Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Honda LPGA Thailand Preview/Predictions/Pairings

With an impressive field and a new site, the 3rd playing of the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament should be something special. Between Hound Dog's preview and the LPGA's, there's not much to add, except to emphasize that past results, coming as they did in the fall and on different courses, are not nearly as meaningful as who's hot coming into the event.

So here's how I think the leaderboard will look after 72 holes:

1. Tseng
2. Stanford
3. Ochoa
4. Lee Jee Young
5. Hull
6. Miyazato Ai
7. Creamer
8. Lang
9. Kerr
10. Park Angela
11. Choi Na Yeon
12. Lee Seon Hwa

Alts: Ji; Shin; Kung

Yes, I'm dissing past champions Hee-Won Han and Suzann Pettersen. I just don't see evidence that they're sharp enough right now to make the birdies in bunches I think it's going to take to win this thing this time around. At least the tournament organizers are showing them some respect by putting them smack dab in the middle of the prime-time pairings:

Start Time: 11:24 AM
Laura Davies
Natalie Gulbis

Start Time: 11:32 AM
Suzann Pettersen
Angela Stanford

Start Time: 11:40 AM
Lorena Ochoa
Hee-Won Han

Start Time: 11:48 AM
Ya Ni Tseng
Morgan Pressel

Start Time: 11:56 AM
Katherine Hull
Paula Creamer

Start Time: 12:04 PM
Karrie Webb
Laura Diaz

Start Time: 12:12 PM
Helen Alfredsson
Ji-Yai Shin

With huge names scattered throughout the field (Se Ri Pak and Cristie Kerr go off at 9:07 am, for instance) and lots of great veteran/youngster pairings (my favorite is Mi Hyun Kim and Na Yeon Choi at 9:39 am), there's literally something for everyone in every pairing. Can Inbee Park (paired with Juli Inkster at 8:51 am) and Ashleigh Simon (paired with Karen Stupples at 10:36 am) kick their seasons off on the right foot after cancelling their planned Australian Swings earlier in the month? Can Song-Hee Kim (paired with Nicole Castrale at 9:15 am), Ji Young Oh (paired with Angela Park at 9:23 am), Sun Young Yoo (paired with Hee Young Park at 10:12 am), and Teresa Lu (paired with Jane Park at 10:44 am) pick up where they left off last season? Will rookies Shiho Oyama (10:28 am) and Mika Miyazato (8:43 am), not to mention Ji-Yai Shin, take advantage of their sponsor exemptions and bounce back from their disappointing Hawaii sojourns? How will going off late in the day affect Ai Miyazato (12:20 pm), Brittany Lang (12:28 pm), and Shanshan Feng (12:36 pm)? How will the Americans with at least 100 Solheim Cup points but outside the top 8--Kristy McPherson (10:28 am), Jane Park, Juli Inkster, Stacy Prammanasudh (11:08 am), and Natalie Gulbis--do relative to each other?

Of course I'm leaving the biggest questions for last. What kind of a start to the season will Lorena Ochoa have? Just how much did she improve in the off-season? And will it be enough to maintain or extend her lead on her lead chase pack?

So many questions. Can't wait to see the first hints of answers to them!

[Update 1 (2/25/09, 4:44 am): Jamie RS is disappointed the tournament organizers didn't invite Thai rookies Nontaya Srisawang and Pornanong Phatlum. After all, they were playing on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour in Thailand late last week, where Onnarin Sattayabanophot won in a 3-way playoff, and got a T25 and a T20, respectively. But both are instead staying on the LAGT and competing in India, where Phatlum is leading by 2 after an opening-round 68. I wonder if that was their preferred option or back-up plan?]

No comments: