Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On Missing Japan

They do New Year's Eve right in Japan! NHK's "Kouhaku Utagassen" is not to be missed, particularly this year when Jero will be performing (along with dozens of others, including the little girl who sings the Ponyo theme song, and, of course, the Full Metal Archivist's faves, SMAP) in the traditional battle of the J-pop stars. That said, we're missing it for the 2nd year in a row. So sad! Hopefully we'll catch the highlights on youtube or veoh!

[Update 1 (6:10 am): Jero just won the Best New Artist award! Omedeto gozaimasu!]

[Update 2 (6:15 am): Turns out that one was his 2nd such award this year. Here's his 1st.]

[Update 3 (10:48 am): Of course, the nice thing about being here is that you get to catch snippets of the show on youtube and veoh before the evening. Here's Jero's performance...with his mom in the audience!

Watch JERO / Umiyuki (Kouhaku Utagassen) in Music Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at


[Update 4 (4:28 pm): The Ponyo song was the climax of a tribute to the music of Miyazaki's films:


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Best of the Young Guns: Final 2008 Edition

The LPGA's Young Guns consist of the rookie classes of 2006, 2007, and 2008. Next year's rookie class will be the 1st in a new "generation" of LPGA members, which I'll dub New Blood--whose members should already be included among the LPGA's top rivalries. But more on them later. What I'm interested in figuring out here is who among the Young Guns have had the best careers on the LPGA to date.

Simply the Best

1. Ya Ni Tseng: She won more money in 2008 than anyone else in her generation ever has in a single season. In fact, she won more in '08 than most of her cohort has over their entire careers. That's not only because she already has a major to her name, but also because she has put herself in contention more often than anyone in her generation not named Seon Hwa Lee. Her average ranking is 4.75, tops in her generation by far. She's a legitimate Player of the Year frontrunner in 2009. Can the same be said of anyone else on this list?
2. Seon Hwa Lee: She was the first in her generation to break the three million dollar barrier, has a commanding lead with 4 career wins, and is the only one on this list to be averaging more than 1 win per season. With an average ranking of 10.75, she's the clear #2 right now. And if Tseng suffers any kind of sophomore jinx, she's poised to take the #1 spot back.
3. Morgan Pressel: Even though her average ranking is only 29.5, she's the only player besides Lee to have more than 1 career victory, and like Tseng and Inbee Park, she's already got a major under her belt. Still, if she can't get those swing changes she's been working on grooved in the off-season, she's in danger of being left behind by a host of her peers. And not just the ones in this category.
4. Na Yeon Choi: Although she hasn't missed a cut in her LPGA career, she joined Tseng in breaking the million-dollar barrier in season earnings as a rookie, and her average ranking is 13.75, she hasn't yet been able to get that 1st win on the LPGA. Until she does, I can't see her moving up these rankings.
5. Jee Young Lee: With a 19.75 average ranking, a non-member win on the LPGA, and better overall stats than Pressel in everything but the win column, I was tempted to put her ahead of Choi, but in the end I just couldn't do it.
6. Angela Park: With an average ranking of 24 and a similar difficulty as Choi in getting her 1st career LPGA win, this is the highest I can legitimately put her. Although she's on pace to outdo Jee Young Lee in career winnings by the end of her junior year, she has way fewer top 20s and slightly fewer top 10s per season.
7. Eun-Hee Ji: Yes, her average ranking is 14.5 and she's got that member win the 3 players I've ranked ahead of her don't have, but as she's going to need another great season to stay on the pace Park alone has set, I just can't justify ranking her higher than this just yet.
8. In-Kyung Kim: Another Super Soph with a win and great stats--her average ranking of 23.75 is the same as Park's--but as Ji has already outpaced her or is on track to in most of them, this is as high as she goes right now.
9. Inbee Park: Despite the fact that she has the same average ranking as Jee Young Lee's, if it weren't for that major win, I'd drop her out of this category in a heartbeat, given her slumps at the beginning and end of 2008. But if she makes like Pressel and gets another win soon, I'd be hard-pressed not to leapfrog her ahead of a host of players with better overall records and stats.

The Contenders

10. Ai Miyazato: Yes, her average ranking is 42.75 and she hasn't won anywhere since 2006, but she's fully recovered from last summer's leg injury and should be driving the ball better and hitting more greens in '09. She's been quietly moving up the GSPI over the 2nd half of the season and should continue to do so. More to the point, nobody ranked below her has proven they can maintain her winnings pace just yet. Even though the JLPGA will be calling her, next season should be her favorite--and best--on the LPGA, with Shiho Oyama and Mika Miyazato (no relation) joining her and Momoko Ueda on the LPGA and her friend Louise Stahle back on tour full-time in '09.
11. Brittany Lang: She came out of a terrible sophomore slump sooner than Miyazato, closed out 2008 in style, and has a better average ranking (34.75), but she needs to keep that pace up for a while longer to catch Ai-chan (having played 14 more events than she has).
12. Song-Hee Kim: Although her average ranking is 20 and she almost made a million dollars in '08, her rookie season set her far behind Lang in top 10s and top 20s. I need to see another $750K+ season in '09 before I consider putting her among the very best in her generation without a win as an LPGA member (N.Y. Choi, Lee, A. Park). Given the strength of her stats, I wouldn't be surprised at all, though, if she were to beat them to the winner's circle next season.
13. Momoko Ueda: Her average ranking of 25.75 is helped by those 7 recent JLPGA wins (including 2 in '08), but there's no arguing with the fact that she made about a million dollars in 32 worldwide starts in '08. It'll be very interesting to see if she plans to continue her jet-setting pace in '09. If so, it'll be hard for her to stay this high in this ranking.
14. Jane Park: Got off to a great start in her 1st full season on tour, but couldn't keep up the pace down the home stretch. Her average ranking of 37.75 is more of a reflection of a start-and-stop rookie season, however. Look for her to improve further in '09--only Tseng, Choi, and Ji have done better than her in a similar or smaller number of starts.
15. Hee Young Park: With a 47.5 average ranking, she's the 1st player in this cohort not to outrank Miyazato, so even though she outearned her this season on the LPGA and is one of the best on tour off the tee, I still can't put her any higher than this.
16. Ji Young Oh: With an average ranking of 33.75 and an LPGA win to her name, she could make a good case for being ranked as high as #14 here. But not to me.
17. Sun Young Yoo: Her average ranking of 39 shows the kind of quantum leap she made this season, one in which she basically doubled her previous career winnings and crossed the million-dollar mark. Can she keep it up in '09? She'll have to if she wants to maintain, much less improve, her standing here.
18. Shanshan Feng: Her 63.25 average ranking is deceiving, as the 2nd half of her rookie campaign was as great as her 1st half was awful. Look for her to get off to a fast start in '09 and shoot up these rankings. She's already gotten her 1st top 5 of 2009--on the KLPGA.
19. Louise Friberg: Like Inbee Park, she would have dropped a category without her win, but it's too soon to do to her what I've done to Julieta Granada and Meaghan Francella. Still, her standing as the top Euro in her generation will come under challenge in '09. How will she respond?
20. Teresa Lu: With an average ranking of 43.5, she came close to making as big a quantum leap as Yoo did this season. With Taiwanese compatriots Tseng and Candie Kung leading the way, '09 could be an even better year for her.
21. Amy Yang: Although she doesn't really belong in this ranking, much less this category, based on her LPGA record alone, I'm expecting her to have a better '09 than Jane Park and even Eun-Hee Ji did in '08, what with her 2 LET wins and #4 position on their money list this season, not to mention her runner-up finish in a star-studded LPGA Q-School. In fact, I'm too embarrassed to rank her where I think she actually deserves to be right now. I'll save that for my '09 predictions post!

Quantum Leap Candidates

22. Allison Fouch: This returnee to the LPGA from the Futures Tour had such a fantastic season in '08 that I'm putting her at the top of this category. [Update (1/8/09, 2:00 am): Looks like she's got the right mindset for '09.]
23. Kristy McPherson: She bounced back from a rocky rookie year in a big way this season, so the sky's the limit next one.
24. Sandra Gal. I'm giving the rookie the benefit of the doubt here. She had very good stats in everything but winnings and finishes, so I think she deserves to be ranked this high.
25. Jin Joo Hong: Having improved on a solid rookie season in '08, she's a threat to crack the half-million dollar mark in '09.
26. H.J. Choi: Hung in there during a season that could have gone way south and built some decent momentum for '09.
27. Na On Min: Will she be able to bounce back from a disappointing 2008? At least she'll have every opportunity to do so. As bad as her '08 was, she still made the top 80 on the money list. Barely.
28. Julieta Granada: It's sad to see Ji-Yai Shin's ADT win being compared to hers, when there's no way that Shin will struggle on the LPGA for as long as she has. Still, even without that win, her record is almost as good as Yoo's, so there's no reason to worry that she will go the way of Violeta Retamoza. I hope. Another season like this one and it's back to Q-School for her.
29. Meaghan Francella: Her playoff win over Annika Sorenstam early last season is the only thing keeping her in this ranking--that, and the struggles of those ranked below her!
30. Minea Blomqvist: With comparable stats to Francella's minus that win, she can't go any higher this season, but if her '09 is as good as her '08 was, she'll pass a lot of people in her generation.
31. Linda Wessberg: As expected, she struggled a bit in her 1st full season on the LPGA, but she managed to keep her card and live to play full-time another year. Still among the top 5 Euros in her generation, although she'll have to do better next season to stay ahead of Anja Monke, Anna Rawson, Sophie Giquel, Karin Sjodin, Louise Stahle, and Ashleigh Simon, not to mention 2009 rookies Anna Nordqvist and Tania Elosegui.
32. Kyeong Bae: Will she be able to bounce back from a disappointing 2008? Can she once again become one of her generation's most efficient birdie machines?

