenging back side facing them. But beyond Pak also look to see if a bunch of very talented golfers stuck in neutral thus far will break out on the front tomorrow morning. Perhaps 2007 winner Nicole Castrale and JLPGA star Mi-Jeong Jeon, both at +5, have the best chance, as they have the entire front ahead of them and are already -1 through 8. But don't count out veteran superstars Annika Sorenstam and Laura Davies, who are -1 through 12 and +4 for the tournament, Ai Miyazato and Young Kim, who are E through 13 and 14, respectively, and also in a tie for 27th place at +4 thus far, or even Natalie Gulbis (+1 through 13) and Paula Creamer (E through 16) from putting themselves in position to climb into contention by the back 9 Sunday. Sure, right now they're a long way back, but having the chance to start the last day of the U.S Open in a good rhythm on an easier side with much less pressure than the leaders are facing can be quite conducive to fantastic play. And all of them know how to make birdies in bunches. The only question is, who will?

How Will the Leaders Handle U.S. Open Sunday Pressure? That's the $560K question, right? It's possible KLPGA superstar Ji Yai Shin, world #1 Lorena Ochoa, rookie of the year race leader Angela Park, and Hound Dog's pick Cristie Kerr will defy gravity and turn this into a 4-player race. But Super Sophs Morgan Pressel, Jee Young Lee, and Julieta Granada will be tough to shake. (And don't discount 2006 rookie of the year Seon Hwa Lee and birdie machine Kyeong Bae hanging back at +2--both are -1 through 12--or, for that matter, Hye Jung Choi). Then there's JLPGA superstar Shiho Oyama, Jeong Jang, and, yes, Birdie Kim right in the mix, ready to move up the leaderboard if they get hot or those ahead of them cool off. With 10 people under par and 14 at E or better, we have a classic case in the making of talent and good play colliding with pressure and course layout/conditions. If this lead pack falters and the lowest score after three rounds is 210 or higher, we won't be talking about 4 or 7 or 10 or 14 people with a chance to win but instead twice that number.

Gotta give a shout-out in closing to my friend Moira Dunn, who started off the day in great position at +2 but immediately squandered it with a bogey-bogey-par-triple start. She's battled her way back to +2 through 14 and has decent odds to shoot her second 34 on the back in three rounds (which would put her in a tie with Mi Hyun Kim and others at +3). My folks, who watched her play early in the Wegmans in Rochester last week, said she was hitting the ball as well as they've seen her and it was just a question of getting the putts to drop. Clearly her irons are a bit off this week--she's hitting way more fairways than greens--but she's still made 8 birdies in 50 holes. If she can make that many in her last 22, she could find herself the surprise winner! Hey, stranger things have happened. [Update: Not for Moira, it looks like--at +5, she's in great company, but she has a better chance of winning the lottery than making up 9 shots on Cristie Kerr over 18 holes and passing 26 people ahead of her for the win.]

U.S. Women's Open Friday Not-Quite-Liveblogging, Take Two

If you're looking for the player most frustrated by the weather delays this week at the U.S. Women's Open, your leading contender has to be Jee Young Lee. Consider that her triple on her first hole yesterday morning (the 14th) erased all her hard work on Thursday to get to -2 and that a bogey-par finish on the vulnerable 8th and 9th this morning dropped her back to +1 after her "Friday" round was completed (T15 right now). Still, given the rate at which she's been hitting greens and making birdies--not to mention her 33 on the back yesterday--this Super Soph has to be pretty confident heading into the weekend.

Speaking of hypotheticals, we could easily have a very huge or a very tiny field for the last two rounds. Let's say leader Angela Park continues to defy gravity and ends up at some insane number like -6 (136). That means the 10-shot rule doesn't help all that many people make the cut--it would probably be around 146 anyway (right now there are only 65 players at +4 or better). On the other hand, if the co-leaders in the clubhouse In-Bee Park and Shiho Oyama turn out to be the outright leaders heading into the third round, then everyone at 152 or better is joining them (that's 124 players right now, people!). That's what's so great about golf--the possibilities are endless with half the field yet to finish their second round.

[Update 1 (7/1/07, 6:55 am): Whoops, fell asleep with the tsuma early and then my alarm clock (imoto) didn't get me up till 6:20. Did see Ai Miyazato's and Sakura Yokomine play the 9th and a recap of Yokomine's round. The former started shaky but held on to shoot another 73; the latter had a good start and eagled 1, but had a shaky finish for a 72. Checking the USGA website now, I'm guessing the course is playing easier. A lot more sub-par scores, most notably Catriona Matthew's 67 and the 69s by Angela Park, Julieta Granada, Ji Yai Shin, and Amy Hung. Park's 33 on her back 9 (the front) meant that we had a smaller field rather than a huge one. Missing the cut were Suzann Pettersen and Juli Inkster at +7, Maria Hjorth, Liselotte Neumann, and Wendy Ward at +8, Stacy Prammanasudh and Stacy Lewis at +9, Sarah Lee at +10, and Karrie Webb and Meaghan Francella at +12. Saw Wie WDed--guess Brittany Lang gets to claim she beat her. Back with more after the Japanese tv coverage ends.]

Open Letter to Those Stuck Inside at Pine Needles: How to Enjoy the Weather Delays

Besides playing ping pong and poker, that is. I vote for music. I've played some of the best rounds in my life with a tune in my head that wouldn't let go. Some of the following may not be from bands you usually listen to, but give them a chance. You got something better to be doing?

For those who have to drag themselves to the course early Saturday morning to finish their Friday round, despite the fact that thunderstorms are expected to continue into the mid-morning--or for anyone who wants to wake their games up--here's The Tea Party's "Sister, Awake":

Here's a live version of Tool's "46 & 2" from 1999 just for those feeling a bit frustrated with their play, the conditions, or whatever. "Listen to my muscle memory" can be your slogan for the rest of the tournament--or "Do what it takes to get through" if you like more overtly inspirational lyrics.

OK, let's take it down a bit with Hem's "Half-Acre," live last fall, to remind you how to appreciate a moment in time:

Tool's "Parabola" will not only help your ball flight but also help you catch fire:

These last three are for Michelle Wie (yes, again)--or, for that matter, for anyone going through a tough slump right now--Portishead's "Roads" (just feel the feeling) and Cake's version of "I Will Survive" live in 2004 (get inspired) and Radiohead's "Lucky" live in 2006 (get back on a roll):

This edition of Radio Free Constructivist brought to you by Mostly Harmless's Take Your Blog to the Course Carnival for the U.S. Women's Open.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Not-Quite-Live-Blogging U.S. Women's Open Friday

Catching the end of the morning groups' rounds on Japanese tv, although couldn't quite bring myself to wake up at 5 am for its start. The caption is "Go Oyama!" and for a reason: with birdies on 9 and 10, she's back to -2 to Friday's round and -3 on the day, tied for second in the tournament. Mi Hyun Kim and Paula Creamer are getting lots of airtime as well--and both are hovering around par. More after breakfast!

[Update 1 (6:44 am): Ah, a quick look at the leaderboard leads me to believe I'm going to see some ugly golf as the course toughens up on the back. Wonder if the weather delay will end before the Japanese feed does (at 8 am here). Very happy for Moira Dunn, who looks like she can think about contending this weekend. Glad to see Juli Inkster playing well (-1 through 16 and +6 for the tournament) and Jee Young Lee recovering well from her triple that started the golf today (E is good enough for T8 right now). But Inkster, Sorenstam, and Davies are going to need some help from the afternoon groups to keep playing on the weekend, it looks like. With about 90 golfers at +6 or better, many in the afternoon will have to wilt for them to make the cut.]

[Update 2 (4:10 pm): Well, that was my shortest not-quite-live-blogging ever--or at least my fewest updates. How naive I was when I was half asleep, talking about a weather delay ending. Hah! In any case, I'm back from my talk (which went well, thank you), and can at least throw in a few links to the USGA site's interviews, headlines, blog to tide you over while you wait for the Friday round to begin again so it can finish on Saturday afternoon. Enjoy.]

[Update 3 (4:38 pm): OK, can't resist a few comments. How about Hye Jung Choi's 68? She joins fellow Super Sophs Kyeong Bae and Seon Hwa Lee at +3, which is only tied for 39th now but I suspect will be top 25 after the second round is said and done. Lee has some easier holes coming up, too, before she finishes the front, so the 2006 Rookie of the Year might just find herself in the top 15. Another Super Soph, Jee Young Lee, has the 8th and 9th to go, which gives her much better odds than Shiho Oyama on the last two holes of the back Saturday morning to finish her second round under par for the tournament (both were -2 at one point but fell back to E). Even struggling Super Soph Teresa Lu got in the act today, playing well enough keep it to +5 for the tournament, most likely good enough to make the cut after the afternoon rounds are done--which is good news for Davies and Sorenstam, who are also at +5 (T74 now). If a lot of people do really really badly, yet another Super Soph might be playing on the weekend--Sun Young Yoo (+7, T89 right now). Same can't be said for Brittany Lang, who at +18 is in danger of getting beaten by Michelle Wie!

OK, enough about the Super Sophs. It's nice to see Jeong Jang and Angela Stanford up there at +1 (T16)--both have been playing better of late and their games are well suited for U.S. Opens. Wonder if In-Bee Park is ready to join fellow rookies Angela Park, Na On Min, and In-Kyung Kim and show that she's ready to contend on a weekend. Wonder if Birdie Kim will be around on the Sunday back 9 again. Wonder if the weather will hold up tomorrow so those actually trying to live-blog Friday's Saturday round can follow my advice.]

