Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hana Bank/KOLON Championship Preview/Pairings/Predictions

As Hound Dog's preview and the Seoul discussion thread suggest, we should expect the KLPGA players in the field at the 7th playing of the Hana Bank/KOLON Championship to more than hold their own. True, Golf Observer's historical results reflect the depth and strength of the LPGA, and on an ocean course with a lot of water and sand near the fairways and greens anything can happen, but I'm staking my chances on winning this season's Pakpicker on the KLPGA's young guns.

1. Choi Na Yeon
2. Shin Ji-Yai
3. Pettersen
4. Lee Seon Hwa
5. Creamer
6. Ahn Sun Ju
7. Ji Eun-Hee
8. Feng
9. Yang Amy
10. Kim Ha-Neul
11. Seo Hee Kyung
12. Ryu So Yeon

Alts: Lang, Jang, Stupples

The pairings are quite interesting. For one thing, Amy Yang shows up in them--off #1 at 9:33 am--but not in the field list! [Correction: Go-Kimmie-Go at Seoul points out that Amy's Korean name is Hee Young.] More important, they're going off 2 tees, unlike in China, which equalizes the scoring chances a bit more for everyone, but because the pairings get recomposed for the next round based on 1st-round scores, they introduce a little bit of potential unfairness in terms of early and late starts. Because great players are fairly randomly scattered around the course tomorrow, I'll list the top 7 pairings off each tee by my sense of the strength/momentum of the players in them.

1st Tee

Start Time: 10:50 AM
Paula Creamer
Morgan Pressel
Ji-Yai Shin

Start Time: 10:28 AM
Katherine Hull
Seon Hwa Lee
Na Yeon Choi

Start Time: 10:39 AM
Nicole Castrale
Se Ri Pak
Suzann Pettersen

Start Time: 10:17 AM
Inbee Park
Hee Kyung Seo
Helen Alfredsson

Start Time: 10:06 AM
Louise Friberg
Meena Lee
In-Kyung Kim

Start Time: 9:11 AM
Hye Yong Choi
Brittany Lang
Jin Joo Kim

Start Time: 9:44 AM
Jane Park
Sun Young Yoo
Janice Moodie

10th Tee

Start Time: 9:33 AM
Karen Stupples
Jee Young Lee
Hee Young Park

Start Time: 9:55 AM
Eun-Hee Ji
Jeong Jang
Joo Mi Kim

Start Time: 9:11 AM
So Yeon Ryu
Kristy McPherson
Ha-Neul Kim

Start Time: 10:17 AM
Song-Hee Kim
Catriona Matthew
Mi Hyun Kim

Start Time: 10:06 AM
Ji Young Oh
Angela Park
Carin Koch

Start Time: 10:28 AM
Young Kim
Hee-Won Han
Jin Joo Hong

Start Time: 10:39 AM
Sophie Gustafson
Candie Kung
Leta Lindley

But don't be surprised to see Teresa Lu and Sun Ju Ahn (1st off the 1st and 10th, respectively) post some early low scores, Shanshan Feng and Anna Rawson (off #1 at 9:55) get off to good starts, and Junior Mints Allison Fouch and H.J. Choi (2nd off the 1st and 10th, respectively) to exceed expectations.

[Update 1 (8:32 pm): Here are the pre-tournament interviews.]

[Update 2 (8:34 pm): Here's The Florida Masochist's preview.]

[Update 3 (8:45 pm): Ron Sirak raises some good questions about the location--and direction--of the LPGA But he seems to ignore the possibility that talented but unseasoned young American golfers may benefit from playing on the LET, JLPGA, or KLPGA. There are more ways to the LPGA than the Futures Tour.]

[Update 4 (8:58 pm): Rico Williams hits the nail on the head when it comes to the asymmetry of Asian appreciation of LPGA stars but U.S. media's lack of interest in either the LPGA or the Asian Swing. Thanks for the link to his post, Golf Girl!]

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