Tuesday, June 3, 2008

LPGA Championship Preview/Predictions

It's already time for the LPGA's second major of the year, the LPGA Championship. The field is set, the course is ready, the history is palpable, the media are gathering (and already erring/correcting), and the questions are percolating.

Will Lorena Ochoa win her 3rd major in a row and keep alive her Senorita and Grand Slam hopes despite the recent death of her uncle?

Will Annika Sorenstam or Se Ri Pak get her 4th win in this major?

Will Suzann Pettersen successfully defend her title?

Will Mi Hyun Kim, Hee-Won Han, or Paula Creamer shed the "best player without a major" label?

Will Karrie Webb or Sophie Gustafson bounce back from last Sunday's huge disappointments?

Will Seon Hwa Lee's playoff win last week spur a Seoul Sisters renaissance or a Young Guns explosion?

We'll know by Sunday, but for what it's worth, here's how I think the leaderboard will look at the end of the tournament:

1. Lee Jee Young
2. Ochoa
3. Pettersen
4. Sorenstam
5. Webb
6. Pak Se Ri
7. Creamer
8. Kim Song-Hee
9. Kim Mi Hyun
10. Tseng Ya Ni
11. Lee Seon Hwa
12. Choi Na Yeon

Alts: Park Inbee, Jang Jeong, Park Angela

What can I say? I just have a feeling that Jelly is due to break through in a big way after so many near misses in her career as an LPGA member! Let's hope that 100-yen Nishijin crystal ball I've been using is getting more accurate with time. Gotta keep that 3-week scoring streak going in the Pakpicker this week!

[Update 1 (6/4/08, 3:07 am): Forgot to mention that the first half of the ADT Championship qualifying system closes with this event. The winner is automatically in the 32-player shootout for the $1M first prize, joining Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, and Seon Hwa Lee as winners of events with purses $2M or higher. If one of them wins, the 12 highest-ranked players on the money list are in; if someone new wins, it's 11 additional players. So for the players with $300K-$400K in earnings:

8 Karen Stupples 373466
9 Inbee Park 361219
10 Christina Kim 356421
11 Jee Young Lee 353766
12 Sophie Gustafson 348466
13 Angela Stanford 334491
14 Jane Park 333672
15 Leta Lindley 332814
16 Teresa Lu 330769
17 Brittany Lang 328595
18 Sun Young Yoo 317568

, a win or at least a top 5 finish is crucial. But there are another 19 players (except Juli Inkster) who could probably sneak in with a win or runner-up finish. Obviously this major has added significance for these players in particular. So add "Who will get the last few spots into the ADT Championship from the first half of the season?" to the list of key questions.]

[Update 2 (3:21 am): Daniel Wexler gives us his take on the probabilities of victory this week--would make a great Pakpicker entry. And Mulligan Stu pops the biggest question over at Waggle Room.]

[Update 3 (10:19 am): Hound Dog's preview is up!]

[Update 4 (3:00 pm): Here's some Golf Central on Ochoa. And Ron Sirak on Creamer. And Dave Allen on Pettersen. And Ashley Mayo on her 5 to watch. You can follow all of Golf for Women's blogging on the LPGA Championship here.]

[Update 5 (6/5/08, 12:20 am): Give Beth Ann Baldry credit for being the first I've seen in the golfy media to talk to Se Ri Pak about her chances.]

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