[Update 4 (4:58 pm): Here's a favorite moment from Friday's interviews:

RHONDA GLENN: Why are the Korean players so good?
IN-BEE PARK: I'm really getting tired of that question, because everybody asks me that question. I don't know. I guess they work really hard. I don't know, maybe it's in their blood.

She makes a great joke and Glenn completely misses it. Yeesh.]

[Update 5 (9:55 pm): Let's reset this. Before you head off to a second attempt at this not-quite-live-blogging thing, I'll mention here that Seon Hwa Lee indeed squandered her chance to pull ahead of Kyeong Bae and Hye Jung Choi (they're all at +3), that Mi Hyun Kim and Paula Creamer free-fell all the way back to +4, that veterans Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies, and Sherri Steinhauer will be joining Teresa Lu in hoping that +5 is good enough to make the cut, that Juli Inkster and Sun Young Yoo (at +7) have to hope that the 10-shot rule saves them, and that Brittany Lang plummeted all the way back to +20 (what is up with her this season, anyway?!).]

A Little Friendly Advice: Who to Follow on Friday

If I were in North Carolina rather than Fukuoka, here's who I would be following during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open.

First, I'd go out to the 13th hole and watch Jee Young Lee and Juli Inkster finish their first rounds--Lee to see if she can take the "Thursday" lead from Angela Park and Inkster to see if she can claw her way back into contention. (Plus when I could I would sneak a peek at Annika Sorenstam's group following them.) Then I'd rest till 10 am and head to the first tee to see how Mi Hyun Kim and Paula Creamer are playing (and give the injured Meaghan Francella some moral support). I'd stick with them if they're off to a good start and switch over to the back to see the Laura Davies/Amanda Blumenherst/Jeong Jang group that started on 10 at 10 if not. In fact, no matter how well Paula and Mi Hyun are playing, I'd find my way to the 18th green in time to see all the great players who started between 9:37 and 10:43 finish their back side. Then I'd work my way backward on the back until I hit Moira Dunn's group and reverse directions for as many holes as it would take to clarify whether she has a good chance of making the cut, at which point I'd wait for Mi Hyun, Paula, and Meaghan (right behind Moira's group) and stay with them until they finished their round.

After a quick lunch, I'd kill some time following Ji Yai Shin's group until 4 pm, by which point I'd have hustled over to 10 for the Lorena Ochoa/Ai Miyazato/Stacy Prammanasudh group, which I'd follow the rest of the day. Even though all those groups going off 1 between 3:51 and 4:24 form a nice train you could move backward and forward in all afternoon if you wanted, I'm too big a fan of Ai-chan and Ochoa not to study their games at first hand over the course of a round.

This fantasy brought to you by Mostly Harmless's Take Your Blog to the Course for the U.S. Women's Open Carnival. If anyone actually live-blogging Friday's round braves the terrible weather forecast (mid-90s highs with a good chance of Tstorms in the late afternoon)--and, yes, I'm talking to you, Billy and Jen and Brandon--to realize this fantasy for me, I'll send you some treats from Fukuoka for your troubles!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Round 1 Roundup: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Due to bad weather, the first round of the U.S. Women's Open will conclude early morning Friday. So relax, check out the leaderboard, the headlines, and the interviews, read up on a little tournament history, and consider what a Dickensian first day it was.

Best: Rookie of the Year race leader Angela Park leads the U.S. Women's Open after firing a 3-under par 68. This is not new territory for her--what would be is holding the lead going into the last 9. Fellow rookie In-Bee Park, who's been having a disappointing season thus far, was only 1 shot behind her, with the extremely challenging 17th and 18th left to play.

Worst: Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, who ran away with the 2001 Open at Pine Needles, opened with an 83. Even favorites can have disastrous days. Tell it to Suzann Pettersen, winner of 2007's previous major, who followed up narrowly averted one by finishing with a 33 on the front with after starting her day with 5 bogeys and a double on her first 6 holes. Still, her 76 puts her in a tie for 109th. Not good.

Best: KLPGA superstar Ji Yai Shin opened with a 70, good enough for a tie for 5th place, despite having only a "so-so" putting day, as she put it.

Worst: JLPGA superstar Mi-Jeong Jeon opened with a 76, bogeying 5 of her last 8 holes just after she had battled back to E with birdies on 9 and 10.

Best: Many early favorites did what they needed to do today--keep themselves in the hunt--including those tied for 12th at E like Lorena Ochoa (who followed up an eagle on 14 with a double on 17), Morgan Pressel (who struggled early but held it together), and Brittany Lincicome (who had 5 birdies and 5 bogeys). Mi Hyun Kim was -1 through 13 with some easier holes on the front ahead of her when play was called, while Jee Young Lee was -2 through 12, but has the toughest 6-hole stretch on the course left to play. At +1 with 5 holes on the front left to play, Paula Creamer and Shiho Oyama could still finish strong, as well.

Worst: Other pre-tournament favorites have dug themselves into some holes, including Nicole Castrale (75, T90), Se Ri Pak and Pat Hurst (74, T70), and Ai Miyazato (73, T45). It's too soon to tell what will become of Juli Inkster, Jeong Jang, Maria Hjorth, and Laura Diaz, who are all +2 with 6 or fewer holes left to play, but it's not looking good for them, as those holes are on the back 9. (The same goes for Seon Hwa Lee, who's +1 through 10, and Laura Davies, who's +1 through 14.) All of these players will have to worry as much about missing the cut as scrambling back into contention tomorrow.

Best: Several players who have either been slumping or not playing up to their expectations had good days today, including Julieta Granada (70), Shi Hyun Ahn (70), and Cristie Kerr (71). When play was suspended, Annika Sorenstam was E through 13 and Meena Lee was E through 11, although with the tough back 9 behind her Lee may end up with the better score when their first rounds are completed.

Worst: Several players who have been struggling with injuries--or just plain struggling--continued to struggle, including Natalie Gulbis (74), Stacy Prammanasudh (75), Sarah Lee (79), and Michelle Wie (82). Meaghan Francella was +5 through 13 and Grace Park was +3 through 11, although both have some easier holes on the front ahead of them. The same can't be said for Brittany Lang, who was +6 through 10 with the toughest holes on the back still ahead of her. With Granada perhaps starting to recapture her form from the end of last season and the beginning of this one, Lang looks to be the only Super Soph succumbing to the sophomore jinx.

Both: My friend Moira Dunn shot one of the best rounds of the day on the back 9 (her first)--a 34--but proceeded to bogey 3 of her first 5 holes on the easier front to fall back to a tie for 25th at +1. JLPGA star Sakura Yokomine had some awful chips and great putts on her way to a 72, but she could still be the low Japanese player of round 1 if Oyama stumbles down the stretch on Friday morning.

I got to watch a few holes on Japanese tv early this morning. Ochoa looked very loose and confident, so her errant 7-wood on 17 that went OB was quite a shock. Obviously the coverage focused on Miyazato and Yokomine, who looked to be swinging the club fairly well. Ai-chan made a nice birdie on 15 and Sakura made a great one on 18, so hopefully they'll take some momentum into their late afternoon Friday round and be able to finish it before darkness falls. Too bad I'll probably miss the coverage, as I'll be giving a talk Saturday morning at the Japan-America Society of Fukuoka. Speaking of which, back to work!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Beyond the Usual Suspects: People to Watch at the U.S. Open

As I've been complaining about for far too long, even the U.S. golf media's coverage of the LPGA tends to be, to put it mildly, wanting--particularly when it comes to Koreans on the tour not named Se Ri Pak, Mi Hyun Kim, or Grace Park. So imagine how they cover the JLPGA and KLPGA, each of which is sending its three top players to compete in the U.S. Women's Open. Rather than just complain about it, I'll demonstrate exactly how lazy they are. Here are profiles and links on the players I think have a great chance for top-20 finishes at Pine Needles. This took an hour to compile, FYI.

1. Ji Yai Shin: This 19-year-old was the 2006 KLPGA rookie of the year, winning five events, garnering 12 top 5s, and breaking the tour's record for earnings in a single season. She beat Cristie Kerr and everyone else in the field at the Korean Women's Open and finished 4th in the LPGA/KLPGA event at the end of the 2006 season. In 2007, she has a big lead in the player of the year race and tops the money list on the KLPGA, having won four events (including two her last three in a row before she was stopped last week)--plus she had a top-15 finish at the LPGA Nabisco Championship--all of which has raised her to #13 on the Rolex Rankings. Although her stroke average is higher than last year's, when she was the first on the KLPGA ever to finish with a sub-70 average, it is still fairly close at 70.00. What makes her story even more amazing is that she has had to overcome family tragedy--her mother died and her younger siblings were seriously injured in a car accident when she was 14. Here's her assessment of Pine Needles. [Update 7/4/07: corrections courtesy of Eric at Seoul Sisters and Mulligan Stu at Waggle Room--thanks, y'all! Update 7/9/07: Here's a recent Seoul Sisters article on Shin.]

2. Mi-Jeong Jeon: This 24-year-old JLPGA star broke a tour record by winning three consecutive events this year (one of them over Karrie Webb) before having her streak stopped by Sakura Yokomine (see below). Having won three events last year on the JLPGA, Jeon was second on the money list to Shiho Oyama, but stands atop it this year. She is currently ranked 29th on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, which focuses on the past year's results, and 19th on the Rolex Rankings, which take the past two years into account.

3. Shiho Oyama: This 30-year-old JLPGA veteran won 5 events last year to top the tour's money list, but only had a 2nd and a 5th and an 8th to her name through 8 events in 2007 until she won the Nichirei PGM Ladies on June 17th, which jumped her to 5th on the 2007 JLPGA money list, 26th on the GSPI and 14th on the RR. If you go to her blog, you can see photos of her current trip to Pine Needles and read her brief comments (if you can translate them from Japanese).

