Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kosaido Ladies Golf Cup Saturday: It Ain't Over 'til It's Over

Akane Iijima hung in there during the second round of the Kosaido Ladies Golf Cup in what must have been some truly nasty conditions. Her 73 was actually one of the best rounds of the day, as 19 players failed to break 80 and well over half the field shot 75 or worse. But even though most of her closest competitors fell even further behind her, there's one player who still could stand between Iijima and her first win of the season: Mayumi Nakajima shot the 2nd-best round of the day, a 70, to climb to -7, closing the gap from 5 to 2 shots.

Barring a collapse by both players Sunday, nobody else should have a chance to contend. Here's why:

1st/-9 Iijima (62-73)
2nd/-7 Nakajima (67-70)
3rd/-2 Esther Lee (67-75)
4th/-1 Erina Hara (68-75)
T5/E Yui Kawahara (73-71), Midori Yoneyama (72-72), Hiroko Yamaguchi (70-74), and 4 others

T11/+1 Miho Koga (72-73), Ritsuko Ryu (70-75), Hyun-Ju Shin (69-76)
T19/+2 Mi-Jeong Jeon (73-73), Na Zhang (72-74), Mie Nakata (71-75), Maiko Wakabayashi (68-78)
T28/+3 Yuri Fudoh (73-74), Shinobu Moromizato (71-76), Akiko Fukushima (70-77)

After her record-tying first round, Iijima has to hope that she fares better than Koga, who failed to win a couple of months ago after opening with a 63.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ginn Tribute Friday: Big-Time Players Bringin' It!

The scores are dropping faster than the temperature is rising at the Ginn Tribute today. Young Guns like Teresa Lu (67, -9, 3rd thus far), Seon Hwa Lee (70, -6, T5), Jane Park (70, -6, T5), Minea Blomqvist (69, -6, T5), and Morgan Pressel (69, -5, T13) continued their fine play, but they were overshadowed by some big-time rounds from some big-time players in the morning pairings.

Suzann Pettersen led the way with a scorching 65; her 8 birdies brought her to -8 for the tournament and all the way up the leaderboard to 4th place as of now. But Sophie Gustafson matched it minutes later with a birdie on the 9th, her 4th of the side and 7th of the day, which brought her into a tie for the lead with Karrie Webb at -13. Webb again eagled the 2nd and made 6 birdies today, but made her first 2 bogeys of the tournament as well and failed again to birdie the 7th, 8th, or 9th, this time to close out her round. Next in line to play the 9th were Annika Sorenstam and Juli Inkster and they, too, failed to birdie it. Sorenstam's 31 on the front, however, part of a string in which she made 6 birdies in 10 holes, helped her match Webb's 66 and bring her into the big group T5 so far at -6 along with Inkster, who shot a 69. Lorie Kane was one of the few players who started on the front to make a big move; her 68 allowed her to keep pace with Sorenstam and Inkster.

Some great rounds by some great players paled in comparison, such as 68s that brought Natalie Gulbis, Candie Kung, Il Mi Chung, and Soo-Yun Kang to -5 (T13) and Catriona Matthew to -3 (T28) and 69s that brought Stacy Prammanasudh to -4 (T24) and Rachel Hetherington to -3 (T28). But better to break 70 today than to have done it yesterday and blow up today, as Allison Fouch (77), Kristy McPherson (76), and Jimin Kang (75) found out to their regret; still, at E (T62), it looks like they'll fall on the right side of the cut line. Linda Wessberg (76), Katie Futcher (74), and Leta Lindley (74) at +1 might not be so lucky--they're T75 right now. Still, having gone low Thursday has its privileges, as Mikaela Parmlid (75) and Heather Young (74) at -2 (T42) and In-Kyung Kim (76) and H.J. Choi (74) at -3 (T28) could tell you.

The leaders in the afternoon groups are already off and off to good starts for the most part. Inbee Park, Na Yeon Choi, and Jeong Jang are already to -6, although with the easier front side still ahead of the former pair, they have the best chance right now to get to double digits under par. Ya Ni Tseng has already caught Mi Hyun Kim, Cristie Kerr, and Giulia Sergas at -5; like Jang, they're all playing the front and will have to sustain their fine play on the tougher back (something Jane Park failed to do this morning) if they want to get into contention on the weekend. Better score now when the conditions are perfect. If the wind comes up, this course can be a bear!

[Update 1 (8:38 pm): Nice rounds in the afternoon by Inbee Park (69) to join Lu in a tie for 3rd at -9 and Na Yeon Choi (67) to join Pettersen in a tie for 5th at -8, but the rounds of the afternoon were turned in by 2 rookies, Hee Young Park, whose 65 enabled her to join them, and Taylor Leon, who moved up to a tie for 8th at -6. Jang and Tseng ended up fading to 71s (-4, T25) and they were caught by none other than MIA HOFer Se Ri Pak and Solheim Cup hopeful Christina Kim, who fired bogey-free 67s, as well as rookie Momoko Ueda, who made 6 birdies and 2 bogeys on her way to a 68. Karin Sjodin's 67 and Angela Park's 69 brought them to the big group tied for 34th at -3. And struggling Junior Mint Kim Hall's 69 brought her back to E and on the right side of the cut line.

So now only 7 players have broken 70 both rounds. Although 13 strokes separate the 2 leaders from those who just made the cut, both Webb and Gustafson are streaky players, so their ability to break 70 all 4 rounds will be tested this week, particularly if conditions toughen up. With 16 players at -6 or better, they can't afford a let-up on moving day tomorrow. If even Kerr (73, -4, T25) and Creamer (74, -1, T57) can go over par on this course in easy conditions, anyone can. A glance at the big names who just missed the cut or missed it by a mile tells an even more cautionary tale. And if conditions continue to remain this favorable to scoring, who knows how low somebody back in the pack now might go on the weekend?

Here are the notes and interviews from, the second of Hound Dog's live blogs, and Pete Iacobelli's AP story.]

[Update 2 (5/31/08, 11:41 am): Here's Hound Dog's round 2 recap--nice tribute to Michelle McGann there on top of the usual goodies.]

Louise Friberg Kicks Butt!

Louise Friberg has a great website and updates her blog there regularly. Great insight into the life of a LPGA rookie. Well, she was back home in Sweden recently and while there played a round with some reporters doing a story on her. Here's her report:

Today, Tuesday [5/20] I first had an interview and then a golfmatch with the reporters. They have 2 and 4 handicap (so they say...) and they played bestball against me. I won 3-1!!! I told them I would brag about it on my webpage so here it is. I kicked butt!! Haha...we had a good time:)

My 5 regular readers may know I played junior golf with Moira Dunn in the Mohawk Valley and how often she kicked my butt around the golf course, but a funny anecdote like this is well worth passing along. How much of the not-so-disguised disdain from male golf writers that shows up in the way they write about just about every female professional not named Ochoa or Sorenstam comes from the feeling that they could beat the average LPGA pro head-to-head? Here's a suggestion: try to do it--and write about it....

Kosaido Ladies Golf Cup Friday: When Some Cats Are Away, Some Mice Will Play

The Kosaido Ladies Golf Cup presents a golden opportunity for some of the JLPGA's top stars to move up the Mostly Harmless Best Off the LPGA rankings, as #1 Sakura Yokomine, #4 Miki Saiki, #6 Bo-Bae Song, #7 Ji-Hee Lee, #8 Yukari Baba, #9 Ayako Uehara, #14 Shiho Oyama, #16 Eun-A Lim, #18 Yuko Mitsuka, and #19 Hiromi Mogi are sitting this one out. But #2 Miho Koga and #3 Akiko Fukushima are not taking advantage mid-way through their opening rounds: Koga is stalled at E and Fukushima at -1 through their first 12 holes. And #11 Yuri Fudoh is worse: +1 through 13. By contrast, #17 Akane Iijima is -7 through 12 and #20 Erina Hara is -6 through 14. Nahoko Hirao has already posted a 67. More later when the first round is complete.

[Update (7:52 am): Wow! Iijima kept it going. She matched her front-side 31 on the back--that's 10 birdies and 8 pars for a smashing 62! Hara, by contrast, stumbled with a double bogey on the 16th for a 68. That's how quickly a 1-shot gap becomes 6. But 2 players did join Hirao at 67: Esther Lee, who started birdie-birdie-eagle on the back and ended it with a 31, and Mayumi Nakajima, who went 33-34.

Here are the top 10 and notables:

1st/-10 Iijima (62)
T2/-5 Lee, Hirao, Nakajima (67)
T5/-4 Hara, Maiko Wakabayashi, Chiharu Yamaguchi (68)
8th/-3 Hyun-Ju Shin (69)
T9/-2 9 with 70s, including Akiko Fukushima, Hiroko Yamaguchi, and Ritsuko Ryu

T18/-1 Shinobu Moromizato, Mie Nakata (71)
T25/E Miho Koga, Na Zhang, Midori Yoneyama, Michiko Hattori (72)
T36/+1 Yuri Fudoh, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Yui Kawahara (73)]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ginn Tribute Thursday: Bring Your 'A' Game or Go Home

As Hound Dog reports from Charleston, the morning rain stayed light, the wind died down, and the rough was trimmed for the opening round of the Ginn Tribute. As several players discussed in their post-round interviews, the overnight rain made the fairways and greens receptive. So it's no surprise that scores were low today. 2 65s. 29 players under 70. 59 under par. 74 at par or better. But who shot what may be a bit more surprising.

On the up side, Karrie Webb's 65. On the down side, Angela Stanford's birdie-less 76. Sounds like Webb could have easily gotten into the low 60s today! My "awesome talent and incredible inconsistency" characterization of her from late April still stands--you never know which Karrie Webb will show up. Meanwhile, except blips like her missed cut last week on a course she's never played well, Stanford has been the definition of consistent excellence the last 2 seasons. So of course she couldn't find the fairway today and blew up....

