The 2008 Lexus Cup is almost here. The field may well be the strongest in the history of the event. The only player besides Lorena Ochoa among the world's elite skipping this week is Ji-Yai Shin--and that's only because she's competing in the JLPGA's final major. (My suggestions from earlier this month to captain Se Ri Pak on whom to pick from Japan were so off because I didn't realize at the time that such a glaring schedule conflict was possible.) I wonder if Pak approached Ai Miyazato, who didn't qualify for the JLPGA's last event, or whether her availability came up too late for her to be considered. She really could have helped Team Asia defend its title--certainly more than Sarah Lee or Mayumi Shimomura. Fortunately, Team International captain Annika Sorenstam was as soft-hearted as Pak was when it came to rounding out her team: Natalie Gulbis has been MIA on the LPGA for the last few months, while Nicole Castrale has been playing well, but not as well as Morgan Pressel or Brittany Lang. Still, their sponsor's picks are actually pretty tough: Nikki Campbell is having a good season on the JLPGA, while Christina Kim thrives on team play. With Pak getting one of the sponsor's picks for Team Asia and Namika Omata the other, they will be short two of their stalwarts from last year, Jee Young Lee and In-Kyung Kim.
So on paper, it's Advantage: Team International. But Team Asia still has Seon Hwa Lee, who's 6-0-0 in Lexus Cup play and 12-1-0 in match play going all the way back to the 2006 HSBC match-play event. And they're playing in Singapore, where they'll have something of a home-field advantage. Factor in the pressure of playing for a "stepping away" Sorenstam on a more experienced but also older Team International, and I think you're going to see an upset victory for Team Asia. You heard it here first!