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

2008 LPGA Money List (rank), stroke 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 played 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 (except for birdies, which ranks by total and not by average). I figure I can figure out how well they're hitting their irons and putting by comparing the last three figures, so I don'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. Ya Ni Tseng, $1.75M (#3), 70.77 (#4), 3.96 (#1), 68.3% (#7)
2. Seon Hwa Lee, $1.19M (#6), 71.51 (#16), 3.13 (#15), 67.7% (#15)
3. Inbee Park, $1.14M (#8), 71.78 (#26), 3.34 (#22), 61.4% (#109)
4. Na Yeon Choi, $1.10M (#11), 71.10 (#8), 3.58 (#8), 68.5% (#6)
5. Song-Hee Kim, $980.9K (#14), 71.23 (#10), 3.48 (#29), 68.9% (#5)
6. Eun-Hee Ji, $914.0K (#15), 71.47 (#15), 3.24 (#18), 65.9% (#39)
7. Angela Park, $869.9K (#17), 71.99 (#37), 3.26 (#20), 64.9% (#58)
8. Jee Young Lee, $796.0K (#21), 71.38 (#14), 3.65 (#6), 66.3% (#34)
9. In-Kyung Kim, $774.0K (#22), 71.54 (#18), 3.54 (#13), 62.2% (#96)
10. Morgan Pressel, $711.3K (#24), 72.04 (#42), 3.12 (#36), 65.5% (#47)
11. Sun Young Yoo, $689.0K (#23), 71.63 (#20), 3.48 (#5), 66.6% (#27)
12. Ji Young Oh, $680.2K (#25), 71.65 (#22), 3.29 (#12), 65.7% (#44)
13. Jane Park, $631.4K (#29), 71.83 (#31), 3.13 (#31), 66.9% (#24)
14. Brittany Lang, $630.3K (#30), 71.79 (#29), 3.10 (#24), 68.1% (#10)
15. Teresa Lu, $507.6K (#34), 72.24 (#49), 2.80 (#34), 63.9% (#68)
16. Hee Young Park, $474.7K (#35), 71.78 (#27), 3.43 (#15), 65.7% (#43)
17. Shanshan Feng, $472.8K (#36), 72.45 (#57), 3.17 (#49), 67.2% (#20)
18. Minea Blomqvist, $417.0K (#44), 72.45 (#56), 3.24 (#40), 59.7% (#134)
19. Momoko Ueda, $413.6K (#45), 71.74 (#23), 3.17 (#70), 63.6% (#73)
20. Ai Miyazato, $410.8K (#46), 72.19 (#48), 2.78 (#59), 62.1% (#97)
21. Kristy McPherson, $407.2K (#47), 71.86 (#34), 3.22 (#33), 65.9% (#40)
22. Louise Friberg, $395.1K (#48), 72.49 (#59), 2.93 (#59), 65.1% (#54)
23. Alison Fouch, $375.3K (#50), 73.00 (#87), 3.01 (#49), 62.6% (#85)
24. Jin Joo Hong, $339.5K (#53), 72.37 (#53), 2.84 (#76), 62.5% (#89)
25. H.J. Choi, $253.3K (#57), 72.69 (#70), 2.75 (#46), 60.9% (#115)
26. Sandra Gal, $181.2K (#68), 72.03 (#40), 3.13 (#54), 67.2% (#21)
27. Kyeong Bae, $166.1K (#74), 73.00 (#87), 3.07 (#56), 60.7% (#118)
28. Linda Wessberg, $165.1K (#75), 73.23 (#103), 3.10 (#52), 59.8% (#131)
29. Na On Min, $146.6K (#76), 73.19 (#101), 2.63 (#71), 61.7% (#105)
30. Meaghan Francella, $117.7K (#88), 73.75 (#131), 2.40 (#97), 65.2% (#52)
31. Julieta Granada, $101.1K (#100), 73.31 (#106), 2.40 (#92), 58.3% (#144)
32. Amy Yang, $60.8K (#129), 72.45 (?), ?, ?

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 Young Guns 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 over the course of their careers. 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 Young Guns 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 at the end of '08.

1. Seon Hwa Lee, $3.18M (#52), 88/0/4/10/23/46/83 (.943)
2. Jee Young Lee, $2.34M (#75), 78/0/0/6/24/45/73 (.936)
3. Morgan Pressel, $2.15M (#83), 75/1/2/6/22/38/65 (.867)
4. Julieta Granada, $2.15M (#84), 83/0/1/5/10/21/56 (.675)
5. Angela Park, $1.85M (#96), 55/0/0/6/15/22/50 (.910)
6. Ya Ni Tseng, $1.75M (#100), 27/1/1/8/10/18/26 (.963)
7. Ai Miyazato, $1.73M (#102), 69/0/0/4/17/26/56 (.812)
8. Inbee Park, $1.52M (#111), 47/1/1/3/9/15/33 (.702)
9. Brittany Lang, $1.52M (#112), 83/0/0/4/17/32/60 (.723)
10. In-Kyung Kim, $1.23M (#136), 51/0/1/3/12/20/43 (.843)
11. Eun-Hee Ji, $1.16M (#148), 32/0/1/4/10/13/27 (.844)
12. Na Yeon Choi, $1.10M (#158), 27/0/0/3/9/18/27 (1.000)
13. Song-Hee Kim, $1.06M (#160), 51/0/0/4/9/17/37 (.725)
14. Sun Young Yoo, $1.05M (#165), 81/0/0/1/9/21/61 (.753)
15. Ji Young Oh, $.83M (#201), 51/0/1/1/5/12/36 (.706)
16. Teresa Lu, $.79M (#206), 70/0/0/1/6/16/51 (.729)
17. Kyeong Bae, $.76M (#211), 78/0/0/2/7/12/54 (.692)
18. Jane Park, $.70M (#221), 37/0/0/3/4/8/31 (.838)
19. Meaghan Francella $.63M (#232), 54/0/1/1/4/9/30 (.556)
20. Minea Blomqvist, $.58M (#241), 57/0/0/1/3/8/35 (.614)
21. H.J. Choi, $.56M (#244), 55/0/0/0/6/11/38 (.691)
22. Jin Joo Hong, $.50M (#258), 43/0/0/0/2/7/28 (.651)
23. Kristy McPherson, $.49M (#264), 42/0/0/0/6/9/30 (.714)
24. Hee Young Park, $.47M (#267), 28/0/0/0/4/7/22 (.786)
25. Shanshan Feng, $.47M (#269), 26/0/0/1/5/7/15 (.577)
26. Na On Min, $.46M (#272), 45/0/0/1/2/5/28 (.622)
27. Momoko Ueda, $.41M (#281), 19/0/0/0/3/5/16 (.842)
28. Louise Friberg, $.40M (#285), 24/0/1/1/3/4/16 (.667)
29. Alison Fouch, $.38M (#287), 25/0/0/1/3/6/17 (.680)
30. Linda Wessberg, $.33M (#308), 37/0/0/0/4/6/24 (.649)
31. Sandra Gal, $.18M (#388), 22/0/0/0/0/3/17 (.773)
32. Amy Yang, $.06M (#512), 7/0/0/0/1/2/5 (.714)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Ranking (as of 12/29/08) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of 12/28/08) and rank, Hound Dog ranking (as of 11/24/08), and Mostly Harmless ranking (as of 11/28/08), International and Non-Member LPGA Wins (as of the end of the 2008 season): This is a way of seeing how those Young Guns 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, LET, JLPGA, KLPGA, and Futures Tour; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on all these tours except the KLPGA).

1. Ya Ni Tseng, 9.31 (#2), 69.83 (#8), #5, #4; 0
2. Seon Hwa Lee, 4.56 (#11), 70.51 (#15), #9, #8; 3
3. Momoko Ueda, 4.06 (#14), 70.80 (#26), #35, #28; 7
4. Jee Young Lee, 4.06 (#15), 70.52 (#16), #22, #18; 2
5. Eun-Hee Ji, 4.01 (#17), 70.43 (#14), #13, #14; 4
6. Morgan Pressel, 3.81 (#19), 71.40 (#47), #27, #25; 0
7. Inbee Park, 3.59 (#21), 71.09 (#34), #11, #13; 0
8. Angela Park, 3.53 (#23), 70.90 (#27), #25, #21; 0
9. In-Kyung Kim, 3.45 (#25), 70.90 (#28), #20, #22; 0
10. Na Yeon Choi, 3.33 (#27), 69.92 (#9), #10, #9; 4
11. Song-Hee Kim, 2.78 (#34), 70.63 (#21), #18, #17; 0
12. Ai Miyazato, 2.68 (#36), 71.33 (#45), #49, #41; 14
13. Brittany Lang, 2.41 (#46), 70.99 (#31), #31, #31; 0
14. Jane Park, 2.27 (#47), 71.02 (#32), #34, #33; 0
15. Shanshan Feng, 2.13 (#48), 72.69 (#104), #55, #45; 0
16. Ji Young Oh, 1.91 (#53), 70.94 (#29), #23, #30; 0
17. Sun Young Yoo, 1.91 (#54), 71.15 (#37), #33, #32; 0
18. Hee Young Park, 1.84 (#59), 71.35 (#46), #43, #42; 4
19. Teresa Lu, 1.78 (#61), 71.15 (#38), #40, #35; 0
20. Minea Blomqvist, 1.60 (#66), 71.55 (#53), #51, #50; 5
21. Kristy McPherson, 1.43 (#70), 71.79 (#63), #45, #48; 0
22. Louise Friberg, 1.42 (#72), 72.21 (#82), #54, n.r.; 0
23. Allison Fouch, 1.28 (#83), 72.62 (#101), n.r., n.r.; 0
24. Jin Joo Hong, 1.23 (#85), 72.09 (#77), #60, n.r.; 2
25. Amy Yang, 1.21 (#87), 71.80 (#64), #57, n.r.; 3
26. Meaghan Francella, 1.10 (#92), 73.66 (#172), n.r., n.r.; 0
27. H.J. Choi, 1.08 (#93), 72.45 (#91), #66, n.r.; 1
28. Linda Wessberg, 1.01 (#97), 73.21 (#136), n.r., n.r.; 6
29. Na On Min, .97 (#104), 73.14 (#126), n.r., n.r.; 0
30. Julieta Granada, .82 (#116), 73.39 (#151), n.r., n.r.; 0
31. Sandra Gal, .76 (#124); 71.69 (#58), #53, n.r.; 0
32. Kyeong Bae, .66 (#139), 73.22 (#139), n.r., n.r.; 3