On the up side, Cristie Kerr's 67. On the down side, Hee-Won Han's 78. I thought Han had put her recent struggles behind her with her fine weekend at Corning, while Kerr would be rusty from her layoff. Shows what I know!

On the up side, In-Kyung Kim's 65. On the down side, Eun-Hee Ji's 74. Based on their play this year, I had replaced Kim with Ji as the 2nd-ranked Super Soph. But it appears from her interview that Kim has recovered from an early-season injury and now she leads all her classmates who have been outplaying her since then--Inbee Park by 2, Song-Hee Kim, Jane Park, and Kristy McPherson by 3, Ji Young Oh by 4, Angela Park by 7, and Na On Min by 8.

On the up side, H.J. Choi's 67. On the down side, Catriona Matthew's 73. I wasn't sold on Choi's comeback from the depths of the worst slump of her career but I believed Matthew was most of the way back to her 2007 form. Instead, we have Choi leading all the top Junior Mints--Seon Hwa Lee and Teresa Lu by 1, Minea Blomqvist and Linda Wessberg by 2, Morgan Pressel, Jee Young Lee, Ai Miyazato, and Sun Young Yoo by 3, Kyeong Bae and Katie Futcher by 4, Brittany Lang and Julieta Granada by 5--and tied with classmate, Futures Tour graduate, and fellow big surprise Allison Fouch.

On the up side, Heather Young's 67. On the down side, Annika Sorenstam's 72. Who would you have thought would be more likely to suffer a triple bogey today? I mean, come on!

On the up side, Mi Hyun Kim's 67. On the down side, Maria Hjorth's 76. Well, maybe what's surprising is that my prediction actually came true for Hjorth when it didn't for Webb, Kerr, Sophie Gustafson (66), Jee Young Lee, Inbee Park, or Blomqvist (although, to be fair to Hjorth, Christina Kim did shoot a 73). And that my sense that Mi Hyun Kim is back was verified, despite the wet course playing so long for her.

It's only 1 round, but the leaders this week face the same challenge as last week's first-round leaders did after Jeong Jang and Paula Creamer's so-so starts in Corning. With the tournament's Big 3 in the middle of the pack at best--Sorenstam is T60 at E, Pettersen is T42 at -1, and Creamer is T17 at -3--the 16 players at 68 or better have a great chance to put some distance between themselves and the most dangerous players in the field tomorrow. Will Webb, Kerr, Mi Hyun Kim and Gustafson establish themselves as the frontrunners heading into the weekend? Or will young guns with hot hands like In-Kyung Kim, Inbee Park, Song-Hee Kim, Teresa Lu, and H.J. Choi continue to set the pace as they race for their first win? One thing is for sure: the Big 3 will do better tomorrow than they did today. Who else will be able to say the same thing at the end of the day tomorrow?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ginn Tribute Preview/Predictions/Pairings

Hold onto your hats: not only will the Ginn Tribute sport one of the best fields of the season, it'll also be the site of Hound Dog's first live-blog in years. Be sure to check out his blog and the relevant Seoul Sisters discussion fora for his on-the-scene reports from Charleston.

Now, as the defending Pakpicker champion, I have added pressure to show that last week's completely fluky win was not at all fluky, so let's get right down to analyzing the pairings, starting with the primo of the prime-time ones: Lorena Eva, Annika, and Juli's (the creation of which Annika insists she had nothing to do with) at the end of the afternoon front-side quadrant.

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Leta Lindley
Stacy Prammanasudh
Nicole Castrale

Start Time: 12:21 PM
Natalie Gulbis
Suzann Pettersen
Laura Diaz

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Sophie Gustafson
Laura Davies
Pat Hurst

Start Time: 12:43 PM
Catriona Matthew
Angela Stanford
Karrie Webb

Start Time: 12:54 PM
Annika Sorenstam
Eva Dahllof
Juli Inkster

Yes, with Ochoa withdrawing due to a health emergency in her family [Update (5/29/08, 12:33 am): my condolences to the Ochoa family, who lost Lorena's uncle yesterday], it'll be up to Dahllof (the alternate who replaces her) to try to avoid her first loss and Inkster to maintain her undefeated record in head-to-head play against Annika. Those games within games are really cool to follow, which is why I really would have liked to see someone as consistently excellent this season as Jeong Jang, Karen Stupples, or Lindsey Wright in that penultimate pairing instead of Karrie Webb, who's been all over the place in 2008. If the tournament organizers wanted to honor the Hall of Famers, why is Se Ri Pak in the morning back-side quadrant instead of bumping Matthew over there?

Start Time: 8:32 AM
Lindsey Wright
Brittany Lang
Liselotte Neumann

Start Time: 8:43 AM
Karen Stupples
Ya Ni Tseng
Wendy Ward

Start Time: 8:54 AM
Christina Kim
Mi Hyun Kim
Momoko Ueda

Start Time: 9:05 AM
Cristie Kerr
Carin Koch
Jeong Jang

Start Time: 9:16 AM
Se Ri Pak
Maria Hjorth
Paula Creamer

I would have been happier if Jang and Webb had switched places--seeing as great talents and inconsistent performers this season as Kerr and Webb together would have been a treat. But what an opportunity for Momo-chan to play with such great Korean-American and Korean players as the two Kims, eh? With so much star power concentrated in this quadrant and the previous one, the other 2 don't shine quite so brightly. Let's start with the groups going off #10 in the afternoon, which feaure the top Junior Mints:

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Morgan Pressel
Grace Park
Meena Lee

Start Time: 12:21 PM
Seon Hwa Lee
Jee Young Lee
Rachel Hetherington

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Jane Park
Minea Blomqvist
Teresa Lu

Start Time: 12:43 PM
Sung Ah Yim
Allison Fouch
Helen Alfredsson

Start Time: 12:54 PM
Lorie Kane
Candie Kung
Hee-Won Han

There are other highly-ranked '06ers going off #1 in the morning, along with a couple of top rookies and Super Sophs:

Start Time: 8:32 AM
Meaghan Francella
Jin Joo Hong
Julieta Granada

Start Time: 8:43 AM
Danielle Ammaccapane
Brandie Burton
Inbee Park

Start Time: 8:54 AM
Louise Friberg
Michele Redman
Song-Hee Kim

Start Time: 9:05 AM
Brittany Lincicome
Sherri Steinhauer
Sun Young Yoo

Start Time: 9:16 AM
Young Kim
Silvia Cavalleri
Na Yeon Choi

I'm a little miffed that Ai Miyazato only got a 1:05 pm start off the 10th; if Francella and Granada, who have been playing terribly for just as long as she has, could get the nod for the prime-time pairings, why not Ai-chan, too? On the other hand, I'm pleased for Moira Dunn, who snagged the pre-prime time pairing off #10 at 8:21 am. In any case, both are paired with personable and photogenic rookies, so if they're playing well Thursday they may even get some face time on tv. After all, it's not like they're stuck in the second group off the first tee like Angela Park, who squandered a great chance to win this event last season and who's certainly been playing better than they have this one....

Without further ado, here are my picks:

1. Sorenstam
2. Creamer
3. Kim Mi Hyun
4. Jang Jeong
5. Pettersen
6. Choi Na Yeon
7. Tseng Ya Ni
8. Yoo Sun Young
9. Lu Teresa
10. Kim Song-Hee
11. Han Hee-Won
12. Lang

Alts: Stanford, Stupples, Wright

I can't help but feel the RiverTowne course favors the more consistent top players on tour, so I'm downgrading Pettersen's and Tseng's chances this week (despite the former's utter domination on the LET in a rain-shortened event last week) and leaving Jee Young Lee, Christina Kim, Inbee Park, Gustafson, Hjorth, and Blomqvist off my list completely (not to mention Webb and Kerr)--just too many chances for big numbers for players like them, what with the marshes and the lakes that impinge on so many of the holes on the course, and especially when they're all going to be dealing with rust the first 2 rounds. At the same time, I'm not sure that Jimin Kang is back for real or that Seon Hwa Lee, Morgan Pressel, or Ai-chan can be counted on to play well all 4 rounds, so I'm going with my head rather than my heart with my picks.

Since I can't have an Ochoa-Sorenstam showdown this week, what I'm really hoping for is a win by Ai-chan, Momo-chan, or Seon Hwa!

The Best of the Young Guns: Top Junior Mints, May 2008 Edition

It's been awhile since I ranked the entire Class of 2006--now known as the Junior Mints, thanks to Hound Dog--although I did check in on their top players last month. So let's see how their careers stack up against each other thus far in 2008.

Simply the Best

1. Seon Hwa Lee: It's definitely problems with her putting that account for her so-so start to the season--she's ranked in the mid-70s in both short-grass stats, about 50 spots worse than any of the key stats I track below, and a far cry from her rookie season when she was one of the best on the tour. So she could turn it around any week now.
2. Morgan Pressel: Just when I was ready to keep her below Jee Young Lee in the rankings, she interrupts a missed cut streak by coming this close to getting her 2nd career win. The pair are so neck-and-neck in career stats that it comes down to Morgan's major vs. Jelly's made-cut rate. I know both major ranking systems as well as Hound Dog's and my own (which combines them) have it the other way around, but I'm moving Pressel back to #2.
3. Jee Young Lee: If she weren't having such an inconsistent season, she would have stayed ahead of Pressel, major or not. I mean, what can you do when she breaks her top-10 streak at 2 with a T55 at the Sybase 2 weeks ago? Hope she worked on her putting in her week off, as she's clearly missing too many par saves and probably 3-putting too many greens she hits in regulation. Her percentage of rounds under par is way down from her previous 2 seasons and her putting stats are the obvious culprit--it's not like her driving accuracy is that different from her average in her first 2 years on tour (although if she ever were to improve on that stat, watch out!).

The Contenders

4. Ai Miyazato: It's been one-step-forward-two-steps-back for Ai-chan this season: miss 2 cuts, get a top 20 at the start of the season; then, after a long dry spell, follow up another top 20 with a MC. There always seems to be 1 high round per tournament that pulls her down. On the bright side, she's hitting more greens and lowering her scoring average, but she needs the birdies to start dropping to return to the LPGA's elite.
5. Brittany Lang: She's making the most money and hitting the most greens of anyone in her very talented class, so it's no surprise that she's been racking up top 20s and top 10s this season. Her runner-up finish at the Sybase was no fluke. And she's poised to pass Ai-chan by the end of July.
6. Julieta Granada: Followed up her first top 20 in what feels like forever (but really was about 5 months) with 2 straight missed cuts. If she keeps that kind of pattern up, she'll get passed by Jee Young Lee on the career money list by season's end, despite that $1M paycheck for her sole victory.

Quantum Leap Candidates

7. Teresa Lu: Seems to have been inspired by the great play of fellow Taiwanese stars Ya Ni Tseng and Candie Kung. Whatever it is, she's my new top candidate for getting that breakthrough win that most of her classmates are still waiting for!
8. Meaghan Francella: Injuries and illnesses have taken their toll on her game for almost the past year, so I'm demoting her from the contenders list, even though she already has a win. While she's still on a better pace than Bae in her career stats, she is in danger of getting passed, as her RR lead is shrinking and GSPI deficit is growing.
9. Kyeong Bae: Would already have passed Francella if she weren't struggling this season. She's finally started having decent results--and making more birdies--the past few events, so I have high hopes for her despite demoting her from the contenders category this ranking.
10. Sun Young Yoo: Has the lowest scoring average and highest birdie rate in her class this season. Would have moved even further up these rankings if she had gotten her first win last weekend--she came that close to it!
11. Minea Blomqvist: Starting to harness her talent and take advantage of her hot weeks, but still incredibly inconsistent. She has a Jee Young Lee-like game, though, so there's no reason she shouldn't remain the top Euro in her class and move up the rankings the rest of the season.
12. Linda Wessberg: As I predicted, her transition to full-time play on the LPGA has been a learning process, but she'll be the better player and tougher competitor for her current struggles. Once she settles down, she'll go back to giving Blomqvist some real competition for top Euro in her class.
13. Allison Fouch: Too soon to tell whether this Futures Tour graduate has the staying power to build upon her great start to the season, but the signs are promising that she can not only keep up but even improve upon the pace she's setting in her first season in the big leagues.
14. H.J. Choi: Let's hope her top 10 at the Sybase (which would have been yet another missed cut if the tournament organizers hadn't erased Friday's waterlogged scores!) is a sign of things to come for a player who not that long ago was my top candidate for that breakthrough win.
15. Karin Sjodin: What has happened to her this season? If she keeps this up, Katie Futcher has a chance to pass her! She'd better decide fast if she wants her LPGA career to be judged against Blomqvist and Wessberg's or Reis and Stahle's....

On the Bottom Looking Up (exempt, barely)

16. Katie Futcher: Just learned how to pronounce her name correctly watching the Corning Classic at my parents' place last weekend. Would have a brighter future if she could get better at nailing those top 20 opportunities when they arise and turning them into top 10s.
17. Kim Hall: Broke a 5-event missed cut streak last week at Corning, but this may be the year that her ability to secure that 1 great finish will not be enough to keep her card--I hear only the top 80 on the money list will keep their cards this season.
18. Danielle Downey: Not taking advantage of her exempt status so far this spring, but then again, she's a New Yorker, so expect her to play better this summer.

On the Outside Looking In (non-exempt and struggling)

19. Virada Nirapathpongporn: If I were her, I'd be petitioning to use my special exemption on the Futures Tour as often as possible, because her performance in her 5 LPGA events thus far has not been encouraging in the quest for the top 80. At worst, she keeps growing as a player by continuing to get competitive experience; at best, she not only avoids going to Q-School but gets some momentum that carries over to her remaining LPGA appearances.
20. Nina Reis: Played terribly in 2 LET events this season but somehow nailed a top 10 on the LPGA in 1 of only 2 cuts she's made here this season, which pulls her even with Sjodin in that category and ahead of Futcher in top 20s. Still, she's hitting greens and making birdies at a much lower rate, which helps explain why she has the worst scoring average in her class. Wonder if her 4-event missed cut streak will drive her back to the LET regularly? She's joining Michelle Wie, Louise Stahle, and Veronica Zorzi in Germany this week.
21. Louise Stahle: The LET's Rookie of the Year last season has played in more LPGA events than I expected this season and only 2 so far in Europe--good enough for #17 on their money list, though, so she may be tempted to play there more the rest of the season if she continues to struggle as she has during her return to the LPGA.
22. Na Ri Kim: Struggling on the Futures Tour; missed the cut in her only LPGA appearance last week.
23. Ashley Johnston: Not yet played on the LPGA in 2008. Will move up once she takes advantage of her medical exemption and begins playing regularly again on tour.
24. Veronica Zorzi: Not yet played on the LPGA in 2008 and has only played in 3 LET events, finishing well enough to be #22 on their money list.


For your reference--and mine--here are the stats on which I'm basing the May ranking.

2008 LPGA Money List (rank), scoring average (rank), birdies per round average (rank [in total birdies]), greens in regulation rate (rank): I focus on four key indicators of how well someone is playing this season--how much money they've made, how they've scored, how many birdies they've averaged per round, and how many greens they've hit in regulation on average per round, plus how they rank in each category. (I figure I can figure out how well they're hitting their irons and putting by comparing the last three figures, so I won't include putts per green in regulation here.) Some of the figures Hound Dog thinks are most important I'm looking at in the career stats (below), where I think they belong. These stats are all about the present and future.

1. Brittany Lang, $323.1K (#13), 71.53 (#17), 2.77 (#24), 68.7% (#20)
2. Jee Young Lee, $308.1K (#14), 71.80 (#26), 3.40 (#4), 67.0% (#35)
3. Teresa Lu, $295.7K (#15), 72.00 (#32), 2.63 (#29), 67.3% (#34)
4. Seon Hwa Lee, $266.3K (#18), 71.63 (#21), 2.85 (#21), 68.2% (#24)
5. Minea Blomqvist, $255.9K (#21), 72.12 (#36), 3.33 (#25), 62.2% (#99)
6. Sun Young Yoo, $242.4K (#25), 71.49 (#16), 3.57 (#8), 66.5% (#39)
7. Morgan Pressel, $210.7K (#31), 72.14 (#37), 3.00 (#57), 65.3% (#31)
8. Alison Fouch, $194.2K (#33), 72.28 (#42), 3.14 (#50), 63.1% (#86)
9. Ai Miyazato, $99.3K (#56), 72.85 (#69), 2.18 (#84), 63.6% (#79)
10. Linda Wessberg, $81.7K (#66), 72.69 (#62), 3.03 (#40), 62.7% (#92)
11. H.J. Choi, $81.6K (#67), 74.00 (#121), 2.28 (#67), 56.9% (#145)
12. Kyeong Bae, $73.6K (#75), 73.06 (#78), 2.89 (#33), 64.1% (#70)
13. Katie Futcher, $65.8K (#82), 72.38 (#51), 3.24 (#46), 68.2% (#26)
14. Julieta Granada, $52.9K (#89), 73.64 (#104), 1.85 (#113), 60.3% (#114)
15. Karin Sjodin, $45.1K (#100), 73.44 (#94), 2.93 (#73), 64.0% (#72)
16. Danielle Downey, $41.3K (#106), 73.64 (#106), 2.60 (#78), 63.5% (#81)
17. Kim Hall, $39.8K (#107), 73.42 (#?), 2.27 (#119), 61.1% (#98)
18. Meaghan Francella, $39.8K (#108), 74.47 (#136), 2.03 (#113), 63.3% (#90)
19. Nina Reis, $33.9K (#115), 75.20 (#152), 2.60 (#146), 54.2% (#156)
20. Louise Stahle, $23.0K (#132), 74.88 (#?), ?, ?
21. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $19.2K (#139), 74.61 (#142), 2.72 (#133), 58.0% (#134)
22. Na Ri Kim, $0 (#182), 73.50 (#?), ?, ?

Career LPGA Money List (rank), # of LPGA events entered/majors/wins/top 3s/top 10s/top 20s/cuts made (made cut rate): About the only thing these stats are useful for is comparing people who entered the LPGA in the same year (although if you count generations by 3 years, it can be interesting). Between inflation, changing purses, and length/timing of careers, it's very hard to compare and contrast winnings across generations of LPGA greats. Fortunately the Junior Mints haven't been at this all too long, so the career money list is a decent stat for comparing them, even if it's a bit unfair to people who have not been exempt every year or who have chosen to focus more on other tours. What would really be great is if we had a world money list in inflation-adjusted dollars, with inflation- and exchange-adjusted other cash denominations added in (or just totalled up separately to avoid comparing dollars and yen), which included all each golfer earned as a professional on any tour. But even the guys don't have that, so that'll have to remain a dream for now. I include these other ways of seeing how the Junior Mints finished relative to their competition in the tournaments they entered because they reveal a lot about how well someone is able to compete at every level, from just making cuts to grinding out top 20s and top 10s to contending for wins. So here's how they stand:

1. Seon Hwa Lee, $2.28M (#73), 70/0/2/7/18/37/66 (.943)
2. Julieta Granada, $2.10M (#77), 69/0/1/5/10/20/50 (.725)
3. Jee Young Lee, $1.85M (#92), 61/0/0/5/19/32/59 (.967)
4. Morgan Pressel, $1.65M (#98), 59/1/1/5/19/32/50 (.847)
5. Ai Miyazato, $1.42M (#113), 56/0/0/4/14/21/46 (.821)
6. Brittany Lang, $1.21M (#132), 66/0/0/3/12/26/48 (.727)
7. Kyeong Bae, $.67M (#212), 65/0/0/2/6/10/48 (.738)
8. Sun Young Yoo, $.60M (#226), 62/0/0/1/4/14/45 (.726)
9. Meaghan Francella $.55M (#234), 41/0/1/1/4/8/23 (.561)
10. Teresa Lu, $.55M (#235), 54/0/0/1/4/12/38 (.704)
11. Minea Blomqvist, $.42M (#262), 45/0/0/1/3/6/26 (.578)
12. H.J. Choi, $.39M (#274), 40/0/0/0/4/8/25 (.625)
13. Karin Sjodin, $.37M (#281), 51/0/0/0/3/9/31 (.608)
14. Katie Futcher, $.27M (#324), 51/0/0/0/2/3/32 (.627)
15. Linda Wessberg, $.25M (#340), 25/0/0/0/4/5/17 (.680)
16. Nina Reis, $.23M (#352), 51/0/0/0/3/4/28 (.549)
17. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $.21M (#363), 45/0/0/0/1/4/23 (.511)
18. Kim Hall, $.20M (#365), 42/0/0/0/2/3/16 (.381)
19. Alison Fouch, $.20M (#366), 9/0/0/1/1/1/6 (.667)
20. Veronica Zorzi, $.09M (#460), 16/0/0/0/0/1/13 (.813)
21. Danielle Downey, $.06M (#502), 21/0/0/0/0/1/6 (.286)
22. Louise Stahle, $.05M (#509), 22/0/0/0/0/1/10 (.455)
23. Na Ri Kim, $.05M (#517), 28/0/0/0/0/1/9 (.321)
24. Ashley Johnston, $.05M (#524), 13/0/0/0/0/0/6 (.462)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Ranking (as of 5/26/08) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of 5/26/08) and rank, International and Non-Member LPGA Wins (as of the end of the 2007 season): This is a way of seeing how those Junior Mints who sometimes or regularly or often compete on other tours stack up over the course of their careers to date (the RR includes results over the past 104 weeks on the LPGA, JLPGA, KLPGA, LET, and Futures Tour; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on all these tours except the KLPGA).

1. Jee Young Lee, 4.49 (#9), 70.61 (#11), 2
2. Morgan Pressel, 4.04 (#13), 71.62 (#35), 0
3. Seon Hwa Lee, 3.52 (#20), 70.91 (#17), 3
4. Ai Miyazato, 3.08 (#28), 73.19 (#105), 14
5. Brittany Lang, 2.29 (#47), 72.23 (#60), 0
6. Julieta Granada, 1.79 (#56), 73.71 (#143), 0
7. Teresa Lu, 1.66 (#62), 72.44 (#69), 0
8. Meaghan Francella, 1.61 (#67), 73.67 (#141), 0
9. Minea Blomqvist, 1.58 (#69), 73.12 (#101), 5
10. Linda Wessberg, 1.32 (#81), 72.06 (#53), 6
11. Sun Young Yoo, 1.10 (#98), 72.14 (#56), 0
12. H.J. Choi, 1.08 (#100), 73.87 (#154), 1
13. Kyeong Bae, .93 (#114), 72.96 (#88), 3
14. Karin Sjodin, .82 (#128), 73.76 (#146), 1
15. Allison Fouch, .81 (#131), 73.33 (#121), 0
16. Louise Stahle, .69 (#148), 72.88 (#81), 0
17. Kim Hall, .62 (#171), 73.67 (#139), 0
18. Veronica Zorzi, .53 (#183), 73.94 (#159), 2
19. Nina Reis, .36 (#246), 75.14 (#270), 5
20. Virada Nirapathpongporn, .28 (#277), 74.32 (#187), 0
21. Katie Futcher, .38 (#243), 73.11 (#100), 0
22. Danielle Downey, .19 (#330), 74.90 (#248), 0
23. Na Ri Kim, .14 (#375), n.r. [too few events in database], 0
24. Ashley Johnston, .11 (#408), n.r. [not in database], 0

So there you have it. I'll be checking back in on these rankings on the following schedule:

February: Junior Mints
March: Super Sophs
April: both
June: Super Sophs
July: Junior Mints (pre-British Open)
August: Super Sophs (post-Safeway)
September: both (post-Navistar)
October: Junior Mints (pre-Korea Championship)
November: Super Sophs (post-ADT)
December: the Young Guns, including the Rookies (post-Q School)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Best off the LPGA: JLPGA, May 2008 Edition

With Hound Dog's first JLPGA Top 10 out this month, it's time for this functionally illiterate expert to update his March rankings. By combining Hound Dog's system with the most recent results from the Rolex Rankings, the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, and the JLPGA Money List, that is, I hope to identify the Best of the JLPGA.

Because Momoko Ueda is playing full-time on the LPGA, I'm leaving her out of the rankings this time around. I'm also leaving out the KLPGA's Ji-Yai Shin, who's already won one event in a playoff and then finished runner-up due to a playoff loss in her first event as a JLPGA member. If they end up playing more than 5 JLPGA events, I'll bring them (back) in. [Update (4:01 pm): Momo-chan announced on her rookie blog that she'll be competing in the Suntory Open in Kobe after the LPGA Championship!] This is the last ranking in which I'll still take into account the final 2007 money list. By the end of July, Hound Dog will have expanded his rankings to at least a top 20, which will be a much better indicator of who's best than last year's results.

So who replaces Ueda at the top of the JLPGA? Let's call it a Big 4....

1. Sakura Yokomine: #4 2008 money (¥34.54M), #17 RR (3.76), #23 GSPI (71.13), #2 HD, #2 2007 money (¥114.9M). Even though she has yet to win in 2008, she has made more money than anyone else on the JLPGA over the past 2 seasons, has made the top 10 in 8 of her 9 starts, remains the only regular player on tour with a scoring average below 71, and is so due to break out with multiple wins. With Ueda's and Miyazato's struggles on the LPGA, she could well be the top-ranked Japanese golfer in the world by July in both major international ranking systems. How could I not put her at the top of this one?

2. Miho Koga: #2 2008 money (¥38.93M), #37 RR (2.75), #39 GSPI (71.79), #1 HD, #4 2007 money (¥94.3M). Her playoff loss this past weekend is the only thing keeping her behind Yokomine in the rankings. Once her world rankings catch up with the quality of her play, it'll be even harder to keep her out of the #1 spot. She moves up from #6, thanks to a win, 5 top 5s, 7 top 10s, and no worse than a T17 in 10 starts.

3. Akiko Fukushima: #1 2008 money (¥44.58M), #35 RR (2.85), #48 GSPI (71.96), n.r. HD, #11 2007 money (¥51.6M). She has Ji-Hee Lee to thank for her remaining at the top of the money list this season, despite taking a well-deserved week off after leaping into the second spot on the JLPGA career money list. She's eliminated that one bad round per tournament that was holding her back earlier in the season over her past 3 events, and there's no reason to believe she can't keep contending like she has been. I've moved her up from #10 in March.

4. Miki Saiki: #9 2008 money (¥28.97M), #27 RR (3.15), #30 GSPI (71.44), #6 HD, #9 2007 money (¥62.6M). Off to a slow start by her standards in 2008, yet still in the top 3 among JLPGA regulars in scoring average and as a result has 5 top 5s in 10 starts. Perhaps her playoff loss this past weekend is a sign of better things to come for the player I think has the most potential on the JLPGA.

Right behind them is a big group with 2 top 10s in the various ranking systems:

5. Shinobu Moromizato: #12 2008 money (¥15.93M), #46 RR (2.34), #51 GSPI (72.03), #8 HD, #7 2007 money (¥85.3M). With 4 top 10s in 10 starts, it's not like she's playing badly, but she moves up from #8 mostly because a few people ahead of her in the last ranking have nose-dived. As the only player in this group without a win in 2008, she must be hearing some very loud footsteps behind her.

6. Bo-Bae Song: #7 2008 money (¥31.46M), #53 RR (1.98), #68 GSPI (72.39), #3 HD, #16 2007 money (¥44.4M). With a win in the first event of the year and 5 other top 10s this season, including 4 of her last 5, many would argue that she deserves to move up farther from #9 than this, but big numbers in big tournaments have kept her out of contention the past few weeks and her 2007 was nowhere near as impressive as Moromizato's. But if she can keep her scoring average a half-stroke better than Moromizato's through June and July, she'll definitely have passed her by my next ranking.

7. Ji-Hee Lee: #3 2008 money (¥37.70M), #57 RR (1.78), #85 GSPI (72.93), #10 HD, #38 2007 money (¥23.4M). With her playoff win this past weekend, she makes one of the biggest moves in the rankings, from #21. That's what top 5s in 2/3 of your events will do for you! With a scoring average right behind Song's, she's one of the hottest players on the JLPGA in 2008.

8. Yukari Baba: #5 2008 money (¥33.53M), #71 RR (1.53), #76 GSPI (72.84), #5 HD, #28 2007 money (¥27.9M). If she hadn't missed a cut 2 events after her win this season, she could have had 5 straight top 10s to follow it up. But she's missed chances to stay or get into contention in that stretch, so I'm keeping her 1 spot behind Lee, just like in March.

9. Ayako Uehara: #8 2008 money (¥29.93M), #83 RR (1.29), #129 GSPI (73.46), #4 HD, #25 2007 money (¥32.9M). The biggest mover on the list, up from #29 in March, she should be no surprise, given her strong performance in last season's Lexus Cup. She only has 4 top 10s in 11 starts and has missed 2 cuts, but she's got a win and a runner-up already this season and has a stroke average below 72, so if she can find a bit more consistency she can move even further up the rankings by the end of July.

10. Hiroko Yamaguchi: #10 2008 money (¥24.95M), #89 RR (1.24), #75 GSPI (72.79), #7 HD, #24 2007 money (¥33.1M). Another big mover, up from #17, thanks to an early-season win preceded by 2 other top 10s; she has come back from a rough patch after the win with 2 straight top 15s, but has been plagued by at least one big number per tournament pretty much all season. It's only the struggles of those in the pack behind her that have enabled her to move quite so far up this list.

Next there's a huge group with 1 top 10, some of them moving up these rankings and some falling fast:

11. Yuri Fudoh: #14 2008 money (¥15.24M), #21 RR (3.52), #25 GSPI (71.29), #11 HD, #6 2007 money (¥87.1M). Who am I to argue with Hound Dog's ranking? Seriously, she has only 3 top 20s in 7 starts besides her 1 win and she's been stalled in her quest to become the first billion-yen winner in JLPGA history ever since then. With only 13 million or so yen to go, there's no chance she'll let Fukushima (in the mid-700s) catch her anytime soon and at 32 has many years of greatness ahead of her. But she's in danger of falling much farther than the 9 spots she fell this ranking next time around if she keeps up her lackluster play.

12. Mi-Jeong Jeon: #13 2008 money (¥15.83M), #26 RR (3.15), #55 GSPI (72.08), n.r. HD, #3 2007 money (¥110.9M). 2 top 5s and 5 top 10s in 10 starts don't sound that bad, but she's had her 2 worst finishes of the season the past 2 weeks (T33 and T28) and has never really put herself into serious contention in 2008, so it's no surprise she's fallen 5 spots since March.

13. Hyun-Ju Shin: #11 2008 money (¥21.16M), #51 RR (2.24), #63 GSPI (72.29), #9 HD, #12 2007 money (¥48.5M). "Only" has a win and a runner-up this season, but even that's only been good enough to keep her at roughly the same level as last season. Even though she's moved up 5 spots, her position is precarious if she doesn't pick up her game, which has been dragging a bit lately. It would help if she'd make more than 2.11 birdies per round!

14. Shiho Oyama: #23 2008 money (¥10.91M), #34 RR (2.91), #41 GSPI (71.85), n.r. HD, #8 2007 money (¥71.7M). A highly disappointing 2008 by her standards, despite making the top 10 in 50% of her starts. She ought to be contending for the top spot on the list instead of falling 9 spots, but she's missed 1 cut and has broken 70 only twice all season. Yikes!

15. Na Zhang: #15 2008 money (¥14.55M), #24 RR (3.20), #67 GSPI (72.33), n.r. HD, #5 2007 money (¥92.1M). Back with a bang from back injuries, she had a chance to win the JLPGA's 1st major and followed it up with a 2nd straight top 5. Her T33 this past week raises questions about the state of her health and her game, but if her back holds up there's no reason she can't get improve upon her March #13 spot.

16. Eun-A Lim: #6 2008 money (¥32.28M), #59 RR (1.74), #77 GSPI (72.85), n.r. HD, #86 2007 money (¥5.1M). It may seem unfair to keep someone who got their first win on the JLPGA two weeks ago in the same position as on the March ranking, but she has missed 2 cuts and has a scoring average over 73, so I'm reserving judgment on this KLPGA transplant for now.

17. Akane Iijima: #24 2008 money (¥10.56M), #57 RR (1.68), #72 GSPI (72.79), n.r. HD, #10 2007 money (¥60.3M). 3 top 10s in a row a few weeks ago had begun to salvage a rough start to 2008 for her, but the past 3 weeks have seen the return of her disappointing opening to the season and helped drop her 3 spots from the March ranking.

Next there's a trio with a pair of top 20s:

18. Yuko Mitsuka: #16 2008 money (¥13.67M), #55 RR (1.80), #95 GSPI (73.06), n.r. HD, #14 2007 money (¥45.3M). Missed 2 cuts in a row early in the season after a solid start, but followed up with 4 top 10s in her next 5 starts (and the 5th was a T12), but then WDed after an opening 75 this past week. Hoping she's not hurt! Would be a shame if injuries prevented her from building on her move up 2 spots in the rankings since the end of March.

19. Hiromi Mogi: #19 2008 money (¥13.16M), #78 RR (1.34), #65 GSPI (72.30), n.r. HD, #15 2007 money (¥44.9M). 4 top 10s in 11 starts keep her from falling further down these rankings than the 6 spots she did from late March, but she's still not playing well by her standards, even though she's marching smartly up the GSPI.

20. Erina Hara: #18 2008 money (¥13.36M), #63 RR (1.66), #115 GSPI (73.31), n.r. HD, #19 2007 money (¥39.7M). Her runner-up finish mid-way through the season's start is her only top 10 thus far in 2008, but it's just enough to move her up 4 spots from the March ranking.

And a large group with 1 top 20:

21. Midori Yoneyama: #17 2008 money (¥13.42M), #90 RR (1.23), #107 GSPI (73.23), n.r. HD, #21 2007 money (¥35.3M). 3 top 10s in her last 6 starts--including a runner-up finish--have her moving up 2 spots in the rankings.

22. Michiko Hattori: #20 2008 money (¥12.62M), #105 RR (1.01), #126 GSPI (73.43), n.r. HD, #34 2007 money (¥26.3M). 2 top 5s and another top 10 in her last 4 starts have her moving up the charts fast.

23. Mie Nakata: #27 2008 money (¥9.30M), #82 RR (1.30), #120 GSPI (73.33), n.r. HD, #20 2007 money (¥38.1M). Her only top 10 this season is also a top 5, but she's missed 3 cuts and interrupted her recent top 20 streak with bad finishes the last 2 weeks. Only moves up the list because others are doing worse.

24. Chie Arimura: #30 2008 money (¥7.65M), #76 RR (1.38), #84 GSPI (72.93), n.r. HD, #13 2007 money (¥47.6M). Mixed 2 top 10s with 3 missed cuts early in the season but has consistently finished in the top 15 to top 35 range the last few weeks. Like Nakata, only moves up the list because others are doing worse.

Here are the best of the rest:

25. Yun-Jye Wei: #21 2008 money (¥12.05M), #72 RR (1.52), #134 GSPI (73.50), n.r. HD, #29 2007 money (¥12.0M). Cooling off after a great start to 2008, she's missed 2 cuts and hasn't finished higher than 27th in weeks, so it's no surprise that she's dropped all the way from 11th in March.

26. Kaori Higo: #25 2008 money (¥10.26M), #104 RR (1.02), #135 GSPI (73.54), n.r. HD, #50 2007 money (¥15.8M). Another player cooling off from a hot start, her top 10 this past week arrested her free fall after 4 missed cuts in 6 events, but she still drops 11 spots in the charts.

Nobody else really stands out to me: absentees from the March ranking Nikki Campbell (#93 RR, #93 GSPI), Yui Kawahara (#97 RR, #98 GSPI), Mayu Hattori (#118 RR, #87 GSPI), Namika Omata (#107 RR, #114 GSPI), and Pei-Lin Yu (#302 RR, #172 GSPI) will have to play their way into the July ranking, while up-and-coming young guns like Maiko Wakabayashi (#132 RR, #235 GSPI), Yuki Ichinose (#283 RR, #152 GSPI), Ritsuko Ryu (#206 RR, #325 GSPI), and Esther Lee (n.r. RR, #216 GSPI) will have to outdo the canny veterans they're hanging out with in the middle reaches of the money list to have a chance to be included....

Monday, May 26, 2008

On the Hot Seat: Jason Sobel

LPGA dull enough for ya this week at Corning, Jason?

Do me a favor, will you?

Please, please, please write a column celebrating how awesome Phil's awesome wedge was and how awesome it is that he's stepped up as Tiger's lead challenger and how awesome it would be to see Tiger and Phil in the final group Sunday at Torrey Pines, head to head, mano a mano, duking it out on golf's biggest stage. Here's a tip: cap it off by complaining about Leta Lindley's win and conclude that it shows how weak the LPGA is.

I mean, what is up with 20 players matching the third wheel of the Big 3? Paula Creamer never shot better than 35 on the back all week, so who does Leta Lindley think she is, chasing down Jeong Jang with a 32 on a side only a couple of other players in the field even shot 33 on? How dare a mother of 2 who hadn't won in 294 starts beat the world #8 on a day when she shot her best score of the week?

Just repeat after me: Tiger and Phil. Phil and Tiger. Tiger and Phil. Phil and Tiger.

Catchy, ain't it?

[Update (12:25 pm): Wow, I even wrote this before heading over to and witnessing Sobel and Harig repeat the mantra! And Sobel's weekly 18 cleverly saves the LPGA for last and quotes this week's winner about...her luggage! Nice!]

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Corning Classic Sunday: And Then There Were Two

Jeong Jang and Leta Lindley are in a playoff at the Corning Classic. Jang shot her best round of the week, a 68, to get to -11, but Lindley fired a 32 on the back to post a 67 and force Jang to par the 18th to get into the playoff. So while we wait for the results of the playoff to be posted, let's review how the 38 players under par and 29 within 5 shots of the lead got narrowed down to 2.

Early in the day, Laura Diaz, In-Kyung Kim, and Paula Creamer showed everyone there were low scores to be had today. Diaz went from +1 to -5 in her first 10 holes, but a double bogey on the par-5 14th ended her run and she had to settle for a 68 (-3, T21). Kim went from E to -6 in her first 13 holes, but like Diaz doubled the 14th and ended up with a 67 (-5, T11). Thanks to an eagle and 3 early birdies, Creamer zoomed from -1 to -6 in her first 7 holes. But she bogeyed the 10th and 11th and couldn't muster a birdie from then on, finishing with a 69 (-4, T15). Although nobody else from the early groups really threatened to go super-low, several shot fine rounds, including 69s by Sandra Gal and Janice Moodie and 70s by Meena Lee and Kyeong Bae to join Diaz at -3.

Then it was the later groups' turn. Jang took control of the tournament in the first 5 holes with 2 birdies and an eagle on the par-5 5th to get to -11 and put pressure on the rest of the field. Hee-Won Han shot a 33 on the front to get to -6, 4 shots back after Jang bogeyed the 9th, but the best she could do was extend her 23-hole bogey-free streak to 41, as she couldn't find a birdie the rest of the way (T8). Song-Hee Kim was -6 by her 2nd hole, but couldn't get to -7 until the end of her round (T6), while Meredith Duncan was -7 at the turn, but could only get to -8 by the end of her round (5th).

So by the middle of the day it was clear only 3 players had a realistic shot at Jang. Sun Young Yoo was -7 at the turn thanks to a birdie and eagle on the 2 par 5s, but then rattled off 3 birdies in her first 6 holes on the back to get to -10 with 3 to play. Unfortunately for her, she couldn't gt any lower. It took a birdie on the 18th, her sixth of the day, for Mi Hyun Kim to pull even with Yoo in the double digits under par club. Around the exact same time a hole earlier, Lindley made Kim's and Yoo's 66s academic with a birdie of her own that brought her to -11--and Jang matched it with her own birdie on the 16th. just updated and Lindley won the playoff! Another heartbreaker for Jang! More after the Golf Channel coverage is over and the girls are asleep!

[Update 1 (5/26/08, 4:10 am): I nominate John Kekis to get the LPGA beat for AP. Every single one of his stories this week was top-notch and the Sunday one was no exception. Can he outdo Hound Dog? You be the judge! Oh, and while you're thinking, check out the notes and interviews from

I want to apologize for getting the order of the closing birdies wrong: it was actually the reverse of what I gathered from the leaderboard and scorecards. Kim's fantastic approach on 18 for a tap-in birdie came after Lindley's which came after Jang's.... Another thing can't make clear from scorecards alone is how close Sun Young Yoo came to winning this: she just missed a hole in 1 on 15, had a ball do everything with the lip but drop on 17, and almost chipped in from an impossible position on 18. Any 1 of those things happen and she's also in the playoff; any 2 and she wins outright. Wow! She has come alive in the past month or so, hasn't she?

On to the main topic of discussion at Seoul Sisters: did Jang lose this one? I say no way (don't make me bust out the CAPS). She made pressure putts on every single closing hole I can remember, she made 2 sandies on 18 after less-than-perfect drives lead to difficult approaches, and she forced Lindley to beat her. Take nothing away from Lindley: this victory was not handed to her. She went out and shot a 32 on the much tougher back 9 under Sunday pressure. She made a perfect drive, perfect approach, and perfect putt in the playoff. She absolutely deserves the win. While I'm absolutely crushed on JJ's behalf, she has nothing to be ashamed of and I can't help but be happy for Lindley, who has 2 cute kids (although her son got all the tv time, I'm assuming her 22-month-old daughter is kawaii, too!), hadn't won in 294 previous starts, and is part-Vietnamese. Especially when she says stuff like this in response to a question of whether she expected her first win to take so long:

LETA LINDLEY: I wasn't that good when I started, to be honest. When I started I was 20th conditional my rookie year. And I got in 20 events and I actually played in the U.S. Open and I finished fifth. It was my very first U.S. Open. I never tried to qualify before. I won $30,000 and I was thrilled. I thought, wow I kept my card I can buy a car. I was just happy to keep my card. I didn't know if I could stay out here one year let alone 14 years.

And I was lucky when I came out, you know, I don't know that the Tour was as deep then as it is today. And I was able to learn about myself and my game while playing on tour. I don't think you can do that now. You have the Tour's the depth of talent is so great that you either have it or you don't, to be out here.

Q. Considering the depth of the talent on the Tour like you talked about, did the doubts start to come into your head if it would ever happen?

LETA LINDLEY: It was getting harder and harder. I feel like each year like this year we were trying to stay in the top 35 to qualify for the U.S. Open without having to go through the 36 hole qualifier. There just seemed like each year it's getting harder and harder and harder to stay in that top 35 or that top 40 than it was 5, 6, 7 years ago. And each year I would tee it up wondering, I wonder how things are going to go this year. I know I'm working hard, but I do have two children so it's little more challenging for me.

But there's new talent coming out each year, and it just gets tougher and tougher. So to win this year, my 14th season on tour, with the talent as great as it is really makes it so special.

So true. Congratulations, Leta!]

[Update 2 (5:26 am): I won this week's Pakpicker--what a shock! Would like to say I considered putting Lindley as an alternate, but no, not even close. Hmmm, Leta's 1st, my 1st. Maybe I should pick her every week from now on!]

[Update 3 (11:45 am): Hound Dog tips the scales in his favor with his epilogue. At least with me!]

Bridgestone Ladies Open Sunday: Lee Defeats Saiki and Koga in Playoff

Ji-Hee Lee made 5 birdies in her last 10 holes to catch Miho Koga and Miki Saiki at -8 in the final round of the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open--and she beat them in a playoff.

Saiki shot a bogey-free 69 Sunday and was the first to reach -8 with a birdie on the par-4 14th; Koga got her last birdie on the next hole, a short par 3. But Lee birdied both those holes and the par-5 16th to get to -8 herself.

By that point, the trio had pulled decisively away from the other second-round leaders. Ayako Uehara never got her round going and only got to -6 with a birdie on the par-5 13th, but could only manage a bogey down the stretch, falling back into a tie with the similarly-stalled Shiho Oyama for 5th and getting passed by Michiko Hattori, whose birdie on the 18th got her to -6. Those who were making final-round charges--like Sakura Yokomine (3 birdies in her last 7 holes), Noboku Kizawa (5 birdies in her last 10 holes), and Ya-Huei Lu (5 birdies in her last 12 holes)--were too far back at the turn to make an impact on the final outcome.

I'll pass along the Japanese media's report on the playoff when I can find it. It's interested that Lee's 2006 victory here came in similar come-from-behind fashion! And that she blocked Saiki from her first win of the year and Koga from becoming the first repeat winner on the JLPGA in 2008....

For now, here's the top 10 and notables' finishes:

1st/-8 Lee (71-69-68) [winner in playoff]
T2/-8 Saiki (71-68-69), Koga (71-67-70)
4th/-6 Hattori (68-71-71)
T5/-5 Oyama (70-70-71), Uehara (69-70-72)
7th/-4 Yomomine (71-71-70)
8th/-3 Lu (71-75-67)
T9/-2 Kizawa (71-74-69), Kaori Higo (72-73-69), Bo-Bae Song (73-71-70), Midori Yoneyama (71-70-73), Yukari Baba (68-72-74)

T14/-1 Hiroko Yamaguchi (77-71-67), Hyun-Ju Shin (69-72-74)
T18/E Erina Hara (73-74-69) Chie Arimura (72-72-72)
T28/+2 Mi-Jeong Jeon (74-72-72), Yui Kawahara (74-70-74), Hiromi Mogi (69-71-77)
T33/+3 Na Zhang (76-72-71)
T45/+5 Mie Nakata (72-73-76)
T49/+6 Akane Iijima (71-74-77)

[Update 1 (5:55 am): Still nothing from Kyodo on the playoff, but here's the updated money list:

1. Akiko Fukushima ¥44.58M
2. Miho Koga ¥38.93M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ¥37.70M
4. Sakura Yokomine ¥34.54M
5. Yukari Baba ¥33.53M
6. Eun-A Lim ¥32.28M
7. Bo-Bae Song ¥31.46M
8. Ayako Uehara ¥29.93M
9. Miki Saiki ¥28.97M
10. Hiroko Yamaguchi ¥24.95M]

[Update 2 (6:24 am): Here's a little tidbit I uncovered while researching my update to my March Best off the JLPGA ranking: Ji-Hee Lee just moved to #30 on the career money list and is barely 10 million yen ahead of none other than Miho Koga!]

[Update 3 (12:00 pm): Kyodo reports that it was a 20-foot birdie putt that won it for Lee when Saiki failed to chip in for birdie and Koga missed a 10-footer....]

Corning Classic Saturday: Who Wants to Win This Thing?

The uneven play of the second-round leaders at the Corning Classic raises a serious question for me: who wants to win this tournament the most?

What with the squandered surges and the painful collapses and the bad approach shots and tentative putting that I got to watch--yes, watch!--on the Golf Channel with onechan, imoto, and my mom and dad yesterday evening, I'm not counting out anyone under par heading into Sunday's round. The course is vulnerable to low scores (particularly on the front), the conditions are going to be perfect tomorrow (April-like weather returns to New York in late May!), and those in the middle of the pack with a chance to win have nothing to lose.

So why couldn't Paula Creamer post a number and put pressure on the leaders from her 10:06 am pairing? Why couldn't fellow -1ers Meena Lee, Na On Min, H.J. Choi, or Kyeong Bae make a similar move? Why couldn't Seon Hwa Lee make up a 5-shot deficit by firing off a final-round 63 like she did when she got her first LPGA win at the ShopRite Classic? Why couldn't Hee-Won Han follow up on Saturday's bogey-free 67 by tapping into the magic that lead to her tying Juli Inkster for the tournament record with a 62 in 2005 or her win in 2006? Why couldn't Jimin Kang or Karine Icher or Linda Wessberg or Na Yeon Choi do the same from 4 back like her?

When you get to those at -4, you're out of the realm of needing something in the very low 30s on the front and into the realm of needing just normal good play to leap into contention. With warmer weather on the way, expect Mi Hyun Kim to be charging hard for her 9th career victory. Will Sunday be the day that Sun Young Yoo figures out how to play birdie alley--the last 5 holes on the front? A bad front yesterday almost dropped Song-Hee Kim out of contention, but a fantastic 33 on the back got her within 2 shots of the lead. Will this be the week that the former Futures Tour star breaks through for her first and long-awaited LPGA win? Speaking of long-awaited, is it finally Leta Lindley's turn? Or will youngsters who have paid their dues and begun to play like veterans like Katherine Hull or co-leader Erica Blasberg horn in? Blasberg has missed opportunities the past 2 rounds to separate herself from the field. Will she learn from her mistakes or continue to make them?