4. Sakura Yokomine: This 21-year-old was the JLPGA's rookie of the year in 2005 and added two wins in 2006, despite failing to defend (with Ai Miyazato) Japan's Women's World Cup title that year. Her only win thus far this season was a big one, snapping Mi-Jeong Jeon's 3-tournament victory streak and getting her to 4th on the JLPGA money list. She is currently ranked 35th on the GSPI and 26th on the RR.

For more Mostly Harmless posts on the U.S. Women's Open, check out our first Take Your Blog to the Course carnival this week!

Stop Me Before I Comment Again

OK, so let's face it, Mostly Harmless's Take Your Blog to the Course carnival isn't nearly as entertaining as Blog Like It's the End of the World: The Global Zombie Uprising, much less the Star Wars's 30th Anniversary Carnival or even our own Blogacalypse at the End of the Universe--and the U.S. Women's Open hasn't actually started yet, so what should I have expected?--but seriously, people, I will keep LPGA concern trolling and comment spamming you until you give in to the power of Pine Needles! You know who you are! Consider yourselves warned.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

You Hate It! You Really Hate It!

It doesn't take much to generate some guesses as to the reasons for the deafening silence meeting this inaugural Take Your Blog to the Course carnival--besides the fact that no one reads this blog and I haven't had time to drop many bread crumbs at blogs people do read. While the purpose of TYBttC is no doubt laudable--to draw attention to women's professional golf by encouraging those who don't normally golf blog to try blogging the U.S. Women's Open between 6/25 and 7/1--I can see why people may have political, aesthetic, and personal reasons for not taking part in it. I'll run these down in hopes of inspiring at least one "Why I Hate/Don't Care About Golf" post from someone.

Political: Let's face it, golf's image--and far too often, its reality--sucks. The sport seems to be associated in most people's minds with the worst kinds of privileges/exclusions--by class/race/gender/religion, for a start. When most people think "golf," they think country clubs and corporate outings. They think of the backlash against Martha Burk's quixotic quest to put pressure on Augusta to admit a female member. They think of all the jokes about how the LPGA was the lesbian's professional golf association and of all the efforts since those jokes started to promote women's golf through pinup girls and moms. They remember how difficult it was for Karrie Webb when she was outed. Or how the "yellow peril" never seems to be far from people's minds when they talk about how many South Korean golfers there are on the LPGA.

Aesthetic: "Golf's not a sport," people who never tried to play it say. "It's less interesting to watch than wet paint," others add. "And the clothes--don't get me started!" chime in the fashionistas. "Ojin ksai!" the tsuma agrees. "I just can't understand why you're into golf," even my most sympathetic friends confess, "much less blog about it so often."

Personal: Maybe there's a trauma in your past--an accident with a golf cart, getting hit by a golf ball, or, as in the tsuma's case, damaging your front teeth as a six-year-old when trying to hit a golf ball with an iron too big for you. Or maybe someone in your life--a dad, a boyfriend--got obsessed/addicted and you feel it poisoned your relationship or stressed your mom out.

So what's your excuse for not taking your blog to the course this week? Even if you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment here or email me at the[underscore]constructivist18[at]yahoo[dot]com!

Monday, June 25, 2007

U.S. Women's Open Preview

This is Mostly Harmless's intro to the LPGA via a preview of the third major of the season, the U.S. Women's Open. For those who want more of a background to the tournament than what follows, feel free to check out any of my many season-to-date assessments here at Mostly Harmless or my interminable discussions of and attempts at ranking the top women's golfers in the world. Or you can check out Hound Dog's LPGA Blog, Waggle Room, The Florida Masochist, and Seoul Sisters in our blogroll to the left for much much more.

Before I get into which pairings to watch on Thursday and Friday, I want to mention a great tool over at a history of performances in U.S. Opens by everyone in the 2007 field, organized by average finish. (The Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, the Rolex Rankings, and the LPGA official money list all provide different and valuable perspectives on who's likely to play well this week, as well.)

I also want to say a little bit about the course: Pine Needles is a Donald Ross design, so in addition to the usual slick greens and heavy rough at any U.S. Open, this year's field will often face severely-banked greens, lots of false fronts disguising them, and few approach shots that won't be flying sharply uphill or downhill to them. The fairway bunkers will put pressure on the shorter hitters, while the trees and rough will put pressure on the longer hitters, so I believe driving is a wash. It's iron play, scrambling, and short game that will decide this tournament. And of course who's best able to stay calm, focused, and patient in adversity.

OK, on to the players and the three biggest storylines on them that the golf media ought to be following this week.

  • Probably the biggest is whether world #1 Lorena Ochoa can get her first major at Pine Needles: with only 1 top 10 in her 6 tries at U.S. Opens, some would argue she's swimming upstream, but that metaphor makes me think of salmon and since I can't think of anyone on the tour fresher or better seasoned, she has to be my favorite. I would expect bombers like Jee Young Lee, Brittany Lincicome, and Suzann Pettersen to be in the hunt on Sunday, along with veteran superstars like Mi Hyun Kim, Se Ri Pak, and Karrie Webb, proven performers like Jeong Jang, Cristie Kerr, and Paula Creamer, and rising young stars like Seon Hwa Lee, Ai Miyazato, and Angela Park. But I think Ochoa will get her first major this week.
  • I would say the next biggest story is the role injuries will play on fan favorites and media magnets like Annika Sorenstam (back and neck), Michelle Wie (wrists), and Natalie Gulbis (back), as well as on golfers playing light-years better than they have been this season, such as Mi Hyun Kim (knee), Sarah Lee (back), Stacy Prammanasudh (thumb), and Meaghan Francella (rib muscle). Out of all these players, I don't expect to see anyone but Kim contend.
  • For me the third biggest story is the test this U.S. Open presents to JLPGA and KLPGA stars like Ji Yai Shin, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Shiho Oyama, and Sakura Yokomine, among others (the top 3 money winners from each tour get invited to play in every U.S. Open). How will they stand up against the most competitive field in the world? I predict top 20s but not top 10s for them, as well as for a few other people I haven't yet named--most likely a Juli Inkster or a Pat Hurst or a Shi Hyun Ahn or a Morgan Pressel or a Catriona Matthew or a Rachel Hetherington.

So which pairings should you follow (whether at the course, on tv, or online)? My top pick for Thursday is the 8:17 am Ai Miyazato/Stacy Prammanasudh/Lorena Ochoa group, followed by the 8:17 Brittany Lincicome/Suzann Pettersen/Se Ri Pak group (going off the other side, of course), 1:14 pm Mi Hyun Kim/Meaghan Francella/Paula Creamer group, 7:33 Cristie Kerr/Sarah Lee/Angela Park group, 8:06 Karrie Webb/Morgan Pressel/Nicole Castrale group, and 1:36 Juli Inkster/Silvia Cavalleri/Jee Young Lee group. These groups maximize your chances of seeing people playing well. But if you like train wrecks, by all means follow the other 8:06 am group of Christina Kim, Natalie Gulbis, and Michelle Wie! (If anyone from this group makes the cut, I'll be [pleasantly] surprised. But if Gulbis or Wie are healthy enough to do so, expect a top 30 finish.)

For more on the U.S. Women's Open, be sure to check out the Mostly Harmless Take Your Blog to the Course Carnival page. Me, I'm just hoping my friend Moira Dunn makes the cut and rooting for Ai-chan to win!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Not-Quite-Live-Blogging the Wegmans

Yeah, with Moira Dunn playing well again, the last few first-half ADT Championship qualifiers at stake, and the Wegmans almost equally close to my childhood and current homes--not to mention the need to do some late-night talk polishing in between updates--it's time to do some not-quite-live-blogging the LPGA.

Before I get into some early-round developments, a few words about the ADT Championship. I haven't checked this over that carefully, but it seems to me that with Young Kim's fine finish (-2 over her last 11 holes today, even with a disappointing bogey on 18) being a bit too little, a bit too late (at +5, she's currently T56), the 11th and last spot for qualifying by points will be around or better than $350K--how much better is the issue. Ai-chan entered at $330.6K, Angela Stanford at $316.6K, and Cristie Kerr at $302.3K. Barring something crazy, like a win by Pat Hurst or Lindsey Wright or a top 2 finish by Seon Hwa Lee, they have the best chance to pass Meaghan Francella, who's resting an injured rib muscle before the U.S. Women's Open and who stands at $367.4K. The wild card is rookie Angela Park, who entered the tournament in the 10th spot, at $358.8K, and who butchered the first round badly enough to almost miss the cut, but with a solid 71-72 comeback gave herself a decent chance for a top 30 finish. Will she finish high enough to pass not only Francella, but also Juli Inkster, who uncharacteristically missed the cut this week and so has to settle for nearly $373K in the first half of the season? If so, the "cut line" for the ADT first-half qualifier will likely be near that mark. Judging by last year's money distributions, then, we have several scenarios. If Kerr and Stanford can both get top 3s this week, that puts them in the 8th and 9th spots; Park and Inkster would then take the 10th and 11th, unless Ai-chan can steal a spot from one of them. Now, if Kerr and Stanford end up in the 4th-5th range, they'll finish the first half of the season somewhere in the high $300Ks, but so close to Park, Inkster, and Miyazato that it'll be too close to call. Finally, if they happen to finish lower than 5th, then it'll be Park and Inkster in the 8th and 9th spots and Miyazato and Kim in the 10th and 11th ones--assuming both Park and Miyazato finish well; if not, then Francella gets in.

So what is happening thus far with these golfers? Well, Angela Park is showing why she has such a big lead in the Rookie of the Year race; having gotten through her nemesis, the 13th, with a par (after previously making two bogeys and a double bogey on it), she stands at -2 on her round and +1 for the tournament (T29). Ai Miyazato, meanwhile, has matched Park's front-side 33 to finally get under par for the tournament; at -1, she's currently T19. Neither one has played the back particularly well this week, so anything can happen in the next hour and a half or so. With Angela Stanford parring her first hole and Cristie Kerr going off at 12:22 pm, they'll have a very clear sense of what they need to do by the time they make the turn--both have stated in interviews they like to watch scoreboards and are thinking about the ADT Championship (and for Stanford, joining Kerr on the Solheim Cup team). It will be very interesting to see how all these players handle the pressure today. In any case, it'll be great preparation for the Open next week!

[Update 1 (1:42 am): So how is Moira Dunn doing? E through 5 and still at -1 (T18). Ai-chan just bogeyed the 10th and Angela just birdied the 14th--they're both tied for 23rd at E right now! Seon Hwa Lee birdied the 3rd to get to -4 (T4). This puts her 3 ahead of Morgan Pressel in the Super Soph race, by the way, and 4 ahead of Miyazato and Jee Young Lee, 5 ahead of Sun Young Yoo and Nina Reis, and 6 ahead of Hye Jung Choi (among those still on the course).]

[Update 2 (2:04 am): The leaders are off and running and already some interesting things are happening. Cristie Kerr birdied the 2nd to get to -6, while In-Kyung Kim bogeyed the 1st and birdied the 2nd to stay 2 shots ahead of her and 1 shot behind Lorena Ochoa. Congrats to Sophie Gustafson, whose 67 got her to -2 and a chance for a top 10, as well as Brandie Burton, whose matching 67 got her to +2 and a probable top 40--they share low round of the day honors thus far, although by the end of their rounds Brittany Lincicome and Jimin Kang may match or outdo them (both are at -3 on the day as they enter their final 6 holes).]

[Update 3 (2:30 am): Well, Angela Park did what she had to do: shot a fine 69 today. At E for the tournament, she's likely to get a top 30 (she's T23 now). So we're talking somewhere between $14K and $20K when all is said and done. So it looks to me she's going to jump ahead of Meaghan Francella and probably Juli Inkster, as well. Ai Miyazato is still tied with her through her first 13 holes. The leaders have come back to the field somewhat: Ochoa, Kim, and Kerr are all 1 over in their opening 4 or 5 holes, which puts Mi Hyun Kim, Lindsey Wright, and Angela Stanford only 3 back of Ochoa, 2 back of Kim, and 1 ahead of Kerr. Seon Hwa Lee doubled the 6th to fall back to -2 (T10).]

[Update 4 (2:49 am): With Seon Hwa Lee falling back to -1, she's now tied with Jee Young Lee and Morgan Pressel at -1 in the Super Soph race. Hye Jung Choi shot a great 69 to get to E, which kept her 1 shot ahead of Sun Young Yoo, who matched her 69 today. Ai Miyazato and Nina Reis are both tied with Sun Young at this point in their rounds. At 2 over on the back, Ai-chan will need to make some birdies in her final 3 holes if she wants to have a chance to pass Meaghan Francella on the money list and ADT points list. More on the leaders in a second!]

[Update 5 (3:03 am): Well, before I talk about the leaders I should mention that Jee Young Lee, Seon Hwa Lee, and Morgan Pressel have moved into the Super Soph lead at -2 and Ai-chan birdied the 16th with the par-5 17th up next; at E she is tied with Moira, Angela, and others at 25th place. Now, Brittany Lincicome is -5 through 16 and at -4 for the tournament (T6). Along with Jeong Jang (-3 through 11) and Maria Hjorth (-2 through 10), she has caught Cristie Kerr (+1 through 6). Mi Hyun Kim, Angela Stanford, and Lindsey Wright remain at -5, 2 shots behind In-Kyung Kim and 3 behind Lorena Ochoa. So it's a 9-player race right now.]

[Update 6 (3:32 am): In-Kyung Kim birdied the 8th to tie Ochoa at -8 for the lead. I just got to see Ochoa just miss a 10-foot birdie putt at the end of the 2:00 pm webcast, and now I see that Kim bogeyed 9 to fall 1 behind at the turn. Angela Stanford and Mi Hyun Kim have now reached -6, 2 shots behind the leaders, and Cristie Kerr has gotten back to -5, so realistically we're down to a 5-player race (with Lindsey Wright falling back to -4, it looks like a victory and a berth in the ADT Championship is out of reach). Now, with Brittany Lincicome's length, I was looking for a birdie or eagle from her on the par-5 17th, but it wasn't meant to be: she only parred 17 and then bogeyed 18 for a 68 (-3, T10 so far). Like Lincicome, Ai-chan also failed to birdie the 17th, so she'll need a birdie on the tough 18th to have a chance to pass Francella in the ADT Championship qualifying race. Moira has fallen back to +1 on the tournament, +2 on the day through 13. She'll need a late charge to make this tournament help her keep her card in a big way.]

[Update 7 (3:53 am): Well, with her 71 today, Ai-chan got a moral victory by getting back to E for the tournament. It's good enough for a T21 right now, but she'll need some people to fall back to have a chance to get into the last spot in the ADT Championship available in the first half of the season. Specifically, she needs Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford to finish worse than 5th. Barring that, she needs a lot of people currently under par to move backwards in a big way so she can make the roughly $37K she needs to pass Meaghan Francella. Unfortunately for Ai-chan, with Ochoa bogeying 10 to fall back into a tie with Kim for the lead at -7, you're likely to see signs of life among those over par today, like Seon Hwa Lee and Pat Hurst at -1 and Wendy Ward at -2. And those even or under par on the day have to be thinking about passing leaders in the clubhouse Brittany Lincicome and Jee Young Lee, whose 68s got them to -3, posting a number, and seeing what happens to the leaders at -5 or better. In essence, then, Ai-chan is rooting for charges by defending champion Jeong Jang, Maria Hjorth, and Lindsey Wright (all at -4) to knock Kerr and Stanford out of the top 5....]

[Update 8 (4:01 am): On cue, Lindsey Wright eagled the tough par-4 12th to get to -6 and within 1 shot of the lead! (So much for my writing off her chances a half hour ago.) Problem for Ai-chan is, if she wins, she's in and Ai-chan's not! On the bright side, Jeong Jang birdied the 16th to get to -5. Let's see if she can handle the 17th and 18th better than the leaders in the clubhouse did. It's hard to root against Cristie Kerr, so I feel bad that she bogeyed 11 to fall back to -4, but not that bad, if it helps Ai-chan....]

[Update 9 (4:13 am): Well, well, well, Morgan Pressel birdied 16 to get to -3, so she has a chance to do something cool on the final two holes. If she does, and if Seon Hwa Lee doesn't catch Jee Young Lee, the top 4 Super Sophs will finish exactly as I ranked them, with Hye Jung Choi, Sun Young Yoo, and Nina Reis making up ground on those ahead of them. Oh, and we have a new leader--In-Kyung Kim. By the way, if she ends up winning, she gets in the ADT Championships instead of Ai-chan. So just say no to In-Kyung and Lindsey for the win--although second would be great! Go, Mi Hyun--if Lorena doesn't win this I want you to! And Jeong, do try to do what so many couldn't do (including Pressel) and actually birdie 17!]

[Update 10 (4:24 am): Wright is going nuts--after her eagle on 12, she birdied 13 to get 1 shot behind In-Kyung Kim (-8) and tied with Mi Hyun Kim, who just birdied 14. Ochoa birdied another hole to fall back to +3 on the day and -6 for the tournament, only 1 shot ahead of Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, and Jeong Jang. With the tough 18th ahead of her, I don't think Jang will be able to make the comeback that a Japanese golfer by the name of Fujita did to defend her title this week on the JLPGA (she birdied 18 to tie Momoko Ueda and then beat her on the first playoff hole), but stranger things have been happening all day.]

[Update 11 (4:35 am): With Mi Hyun Kim's birdie on 15 and Lindsey Wright's bogey on 14, all of a sudden the Kims have a 2-shot lead on their nearest competitors--or they would, except that In-Kyung responded with a birdie of her own to get to -9 and Lorena Ochoa matched her to get back to -7. Cristie Kerr just got a birdie on 14 to pull even with Wright at -6. Seon Hwa Lee's bogey on 16 puts her back at T20 with Ai-chan, which would be a fitting place for her to finish--just as Pressel and Jee Young Lee ended up tied at -3 (T8). If it weren't for her two-stroke slow play penalty yesterday, Suzann Pettersen would have earned herself another top 10, by the way.]

[Update 12 (4:44 am): Well, defending champion Jeong Jang is leader in the clubhouse at -5, poor Lindsey Wright has fallen back into a tie with her, and Angela Stanford is 1 shot behind them. If Lorena or Mi Hyun can just beat In-Kyung, it looks like Ai-chan will qualify for the ADT Championship the easy way (she was a wild card last year and dominated the first three rounds). Moira finished at +2 (T36)--another disappointing Sunday, but still another step in the right direction for the week. So long as she keeps making cuts, she'll keep her card. Seon Hwa Lee just birdied 17 to get back to -1. Unfortunately, it knocks the big group at E out of the top 20. Maybe rookie Jin Joo Hong will oblige by falling back to E over her last couple of holes.]

[Update 13 (4:56 am): For yet another round, Angela Stanford can't solve the final 6 holes--she's fallen all the way back to -3 (T7), with two holes left to play. Lorena Ochoa is struggling, too, having bogeyed the 14th to fall back to -6 and 3 shots off the lead. She and Cristie Kerr, also at -6, will need some help from the Kims to have a chance to win. The leaders are on the final three holes.]