FYI, here's my 2009 schedule:

February: Class of 2006 (pre-HSBC)
March: Class of 2007 (pre-Kraft Nabisco)
April: Class of 2008 (post-Corona)
May: Young Guns (post-Corning)
June: Class of 2006 (post-Wegmans)
July: Class of 2007 (pre-WBO)
August: Class of 2008 (post-Safeway)
September: Young Guns (post-Longs Drugs)
October: Class of 2006 (post-Korea)
November: Class of 2007 (post-Stanford)
December: Class of 2008 (post-Q School)
January '10: Young Guns (final 2009 ranking)

Monday, December 29, 2008

The LPGA Gets a Foothold in South America

With the Women's World Cup of Golf becoming an end-of-season event in 2009, there was an opening at the top of the 2009 LPGA schedule. Until now. The LPGA just announced the start of a new event, the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup, to be played in Rio on January 24th and 25th. Angela Park and Candy Hannemann will be joined by 12 other LPGA players and 1 other Brazilian for this 36-hole exhibition. Their winnings won't be counted on the '09 money list, but between the $500K purse and the fact that it's being played in Rio in January, I wouldn't be surprised to see more than half of the top 10 from the '08 money list there in a few weeks. Nor would I be at all surprised if the event became an official one within a few years, what with "the support of the State Government of Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian Ministry of Sports" behind it (and perhaps also behind Brasil 1, HSBC's co-sponsor). Heck, HSBC will probably use this as a vehicle to revive their Women's World Match Play Championship down the road. What better reward for being among the top 64 women golfers in the world (or one of the few Brazilian professional golfers) than Rio in January? If this sounds too far-fetched, perhaps it'll become the Angela Park Invitational....

[Update 1 (1/14/09, 3:31 am): Regular commenter here Jamie R.S. surveys the field list at his new blog, Crosscourt Birdies.]

On Professional Golf in China

There are plans afoot in China to create a CLPGA, starting with fewer than 10 events in 2009 and looking to reach 20 by 2013. Each event will have a purse of at least $50K.

I still don't think we'll see 10 Chinese golfers on the LPGA before 2020, but every great leap forward starts with those first baby steps, right?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Japanese TV Loves Miho Koga

Here she is with Momoko Ueda. Imagine anyone from the LPGA getting this much air time on an American news program!

Koga's also a regular on talk shows. Here's a short clip from a sports show:

A long one from an Iron Chef-esque cook-off:

A girl-talk lunch where she gets drunk fast:

Last but not least, a recent appearance on one of the big Christmas shows with Sanma and SMAP, in which Nakai-kun digs himself in deeper while trying to explain earlier comments on beauty and body image and Koga is at ground zero.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Golf's Top 50 Earners

Golf Digest's list of golf's top 50 earners (including both on- and off-course income) doesn't contain all that many surprises. Tiger's #1 by far ($117M+), Phil's #2 (although Vijay's win at Tiger's Chevron World Challenge puts him within half a million of his $44.85M total), Arnie, the Shark, and Jack are still in the top 10, and Els, Garcia, Harrington, and Furyk round it out. But only 8 guys made more off the course than Annika Sorenstam, who moved from 15th in '07 to 11th in '08 (almost $14.5M in all). Michelle Wie dropped from #12 to #24 overall (just over $7M, all but small change in endorsements and appearance fees, where she was 15th overall), but she stayed ahead of Paula Creamer, who jumped from #37 to #26 to pull within a half a million or so of her. (Before you complain, consider that John Daly came in at #30, with a similar imbalance in on- and off-course earnings.) Ji-Yai Shin beat Lorena Ochoa out for the #44 spot, even without her KLPGA winnings counting toward her on-course earnings. (As if Ochoa needs more motivation for 2009, she was also runner-up to a WNBA rookie for the AP's Female Athlete of the Year award after winning it a couple of years in a row.) It'll sure be interesting to see if more than 5 women can break through in 2009--and how many of them, if any, can surpass Annika.

Friday, December 26, 2008

And a Very Animated Hanukkah

I haven't found anything on youtube to help us celebrate Hanukkah Mostly Harmless style that beats last year's finds. Well, there was this one that I chose not to use:

So, reruns and leftovers for Hanukkah. Some miracle of lights!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have a Very Ojamajo Doremi Christmas

I mean, QSMS!

Special bonus: one of the Ojamajo Doremi Christmas episodes!

With friends like these, who needs Pretty Cure, right?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

QSMS Has Come Early in Japan... least for fans of the Pretty Cure franchise. Behold the trailer for the March 20, 2009, release of Precure All Stars DX, a movie that brings together the casts of every season of onechan's formerly favorite anime...if you dare!

Hat tip: moetron, which is breaking teh intertubes today, apparently.

Oh, and onechan can't take the fighting in Pretty Cure any more--runs out of the room screaming, usually. It seems the magical girl genre has become a lot more Dragonball in recent years. Speaking of which:

Why even try turning anime into live action? Meh.

It's 2009 Already in Korea... least on the KLPGA, which kicked off its 2009 season with the China Orient Ladies Open last weekend. 2008 Rookie of the Year Hye Yong Choi went 65-71-69 for a 3-shot victory over 6-time winner "last" season Hee Kyung Seo. Shanshan Feng was the best Chinese player in the field, finishing 7 shots back in 5th place, but 1 ahead of Ha Neul Kim and 3 ahead of So Yeon Ryu.

2 immediate conclusions present themselves from these results: Feng is for real and likely to start the 2009 LPGA season well; the kids in the KLPGA are going to be all right in the post-Ji Yai Shin era.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best of the Young Guns: Ranking the Rookies

Now that the 2008 season is behind us, we can begin to get a sense of who among the LPGA's rookies is most likely to challenge Ya Ni Tseng and Na Yeon Choi for dominance in their class--and on tour--in 2009. Next step: figuring out who among the Young Guns--the rookie classes of 2006 through 2008--have had the best careers so far.

Simply the Best
1. Ya Ni Tseng. Despite playing the entire season with an injured upper right arm, she still ended up #4 in the entire LPGA in my final ranking--and I thought seriously about making her #2. When Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, and Paula Creamer are all naming her as one of the best in the world, the rest of us should take the hint. Maybe next year at the Wegmans the Full Metal Archivist won't mistake her for Ai Miyazato! (In my wife's defense, Tseng was riding in a cart about 50 feet away from us and we only saw her profile....)
2. Na Yeon Choi. Definitely had a Rookie of the Year quality season--and as a non-exempt player, to boot. Only problem: it happened the same year as Tseng's. That's why she's #9 on the LPGA and #2 here.

The Contenders
3. Momoko Ueda. Only had a so-so year on the LPGA in a mere 19 starts; nothing really stands out, either stats-wise or results-wise. But that was still good enough for a #28 position in my Best of the LPGA ranking. Not as good as her #6 ranking on the JLPGA, but still not bad. How much will she play on the LPGA in 2009? Hopefully her friendship with Tseng and double the number of Japanese players on tour in '09 than '08 will mean more LPGA starts for her next season than this one. Only time--and how good a start she gets off to--will tell.
4. Hee Young Park. Hound Dog ranks her #3 on tour in total driving; she's also #4 in her class in scoring average and #3 in birdie rate. If she can improve her approach shots and putting, 2009 will be a breakout year for her. Certainly I expect her to do better next season than this season's #42 in my Best of the LPGA ranking.
5. Shanshan Feng. Hound Dog ranks her in the top 10 on tour in total driving, despite a horrific start this season where she missed 9 of her 1st 10 cuts and withdrew from the very next tournament. In fact, she bounced back so well she ended up #45 in my Best of the LPGA ranking--the last of the rookies to make my top 51. Anyone who qualifies for the ADT Championship in their rookie year is worth a second look, so watch for her in '09.
6. Louise Friberg. She blitzed the field on a Sunday this March in Mexico for her 1st win--and not only the 1st of her class, but first by a rookie since Seon Hwa Lee and Morgan Pressel did it for the Class of '06. She struggled a bit the rest of the season, but Hound Dog gets her prospects for 2009 just about right, in my book: the key is improving her approach shots and making more birdie putts.
7. Amy Yang. Won twice on the LET and finished 4th in their New Star money list in 2008. With her 2nd-place finish at Q-School, she's poised to become one of the top players on the LPGA in 2009. Can't wait to read the update to her bio on Seoul

Quantum Leap Candidates
8. Sandra Gal. Has proven she can make cuts on tour; now can she start finishing as high as her impressive all-around stats suggest she should?
9. Anja Monke. 2 late-season LET wins vaulted her to #5 on their money list in '08. Can she keep her momentum going in '09? After a T15 finish at LPGA's Q-School where she bounced back from an opening-round 75, why not?
10. Anna Rawson. A smooth, solid T12 at Q-School--with all 5 rounds under par--ensured her full-time status on the LPGA in '09. If she can capitalize on her ability to hit greens and putt just a little bit better next season, she won't be going back to Q-School.
11. Carolina Llano. Successfully improved her status at Q-School with an impressive T10 finish. I have a good feeling for her in '09.
12. Anna Grzebien. Was her 3rd-place finish at Q-School--capped off with a sizzling final-round 65--a harbinger of better things to come? For her sake, let's hope so. For some reason, I have less confidence in her than in Llano--maybe it's that missed-cut rate?
13. Ashleigh Simon. A great 68 in the final round of Q-School vaulted her to T17 and gave her a shot at fulfilling the promise so many have seen in her. The jury's still out in my book, to mix metaphors.
14. Leah Wigger. Snuck into Category 11 status with a clutch performance in a Q-School playoff that probably shouldn't have happened. Can she take advantage in '09? Let's see.