The biggest question mark for me is Jeong Jang, who's looking for redemption not only from her squandering of a 3rd-round lead here in 2006 but also from getting overtaken by Paula Creamer over the last few holes of 2008's second tournament--but is hampered by arthritis and cysts in her right wrist. Assuming Sunday's warmer weather will be as good for her wrist as it'll be for Mi Hyun Kim's knee, I definitely see her breaking 70 tomorrow, which means the eventual winner will be double digits under par. I don't think the rusty Creamer has a course record in her and Lee has broken 65 only twice in her career (the most recent coming in last season's Canadian Open), so realistically speaking they're too far behind Jeong to put much pressure on her. But past champions Kang and Han just need to be in the neighborhood of Blasberg's opening-round 65 to give themselves a chance for a repeat victory at Corning. And getting to double digits under par for people between -4 and -6 thus far is definitely within the realm of possibility--some could do it before they make the turn.

So just like on the JLPGA this week, the penultimate round at Corning has set up a classic free-for-all. Should make for some compelling tv. Who says the LPGA is boring?

[Update (11:56 am): Would you believe I caught more of the Saturday telecast than Hound Dog? Has to be a first!]

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bridgestone Ladies Open Saturday: This Is What We've Been Waiting For!

The leaderboard at the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open is now officially star-studded. Miki Saiki fired a bogey-free 67 to get to -6 for the tournament, while Miki Saiki's 68 brought her into a 2nd place tie, 1 shot back, with Ayako Uehara and first-round co-leader Michiko Hattori. Another shot back are Shiho Oyama, Yukari Baba, Hiromi Mogi, and Ji-Hee Lee, followed by Hyun-Ju Shin and Midori Yoneyama. Sakura Yokomine remains within striking range, 4 shots back of Koga. In short, some of the best and hottest golfers on the JLPGA will be involved in a real free-for-all tomorrow.

Here's where the leaders and notables stand:

1st/-6 Koga (71-67)
T2/-5 Saiki (71-68), Uehara (69-70), Hattori (68-71)
T5/-4 Lee (71-69), Oyama (70-70), Mogi (69-71), Baba (68-72)
T9/-3 Yoneyama (71-70), Shin (69-72)

T11/-2 Yomomine (71-71)
T16/E Yui Kawahara (74-70), Bo-Bae Song (73-71), Chie Arimura (72-72)
T24/+1 Kaori Higo (72-73), Mie Nakata (72-73), Akane Iijima (71-74)
T32/+2 Mi-Jeong Jeon (74-72)
T42/+3 Erina Hara (73-74)
T48/+4 Hiroko Yamaguchi (77-71), Na Zhang (76-72)
T63/+6 Yun-Jye Wei (76-74)

Yuko Mitsuka WDed. Yamaguchi and Zhang made the cut by the skin of their teeth--both suffered late bogeys that almost doomed them. Yokomine's front-side 34 was tied for the 2nd-best score in the field Saturday, but she squandered it with a lackluster 37 on the back. After a bad stretch midway through Mogi's round where she went +4 over 5 holes, she closed with 4 birdies in her last 7 to stay in contention. Uehara would be tied for the lead but for a final-hole bogey. Saiki was -4 over her final 6 holes, kicked off by an eagle on the 500-yard par-5 13th; if it weren't for a bogey on her penultimate hole, she, too, would be tied for the lead.

Anything can happen Sunday! Stay tuned!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Corning Classic Friday: Morning Charge, Anyone? ...Anyone?

Unless Janice Moodie, Jimin Kang, or Jeong Jang do something special on the Corning Classic's birdie alley, first-round leader Erica Blasberg will have no one ahead of her from the morning groups as she plays the 5th through 9th holes at the end of her round today. Moodie's eagle on the par-5 5th hole has brought her to -5 for her round and -6 for the tournament, so she has the best chance to put some pressure on the leader. Kang's birdie on the 5th pulled her back to E for her round and -4 for the tournament. And Jang has already birdied 2 of her first 4 holes on the front to get to -2 on her round and -3 for the tournament as she enters birdie alley.

If you thought more players from the morning groups would be hanging with them, you thought wrong. Sure, Sun Young Yoo was -4 through her first 5 holes today (she's now -3 for the round and -1 for the tournament through 12, but besides that eagle on the 5th failed to take advantage of birdie alley for the second day in a row) and Song-Hee Kim is -2 through 14 in her round today and -3 for the tournament, but those kind of numbers aren't going to get you in contention with so many in the afternoon groups already at or better than them as they begin their rounds. What's more striking, though, is how many people in the morning groups have been moving backwards, fast. Take defending champion Young Kim, for instance. She opened with a 42 on the back to take her to +8 for the tournament--she'll need a fantastic finish on birdie alley to have even a hope of making the cut. Flirting with the cut line is Hee-Won Han, who gave back an eagle on the par-5 2nd with a double-bogey on the par-4 4th and is back to +2 on the round and tournament with 3 more birdie alley holes to play. Paula Creamer, too got off to a bad start with a 38 on the back and isn't taking advantage of birdie alley thus far; she's mired at E with Seon Hwa Lee, who probably wishes she had taken advantage of birdie alley as she enters the last 4 holes on the back.

In the time it took to write this, Jang failed to birdie the par-5 5th and Kang actually bogeyed the par-3 7th. Not a pretty start to a sunny Friday--too many lukewarm performances on a cool day....

[Update 1 (1:33 pm): Well, Moodie held steady for a 67 (-6, T1 now that Blasberg has made an early bogey), Kang fell back to a 73 (-3), and Jang has gotten to -4 with 2 holes to play. Creamer shot a 74 (E), as did Han (+2, right on the cut line as of now). And although Young Kim (+6) and Angela Stanford (+4) have gotten one birdie out of birdie alley thus far into it, they'll need miracles on their final holes to get close to the cut line.]

[Update 2 (1:49 pm): Rassin' frassin'! Moodie ended the day with a 68 and is at -5 (T2 for now). Jang's 69 kept her at -4 (T5). Kang ended up tied with Song-Hee Kim and Onnarin Sattayabanphot at -3 (T9)--and Sun Young Yoo has a great chance to join them, as she's -5 on her round with the 18th left to play. But don't expect -3 to stay in the top 15 by the end of the day....]

[Update 3 (1:54 pm): Young Kim's 32 on the front was too little, too late, but it did pull her into a tie with Angela Stanford and Inbee Park at +4 (T91). A whole lotta people need to make a whole lotta bogeys for them to have a chance at making the cut. I kinda saw it coming with Stanford--she's never played this course all that well--but am surprised at Kim and shocked at Park. Wonder who Hound Dog's Big Disappointment will be this week?]

[Update 4 (1:58 pm): 3 straight birdies by Na On Min have erased her first-hole double bogey--now there's someone taking advantage of birdie alley--and vaulted her into a tie for 1st. But Blasberg is almost through the difficult holes on the back and still has birdie alley waiting for her at the end of her round. Min, though, had one of the few bogey-free backs on Thursday, so there's no reason she can't keep her mo going all round.]

[Update 5 (6:55 pm): Min lost her mo on the back, but her 74 dropped her only to T11 at -3 because many of the leaders struggled, even on birdie alley. The exact same thing happened to Karine Icher, with exactly the same results. Blasberg, meanwhile, was -8 after the par 5 5th, but finished double bogey-par-bogey to fall back to a tie for 2nd with Moodie, Wendy Ward (70), and Katie Futcher (69) at -5. Na Yeon Choi was poised to take advantage of everyone else's struggles, but also failed to take advantage of birdie alley and stumbled her way to a 74 on the back to fall to a tie for 19th at -2.

So who played well? Dina Ammaccapane made 4 consecutive birdies on birdie alley and rebounded from back-to-back bogeys on the back by birdieing 2 of her last 3 holes for her 2nd consecutive 69 and the lead. Leta Lindley made a bunch of birdies on her way to a 67 that brought her to -4, tied with Jang, Johanna Head (69), Becky Morgan (70), and Sandra Gal (72) for 6th. Meredith Duncan birdied 3 of 5 holes around the turn and hung on for a 68 to get to -3 and T11.

So, heading into moving day, there are plenty of opportunities for struggling stars like Hee-Won Han (+2, T60), Paula Creamer and Mi Hyun Kim (E, T34), and Seon Hwa Lee and Laura Diaz (-1, T27) to get themselves back into contention. As the weather warms up, scores should be low over the weekend. The good news for the mix of veterans and newbies at the top of the leaderboard is that they have a cushion on the LPGA's elite players heading into the weekend. The bad news is that it's a much smaller cushion than it could--and probably should have been.]

[Update 6 (9:35 pm): Hound Dog's second-round summary rocks!]

[Update 7 (5/24/08, 6:36 am): As does John Kekis's AP story--it's maybe the best I've ever read!]

Bridgestone Ladies Open Friday: It's Crowded at the Top

The first round of the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open is complete and the leaderboard is full of big names and hot hands, all of them chasing Yukari Baba and Michiko Hattori at -4. Shiho Oyama would be right with them but for a late double bogey on a birdieable par 5.

T1/-4 Baba, Hattori (68)
T2/-3 Hyun-Ju Shin, Hiromi Mogi, Ayako Uehara, Ikuyo Shiotani (69)
T7/-2 Oyama, Ji-Yeon Han (70)
T9/-1 Sakura Yomomine, Miki Saiki, Miho Koga, Ji-Hee Lee, Akane Iijima, Midori Yoneyama, plus 6 others (71)

Notables include:

T22/E Chie Arimura, Mie Nakata, Kaori Higo (72)
T30/+1 Bo-Bae Song, Erina Hara (73)
T45/+2 Mi-Jeong Jeon, Yui Kawahara (74)
T61/+3 Yuko Mitsuka (75)
T69/+4 Na Zhang, Yun-Jye Wei (76)
T80/+5 Hiroko Yamaguchi (77)

Higo, by the way, finished eagle-par-birdie to offset bogeys on the 3 previous holes, while Song managed 2 birdies in her final 3 holes to almost make up for her 3 consective bogeys as she made the turn.

