The SBS Open is finally here! The field has changed a bit since I last checked the list and even since Hound Dog's preview, but the course and the results from 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 remain the same.
Picking the top 12 in this week's Seoul Sisters.com Pakpicker competition is always tough, because it's difficult to predict who among the hottest players from the end of last season and early-season SunCoast Series, ALPG, and LET events will do well in the Hawaii winds. I'm using my preseason top 30 as a rough guide in generating this week's picks:
6. Kim In-Kyung
Alts: Kerr, Han, Pressel
The LPGA's decision not to highlight Michelle Wie in their publicity campaigns during her rookie season has drawn some raised eyebrows from the golfy media, but take a look at the field list and tell me with a straight face that she deserves to get the front seat ahead of Juli Inkster, Se Ri Pak, Grace Park, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Suzanne Pettersen, Ya Ni Tseng, Ji-Yai Shin, Angela Stanford, or even Natalie Gulbis or Anna Rawson. In any case, you can count on the media to pick up the slack.
Once the pairings are out, I'll have a bit more to say on this topic, but I did want to comment on another big LPGA story that's made the news. With the spotlight on LPGA history shining brightly in the wake of the recent passing of Betty Jameson, I hope plans are in the works to name 13 LPGA tournaments after the tour's founders. Given Jameson's connections to Texas golf, why not name the season-ending event in Houston after her? What better way to make a statement that the LPGA is here to stay?
On a lighter note, maybe the LPGA can get the organizers of the annual ukulele festival to serenade SBS Open winners in coming years. It's just a 33-mile drive from Honolulu to Kahuku, after all!
[Update 1 (11:19 am): I don't think anyone could criticize the LPGA's Cliffs Notes version of a tournament preview, except to question the choice not to include a link to more information for those who want it....]
[Update 2 (11:35 am): Pretty good stuff in the news and notes this week: LPGAers remembering Betty Jameson, a season preview, the great news that David Higdon has been named the tour's chief communications officer, the last of the rookie profiles, the race for the Solheim Cup, and much more--including the return of the kids in free policy at all events this season.]
[Update 3 (2/11/09, 6:46 am): Ron Sirak reports that the LPGA will end its long-term relationship with SBS after this season, having chosen another Korean company, J Golf, to broadcast its events in Korea. This will be the last SBS Open.]
[Update 4 (4:45 pm): Check out the interesting responses to Sirak's news from Hound Dog, Ryan Ballengee, and Bill Jempty.]