[Update 14 (5:03 am): By failing to birdie the par-5 17th, Mi Hyun Kim missed an opportunity to put even more pressure on the leader, rookie In-Kyung Kim, and stays 1 behind her. As Seon Hwa Lee's and so many others' bogeys on 18 show, this actually puts the pressure on the short-hitting Mi Hyun to remain at -8. Ochoa, Kerr, and Wright also failed to birdie their recent holes.]

[Update 15 (5:17 am): Ouch. Mi Hyun Kim just bogeyed 18. If Cristie Kerr can outplay the field on 17 and 18, she may just get that top 2 she was shooting for coming into the week. But it's looking more and more like In-Kyung Kim will get the win.]

[Update 16 (5:27 am): Holy shit--Ochoa just eagled 17 to get to -8, 1 shot behind In-Kyung Kim!!]

[Update 17 (5:41 am): All right, it comes down to 18--can the world #1 be knocked off for the third time this year? Among the ADT Championship qualifier hopefuls, Cristie Kerr finished alone in 4th at -6, Angela Stanford alone in 7th at -4, Park and Miyazato in a big group at E tied for 21st, and Karrie Webb in a big group at +4 tied for 49th. Depending on who wins and how the money breaks down, some of these people will be even more disappointed than usual at their results this week. It's literally too close to call right now.]

[Update 18 (5:45 am): PLAYOFF!!! Ochoa parred and Kim bogeyed 18.]

[Update 19 (6:05 am): This is the third playoff between the world #1 and a relatively unheralded player already in 2007--and as Meaghan Francella and Nicole Castrale will attest, it can be done. Moreover, Lorena Ochoa has not won a playoff in her career. But she made an incredible comeback to get there and Kim gave her some help. It looks like they're delaying the webcast to make ESPN2 happy. Too bad!]

[Update 20 (6:29 am): It's Ochoa! On the second playoff hole.... Watch the webcast for details if you didn't see it on tv.]

[Update 21 (6:54 am): Eyeballing the expected money, it looks to me like Ai-chan is not going to make the ADT this time--either Stanford or Kerr (or both) will pass her, and perhaps both will knock Francella out, too. Wait till the second half of the season, I guess.]

[Update 22 (7:12 am): By my count, both Stanford and Kerr are the last two in, knocking Francella, Miyazato, and Young Kim out. (Update 6/26/07: Right with people, not positions.) ]

[Update 23 (8:12 am): It's not to soon to look ahead to U.S. Open field. My dad reminds me you can find the preview and the pairings at the USGA Open site.

Who Knew Cory Doctorow Was a Closet WAAGNFNPer?

Wil Wheaton pointed me (and everyone else in the geek universe) over to Cory Doctorow's 2007 Locus Award-winning novelette When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth. A very good, relatively quick read, with a well-handled mix of humor, tragedy, pathos, and the like--not to mention well worth the time you spend thinking about it as well as casting your eyes over it. About halfway through I realized that Doctorow belongs in the WAAGNFNP. A very belated realization, given some of his themes over at boing boing, but better late than never. I'll leave the recruiting to Oaktown Girl!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

How to Get Onechan Jealous

Just play Part 3 of these Pirates 3 inspired-performances by some elementary school girls on Japanese tv:

Then wait for, "Daddy, look at me!" Works every time.

Moving Day at the Wegmans Lives Up to Its Name

With a fantastic 67 that featured 4 birdies in her last 10 holes, Lorena Ochoa leaped into the lead at the Wegmans. At 9 under, she leads rookie In-Kyung Kim by 1 shot and Cristie Kerr by 4. Angela Stanford and Mi Hyun Kim would be right in the mix, except that the same final 6 holes that have ruined so many others' rounds in this tournament got Stanford (she was 4 under through 12 but finished bogey-bogey-par-bogey-double bogey-par for a 73) while Kim stumbled on the easier middle holes (she had it to 8 under through 6 but bogeyed 4 of her next 7 holes)--so have to settle for joining A.J. Eathorne (69) and Lindsey Wright (72) 5 shots behind Ochoa. Given the volatility we've seen in people's play this week--Ochoa, Kim, and Seon Hwa Lee are the only three players to keep it under par in all three rounds in the entire field; and there are plenty of examples of players whose one not-so-good round was quite awful--it's too soon to suggest an Ochoa-Kim showdown.

Realistically, though, everyone between -3 and +1 is playing for a top 10. There were a lot of 69s and 70s among the people in this category and just as many 72s and 73s. Among players I've been following this year, former Rookie of the Year Seon Hwa Lee shot her third straight 71 to get to -3, 2 shots ahead of Morgan Pressel (73), 3 ahead of Nina Reis (70), and 4 ahead of Jee Young Lee (69) and Ai Miyazato (73) in the Super Soph race. Moira Dunn shot her second straight 71 to get to -1 for the tournament, tied at 15th with former champion Jeong Jang (71), two-time 2007 winner Suzann Pettersen (72), and Meena Lee (73), 1 shot ahead of Paula Creamer, and 2 shots ahead of Brittany Lincicome.

For everyone else, the last round is just a tune-up for the U.S. Women's Open next week. With Young Kim at +6 (T60) and Angela Park at +3 (T43), both will need incredible rounds on Sunday to pass Meaghan Francella on the ADT points race for the first half of the season, so there's an outside chance that Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, and perhaps even Ai Miyazato could pass all three of them. But as the purse is small this week and Ochoa looks difficult to catch, it would take flawless rounds for all three and lots of mistakes by others for it to actually happen. Still, stranger things and all....

[Update: They tailored the Saturday webcasts for me: a couple of segments on Ai-chan and a live interview with Moira Dunn. She did a great job!]

Friday, June 22, 2007

Way to Avoid the Plague of Bogeys at Locust Hill, Moira!

By birdieing her last three holes in today's round at the Wegmans, my old friend Moira Dunn not only guaranteed she'll make another cut, but at even par for the tournament ended up in a tie for 19th heading into the weekend, as well. Ai Miyazato kept pace with her precisely--and Angela Park (+3, T54), Seon Hwa Lee and Meena Lee, (-2, T10), and Lorena Ochoa (-4, T4), among others, also shot 71s--but that's more than can be said for Cristie Kerr, whose 75 dropped her to -3 and T6, thanks to a 41 on the supposedly easier back side. With Pat Hurst's 69 bringing her to -1 (T14), Angela Stanford's 69 leapfrogging her to -5 (3rd), and leaders Mi Hyun Kim (68) and In-Kyung Kim (67) ending the day at -7, Kerr's task this weekend (a top 2 to qualify for the end-of-the-season ADT Championship) is a lot more imposing than it looked yesterday. Even though Suzann Pettersen (75, -1), Brittany Lincicome (75, E), Jimin Kang (75, +1, T32), Catriona Matthew (75, +2, T43), Young Kim (76, +2), and Paula Creamer (76, +2) played as badly as or worse than she did, her momentum and confidence have to be just a little bit shot.

In fact, all the leaders must be wondering if they can avoid a high round this weekend. With Mi Hyun 1 over for her final 7 holes, In-Kyung bogeying and Angela double bogeying the tough 18th, and even Lorena struggling to score on the back, it's clear the course can take away as easily as it giveth. I expected Canadian Alena Sharp to struggle the rest of the tournament (and unfortunately she obliged today with a 74), but Friday's results put a big question mark over everyone at E or better. And if we see as many big backward moves tomorrow as we did today, a great moving day even from Hall of Famers Se Ri Pak (+3, T53) or Karrie Webb (+1, T32) would put another victory for them in the realm of possibility.

When I wrote the first version of this post's first sentence back around 1 am-ish, Moira was back in 33rd, Ai-chan wasn't even out on the course, the leaders had just begun their rounds, and it looked like the cut would be as low as +2. But it turned out to be +4, high enough to save Super Sophs Jee Young Lee and Hye Jung Choi from an early exit from Rochester--although not high enough to save, in reverse order of performance, Grace Park, Julieta Granada, Meg Mallon, Juli Inkster, Laura Diaz, Lisa Fernandes, Brittany Lang, Na On Min, Kyeong Bae, Teresa Lu, Nicole Castrale, Birdie Kim, or Dorothy Delasin. I have to admit I'm shocked at how high the afternoon scores were. With better weather expected for the weekend, maybe the scores will go lower. Or maybe the plagues of bogeys at Locust Hill will continue. If the winds stay up, swirly, and gusty as they were this afternoon (according to the webcasts), I vote for the latter.

[Update: With Sarah Lee and Natalie Gulbis out due to bad backs, it appears many of the LPGA's top "young veterans" may not be at their best in the second half of the season. This may open the door for the rookies and Super Sophs--we'll have to see. Was also interesting to see that Pettersen, who was assessed a two-stroke penalty for slow play, claims not to have been aware she was on the clock. Weird. It's nice to see the quality of the webcasts was up today. But it would be cool if they mentioned central NYer Moira Dunn once or twice--guess she'll have to play her way into their attention tomorrow. Lots of interesting pairings then, by the way: Young Kim/Angela Park at 8:20 am, Meena Lee/Morgan Pressel at 11:08, Cristie Kerr/Seon Hwa Lee at 11:16, and of course the leading Kims at 11:48.]

Is Cristie Kerr Back?

If you happened to look at the Round 1 pairings for the Wegmans, you might just have noticed that the tournament organizers decided not to put Cristie Kerr in the "America's Sweethearts" group of Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, and Natalie Gulbis. So what did the best American female golfer do but rattle off 7 birdies on her way to a 66 today? (Gulbis, by contrast, who's coming off an injury, could only manage a 78.) Maybe it was her strong finish in a late May KLPGA event (after buying a new putter in the pro shop after a particularly bad putting day!) that inspired her recent run of good play, but maybe, just maybe, the pairing had something to do with today's hot round. Not that playing with Karrie Webb and Liselotte Neumann is a bad thing--just that it might have been fun for her to play head-to-head for two rounds against her top 2 American competitors.