On the Bottom, Looking Up (low priority status in '09)
15. Eunjung Yi. Had the best LPGA stats of this group, but a final-round 74 at Q-School dropped her to T44, ensuring that she wouldn't improve on her (high) Category 15 status. Hound Dog ranks her right next to Paula Creamer in total driving, so if she can improve on her approach shots and putting, watch out for her in '09. Check out her Seoul profile for a career overview.
16. Jimin Jeong. Had the 2nd-best LPGA stats of this group, but failed to improve upon her Category 15 status at Q-School, badly missing the 72-hole cut there. Check out her Seoul profile for a career overview.
17. Taylor Leon. A T40 at Q-School failed to improve her Category 15 status for '09. Will need to make the most of her starts next season.
18. Sarah Kemp. Couldn't improve on her Category 15 standing at Q-School, despite a nice comeback from a 2nd-round 77 that brought her all the way up to T25. Will have to make the most of her starts in '09.

On the Outside, Looking In (Futures Tour or worse in '09)
19. Hannah Jun. The medalist at the Futures Tour Q-School couldn't improve on her status at the LPGA's, finishing T54. Check out her Seoul profile for a career overview--this one's a survivor, literally.
20. Onnarin Sattayabanphot. Only made a couple of cuts on the LPGA, but missed the key one--the 72-hole cut at Q-School--by 2 shots. She's Futures Tour-bound in 2009, looking to improve on her #34 standing there (in only 5 starts) this season.
21. Liz Janangelo. Between her T21 at the Futures Tour Q-School and T60 at the LPGA's Q-School, she'll be a FT fixture in '09.
22. Chris Brady. Earned herself a return ticket to the Futures Tour with her T60 finish at the LPGA's Q-School. It's a good thing she did it that way, as she couldn't crack the top 100 in 12 events there this season.
23. Nicole Hage. Only made a couple of cuts on the LPGA in '08, but got herself Category 20 status at Q-School, so I assume she'll be trying to improve upon her #57 standing from this season on the Futures Tour next one.
24. Amie Cochran. Her only made cut on the LPGA was a top 20, but as she didn't play on the Futures Tour or enter their Q-School, much less the LPGA's, in 2008, she may have called her professional golf career quits. That would be too bad--for her and the LPGA--as Beth Ann Baldry's profile of her from last September shows. [Update: Baldry reports that she got married changed her name. She's now Amie Hartje. Having lost 4 family members in 2008, she wasn't ready for Q-School and missed the 72-hole cut badly.]
25. Violeta Retamoza. Barely avoided an 0-for-20 run on the LPGA in '08, but as she did just as badly in both the LPGA's and Futures Tour's Q-Schools, she may be headed for the LET's in January to seek some kind of professional affiliation in 2009. [Update (1/8/09, 2:35 am): Apparently her playing the Futures Tour Q-School was just an pre-LPGA Q-School attempted confidence boost. Lisa Mickey lists her among the players to watch on the '09 FT.]
26. Sarah Oh. Didn't make a cut on the LPGA in '08 but finished T40 at Q-School; depending on how the LPGA resolves its Q-School playoff problem, she may have Category 20 status in 2009, so I assume she'll be focusing on the Futures Tour. Check out her Seoul profile for a career overview.
27. Emma Cabrera-Bello. Didn't make a cut on the LPGA, but finished 42nd on the LET's money list, so she'll be back there next season.
28. Sofie Andersson. Didn't get into a single event in 2008. Badly missed the 72-hole cut at Q-School. Should have some Futures Tour status next season, as she finished 59th on their money list in '08.
29. Hwanhee Lee. Didn't make a cut on the LPGA and missed the 72-hole cut at the LPGA's Q-School by 4 shots. Her future is murky--she only played 6 Futures Tour events this season, couldn't crack the top 100 on the money list, and didn't enter their Q-School--so I guess she has to choose between the LET's and KLPGA's Q-Schools if she wants a professional affiliation in '09. Check out her Seoul profile for a career overview. [Update (1/8/09, 1:11 am): Uh oh, she's listed as a WD from the LET's Q-School.]
30. Sukjin Lee Wuesthoff. Didn't get into a single event in 2008. Missed the 72-hole cut at 2008 Q-School by 1 shot. Don't know what her future as a professional holds. Check her profile at Seoul for updates.

For your reference--and mine--here are the stats on which I'm basing the 2008 ranking.

2008 LPGA Money List (rank), stroke 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 played 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 (except for birdies, which ranks by total and not by average). I figure I can figure out how well they're hitting their irons and putting by comparing the last three figures, so I don'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. Ya Ni Tseng, $1.75M (#3), 70.77 (#4), 3.96 (#1), 68.3% (#7)
2. Na Yeon Choi, $1.10M (#11), 71.10 (#8), 3.58 (#8), 68.5% (#6)
3. Hee Young Park, $474.7K (#34), 71.78 (#27), 3.43 (#15), 65.7% (#43)
4. Shanshan Feng, $472.8K (#35), 72.45 (#57), 3.17 (#49), 67.2% (#20)
5. Momoko Ueda, $413.6K (#45), 71.74 (#23), 3.17 (#70), 63.6% (#73)
6. Louise Friberg, $395.1K (#48), 72.49 (#59), 2.93 (#59), 65.1% (#54)
7. Sandra Gal, $181.2K (#68), 72.03 (#40), 3.13 (#54), 67.2% (#21)
8. Eunjung Yi, $95.2K (#104), 72.57 (#61), 3.19 (#136), 66.1% (#37)
9. Carolina Llano, $88.0K (#108), 73.69 (#128), 2.89 (#90), 61.4% (#106)
10. Taylor Leon, $85.6K (#111), 73.64 (#127), 2.76 (#133), 63.0% (#88)
11. Jimin Jeong, $81.9K (#115), 73.12 (#98), 2.91 (#131), 63.9% (#67)
12. Sarah Kemp, $73.4K (#122), 73.59 (#123), 2.71 (#102), 60.3% (#126)
13. Anna Rawson, $62.8K (#127), 73.54 (#121), 2.66 (#146), 67.9% (#14)
14. Amy Yang, $60.8K (#129), 72.45 (?), ?, ?
15. Anna Grzebien, $39.1K (#142), 73.51 (#119), 2.90 (#140), 65.7% (#45)
16. Anja Monke, $35.9K (#145), 72.13 (?), ?, ?
17. Liz Janangelo, $34.0K (#147), 74.20 (#142), 2.66 (#102), 59.8% (#151)
18. Hannah Jun, $32.0K (#150), 73.56 (?), ?, ?
19. Ashleigh Simon, $20.3K (#157), 74.27 (#144), 2.51 (#146), 59.9% (#130)
20. Amie Cochran, $17.2K (#158), 75.42 (?), ?, ?
21. Leah Wigger, $14.1K (#162), 74.24 (?), ?, ?
22. Onnarin Sattayabanphot, $8.6K (#169), 75.05 (?), ?, ?
23. Nicole Hage, $8.4K (#171), 74.50 (?), ?, ?
24. Chris Brady, $6.1K (#177), 74.45 (?), ?, ?
25. Violeta Retamoza, $2.5K (#188), 79.44 (#161), 1.62 (#155), 41.9% (#161)
26. Sarah Oh, $0K (n.a.), 76.17 (?), ?, ?
27. Hwanhee Lee, $0K (n.a.), 76.60 (?), ?, ?
28. Emma Cabrera-Bello, $0K (n.a.), 78.00 (?), ?, ?

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 rookies haven't been at this long at all, so the career money list is a decent stat for comparing them, even if it's a bit unfair to people who were not exempt this year. 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 rookies 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 at the end of '08.

1. Ya Ni Tseng, $1.75M (#100), 27/1/1/8/10/18/26 (.963)
2. Na Yeon Choi, $1.10M (#158), 27/0/0/3/9/18/27 (1.000)
3. Hee Young Park, $474.7K (#267), 28/0/0/0/4/7/22 (.786)
4. Shanshan Feng, $472.8K (#269), 26/0/0/1/5/7/15 (.577)
5. Momoko Ueda, $413.6K (#281), 19/0/0/0/3/5/16 (.842)
6. Louise Friberg, $395.1K (#285), 24/0/1/1/3/4/16 (.667)
7. Sandra Gal, $181.2K (#388), 22/0/0/0/0/3/17 (.773)
8. Eunjung Yi, $95.2K (#455), 13/0/0/0/0/1/8 (.615)
9. Carolina Llano, $88.0K (#471), 23/0/0/0/1/1/11 (.478)
10. Taylor Leon, $85.6K (#475), 16/0/0/0/1/3/8 (.500)
11. Jimin Jeong, $81.9K (#480), 13/0/0/0/1/1/9 (.692)
12. Sarah Kemp, $73.4K (#487), 20/0/0/0/0/2/9 (.450)
13. Anna Rawson, $62.8K (#509), 13/0/0/0/1/2/5 (.385)
14. Amy Yang, $60.8K (#512), 7/0/0/0/1/2/5 (.714)
15. Anna Grzebien, $39.1K (#557), 15/0/0/0/0/1/5 (.333)
16. Anja Monke, $35.9K (#561), 4/0/0/0/0/0/4 (1.000)
17. Liz Janangelo, $34.0K (#563), 22/0/0/0/0/0/9 (.409)
18. Hannah Jun, $32.0K (#568), 9/0/0/0/0/0/5 (.556)
19. Ashleigh Simon, $20.3K (#599), 14/0/0/0/0/0/5 (.357)
20. Amie Cochran, $17.2K (#609), 5/0/0/0/0/1/1 (.200)
21. Leah Wigger, $14.1K (#628), 6/0/0/0/0/0/3 (.500)
22. Onnarin Sattayabanphot, $8.6K (#656), 8/0/0/0/0/0/2 (.250)
23. Nicole Hage, $8.4K (#657), 7/0/0/0/0/0/2 (.286)
24. Chris Brady, $6.1K (#673), 4/0/0/0/0/0/2 (.500)
25. Violeta Retamoza, $2.5K (#704), 19/0/0/0/0/0/1 (.053)
26. Emma Cabrera-Bello, $0K (n.a.), 2/0/0/0/0/0/0 (.000)
27. Sarah Oh, $0K (n.a.), 3/0/0/0/0/0/0 (.000)
28. Hwanhee Lee, $0K (n.a.), 5/0/0/0/0/0/0 (.000)
29. Sukjin Lee Wuesthoff, $0K (n.a.), 0/0/0/0/0/0/0 (.000)
30. Sofie Andersson, $0K (n.a.), 0/0/0/0/0/0/0 (.000)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Ranking (as of 12/22/08) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of 12/21/08) and rank, International and Non-Member LPGA Wins (as of the end of the 2008 season): This is a way of seeing how those rookies 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, LET, JLPGA, KLPGA, and Futures Tour; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on all these tours except the KLPGA).