Who will be the first player to win twice on the JLPGA this season? Baba shot the only bogey-free round in the field, but Uehara, Ohyama, Hattori, and Shiotani made the most birdies of the day. Me, I'm waiting for Yokomine, Saiki, and Koga to get hot. I want them all playing so well in 2008 they consider joining Ai Miyazato and Momoko Ueda on the LPGA in 2009!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Corning Classic Thursday: These Girls/Vets Rock!

Thursday dawned cold, blustery, and wet for the morning groups in the Corning Classic, but scores have been surprisingly low thus far. With intermittent showers, some heavy, and temperatures in the mid-40s, there's been some impressive golf from some unexpected quarters. Playing together in the first group off the back, rookies Liz Janangelo and Anna Rawson put on a show over their final 5 holes, going -3 and -4, respectively, to post the first under-par scores of the day. Janangelo's 71 won't put her high on the leaderboard at the end of the day, but Rawson's 69 has a chance to be among the day's 10 best. Yet an eagle on the 2nd helped get Sandra Gal to -2, ROY race leader Na Yeon Choi was -3, and Super Soph Na On Min was -4 as they all entered that very same birdie alley.

Now, the veterans haven't been standing by with their hands on their hips while the Young Guns go off. Sherri Turner followed up her excellent pre-tournament interview with 4 straight birdies on the front and heads into her final 4 holes at -3. Wendy Ward is right there with her, having matched Rawson's eagle on the 5th to start off -4 through the 12th before succumbing to a bogey on the 13th. And Dina Ammaccapane was -4 through her first 11 holes before a bogey dropped her a stroke back--but she's also entering birdie alley.

And yet the golfer everyone is chasing is none other than Erica Blasberg, who's rattled off 6 birdies in her first 13 holes without a single bogey.

This may affect strategy for those just starting in the afternoon groups. We'll see!

[Update 1 (12:41 pm): Watch out! After a rough 38 on her first 9, the back, Mi Hyun Kim has fought back to E and she hasn't even entered birdie alley yet! Others with chances to go low as they finish out the front include Katherine Hull, Becky Morgan, and Katie Futcher at -2 and Ji Young Oh, Irene Cho, Meaghan Francella, and Johanna Head at E. Meanwhile, Karine Icher is making like Blasberg--she has 5 birdies and a bogey in her 1st 13 holes. And the birdies have started coming for Min (-5), Choi (-4), and Ammaccapane (-4).]

[Update 2 (4:50 pm): Well, as soon as I tried (unsuccessfully) to get imoto down for a nap, it's seems as if birdie alley closed for business. Or maybe the conditions ended up being tougher for the afternoon groups. Blasberg ended up shooting a flawless 65, 2 shots better than Min and Icher and 3 shots better than Choi, Gal, and Turner. The only afternoon player to get as close as that latter 3some so far is Jimin Kang and she started on the front like Blasberg, Icher, and Turner. Paula Creamer also started on the front, and she just birdied 17 to join a large group at -2 thus far in their rounds--the only person who started on the back to match them so far is Eva Dahllof. With most of my picks struggling to get out of (or stay within) the +1 to -1 range, I have to assume that conditions took a turn for the worse in the afternoon--or that the greens are getting harder to putt the more moisture they take on. More after I pick up onechan from her friend's house!]

[Update 3 (5:18 pm): In the time it took to type that, imoto decided that our playroom floor reminded her of her day care nap mat and put herself to sleep, so my friends will be bringing onechan back. If only she could put together sentences longer than 2 words, she may have been able to help me figure out better what she wanted--as it was, I thought she was just being her usual revved up, rebellious self when it comes to going to bed! So I've used the extra time she's given me to check out my assumption that birdie alley is closed, and while it's true that few players have taken full advantage of it and some have even messed it up badly (I'm looking at you, Yoo!) or mildly (Inbee, you too?!), the real problem seems to be the amount of bogeys and worse the afternoon groups are taking outside it. The 1st is the biggest culprit here, although it seems like we're seeing more bogies throughout the first 4 holes from the afternoon groups and the 9th is playing tougher than in the morning. Still, there's no clear pattern that explains why it's likely there will be so many fewer sub-70 rounds in the afternoon than the morning. Again, I have to fall back on the assumption that some greens have taken on more water than others and are rolling at different speeds. Or perhaps there was some severe weather that rolled through and lead to a lot of bogeys.

With 5 birdies on the front after a birdie-free 39 on the back, non-exempt Junior Mint Virada Nirapathpongporn epitomizes why the afternoon scores aren't as low as the morning ones; she has a chance to outdo Laura Diaz's 6-shot improvement from the back to the front.]

[Update 4 (5:29 pm): Or perhaps the Mostly Harmless jinx is rearing its ugly head again? How else do you explain the results of my people whom I thought would have the advantage starting in the afternoon (I bolded them for emphasis)?

1. Creamer: 35-35 70 (-2, T17)
2. Choi Na Yeon: 34-34 68 (-4, T4)
3. Jang Jeong: 35-36 71 (-1, T29)
4. Lee Seon Hwa: 34-38 72 (E, T46)
5. Kim Mi Hyun: 33-38 71 (-1, T29)
6. Han Hee-Won: 34-38 72 (E, T46)
7. Kim Song-Hee: 34-37 71 (-1, T29)
8. Kim In-Kyung: 36-36 72 (E, T46)
9. Park Inbee: 37-37 74 (+2, T86)
10. Kim Young: 35-39 74 (+2, T86)
11. Kang Jimin: 34-34 68 (-4, T4)
12. Yoo Sun Young: 40-34 74 (+2, T86)


[Update 5 (5:34 pm): Ouch! Moira finished with a double on the 9th to match her earlier double on the 16th and erasethe effects of her 2 birdies on the front. Talk about not taking advantage of birdie alley! Her very rusty 76 puts her at T124, 1 shot ahead of Danielle Ammaccapane and 2 ahead of Cindy Rarick--and 2 behind Rosie Jones, who's come out of retirement just to play in the event one more time. Moira!]

[Update 6 (7:49 pm): For the must-read first-round recap, who ya gonna call? Hound Dog!]

[Update 7 (8:19 pm): Nice job for the AP by John Kekis! See what happens when you put a guy who's not phoning it in on the LPGA beat?]

[Update 8 (8:39 am): Gonna be the stereotypical English prof and remind the good people who update's notes and interviews page that "it's"="it is"!]

[Update 8 (5/23/08, 1:20 pm): Hound Dog's going all-out on highlights this week, as he'll be attending the Ginn Tribute next week--and liveblogging it!]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Corning Classic Pairings: You Can't Win on a Thursday, but....

It's hard to come back from an off-week, but Paula Creamer's been there before this season and learned from the experience. It's even harder, though, to come back from an off-week and face challenging weather conditions the first round or more, as Lorena Ochoa can no doubt attest. So it's a good thing for the Pink Panther that she's going off in the afternoon front prime-time quadrant tomorrow at the Corning Classic:

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Paula Creamer
Jimin Kang
Janice Moodie

Start Time: 12:20 PM
Meg Mallon
Sherri Steinhauer
Rosie Jones

Start Time: 12:30 PM
Taylor Leon
Laura Diaz
Hee-Won Han

Start Time: 12:40 PM
Jeong Jang
Angela Stanford
Linda Wessberg

Start Time: 12:50 PM
Carolina Llano
Kristy McPherson
Young Kim

It's really too bad the tournament organizers couldn't extend the same courtesy to Mi Hyun Kim, who has to rank among Creamer's top challengers this week, stiff knee or no; instead, they put her in the morning back prime-time quadrant:

Start Time: 8:40 AM
Na Yeon Choi
Danielle Ammaccapane
Na On Min

Start Time: 8:50 AM
Katherine Hull
Sandra Gal
Leta Lindley

Start Time: 9:00 AM
Kate Golden
Becky Morgan
Dina Ammaccapane

Start Time: 9:10 AM
Irene Cho
Meaghan Francella
Johanna Head

Start Time: 9:20 AM
Ji Young Oh
Katie Futcher
Mi Hyun Kim

How Danielle A. got there with Choi and Min I have no idea! In any case, it's advantage to Hilary Lunke, who snagged a pairing in the afternoon back prime-time quadrant:

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Alena Sharp
Silvia Cavalleri
Kyeong Bae

Start Time: 12:20 PM
Song-Hee Kim
Hilary Lunke
Eva Dahllof

Start Time: 12:30 PM
Inbee Park
Seon Hwa Lee
Jill McGill

Start Time: 12:40 PM
Moira Dunn
Gloria Park
Meena Lee

Start Time: 12:50 PM
Sun Young Yoo
Diana D'Alessio
Il Mi Chung

Nice to see Moira playing with Meena and Gloria. That leaves the morning front prime-time quadrant to get their toughness on:

Start Time: 8:40 AM
H.J. Choi
Wendy Ward
Erica Blasberg

Start Time: 8:50 AM
Hee Young Park
Sung Ah Yim
Candie Kung

Start Time: 9:00 AM
Giulia Sergas
Kris Tamulis
Jamie Hullett

Start Time: 9:10 AM
Karine Icher
In-Kyung Kim
Lorie Kane

Start Time: 9:20 AM
Mikaela Parmlid
Heather Young
Soo-Yun Kang

Speaking of tough, Anna Rawson gets another early bird special: she's playing with Liz Janangelo (whom a certain ESPN columnist picked for his Rookie of the Year) in the first pairing off the back side, two groups ahead of Junior Mint Na Ri Kim, who's making her first appearance on the LPGA this year while struggling on the Futures Tour. Even struggling Super Soph Jeanne Cho-Hunicke is going off almost an hour later on the front. Congrats to New Yorker Danielle Downey for snagging the last group of the day off the front; with luck, she won't even have to play 18 holes in what's shaping up to be the only bad weather day of the tournament.

Here's hoping the Corning organizers have learned from the mistakes of the Sybase people. And that that strange meme that it's the influx of Asian golfers that has endangered the Corning goes to an early grave. Or is being the site of 3 consecutive wins by Seoul Sisters a kiss of death on the LPGA?