Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sybase Classic Pairings: No Time for Epitaphs!

When I say it's no time for epitaphs on Annika Sorenstam's legendary career in competitive golf, I mean it's not the time--her retirement won't take place for many months--and there's no time: she is looking for her third win in as many starts and 4th on the season. As she put it on her blog yesterday, "there is still a lot of golf left this year. My focus the next seven months is to continue winning tournaments, including some majors!" The way she put it in the press conference itself is even more emphatic: "my goal is to win tournaments, many tournaments." It's too soon to look back on Annika's career. Any epitaph we start writing she'll force us to rewrite.

So let's get down to business. Annika's group is part of the morning front-side prime-time quadrant at the Sybase Classic this week:

Start Time: 8:32 AM
Inbee Park
Katherine Hull
Wendy Ward

Start Time: 8:43 AM
Ya Ni Tseng
Christina Kim
Stacy Prammanasudh

Start Time: 8:54 AM
Nicole Castrale
Momoko Ueda
Carin Koch

Start Time: 9:05 AM
Jee Young Lee
Karrie Webb
Lorena Ochoa

Start Time: 9:16 AM
Cristie Kerr
Natalie Gulbis
Annika Sorenstam

I hope every player on tour gets a chance to be paired with Annika over the remainder of the season. With probably only 14 LPGA events left for her, though, that leaves at most 28 players who will get 2 rounds with her. I hope the LPGA and tournament organizers think carefully about who gets that privilege and consider spreading it around as much as possible. Even more worthwhile, of course, will be playing yourself into a pairing with a living legend on her farewell tour. I hope this gives added incentive to everyone on the LPGA to do their best the rest of the season.

The other 3 quadrants are not as strong as this one, but they are about equally as interesting. First the afternoon back-side one, which has a great mix of veterans, struggling young gun stars, and rising young gun stars (as do the other 2):

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Julieta Granada
Ji Young Oh
Liselotte Neumann

Start Time: 12:21 PM
Sung Ah Yim
Angela Park
Meaghan Francella

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Song-Hee Kim
Teresa Lu
Minea Blomqvist

Start Time: 12:43 PM
Helen Alfredsson
Pat Hurst
Allison Fouch

Start Time: 12:54 PM
Alena Sharp
Dorothy Delasin
Meg Mallon

Perhaps even stronger is the morning back-side quadrant:

Start Time: 8:32 AM
Sophie Gustafson
Hee Young Park
Morgan Pressel

Start Time: 8:43 AM
Sherri Steinhauer
In-Kyung Kim
Brittany Lang

Start Time: 8:54 AM
Jimin Kang
Jin Joo Hong
Silvia Cavalleri

Start Time: 9:05 AM
Seon Hwa Lee
Jane Park
Brandie Burton

Start Time: 9:16 AM
Russy Gulyanamitta
Karine Icher
Candie Kung

But don't count out the afternoon front-side quadrant:

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Danielle Ammaccapane
Ai Miyazato
Na Yeon Choi

Start Time: 12:21 PM
Hee-Won Han
Meena Lee
Lindsey Wright

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Young Kim
Leta Lindley
Jill McGill

Start Time: 12:43 PM
Joo Mi Kim
Michele Redman
Karen Stupples

Start Time: 12:54 PM
Sun Young Yoo
Rachel Hetherington
Catriona Matthew

If you're looking for dark horse candidates, my money's on the afternoon groups: Leah Wigger from the Futures Tour (1:38 pm off #1), former- and soon-to-be-again birdie machine Kyeong Bae (1:49 pm off #10), the formerly non-exempt Na On Min (2:11 pm off #1), and the too-good-to-keep-struggling H.J Choi (2:11 pm off #10). Anna Rawson (7:15 am off #1) is getting the Michelle Wie treatment from last week, pairings-wise, so perhaps her playing partner and fellow rookie Sandra Gal will have a fantastic first round like Diana D'Alessio did last week. I'll be most interested, though, in seeing if Shi Hyun Ahn (8:21 am off #1) can continue her fantastic play from her final-round 63 last week.

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