1. Ya Ni Tseng, 9.41 (#2), 69.83 (#8); 0
2. Momoko Ueda, 4.13 (#14), 70.80 (#26); 7
3. Na Yeon Choi, 3.37 (#28), 69.92 (#9); 4
4. Shanshan Feng, 2.14 (#48), 72.69 (#104); 0
5. Hee Young Park, 1.87 (#58), 71.35 (#46); 4
6. Louise Friberg, 1.44 (#72), 72.21 (#82); 0
7. Amy Yang, 1.22 (#87), 71.80 (#64); 3
8. Sandra Gal, .77 (#124); 71.69 (#58); 0
9. Anja Monke, .59 (#155), 73.45 (#157); 2
10. Sarah Kemp, .45 (#196), 73.82 (#184); 0
11. Anna Rawson, .44 (#198), 73.57 (#166); 0
12. Jimin Jeong, .41 (#208), 73.20 (#134); 0
13. Eunjung Yi, .41 (#210), 72.73 (#108); 0
14. Ashleigh Simon, .33 (#236), 74.38 (#238); 1
15. Taylor Leon, .27 (#261), 73.76 (#177); 0
16. Carolina Llano, .17 (#325), 73.78 (#180); 0
17. Anna Grzebien, .12 (#361), 74.27 (#225); 0
18. Liz Janangelo, .07 (#434), 74.30 (#227); 0
19. Emma Cabrera-Bello, .07 (#439), 74.96 (#284); 0
20. Onnarin Sattayabanphot, .06 (#451), 74.31 (#230); 0
21. Sarah Oh, .05 (#472), 77.19 (n.r.); 0
22. Amie Cochran, .04 (#498), 75.66 (n.r.); 0
23. Nicole Hage, .04 (#509), 76.05 (#356); 0
24. Leah Wigger, .04 (#536), 73.87 (#191); 0
25. Violeta Retamoza, .03 (#586), 78.16 (#484); 0
26. Hannah Jun, .03 (#591), 73.79 (n.r.); 0
27. Sofie Andersson, .01 (#667), 77.20 (#432); 0
28. Hwanhee Lee, n.r., 76.90 (#415); 0
29. Chris Brady, n.r., 76.91 (#416); 0
30. Sukjin Lee Wuesthoff, n.r., 76.27 (n.r.); 0

Monday, December 22, 2008

Japanese Jingle Bell Santa People

AKA Sparkychan's Boogie Woogie:

2009 Schedule Speculation for Dual LPGA/JLPGA Members

In his profile of Momoko Ueda, Hound Dog wondered how many events we may see JLPGA stars Ai Miyazato, Momoko Ueda, and Shiho Oyama play on the LPGA in 2009. When you consider that Ueda 's winnings were bigger in '08 on the JLPGA than LPGA, that Ji-Yai Shin played in 37 worldwide events in '08, and put the LPGA and JLPGA schedules side-by-side, some interesting possibilities emerge.

It's imperative that Miyazato, Ueda, and Oyama get off to good starts on the LPGA's Asian-Pacific swing through Hawaii, Thailand, Singapore, Mexico, Arizona, and California, culminating in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in early April, even if they make like Shin and skip the LPGA's kick-off event in Hawaii for the LET's Women's Australian Open. If they do, they'll have the choice of spending a few weeks in Japan leading up to the Salonpas Cup, the 1st JLPGA major of the season in early May (opposite the Michelob Ultra), or instead committing firmly to the LPGA all the way through the European Swing in late July and early August. Either way, they're likely to spend the 6 weeks after the Women's British Open playing on the JLPGA and getting ready for the JLPGA's 2nd major, the Konica Minolta Cup (opposite the NW Arkansas event) in mid-September. Then they would have another choice: if some of them qualified for the Samsung World Championship, their best bet is to commit to the LPGA for the rest of the fall, but if not, they're probably better off staying in Japan at least through early October for the Japan Women's Open and perhaps even waiting to rejoin the LPGA until the Pacific portion of its fall Asian-Pacific swing begins in Hawaii a couple of weeks later. Depending on how well they play on the JLPGA, I can even imagine some of them staying in Japan the entire fall, letting the LPGA come to them for the Mizuno Classic and only then deciding if they wanted to jeopardize their performance in the final JLPGA major by jetting over to Mexico and Texas for the LPGA's last 2 events before returning to Japan for the Ricoh Cup (assuming they qualified for it by winning on the JLPGA or placing high enough on their money list in '09).

Shin has proven she doesn't mind jet-setting this early in her career, so she's more likely to play more LPGA events and fewer JLPGA ones than her Japanese cohorts (particularly when you consider she'll have to fit some KLPGA events in, as well). But it's conceivable that Miyazato, Ueda, and Oyama could simply decide to play a split season in '09: the 1st half on the LPGA and the 2nd half on the JLPGA. Whether Mika Miyazato will seek JLPGA membership in '09 (she played several events as an amateur there over the last few years, but was never a member) and give herself a similar choice is another story. As is the possible impact of the abbreviated schedule of LPGA rookies Oyama and Miyazato on the 2009 Rookie of the Year race, beyond the obvious fact that it helps Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, and Vicky Hurst (although it still may not be enough to help them overcome Shin).

But without the draw of a season-ending ADT Championship and the chance each half-season to qualify for it, the bottom line in '09 is that those with dual LPGA/JLPGA membership will have a great chance, at the very least, to string together multiple tournaments in Japan. It may be a different story if the ADT comes back as a season-opening event in 2010, but the LPGA will have to finish that deal--and their 2010-2015 TV deal--quickly enough to decide on their qualifying system for it. So the clock is ticking for the LPGA. Miki Saiki's Q-School disappointment may give Japan's next generation of global stars a small pause, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw double digits of them on the LPGA within 3 years. By then, the LPGA had better get its incentive system in place to get them playing at least 25 events per year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Getting Psyched for the 2009 HSBC Women's Champions

I know, I know, it's the holiday season--and we're in the middle of our 3rd or 4th (I've already lost count) big winter storm--but that's just making it even harder to wait for the opening of the 2009 season! Take a look at the field for next March's 2nd annual Showdown in Singapore! With winners from the 2 early-season LET events in Australia and the LPGA's initial Hawaii event getting invites along with the rest of the LPGA's elite, those not already in will have a big choice between the Women's Australian Open and the SBS Open (which amazingly were scheduled on the same weekend in February). Karrie Webb has already decided to skip the LPGA's opening event and compete against Ji-Yai Shin, Ya Ni Tseng, and what's likely to be a host of other top international players. If I weren't in, I'd play Hawaii--it might end up being the weaker field!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Onechan!

It's great to be 5!

Here are some happy birthday wishes from your favorite characters.



Plus a little Yes! Ojamajo Doremi 5:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Momoko Golf Lab...?

If anyone can figure out what Momoko Golf Lab is supposed to be about, please let me know. So far all I get about it is that it's produced some weird youtube videos featuring Momoko Ueda's swing in slow motion, such as this one:

And this one:

This one features some kind of technology that tracks where she's looking:

Is this footage for commercials, behind-the-scenes views of the making of a video game, Sony opening up a game improvement shop for Momo-chan, or just what it seems: pretty pictures of a pretty girl with a pretty swing, to vaguely ominous music? I'm at a loss.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the 2009 JLPGA and LET Schedules

The Daily Yomiuri has the news: the 2009 JLPGA schedule will be down 3 events and 110 million yen from this year's. For the English version, you can thank the JLPGA's Mi-Jeong Jeon, who posted it over at Seoul

Meanwhile, the LET recently announced that its total purse for 2009 is the largest in tour history. By my count, though, they have lost 1 individual event from their 2008 schedule.

When I have more time, I'll consider some of the implications for players like Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Momoko Ueda, and Shiho Oyama, along with the many European players who also have dual memberships, when it comes to putting their 2009 schedules together.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Meet Jeehae Lee

Speaking of wonder girls, the good people at Seoul have made a Futures Tour press release by Lisa Mickey introducing Jeehae Lee widely available. She's a Yale graduate who's fluent in Korean, Chinese, and English. And speaking of the Futures Tour, its members did pretty darn well at the LPGA's Q-School. Lee is only the 2nd-biggest surprise from last week, however. France's own Jeanne Cho-Hunicke, who came in next-to-last on the LPGA money list in '08 and did horribly at the FT Q-School, came out of nowhere to get Category 11 status. Lee and Cho-Hunicke will get their pick of events in '09. Good luck to them!

[Update 1 (2:41 pm): Dave Andrews has more on Lee.]

[Update 2 (5:00 pm): If Lee has a good '09, look for the Yale alumni office to come knocking on her door!]

[Update 3 (1/14/09, 8:10 pm): Ah, Yale is already courting her!]

[Update 4 (2/2/09, 2:21 am): Beth Ann Baldry profiles Lee.]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hannah Yun to Turn Pro When She Turns 17

Dave Andrews reports that Hannah Yun will be playing full-time on the Futures Tour in 2009. Good for her, even if she hasn't assumed the privileges of MH authorship just quite yet. Look for her to battle FT Q-School medalist Hannah Jun down the stretch on many Sundays in 2009. Wouldn't it be cool if Yun were the 1st player to take advantage of the LPGA's new battlefield promotion rule and play the LPGA under Category 13 after her 3rd win on the FT?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wonder Girls

Why, oh why, can't the LPGA's end-of-year celebration be as fun as the KLPGA's? Thanks to the folks at Seoul, you can check out some photos from the Ritz Carlton Plaza Hotel in Seoul, where the KLPGA's young guns--6-time-winner-in-'08 Hee Kyung Seo, Ha-Neul Kim, Ran Hong, So-Yeon Ryu, and Rookie of the Year Hye Yong Choi--did a little dance number to "Nobody," a K-pop smash hit by the Wonder Girls (whom they got to meet, as well).