With a 1-shot lead on Alena Sharp (who shouldn't be around on the back 9 Sunday, given her history this season of failing to shoot more than one sub-70 round per tournament), a 2-shot lead on the ubiquitous Suzann Pettersen, and a 3-shot lead on the world's best female golfer Lorena Ochoa, the resurgent Brittany Lincicome, and the scrappy Mi Hyun Kim--not to mention a ton of people who could get themselves into contention with strong second rounds, like Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Angela Stanford, Jimin Kang, Young Kim, and Becky Morgan (all at -2), or Jeong Jang, Seon Hwa Lee, Jee Young Lee, Meena Lee, and Catriona Matthew (who had many different ways of getting, or falling back, to -1)--it's much too soon for Kerr to start celebrating. With her second 66 in a row (the last one leapfrogged her into her second top 20 in as many majors this year) and only her second sub-70 Thursday of the season, she may finally be making a move into the upper reaches of the money list where she belongs--despite her cold this week. With Meaghan Francella, Laura Davies, and Shi Hyun Ahn not in the tournament, Stacy Prammanasudh out with an injury, Julieta Granada (77), Juli Inkster (76), Angela Park (76), Silvia Cavalleri (76), Kyeong Bae (76), and Na On Min (76) in danger of missing the cut, and Pat Hurst (74), Nicole Castrale (74), Sherri Steinhauer (74), Sarah Lee (73), Se Ri Pak (73), Ai Miyazato (73), and Karrie Webb (72) trailing by far, Kerr stands to pass a lot of people and is not in much danger of being passed by anyone. In fact, she's now in the best position to sneak into the ADT Championship among those playing in the Wegmans this week--it's the last tournament that counts toward the first half of the season's point total (the top 11 point-getters who haven't already qualified by winning one of four designated tournaments get in). She says she needs a top 2 finish to do it....

So good luck, Cristie. Hope the weather holds up for you the way it did today (the thunderstorms waited until she finished her round). I'll be rooting for Moira and Ai-chan to get into red figures after the end of Friday's round, but I'll be rooting for you to get that top 2.

By the way, for those with the time and inclination, I recommend checking out the webcasts from Rochester and letting the tournament organizers know what you think of them.

[Update 6/23/07: Because I'm making the big bucks doing all this LPGA blogging, I thought I'd check out a few of the webcasts. The best, IMHO, is the segment wth Lisa Fernandez archived at the Thursday 3 pm slot. Turns out she's a very good friend of Prammanasudh and got in the tournament because Stacy's thumb was bothering her, she didn't want to risk injuring it severely the week before the U.S. Women's Open, and she knew her withdrawing on the first tee would get Lisa in the field. But that's not the best part of the interview--the best part is Fernandez telling what Thursday morning life as the first alternate in a LPGA event is like. Well, actually, it's the fifth alternate, but...just check out the first few minutes of the webcast and you'll be hooked.]

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Rob MacDougall has written a second post on the history of role playing games. This one looks at the links between R&D and D&D. It's a must-read! And totally fitting that this is Mostly Harmless's 200th post!

[Update 6/23/07: But even more fitting that I posted this out of my intended order so that the LPGA post up next turned out to be the actual 200th!]

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

First Mostly Harmless "Take Your Blog to the Course" Carnival Coming Next Week

With the Wegmans in Rochester happening this weekend--and my parents planning to attend Friday's round--it's time to return to some (limited) LPGA blogging. But I'm incredibly busy during my last 5 weeks in Fukuoka. So, as Dora would put it, "I need your help!"

Mostly Harmless's first Take Your Blog to the Course Carnival is coming between June 25th and July 1st--the week of the U.S. Women's Open. Just send me (at the[underscore]constructivist18[at]yahoo[dot]com) the link to any LPGA-related post(s) you care to write before and during their third major of the year. My aim is to raise the profile of the most competitive professional golf tour in the world and get new people interested in women's golf.

By "LPGA-related," I'm trying to cast as wide a net as possible--I want people who don't normally watch, much less blog about, women's golf to give the LPGA a chance during U.S. Open week. (Of course, regular golf bloggers are free to participate as well!) So if stats is your game, if gossip and buzz float your boat, if gender, globalization, or media matter to you, if you can't get enough of live blogging events great and small, if you're curious about Lorena or Annika or Michelle, or if you just want an excuse to make strange juxtapositions, this carnival is for you!

I'll collect all your posts in a daily-updated post of my own and each day choose my favorite. So warm up your keyboards and get ready for the U.S. Women's Open!

Super Soph Top 20: June 2007 Edition

Well, it's time to do what I announced earlier this month: update my May Super Soph ranking. The purpose of the rankings is to determine who has had the best career to date, with improvement and consistency the key criteria. For those at the top, I'm counting their 2007 stats more highly than their career stats, as they already have the consistency and get more credit for improvement. For those at the bottom, I'm counting their career stats more highly than their 2007 stats, because that's a better indicator of potential than a slump early this season.

Super Sophs

1. Morgan Pressel: Has the first and only major, the most top 10s and second-most top 3s, tops the 2007 money list and is close to the top in career earnings, has made the biggest improvement in stroke average from last year to this among the top 5, and is making a lot of birdies. To tell you the truth, I wasn't ready to move Pressel this high right after her win, but she's played well enough and others have not since then to move her to the top. If she can figure out how to play better on Sundays in the second half of the season, watch out!
2. Jee Young Lee: Sure, she's cooled off since mid-April, missing the second cut of her career and finishing out of the top 20 except for a second-place finish at the Michelob, but Lee's still having the second-best 2007 of the top 5, her career stats are at least the equal of the rest of the top 5, only Pressel is ahead of her in both the Rolex Rankings and the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, and she's leading the Super Sophs in greens in regulation and second (to Kyeong Bae) in birdies. So even though she hasn't yet won, I'm ranking her ahead of Seon Hwa Lee.
3. Seon Hwa Lee: True, last year's Rookie of the Year missed her first cut of her career this season and "only" has 3 top 10s thus far, but every 2007 stat except money hasn't slipped as much as Ai Miyazato's (not to mention she has a win on the LPGA), she's still tied for tops in top 3s, second in career earnings (due only to Julieta Granada's rather fluky $1M take in last year's ADT Championship), and, I think, shockingly underrated in both the RR and GSPI.
4. Ai Miyazato: My favorite golfer earns credit for consistently strong play in both seasons, but her terrible results in the past two events after three straight top 10s kept her from passing a cooling-off Jee Young and a struggling Seon Hwa. Still, this year's stats, both ranking systems, and her passing Julieta Granada in top 10s and staying within two top 3s more than offset Granada's lottery- ADT-aided career money lead.
5. Julieta Granada: Except for driving accuracy, Granada's stats are way off this year; while it's true that she made a second-half charge last season, you can't count on it happening again this year, when she's having trouble with both her irons and her putter. If she doesn't watch out, she's in danger of letting the charging Kyeong Bae think about passing her by the end of this season.
6. Kyeong Bae: Riding a hot putter, Bae has completely outplayed Brittany Lang this year, and stands to pass her in the career money list and Rolex Rankings if she can find more consistency with her approach shots (she's already passed her in every other measure).
7. Brittany Lang: Even though she's still hitting a lot of greens this year, everything else is way off from Lang's great rookie season, when she was one of the top 4 in her class. As it stands, that season is the only thing keeping her ahead of Meaghan Francella, who's on pace to pass her in career earnings and the Rolex Rankings once she gets more events under her belt.
8. Meaghan Francella: After beating Annika Sorenstam in a playoff for her first career win, Francella could have been a flash in the pan, but in only 14 career events she already has a top 10 ratio that's in Pressel's and Miyazato's league and is the third-leading money winner in her class this year. If she can get a bit more consistency with her irons, her putting stats are likely to improve and she'll have a good chance to catch and surpass the slumping Lang. At the same time, she'll have to show she can keep making cuts in the second half of the season to stay ahead of the top Super Sophs in Waiting.

Super Sophs in Waiting

9. Karin Sjodin: She's a bomber like Jee Young Lee with lots of top 20s this year who's improved her stroke average from last year despite not making nearly as many birdies, so if she can straighten out her irons and give herself more birdie opportunities, she'll make more cuts and more money and give herself more chances for good finishes. Better final-round play wouldn't hurt her, either.
10. Sun Young Yoo: Although she's not played that well this season, Yoo is still ranked ahead of Lang and Francella in the GSPI and could easily catch Francella on the money list if she can improve her iron play and putting. If not, Sjodin, Choi, and Lu stand to extend their leads on her in the 2007 money race and pass her in the career earnings list.
11. Hye Jung Choi: Like Francella, Choi is another fast-rising Super Soph with few events under her belt; in fact, she's making cuts at a better rate than Francella and just needs to improve her iron play and deal better with Sunday pressure to crack the top 30 of the money list this year.
12. Teresa Lu: Along with Francella, Sjodin, and Choi, Lu is one of the most improved of the Super Sophs. After a hot start to the season, she weathered a rough spot from mid-May to early June, missing 4 consecutive cuts, but every finish has been a top 30 or better and her stroke average is still comparable to those ahead of her. As a non-exempt player, she's going to have to make the most of the rest of her starts this season to keep pace, though. Only Jee Young Lee is hitting more greens than she is, so if she can get her approach shots just a little closer to the pin, she'll start making more birdies and moving up the money list.

