Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bell Micro LPGA Classic Preview/Predictions/Pairings

Finally...the LPGA is back! The Bell Micro LPGA Classic starts tomorrow, assuming storm season allows it. Hound Dog has the preview covered from every angle, so I'll just jump right in with my predictions:

1. Creamer
2. Lee Seon Hwa
3. Park Angela
4. Kerr
5. Park Jane
6. Kim Song-Hee
7. Lewis
8. Kung
9. Jang Jeong
10. Prammanasudh
11. Yoo Sun Young
12. Pak Se Ri

Alts: Kim In-Kyung, Tseng Ya Ni, Lu Teresa

Yup, that's Stacy Lewis. She still has a chance to avoid Q-School with good finishes in her remaining LPGA events. She's working hard to get those 5th and 6th sponsors' exemptions between this week and the Hawaii one she already has lined up. I wonder if she sent in her application to Sectional Qualifiers as a back-up, just in case the sponsors don't bite? In any case, she's getting the Michelle Wie treatment, a bright and early starting time as the 1st off the 10th tee. Too bad the tournament organizers didn't pair her with Leah Wigger, who came off a disappointing Futures Tour performance in Albany last week that guaranteed she'll be going back to Q-School unless she too can make over $100K in her last LPGA events this season, as well as a long flight from LaGuardia Airport, to come in second in the Monday qualifier. The UVA and FT standout is going off the 1st tee at 7:11 am.

But let's turn our attention to the headliners, shall we? The biggest names are clustered in the late-morning front-side quadrant:

Start Time: 11:40 AM
Angela Park
Suzann Pettersen
Paula Creamer

Start Time: 11:51 AM
Cristie Kerr
Brittany Lincicome
Seon Hwa Lee

Start Time: 12:02 PM
Kristy McPherson
Louise Friberg
Sandra Gal

Start Time: 12:13 PM
Stacy Prammanasudh
Brandie Burton
Katie Futcher

Start Time: 12:24 PM
Jimin Kang
Maria Hjorth
Diana D'Alessio

Creamer, Kerr, and Park are the players to beat--unless the 2-week break has cooled off their hot streaks. If uneven players this season like Lee, Pettersen, Hjorth, Prammanasudh, and Kang figured something out during their time off, watch out for them. Even young guns McPherson, Futcher, Friberg, and Gal could make some real noise this week. It'll all come down to how they handle the Robert Trent Jones course's elevated greens.

Going off opposite them in the late-morning back-side quadrant are the 2nd-best group of golfers in the field:

Start Time: 11:40 AM
Liselotte Neumann
Song-Hee Kim
Becky Morgan

Start Time: 11:51 AM
Julieta Granada
H.J. Choi
Sung Ah Yim

Start Time: 12:02 PM
Pat Hurst
Christa Johnson
Jee Young Lee

Start Time: 12:13 PM
Karine Icher
Giulia Sergas
In-Kyung Kim

Start Time: 12:24 PM
Jeong Jang
Rachel Hetherington
Minea Blomqvist

That said, despite Blomqvist's recent LET win, the immense talents of Jang, Lee, and In-Kyung Kim, and the ability of Hurst, Hetherington, and Neumann to recapture their glory days any given week, the only player in this quadrant whom I'm totally confident in is Song-Hee Kim (and even she has gone through stretches this season where 1 bad round does her in).

Close behind them are their peers going off the back earlier in the morning:

Start Time: 8:06 AM
Ya Ni Tseng
Katherine Hull
Christina Kim

Start Time: 8:17 AM
Laura Diaz
Se Ri Pak
Leta Lindley

Start Time: 8:28 AM
Karen Stupples
Nicole Castrale
Jill McGill

Start Time: 8:39 AM
Brittany Lang
Michele Redman
Shanshan Feng

Start Time: 8:50 AM
Wendy Ward
Meena Lee
Candie Kung

I'm curious to see if Hull can keep up her fantastic ballstriking, Kim can snap out of her late doldrums, how Tseng handles a RTJ design, and whether the veterans in those 2nd and final pairings up there can contend.

Last, and least, are the players going off the front early in the morning:

Start Time: 8:06 AM
Jane Park
Allison Fouch
Lorie Kane

Start Time: 8:17 AM
Soo-Yun Kang
Angela Stanford
Lindsey Wright

Start Time: 8:28 AM
Heather Young
Sun Young Yoo
Jin Joo Hong

Start Time: 8:39 AM
Janice Moodie
Catriona Matthew
Joo Mi Kim

Start Time: 8:50 AM
Teresa Lu
Meaghan Francella
Hee Young Park

Sure, Stanford, Matthew, Wright, Kane, and Moodie are dangerous any week (even if they've been wildly inconsistent this season), but this crop of young guns (Jane Park, Yoo, Lu, Hong, Fouch, Hee Young Park, and Francella) doesn't inspire in me as much confidence as those in other quadrants (except maybe for the 1st 3 on that list).

I'm glad to see Moira Dunn getting a break and actually starting a tournament in the afternoon for once (1:08 pm off #10); she's paired with Sarah Lee, who was one of the best players in the world for a time in the second half of 2007, and Violeta Retamoza, who's played about the worst of anyone on tour this season. I'm rooting for Sarah-Jane Kenyon (12:35 pm off #1) to pick up where she left off last week in Albany, when she not only won the tournament but also earned a high priority status LPGA card. And I'm hoping Na On Min (12:46 pm off #10) finally starts playing to her potential and beats Jan Stephenson by 18 shots over the 1st 2 rounds. That said, I'd love to see Linda Wessberg, Anna Rawson, and Liz Janangelo (7:11 am off #1) play like they're capable of this week on the LPGA--the former 2 seem to save their best weeks for the LET (and, in Rawson's case, the KLPGA), while the latter could tell Stacy Lewis a story or 2 about how hard it is for the latest can't-miss NCAA star to make it in the big leagues.

As usual at this point in the season, I'll be keeping one eye on the top of the leaderboard and another on various cut-off points on the money list (top 11 in the season's 2nd half to get into the ADT Championship, top 50 to qualify for the Asian swing, top 80 to keep high priority status on tour, and top 100 to be on equal footing with Q-School grads). Stay tuned!

[Update 1 (9/11/08, 3:33 pm): Tommy Hicks reports that Natalie Gulbis is out with a back injury and Morgan Pressel had wisdom teeth out during her summer break. And he does a good job with the tournament preview.]


Phillyb said...

Stacy Lewis is going to Q school?

I would think the the 3rd place money for the US Open would get her in the top 80 under Priority 10.

The Constructivist said...

As Hound Dog has pointed out, the wording is ambiguous. Lewis is acting as if it doesn't, so I have to assume she knows better than we do where she stands.

Phillyb said...


If you check out her website, her finish at the US Open is not included in her drive to $120,000.

Not sure why, maybe a problem with her turning pro that week?

Can't believe the LPGA doesn't recognize the US Open as a LPGA sponsored tourny.

The Constructivist said...

Yeah, it's a long-standing and dumb LPGA rule that leaves out most of the majors. The U.S. Open is USGA-run, the Women's British Open is LGU-run. For some reason, the LPGA just won't listen to me on this one!