Thanks to the wonders of teh intertubes, here are the originals, in a cute little video that gives the song a little fictional backstory (please note, Carolyn Bivens, their English is pretty good, too!):

And the KLPGA's wonder girls themselves.

BTW, the entire female K-pop pantheon loves this song. Check out the Golden Disk Award Show's remix performance from Friday:

It's K-pop 101!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last Chance for Annika

A 3rd-round 75 had Annika Sorenstam moving in the wrong direction at the Dubai Ladies Masters--back to -5 for the tournament, right after she had jumped into the the lead the day before with a flawless 66--but she still trails only 5 players, lead by Q-School Queen Anja Monke at -9, as the final round begins.

Here's where all the LET notables stand:

1st/-9 Monke (68-71-68)
T2/-7 Iben Tinning (70-69-70), Veronica Zorzi (69-69-71)
T4/-6 Sophie Gustafson (72-72-66), Laura Davies (70-69-71)
T6/-5 Sophie Giquel (70-70-71), Nikki Garrett (71-66-74), Sorenstam (70-66-75)
T10/-4 Becky Brewerton (73-72-67), Catriona Matthew (73-68-71), Melissa Reid (71-70-71)

T16/-3 Martina Eberl (71-72-70), Ashleigh Simon (70-71-72), Nina Reis (70-71-72), Johanna Head (66-72-75)
T21/-2 Amy Yang (71-69-74), Anna Rawson (71-69-74)
T25/-1 Gwladys Nocera (75-69-71)
T30/E Tania Elosegui (71-75-70)
35th/+1 Carin Koch (72-68-77)
T36/+2 Louise Stahle (72-72-74) E through 1
T59/+9 Louise Friberg (73-74-75) +3 through 7

Win #90 is still within Annika's grasp. Would love to see her grab it!

[Update 1 (5:00 am): Not looking good for Annika. She's 6 back with 9 left to play. Zorzi and Tinning have caught Monke at -10. Unlikely that all 3 will move backwards, and anyway there are another 6 players 2-to-4 shots ahead of her and 4 tied with her. She's going to need quite the charge!]

[Update 2 10:03 am): Well, Annika couldn't do it, but neither could a bunch of the LET's young guns. Monke pulled away from Zorzi in the end for the win, but at least Annika can say she broke the 100,000 Euro barrier--18th in only 6 events ain't half bad.]

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Solution to the LPGA's Playoff Problem

Now that the priority status memo that disappeared from the site a few weeks after Hound Dog and I had blogged about it has resurfaced, we've been trying to figure out, with some of our regular commenters, the logic of the decision to have that 4-way playoff between the players who tied for 21st at the end of Q-School.

After all, the memo clearly stated that Category 11 consists of:

In alternating order, top 20 from the previous year’s LPGA final Qualifying Tournament and Nos. 81-100 on the LPGA Official Money List at the end of the last official LPGA tournament of the previous year, with (in the case of the Qualifying Tournament players) any ties broken on the basis of the lowest most recent round in the final and sectional Qualifying Tournament, except that in the event of a tie for 20th place at the Qualifying Tournament, the 20th place shall be determined through a play-off held at the Qualifying Tournament.

I pointed out the significance of the alternating order clause last Thursday; what I never expected was that a tie for 21st place could be considered equivalent to a tie for 20th place. But that's apparently what the LPGA officials on-site determined, once it became clear that 2 players' names appeared twice in Category 11. Charlotte Mayorkas and Mollie Fankhauser were already in Category 11 by virtue of their #97 and #98 finishes on the official money list; by finishing T10th and 9th at Q-School, they added their names to the category a second time, this time around the middle of the priority list for Category 11 rather than near the bottom.

Category 11 is the only category out of all 21 of them where it's possible for the same player to show up twice on it. Sure, a player can show up in multiple categories. Take Julieta Granada, who's in Category 11 for finishing 100th on the money list, Category 6 for her 2006 win at the ADT Championship, and Category 1a for finishing in the top 40 of the 2007 money list. But the solution in that case is simple. A player's name can only appear once on the actual priority status list, so Granada's would appear somewhere in the mid-80s--right behind Brittany Lincicome (#13 2007, #92 2008), Sarah Lee (#20, #124), Laura Davies (#21, #95), Sherri Steinhauer (#24, #121), and Meaghan Francella (#29, #88)--and nowhere else. So when you get further down the list and you see these players' names, you erase them. Erasing their names doesn't let anyone else into the spaces they've vacated, however. Taking Francella out of Category 11 doesn't magically turn the player who finished 101st on the money list into someone who finished between #81 and #100, as much as Karin Sjodin may wish it did.

So why does erasing Mayorkas and Fankhauser from the bottom of Category 11 turn someone who finished outside the top 20 at Q-School into someone who did? It's not like their Q-School scores were thrown out--it's their #97 and #98 finishes on the money list that were erased from the priority status list. Plus, if they're going to throw out money list results from Category 11 when someone moves up the list within the category, why not also open up spots from Q-School for 4 additional players, who would take the spots vacated by erasing Francella, Lincicome, Davies, and Granada from Category 11 by virtue of their Category 1a status? The conclusion is inescapable: either there should have been no playoff, or the playoff should have been between those who finished T25.

Clearly by next year the LPGA needs to clarify how the 2010 priority list will be generated. It's a good thing that Category 1a disappears and Category 12 replaces it starting in 2010, but there are still several ways for players to end up in both Category 11 and a higher priority status category. And it will still be possible for the same player to show up twice in Category 11, based on her finish on the 2009 money list and in 2009 Q-School. So it's essential that they clarify whether money list results will be erased for everyone who ends up in Categories 2 through 6 and whether that opens up more spots for Q-School qualifiers under Category 11 than the hard 20 that the current memo seems to lock them into.

But that doesn't remove the fact that the LPGA has a big problem on its hands right now: either Chella Choi and Leah Wigger get knocked down to Category 16 and Sarah Oh gets knocked out of Category 20, or Na Ri Kim, Allison Hanna-Williams, Anna Nordqvist, Angela Buzminski, Samantha Richdale, and Sarah Kemp get added to Category 11 (as it's too late for that T25 playoff, after all), and 6 more players--from Garret Phillips to Eunjung Yi--get added to Category 20.

Why does a decision for Category 11 affect Categories 16 and 20? Note that Category 16 depends on a determination of that 20th-place Q-School finisher:

From the previous year’s LPGA Qualifying Tournament, the 10 players finishing after the player who finished in 20th place, with priority based on the order of their finish at the Qualifying Tournament (and any ties broken on the basis of the lowest most recent round in the final Qualifying Tournament).

Note that we already have another weirdness here: Choi and Wigger show up in both Category 11 and Category 15. Which means that Sarah Oh would be out of Category 20 no matter what. In any case, Category 20 is made up of the "next 10 players after the 10 players eligible" under Category 16:

(regardless of whether they have a priority higher than that category), with priority based on the order of their finish at the Qualifying Tournament (and any ties broken on the basis of the lowest most recent round in the final Qualifying Tournament).

All of a sudden, the LPGA decides to single Category 20 out as an exclusive one? Wouldn't that 1st parenthetical statement have simplified everything for everyone if it had been put in Category 16 and Category 11? Clearly, it was used for Category 16; otherwise, Garrett Phillips would have been announced as a member of the Class of 2009, because Sarah Kemp was already in Category 15 by virtue of her #122 finish on the money list.

So what should the LPGA do? I would argue for inclusiveness this year and exclusiveness next. Admit you misinterpreted your own rules this time and be generous with Categories 11, 16, and 20 as a result of your mistake. Then, rewrite the 2008 memo so things are clearer for 2010 membership. Move that "regardless of whether they have a priority higher than that category" language to become part of an introductory statement that clarifies how the priority list is generated and specifically addressing Category 11; otherwise, keep the language of the memo exactly the same. There should be no problem with a player showing up in multiple categories or twice in Category 11; disregarding a player's lower appearances on the priority list should not affect which categories any other player shows up in.

If you don't keep your categories exclusive and the boundaries between them hard, we'll be right back in this mess this time next season.

[Update 1 (1/7/09, 2:18 pm): Here's the 2008 priority category list. Hat tip to Hound Dog for the find.]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

JeroWatch Update

James at Japan Probe has got the background on Jero's new--and animated--music video for "Hare Butai," a tribute to his mother:

Go for the video. Stay for the interview!

Annika Going for Win #90 in Dubai

I've never understood why Annika Sorenstam's worldwide win total hasn't been given more attention here in the U.S. Certainly fields on the LET over the last 2 decades are at least as strong as the fields the LPGA's legends beat up on back in their day. What's especially surprising to me is that nobody's emphasized the symmetry available to Sorenstam should she win the Dubai Ladies Masters this week on the LET: 72 LPGA wins, 90 career wins. Maybe nobody wants to jinx her. Well, I don't see the Mostly Harmless jinx being strong enough to stop a determined Sorenstam.

Annika got off to a great start on the back and bounced back from a double with 3 birdies in 5 holes, but finished with 2 straight bogeys on long par 4s for a 70. Right now she's 4 shots behind the leader, Johanna Head, tied for 4th with Laura Davies and Sophie Giquel, and 1 up on Amy Yang and Tania Elosegui, among many others. But there are many good players still out of the course who could put themselves between Sorenstam and the lead. Stay tuned!