Super Potential

13. Nina Reis: With 5 career international wins and exempt status on the LPGA this year, Reis stands to improve on her #12 ranking in career earnings among the Super Sophs and top-90 status in the GSPI, but even though she's been making cuts at a good rate and her stats are decent, she hasn't cracked the top 40 in any of her 12 starts in 2007.
14. Katie Futcher: She's struggling with her irons this year, and she's followed up her only top 30 in the SemGroup with truly awful play in her last 4 events, but she's still exempt, has one of the only two top 10s in this bunch, is within $30K of Reis in career earnings, and compares favorably in career stats and rankings with those below her.
15. Linda Wessberg: She's non-exempt, but her top 10 in the Corona has gotten her into her share of events this year and she's even making a little more money than those ahead of her in the rankings. But her ball-striking will have to improve greatly to keep her from falling behind in the second half of the season.
16. Virada Nirapathpongporn: She's exempt this year and has a good chance to keep pace with Reis on the career earnings list, but like Lu and Futcher has been struggling since mid-May. Still, her birdie rate is up from last year and she'll get plenty of chances to make more if she can improve her iron play and make more cuts.
17. Veronica Zorzi: She's non-exempt this year and hasn't played since April, but relatively highly ranked in the GSPI due to her strong play in the past year on the Ladies European Tour.
18. Minea Blomqvist: She's non-exempt but due to her relatively strong play last year Blomqvist has gotten into 11 LPGA events this year--and missed the cut in most of them. She'll have to play a lot better in the second half of the season to stay ahead of Hall and Hoagland, much less catch Zorzi.
19. Kimberly Hall: She's exempt, but Hall has the worst cut ratio of the Super Sophs. She could go either way.
20. Ashley Hoagland: She's exempt, but hasn't made a cut since mid-April.

Honorable Mention
21. Shinobu Moromizato: In the top 50 on the RR and top 75 on the GSPI, Moromizato is playing exclusively on the JLPGA thus far this season, despite being exempt on the LPGA.
22. Na Ri Kim: she's exempt and playing in a lot of events this year, so Kim certainly has a chance to join the top 20 next ranking.

For your reference--and mine--are the stats on which I'm basing the June ranking.

2007 LPGA Money List (rank), stroke average (compared to last year's), birdies per round average (compared to last year's), greens in regulation (compared to last year's): I'm going to focus on four key indicators of how well someone is playing this season--how much money they've made, how they're scoring, how many birdies they're averaging per round, and average greens in regulation per round. (I figure I can figure out how well they're hitting their irons and putting by comparing the last three figures, so I won't include putts per green in regulation here. And by comparing this year's and last's results on those same three figures, I can see who's improving and who's backsliding.) Some of the figures Hound Dog thinks are most important I'm looking at in the career stats (below), where I think they belong. These stats are all about the present and future.

1. Morgan Pressel, $556.8K (#7), 71.03 (-.48), 3.43 (-.18), 68.6% (-2.4%)
2. Jee Young Lee, $485.6K (#10), 71.39 (-.07), 3.45 (-.44), 73.4% (+5.3%)
3. Meaghan Francella, $367.4K (#13), 72.17 (-1.58), 3.14 (?), 66.5% (?)
4. Ai Miyazato, $330.6K (#16), 71.76 (+.54), 2.97 (-.74), 65.8% (-3.5%)
5. Julieta Granada, $258.1K (#22), 72.54 (+1.21), 2.66 (-.54), 64.8% (-3.2%)
6. Seon Hwa Lee, $250.4K (#24), 71.67 (+.37), 3.05 (-.48), 65.2% (-2.5%)
7. Kyeong Bae, $172.3K (#33), 72.50 (+.17), 3.67 (+.63), 60.6% (-6.9%)
8. Hye Jung Choi, $169.5K (#35), 72.56 (-.44), 2.95 (?), 63.2% (?)
9. Karin Sjodin, $143.3K (#42), 72.40 (-.41), 2.86 (-.63), 65.1% (-3.0%)
10. Brittany Lang, $138.3K (#43), 73.14 (+1.79), 2.40 (-1.48), 69.3% (-.1%)
11. Teresa Lu, $92.0K (#58), 72.48 (-.41), 3.00 (-.02), 69.9% (+3.2%)
12. Sun Young Yoo, $67.8K (#71), 73.36 (+.83), 2.69 (-.27), 63.9% (-5.1%)
13. Linda Wessberg, $39.0K (#100), 73.68 (-3.82), 2.84 (?), 55.9% (?)
14. Nina Reis, $34.7K (#106), 73.61 (+.70), 2.90 (+.13), 61.8% (-4.2%)
15. Kimberly Hall, $33.9K (#108), 74.15 (+.41), 2.33 (-.19), 60.3% (-5.0%)
16. Ashley Hoagland, $31.2K (#111), 73.78 (+.90), 2.11 (?), 57.5% (?)
17. Katie Futcher, $27.9K (#120), 74.55 (+.57), 2.39 (-.52), 58.7% (-9.1%)
18. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $26.2K (#123), 74.00 (+.54), 2.93 (+.56), 60.2% (-1.1%)
19. Na Ri Kim, $24.2K (#126), 74.83 (-2.12), 2.33 (?), 60.9% (?)
20. Minea Blomqvist, $23.2K (#127), 74.86 (+1.82), 2.64 (-.03), 55.6% (-5.0%)

Career LPGA Money List (rank), LPGA Majors/Wins/Top 3s/Top 10s/Made/Missed Cuts Percentage (and totals): About the only thing these stats are useful for is comparing people who entered the LPGA in the same year. Between inflation, changing purses, and length/timing of careers, it's very hard to compare and contrast winnings across generations of LPGA greats. Fortunately the Super Sophs have not even been at this for two years, so the career money list is a decent stat for comparing their short careers, even if it's a bit unfair to people who were not exempt in either or both years. What would really be great is if we had a world money list in inflation-adjusted dollars, with inflation- and exchange-adjusted other cash denominations added in (or just totalled up separately to avoid comparing dollars and yen), which included all each golfer earned as a professional on any tour. But even the guys don't have that, so that'll have to remain a dream for now. I include these other ways of seeing how the Super Sophs finished relative to their competition in the tournaments they entered because they reveal a lot about how well someone is able to compete at every level, from just making cuts to getting top 10s, top 3s, and victories. So here's how they stand:

1. Julieta Granada, $1.90M (#84), 0/1/5/9/.805 (33/41)
2. Seon Hwa Lee, $1.17M (#131), 0/1/5/10/.975 (39/40)
3. Jee Young Lee, $1.06M (#140), 0/0/3/10/.944 (34/36)
4. Morgan Pressel, $1.02M (#151), 1/1/3/13/.882 (30/34)
5. Ai Miyazato, $.86M (#175), 0/0/3/11/.875 (28/32)
6. Brittany Lang, $.68M (#206), 0/0/2/8/.692 (27/39)
7. Kyeong Bae, $.46M (#249), 0/0/2/5/.771 (27/35)
8. Meaghan Francella $.37M (#261), 0/1/1/3/.643 (9/14)
9. Sun Young Yoo, $.30M (#295), 0/0/0/2/.737 (28/38)
10. Karin Sjodin, $.27M (#311), 0/0/0/3/.613 (19/31)
11. Hye Jung Choi, $.18M (#359), 0/0/0/2/.769 (10/13)
12. Nina Reis, $.18M (#361), 0/0/0/2/.694 (25/36)
13. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $.16M (#366), 0/0/0/1/.548 (17/31)
14. Teresa Lu, $.16M (#367), 0/0/0/1/.655 (19/29)
15. Katie Futcher, $.15M (#384), 0/0/0/1/.606 (20/33)
16. Minea Blomqvist, $.10M (#427), 0/0/0/0/.500 (14/28)
17. Veronica Zorzi, $.08M (#448), 0/0/0/0/.833 (10/12)
18. Kimberly Hall, $.07M (#468), 0/0/0/0/.349 (8/23)
19. Shinobu Moromizato, $.06M (#472), 0/0/0/0/.000 (0/0) [this can't be right, but that's what her biodata form says!]
20. Ashley Hoagland, $.05M (#497), 0/0/0/0/.462 (6/13)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Ranking (as of 6/11/07) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of 6/10/07) and rank, International (as of the end of the 2006 season) and Non-Member LPGA Wins: This is a way of seeing how those Super Sophs who sometimes or regularly or always compete on other tours stack up over the course of their careers to date (the RR includes results over the past 104 weeks on the LPGA, LET, JLPGA, KLPGA, and Futures Tour; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on all these tours except the KLPGA).

1. Morgan Pressel, 6.97 (#5), 70.19 (#10), 0
2. Ai Miyazato, 5.93 (#9), 70.50 (#15), 14
3. Jee Young Lee, 4.94 (#16), 70.27 (#12), 2
4. Julieta Granada, 3.92 (#24), 71.45 (#34), 0
5. Seon Hwa Lee, 3.75 (#27), 70.72 (#20), 3
6. Brittany Lang, 2.83 (#38), 72.14 (#59), 0
7. Shinobu Moromizato, 2.58 (#42), 72.37 (#72), 0
8. Meaghan Francella, 2.22 (#50), 72.10 (#57), 0
9. Kyeong Bae, 1.53 (#77), 71.61 (#40), 3
10. Karin Sjodin, 1.46 (#86), 72.51 (#77), 1
11. Veronica Zorzi, 1.17 (#109), 72.60 (#79), 2
12. Teresa Lu, .94 (#131), 72.93 (#94), 0
13. Sun Young Yoo, .91 (#133), 71.93, (#50), 0
14. Linda Wessberg, .82 (#146), 74.05 (#167), 5
15. Hye Jung Choi, .80 (#150), 72.68 (#81), 0
16. Nina Reis, .73 (#161), 72.85 (#89), 5
17. Minea Blomqvist, .71 (#171), 74.28 (#191), 5
18. Virada Nirapathpongporn, .53 (#217), 74.59 (#218), 0
19. Louise Stahle, .50 (#230), 73.73 (#145), 0
20. Katie Futcher, .38 (#270), 73.82 (#154), 0
21. Rebecca Coakley, .36 (#277), 75.04 (#255), 0
22. Ashley Hoagland, .26 (#320), 73.48 (#142), 0
23. Na Ri Kim, .23 (#346), 74.62 (#84, though for some reason is listed as having played in too few events to be included in the database officially), 0

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Congrats to New Dad Tiger Woods!

It's a girl! She has great timing, letting him finish the U.S. Open and all--and helping him put not winning it in perspective.

Monday, June 18, 2007

These Are Also for raincoaster

Yes! The cute Japanese girls performing for Johnny Depp during the run-up to the Japanese premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean 3 are up at YouTube!

Part I:

Part II:

Actually they've been up for ten days. My apologies for not noticing them sooner, but I've been travelling and writing a lot lately.... Speaking of which--back to work!

Sadly, No! Does TolkienWatch... we don't have to!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hanging with Sloucho in Hiroshima (and Miyajima and Himeji)...

...can't be beat. We should do it more often. Unfortunately, he and his wife (Slouchette? Sloucha?--nah, I'd better ask her for her preferred pseudonym) have to follow the most professional itinerary I have ever seen (it's kinda her job, at least in part, so I shouldn't give her too much credit, but still, it's a work of art!) and enjoy Kyoto child-free. And we have to attend onechan's yochien's Father's Day event in a few hours. So I have to get back to bed, but not before I mention that he recommends the cancelled Knights of Prosperity for its dialogue (it's literally the only tv besides Adult Swim he enjoys), and, like me, is puzzled whenever anyone our age doesn't get a Kids in the Hall or Bosom Buddies reference. Or attempt to coin a phrase: "Next time in Lawton."

I'm sure even he could write a more interesting post about our adventures in tourism than this!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More Powerpuff Girls Classics

We're off to Hiroshima in a few hours and I need to get the taste of a blogspat out of my mouth, so here are some more of my favorite Powerpuff Girls episodes.

"The Bare Facts" (tribute to Rashomon):

"Beat Your Greens" (every alien invasion sf movie ever made):

Watch and repeat. Watch and repeat.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This One's for the Rainy Season

This will soon be my life at home--rainy season coming to Japan--but I draw the line at cosuplay!

Actually, both floods and droughts are predicted this rainy season in Kyushu. So long as the earthquakes stay away, I'll be happy.

[Update 7/11/07: OK, so the YouTube gods inform me this one is no longer available. Well, here's a version in Portuguese!

Take that, copyright hawks!]

Last LPGA Post for Awhile: Mid-Season Assessment

I'm going to be laying low at Mostly Harmless over the next couple of weeks, just posting drafts of my upcoming talks on American representations of Japan that may be of interest here (I'll do some at CitizenSE that seem to fit better there, too) and doing the occasional quick hit. The LPGA is off for a week and starts up again with the Wegman's in Rochester--which I'd attend in person if I were already back in the States--followed by the U.S. Women's Open at the end of June (which is the subject of the first "Take Your Blog to the Course" week here). If anything compelling happens in the men's U.S. Open, I may put my two cents in, but besides ranking the Super Sophs next week, I'll be taking a break from golf blogging during this span.

So of course I have to post some thoughts on this quasi-halfway point of the LPGA season. If you look at the money list, you'll think that Lorena Ochoa and Suzann Pettersen are in a league of their own (both have won twice and passed the $1M mark already this season), that the next tier--#3 (Paula Creamer) to #10 (Jee Young Lee)--all between $680K and $480K, are relatively far behind them, and that the next tier--#11 (Karrie Webb) to #20 (Cristie Kerr)--all between $402K and $302K, are closer to the previous tier, that the next tier--#21 (Catriona Matthew) to #52 (Wendy Doolan)--between $270K and $100K, are lagging behind, and that the next tier--#53 (Michelle Redman) to #68 (Liselotte Neumann), all between $99K and $75K are far behind. And you wouldn't be far off, so far as finishes and money goes. But as we've seen from the big jumps of Pettersen, Castrale, Webb, and Kerr in recent weeks, a few top 10 finishes or a first-through-third place finish or two can change your standing very quickly.

So maybe you'll then look at the Rolex Rankings. It's based on the last two years of finishes, and there Lorena Ochoa has a huge lead on the next tier, made up of Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam (14.09 to 11.86 to 11.57), an even bigger lead on #4 (Suzann Pettersen) to #8 (Juli Inkster), who have between 7.45 and 6.71 points, a commanding lead on #9 (Ai Miyazato) to #17 (Yuri Fudoh), who have between 5.93 and 4.85 points, are light-years ahead of #18 (Mi-Jeong Jeon) to #29 (Sarah Lee), who have between 4.58 and 3.55 points, and that even people as good as #30 (Hyun-Ju Shin) through #54 (Joo Mi Kim) basically don't have a chance, with only 3.27 to 2.01 points. But then you'd have to consider how big a move this year's major winners, Morgan Pressel and Suzann Pettersen, have made, or that Na On Min, with only 8 events under her belt, just jumped 201 spots to #80 with her third-place finish last week, or that Meaghan Francella and Angela Park have leaped into the top 50 from nowhere this year, to see that the really tough thing to do is to get into, and move up in, the top 30.

Maybe then you'll decide the Rolex Rankings place too much weight on last year's performances and on the JLPGA, so you decide to take a look at the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, which admittedly sells Korean golfers short because it doesn't yet include KLPGA results, but does focus on all events in the past year. There, you'll see that Lorena Ochoa (67.91) is in a league of her own, as is Annika Sorenstam (68.70). Then a group in the 69s, from #3 Paula Creamer to #8 Shi Hyun Ahn, is trying to catch the two leaders. The group in the 70s (#9 Se Ri Pak through #23 Sophie Gustafson) and the group in the 71s (#24 Pat Hurst through #53 Momoko Ueda) seem fairly far behind the three elite tiers.

So who is in the top tier in each ranking? Only Lorena Ochoa.

Pettersen (#2 on the money list and #4 in the Rolex Rankings) is still relatively low in the GSPI (#17, 70.59), while Sorenstam (#2 in the GSPI and #3 in the RR) is only at #30 in the 2007 money list due to her injury-induced absence, Webb (#2 RR, #4 GSPI) is only at #11 in the 2007 money list due to inconsistent play, and Creamer (#3 GSPI, #3 money list) is still only #6 in the Rolex Rankings. So they're clearly in the next tier.

Perhaps Juli Inkster (#5 GSPI, #8 RR, #12 money list), Morgan Pressel (#5 RR, #7 money list, #10 GSPI), and Mi Hyun Kim (#7 GSPI, #9 money list, #11 RR) belong in a group of their own, rather than with the group ahead of them or behind them. What do you all think?

Next up are steady performers like Cristie Kerr (#6 GSPI, #7 RR, #20 money list), Stacy Prammanasudh (#8 money list, #11 GSPI, #15 RR), Se Ri Pak (#9 GSPI, #10 RR, #19 money list), Brittany Lincicome (#5 money list, #12 RR, #18 GSPI), Ai Miyazato (#9 RR, #15 GSPI, #16 money list), Jee Young Lee (#10 money list, #12 GSPI, #16 RR), and Nicole Castrale (#4 money list, #13 GSPI, #22 RR).

After that we have a group who aren't as consistently rated across these three measures or who are consistently rated lower in them all: Jeong Jang (#13 RR, #16 GSPI, #28 money list), Shi Hyun Ahn (#8 GSPI, #26 money list, #35 RR), Sherri Steinhauer (#14 GSPI, #23 RR, #23 money list), Sarah Lee (#6 money list, #29 RR, #37 GSPI), Pat Hurst (#20 RR, #24 GSPI, #29 money list), Seon Hwa Lee (#20 GSPI, #24 money list, #27 RR), Julieta Granada (#22 money list, #24 RR, #34 GSPI), Laura Davies (#17 money list, #21 GSPI, #39 RR), Catriona Matthew (#21 money list, #32 RR, #36 GSPI), Sophie Gustafson (#23 GSPI, #28 RR, #37 money list), and Hee-Won Han (#19 GSPI, #21 RR, #69 money list [due to maternity leave]).

It's hard to tell how this last group measures up against highly-rated RR/GSPI people who don't play on the LPGA regularly like Shiho Oyama, Yuri Fudoh, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Momoko Ueda, Sakura Yokomine, and Hyun-Ju Shin--one can only hope the Asian swing of the LPGA Tour and the World Match Play Championship late in the season are revealing in this respect and that some of them choose to follow Ai Miyazato to the LPGA in the near future.

You'll notice that some very good players--like Natalie Gulbis, Meena Lee, Kyeong Bae, Young Kim, Angela Park, Angela Stanford, Laura Diaz, Brittany Lang, Christina Kim, and of course Michelle Wie--don't even enter into this top 30 (actually 31 if I counted right) club. Someone oughtta generate a formula for weighting and combining the results of these rating systems! Personally I would like to see people incorporate scoring average and birdies per round into the mix, as I think together these are the best measure of who's playing well and due for higher finishes in the future.

I'm not going to do that for everyone, just for the Super Sophs...later! In the meantime, let's hope the lazy golf media actually figures out how to interest the American public in learning more about a few dozen rather than a few of the world's best women golfers.