[Update 1 (8:36 am): Here are some scores by LET notables:

1st/-6 Johanna Head (66)
2nd/-4 Anja Monke (68)
T3/-3 Veronica Zorzi (69)
T6/-2 Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies, Ashleigh Simon, Sophie Giquel, Nina Reis (70)
T17/-1 Amy Yang, Martina Eberl, Anna Rawson, Tania Elosegui, Melissa Reid (71)
T30/E Sophie Gustafson, Carin Koch, Louise Stahle (72)
T47/+1 Catriona Matthew, Louise Friberg, Becky Brewerton (73)
T60/+2 Linda Wessberg (74)
T69/+3 Gwladys Nocera, Kiran Matharu (75)

With only 5 breaking 70, Annika may not need to go all that low this week to win. We'll see!]

Final Pakpicker Results

While I'm doing short posts only of interest to diehard LPGA fans this week (work calls!), let me just note that the LPGA is a lot harder to predict than the PGA. I came in a tie for 5th in Seoul's Pakpicker competition, which is better than my season stats would suggest I should have finished, but still not what I hoped for this season. By contrast, I came in 2nd in Waggle Room's Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Golf competition.... The less you know!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hats Off to Hound Dog

For further evidence that Hound Dog is the best LPGA blogger on the planet, just take a quick peek at his most recent posts--a link to the actual memo laying out the LPGA's priority status categories for 2009 and a projection of who falls in what category from #1 to #20. Well done, sir!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

2008 Pinx Cup Snowed Out

Check out the Seoul discussion board thread and the JoongAng Daily for pictures and accounts of the unofficial 9-hole snow-golf remnant of the Pinx Cup played for the fans after the tournament organizers decided it would be impossible to complete the annual Korea-Japan head-to-head team stroke play competition this year. This is as good a time as any to revive my proposal from last fall that the Pinx Cup (or Kyoraku Cup, as it's called when it's hosted by Japan) model itself after the Solheim Cup in format and timing, so that the winners and losers of each competition can face off in the "off"-year to crown a world champion. It's not too late to set this up for the 2009 season. The LPGA certainly has enough gaps in its late-summer schedule for the KLPGA and JLPGA to agree on a week off around the time of the Solheim Cup to move the Pinx/Kyoraku Cup near it. And then it's just a question of the 4 major professional tours in women's golf agreeing to my proposal. Piece of cake, right?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Looking Ahead, Part 6: The LPGA Class of 2009

Back in mid-November, I wrote:

If Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Alison Walshe, Sun-Ju Ahn, Anna Nordqvist, Shiho Oyama, Miki Saiki, and Mika Miyazato join Ji-Yai Shin and Vicky Hurst (among others) in the Class of 2009--and '08ers like Amy Yang get full playing privileges on the LPGA next season--we may look back on that year as the real changing of the guard in the world of women's golf.

Well, of that list, only Lewis, Wie, Oyama, and Miyazato met my expectations this past week at Q-School. And let's not forget the LETers and other Europeans who showed they're nowhere near Amy Yang's level: Martina Eberl, Melissa Reid, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Tania Elosegui, and Beatriz Recari. Of them, only Elosegui joined Nordqvist with some kind of LPGA status next season.

So the Class of 2009 is not going to be nearly as deep as I had hoped. But in terms of players who can make an immediate impact at the highest levels on tour, I think it has to be considered one of the best ever. Just look at this list (mostly culled from the official results page from Final Qualifying School), ranked in order of how I expect to see them finish in the Rookie of the Year race next year:

Simply the Best
Ji-Yai Shin
Shiho Oyama
Stacy Lewis
Michelle Wie
Vicky Hurst
Mika Miyazato

The Contenders
[high priority status]
Mindy Kim
M.J. Hur
Chella Choi

On the Bottom Looking Up
[high priority status but...]
Jeehae Lee

On the Outside Looking In
[low priority status]
Anna Nordqvist
Tania Elosegui
Song Yi Choi
Haeji Kang
Pornanong Phatlum
Jessica Shepley
Nontaya Srisawang
Sunny Oh
Sarah Oh [Class of '08, anyway]
Angela Oh
Kim Welch
Samantha Richdale
Garrett Phillips

While the ROY race will be wide open, I also think it'll be interesting to see how many LPGA events those in the last category get into next season, as several players on it have more immediate upside than those with higher priority status in '09. We'll probably be seeing many of them on the Futures Tour--they would certainly be in the running for that battlefield promotion that comes with their 3rd win there--although the 1st 2 on the list might decide it's in their best interest to focus on the LET in '09.

It's way to soon to guess how good the Class of 2009 will be. As we saw with the Classes of 2006 and 2007, you have to wait until everyone gets a chance to play at least one and usually 2 full seasons on tour before the best players start to separate themselves out. In the Class of 2008, for instance, now that Amy Yang, Anna Rawson, Ashleigh Simon, Anna Grzebien, and Leah Wigger will be getting into most every event, we'll get a much better sense of how they stack up against Ya Ni Tseng, Na Yeon Choi, Hee Young Park, Momoko Ueda, Shanshan Feng, and Louise Friberg--not to mention Sandra Gal and Carolina Llano--by the end of '09.

But I don't think any class has a top 6 with as high expectations on them as the Class of 2009's. Here's hoping they live up to them!

[Update 1 (12/9/08, 6:01 am): Eric Adelson seems to agree with me that it's going to be tough for Wie to get ROY in '09.]

[Update 2 (6:36 am): I've corrected my list of rookies above to be in accordance with's announcement.]

[Update 3 (12/9/08, 5:10 pm): Hound Dog asks why they had a matching of cards to knock Phillips out of Category 20 but a playoff to include 2 more in Category 11. It's a good question.]

[Update 4 (12/10/08, 5:51 pm): Well, the LPGA made an interesting choice of photos for some members of the Class of '09!]

[Update 5 (7:23 pm): Mika Miyazato gets a little AP love. I'm curious to see if she can outplay Lewis in '09.]

[Update 6 (12/14/08, 2:34 am): Ron Sirak offers capsule profiles of 20 of the 22 players who made it through Q-School. Although he misses the chance to report that Louise Stahle was an LET Rookie of the Year, Amy Yang has won twice this year on the LET, and still gets the whole keeping/losing your "card" thing wrong, it's worth a read.]

[Update 7 (2:39 am): Beth Ann Baldry's post is more entertaining, but even less well-informed. Not mentioning Oyama as a favorite for ROY? Priceless.]

[Update 8 (1/13/09, 11:44 am): The LPGA has begin a series of rookie profiles. The first looks at the two Chois, Elosegui, and Hur.]

[Update 9 (1/16/09, 2:54 pm): Well, Anna Nordqvist just won LET Q-School and announced that she wants to qualify for the Euro Solheim Cup team. So her LPGA schedule will be even more curtailed than I expected, as she takes the Amy Yang route to world domination. So with Shiho Oyama likely playing close to 10 events on the JLPGA and Michelle Wie playing a limited schedule in '09 (at least according to her "team"), looks like Shin's top competitor for Rookie of the Year will be Stacy Lewis.]

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Q-School Sunday: This Is It

Here are the pairings for the final round of the LPGA's Q-School. With everyone playing the easier Champions course today, I'm not sure that cooler and windier conditions will make that much of a dent in the low scoring we've seen all week there. I expect we'll see the number of players double digits under par swell from 8 through 72 holes to 11 through 90, while the playoff for the #20 spot will come at -6. Here's where my picks stand heading into today's action:

1st Tee
7:45 am Anna Nordqvist (-2, T35)
7:56 am Alison Walshe (-3, T29)
8:07 am Tania Elosegui (-3, T29)
9:02 am Anna Rawson, Carolina Llano (-7, T12)
9:13 am Mika Miyazato (-8, 11th)
9:35 am Shiho Oyama (-12, 4th), Charlotte Mayorkas (-11, T5)
9:46 am Stacy Lewis (-15, 1st), Michelle Wie (-14, 2nd), Amy Yang (-13, 3rd)

10th Tee
8:29 am Pornanong Phatlum (-1, T44)
8:40 am Miki Saiki (E, T50)
9:02 am Melissa Reid (+1, T58)
9:13 am Martina Eberl, Hannah Jun (+2, T61)
9:35 am Song Yi Choi (+2, T61)

Soon we'll see how everyone handles the pressure of the final round!

[Update 1 (10:15 am): The LPGA Insider is following the leaders again.]

[Update 2 (10:56 am): Looks like I was wrong--the early scoring is significantly higher than I expected. Mika Miyazato is +2 through her 1st 5 holes, Charltte Mayorkas +3 through 4, and Michelle Wie +3 through 3. Right now, only 5 players are making any kind of move up the leaderboard, lead by Ashleigh Simon, who's -3 as she makes the turn onto the front and has helped bring the projected cut line up to -5. My guess is people's games will heat up as the weather warms up; I still expect the 14 players at -7 or better to get much more company before the day is out.]

[Update 3 (11:05 am): Anna Nordqvist has 6 holes left to make a charge. She's fought back to E on the day and -2 for the tournament, but she's back in T27 and needs to get to at least -5 to have a shot at a playoff. Alison Walshe and tania Elosegui are both +2 through 11 and -1 for the tournament; they, too, have their backs against the wall.]

[Update 4 (11:10 am): Miyazato is now +3 through 6 and right on the cut line at -5 (T20). But she's not alone in moving backward in a big way early in her round: Leah Wigger and Paige Mackenzie (+2 and +3, respectively, though 8) have dropped back into Category 16-land (T25 and T28, respectively). Miki Saiki continues to have trouble getting anything going; she just dropped to +1 through 8 (T45 at +1 for the tournament).]

[Update 5 (11:20 am): How 'bout that Anna Grzebien? -5 through 8 today and at -12 only 2 shots out of the lead! BTW, the cut line is now -6, so good for Anja Monke that she's -3 through 10 and -7 for the tournament!]

[Update 6 (11:32 am): 2-shot swing at the par-3 6th when Yang got a tap-in birdie and Lewis failed to get up-and-down from over the green. It's now Yang -14, Lewis at -13, Super Soph Sophie Giquel joining her there with a -3 start through her 1st 7 holes, Shiho Oyama still at -12, joined by Grzebien, and Wie, Mollie Fankhauser, and Lisa Strom at -11.]

[Update 7 (11:36 am): Ashleigh Simon, Leah Wigger, and Mika Miyazato, among others, are back in the top 20 (which puts 23 players at -5 or better right now). Still no moves from any of my picks who started on the back or before 9 am on the front.]

[Update 8 (11:42 am): Sunny Oh has fought back to +3 through 10 (-2, T27 overall) after a horrific start. The cut line for the top 40 is now E, for the top 30 -2, and for the top 20 -5. Audra Burks has joined Monke at -7, thanks to a -3 start through her 1st 12 holes.]

[Update 9 (11:52 am): Giquel has now tied Yang for the lead at -14 after a birdie on the 8th brought her to -4 on the day. Nordqvist now has 3 holes left to play; she's still E for the day, -2 overall, and 3 shots behind the projected top 20 cut line.]

[Update 10 (12:00 pm): Well, at high noon you have to be under par just to make the top 40. Things are not looking good for Hannah Jun (+2 through 81 holes), Miki Saiki (+2 through 82), Martina Eberl (+3 through 81), and Melissa Reid (+3 through 81).]

[Update 11 (12:02 pm): Giquel just matched Grzebien's 31 on the front to get to -15 and leads Yang and Lewis by 1.]

[Update 12 (12:06 pm): Nontaya Srisawang is now -3 through 14 and 1 shot out of the tie for 18th at -5. Oyama now makes it a trio at -14 after a birdie on the 9th. Mayorkas's birdie on the 9th makes her the 10th player to get to double digits under par, but she still shot a 37 on the front.]

[Update 13 (12:12 pm): Paige Mackenzie is now +5 through 12 and in a tie for 40th at E. She's the only Super Soph still moving in the wrong direction now. Wonder if there will be playoffs to knock out all but the exact top 40. I know they will have them at the #20 mark, so I assume they'll do the same to determine the precise top 30 and top 40, too.]

[Update 14 (12:30 pm): Yang and Lewis birdied the par-5 9th while Wie failed to get up and down from the side of the green, but Giquel birdied the 10th to maintain her 1-shot lead on them. Miyazato is now back to -6, T15.]

[Update 15 (1:36 pm): Nordqvist birdied the 18th to finish the tourament at -3, 2 shots shy of the cut line right now. Na Ri Kim made a nice charge late but couldn't birdie the 18th to join Mary Hart and Audra Burks at -5. Leah Wigger needs a birdie to do it.]

[Update 16 (1:44 pm): Other 18th hole drama at the top 30 and top 40s lines. If Paige Mackenzie can birdie the 18th, she can avoid being in a playoff for the 40th spot with Angela Oh (73), Sarah Oh and Taylor Leon (both 74), and Garrett Phillips (75), all of whom are tied for 39th at E. There are only a few golfers left in the field with a chance to join them. Alison Walshe (76, +1) and Miki Saiki (74, +2) are not among them, but don't be too sad for them. Saiki has the JLPGA to return to, and Walshe can get a battlefield promotion with her 3rd win on the Futures Tour in '09. If Sunny Oh can birdie the 18th for a 74 that takes her to -3, she can avoid a playoff for the 30th spot with Nontaya Srisawang (71), Haeji Kang (72), Brandi Jackson (72), Tania Elosegui (73), and Christi Cano (74).]

[Update 17 (1:49 pm): Mackenzie did it. But her top 40 doesn't help her improve on the Category 15 status she already earned for 2009 by finishing 120th on the 2008 LPGA money list.]

[Update 18 (1:57 pm): Ouch. Oh bogeyed the 18th, moving her down to Category 20 status. Jessica Carafiello and hannah Jun need to birdie out t get in the playoff for the 40th spot. Jeanne Cho-Hunicke is hanging onto the top 20 by her fingernails--she's now +2 through 15 and at -7 overall is only 2 shots above the cut line. She's looking to make the biggest jump in the field--from 187th on the money list to Category 11 status. But if she collapses down the stretch, she gives new life to Wigger, Kim, Choi, and Hanna-Williams, who would all of a sudden get to be in a playoff for the 20th spot.]

[Update 19 (2:00 pm): They just corrected Walshe's final score to 77 (+2). Poor Carri Wood shot a final-round 81 to fall all the way from Category 11 to limbo. Most of the damage came on her last 9 holes. Speaking of weak finishes, Louise Stahle and Mika Miyazato are now only 2 shots above the top 20 cut line with 1 to play.]

[Update 20 (2:05 pm): Wow! Grzebien's 65 lifts her to -14 and into a tie for 2nd right now with Yang and Giquel, 2 shots behind Lewis. Nice jump from 142nd on the money list to the top of Category 11! Carolina Llano (70, -9, 11th), Anna Rawson (71, -8 T12), and Jaehee Lee (70, -8, T12) also secured Category 11 status. Wonder how ties will be broken within the top 20?]

[Update 21 (2:16 pm): When you look at the names who couldn't make the top 40 or even the top 70 in this year's Q-School, keep in mind that a good number of them had Category 15 status already, thanks to a finish between #101 and #125 on the money list. And also, those between #101 and #125 who got Category 16 or Category 20 status today basically took a spot away from someone who played the Futures Tour this season or finished lower than #125 on the LPGA money list but who couldn't make the top 40 at Q-School, who I suppose will be headed to the Futures Tour or abroad.]

[Update 22 (2:18 pm): More corrections coming in: the JLPGA's Saiki actually shot a 76, which dropped her to +4 overall, 2 shots behind Eberl and Reid of the LET.]

[Update 23 (2:32 pm): OK, no closing collapses for Miyazato, Stahle, or Cho-Hunicke--they all finish at -7 (T14). Now it's just a question of whether Oyama can join Yang and Grzebien at -14, if Lewis can hold on for a 2-stroke victory, if Wie can join Giquel and Bader at -13, and if Mayorkas can get back to double digits under par.]

[Update 24 (12/8/08, 5:00 am): There were a few corrections to scorecards after I stopped updating yesterday, the biggest among them being that there was a 4-way playoff for the last 2 spots in the top 20. Chella Choi and Leah Wigger got them, according to and Average Golfer (although just from looking at the leaderboard, I'm not entirely sure why they had to have the playoff, as there were exactly 20 players at -5 or better). Hound Dog's with me that no playoff was necessary. And he clarifies that no playoffs were necessary to determine Category 16 or Category 20.]

[Update 25 (5:22 am): Golf Channel keeps a laser-like focus on Michelle Wie (and Stacy Lewis). Bivens gets the "joining the young guns" story right and talks up the "other" big names in the Class of '09--nice work, even if it didn't really affect GC's coverage. But GC did clarify that because 2 in the top 20 already had cards, the LPGA could award 2 more, and did. That's a surprise to me!]

[Update 26 (5:36 am): Let the celebration--and the concern trolling--of Wie begin! Steve Elling wants to see Wie start acting like a professional now; Eric Adelson uses an Obama comparison to suggest that Wie's truest test will come in '09; Ron Sirak calls this Act III of Wie's career; and Eric Soderstrom picks up on one of Wie's verbal tics.]

[Update 27 (5:54 am): So here's how my picks worked out:

1. Shiho Oyama 64-70-71-71-71 -13 T4 (CLLCC) got the job done
2. Sun-Ju Ahn 78-68-WD (LCL) oh, man!
3. Miki Saiki 74-72-70-72-76 +4 T60 (LCCLC) biggest disappointment of the week for me
4. Anna Nordqvist 74-71-73-69-71 -3 T25 (LCLCC) not what she needed--LET-bound?
5. Amy Yang 67-71-70-67-70 -15 2nd (CLLCC) watch out, Ya Ni and Na Yeon!
6. Michelle Wie 69-65-72-68-74 -12 T7 (LCLCC) good for her
7. Stacy Lewis 69-66-71-67-69 -18 1st (CLLCC) good for her
8. Melissa Reid 79-74-65-71-73 +2 T49 (LCCLC) back to the LET for her
9. Alison Walshe 79-72-64-70-77 +2 T49 (LCCLC) at least she has the Futures Tour
10. Mika Miyazato 66-74-72-68-72 -8 T12 (CLLCC) got the job done
11. Martina Eberl 80-68-73-69-72 +2 T49 (LCCLC) back to the LET for her
12. Dewi Claire Schreefel 74-70-74-74 +4 (LCLC) oh, man!
13. Charlotte Mayorkas 75-67-66-69-74 -9 T10 (LCLCC) nice job by the Super Soph
14. Anna Rawson 71-71-68-71-71 -8 T12 (CLLCC) got the job done
15. Tania Elosegui 79-66-71-69-73 -2 T29 (LCLCC) back to the LET for her, except for a few weeks
16. Onnarin Sattayabanphot 70-74-75-73 +4 T79 (CLLC) oh, man!
17. Song Yi Choi 77-71-68-72-76 +6 T65 (LCCLC) at least she has the Futures Tour
18. Hannah Jun 74-70-78-68-73 +3 T54 (CLLCC) at least she has the Futures Tour
19. Carolina Llano 70-70-71-70-70 -9 T10 (LCLCC) got the job done
20. Pornanong Phatlum 75-69-72-71-72 -1 T34 (LCLCC) hopefully gets high status on the Futures Tour, b/c she has about the lowest status you can get on the LPGA

5 of my 1st 10 picks made it, while 3 of my 2nd 10 did. Oh, well, not that horrible.]

[Update 28 (6:15 am): Lisa Mickey covers the playoff.]

[Update 29 (9:27 am): Here's Brent Kelley's overview.]

[Update 30 (8:46 pm): Hound Dog questions many aspects of the playoff for the 21st and 22nd spots from Q-School....]

[Update 31 (12/9/08, 6:00 am): When even Armchair Golfer makes a couple of mistakes--listing only the top 20 and assuming they're all "new" members of the LPGA--you know the tour needs to do some better 'splaining of its system!]

[Update 32 (5:13 pm): Jay Busbee rightly focuses on Lewis's victory.]

[Update 33 (5:55 pm): As does Ron Sirak.]