Monday, March 9, 2009

Atsui, Samui, Daijo Bu: Pink Lady Edition

Today is the 51st birthday of Mitsuyo Nemoto, who has been performing as Mie with Keiko Masuda (Kei) in the J-pop duo Pink Lady for most of the Full Metal Archivist's lifetime. In fact, the tsuma remembers rocking out to songs like "Tomei Ningen" when she was a toddler:

Well, Pink Lady is still performing, three decades later.

Here's hoping the golfers I'm focusing on this week have similar staying power, whether they're playing great (atsui), suffering through slumps (samui), or doing just fine (daijo bu).


1. Angela Stanford: OK, so she had her worst finish in her last 8 events in Thailand, a T7, and had to settle for T3 in Singapore when her history of Sunday struggles cropped up again at the worst possible moment (see #2 below). But those 3 wins highlighting her 9-event top 10 streak still make her the hottest player in the world of women's golf in my book. She's gotta keep it going if she wants to stay #1, though.

2. Ji-Yai Shin: After a terrible 39 to close out her 2nd round at the Showdown in Singapore, she seemed stuck in two-steps-forward-one-step-back mode, but then she fired a pair of 66s on the weekend, chasing down two of the hottest players on the planet on Sunday for her 1st win as an LPGA member and 4th on tour since taking the Women's British Open last summer. She's moved from #5 on my samui lost to #2 on my hot list in 3 events. Not bad!

3. Katherine Hull: Even though she let her 3rd win in her last 16 starts slip away on the back 9 yesterday, she still got her 4th runner-up and 9th top 5 in that stretch and proved that her T40 in Thailand was a blip (after all, it was only her 2nd finish outside the top 20 since her win at the Canadian Women's Open).

4. Lorena Ochoa: Despite her win in Thailand, she's going to need to find another gear if she wants to outdo her start to the 2008 season, when she won 5 of her 1st 6 and 6 of her 1st 9 events. By normal standards, she's plenty hot lately, with 2 wins, 6 top 5s, and 9 top 10s in her last 12 starts, but that's only ho-hum for Super Ochoa.

5. Paula Creamer: Yes, she couldn't maintain her 3-shot lead on Ochoa on Sunday in Thailand and her Sunday charge in Singapore was too little, too late. But in her last 15 events, she has 2 wins and 11 top 10s.

Honorable Mention:

Cristie Kerr: Her hot streak dates back to last May, for in her last 20 tournaments, she's only finished outside the top 20 twice (her worst being a T34 in China), while garnering 10 top 10s, including a runner-up and a win. She missed a great chance to add to that top 10 total in Asia, but T19 and T11 are still very good results.

Jee Young Lee: Her top-10 streak ended at 6 events a couple of weeks ago, but since last June she has had 10 top 20s (including her most recent ones in Thailand and Singapore). Too bad for her that her best finish in her other 4 events during that stretch is a T22--incredibly, she missed the cut 3 times!

Ya Ni Tseng: Just missed her 4th straight top 10 in '09, counting her adventure Down Under, but going back to last season she has a 6-event top-20 streak going and looks unlikely to break it any time soon.

Yuko Mitsuka: With her win in the JLPGA's kickoff event of 2009, she extends her top-5 run to her last 4 events, for a total of 7 in her last 13 starts. Her worst finish in that run has been T22, so you know she's been playing very well, even if she hasn't been facing the same level of competition or pressure week in and week out during that stretch.

Angela Park: That's 2 top 3s in her 1st 3 official starts on the LPGA in '09 and 3 top 10s in her last 4, going back to the ADT Championship.

Jane Park: That makes it 2 top 10s in her 1st 3 events of 2009. Is this the start of a streak?

Sun Young Yoo. She was in contention briefly during the final 9 in Singapore, and even though she quickly dropped out of it, she nabbed her 4th top 10 in her last 8 starts.

Eun-Hee Ji: Her T14 in Singapore breaks her 4-round multiple-of-5 finish but brings her top-20 streak to 5.

Brittany Lang: Her top 10 streak ends at 7. Here's hoping Singapore was a blip.


1. Brittany Lincicome: Couldn't sink any lower, not having qualified for the early-season Asian swing. Oh wait, how about finishing out of the money last week on the SunCoast Series?

2. Julieta Granada: Ditto, except at least she took the week off.

3. Inbee Park: Couldn't get anything going in Thailand or Singapore.

4. Shiho Oyama: Having a tough time adjusting to life on the LPGA, even with a pair of sponsor exemptions that got her into the early-season Asian swing. To add to the indignity, the LPGA hasn't been updating her player page this season.

5. Ashleigh Simon: After getting her LPGA card with a great performance in Q-School, she's finished near the bottom of the pile in her only two starts in '09. My guess is she's playing hurt.

Daijo Bu

1. Na Yeon Choi: Her top-20 streak ended at 4 with her T31 in Singapore, but look for her to start a new one in her next event.

2. Mi Hyun Kim: Even a birdie-less 38 on her final 9 in Singapore couldn't knock her out of the top 10. It's her 1st since the U.S. Women's Open and the clearest sign yet that her recovery from knee surgery before the start of last season is finally on track.

3. Se Ri Pak: A top-15 finish in Singapore raises hopes that Pak is back!

4. Amy Yang: Got it to -7 on the final 9 in Singapore before stumbling down the stretch, but joined her peers among those playing their 1st full season on the LPGA in notching an early top 20. Officially off the samui list.

5. Ai Miyazato and Momoko Ueda: A great Thursday and terrible Sunday for Ai-chan in Singapore were the outliers on her very good play since the very end of 2008. Momo-chan still hasn't been playing to her potential yet in '09, but she's still nabbed 2 top 20s in a row on the LPGA.

Honorable Mention: Looks like Suzann Pettersen, Seon Hwa Lee, Song-Hee Kim, and Meena Lee are back, as well, after rocky starts to 2009 for all of them. And Anja Monke keeps putting together solid start after solid start, showing that her run at the end of '08 was no fluke.

One final note on Mie, the birthday girl: she sometimes sings for a Japanese metal group called Animetal. Here they are covering a Dragon Ash tune I blogged about a little under a year ago:

Small world, eh?

[Update 1 (4:04 am): Hmm, only Ji-Yai Shin and Paula Creamer made Jason Sobel's Weekly 18. Oh, well.]

[Update 2 (5:55 pm): Jim Gorant talks Annika, Lorena, Angela (Stanford), and Ji-Yai.]

[Update 3 (3/10/09, 1:09 am): Maybe I should add "the LPGA" to my hot list. Regular readers of Hound Dog, Brent Kelley, and Ryan Ballengee already know the Samsung World Championship is moving to Torrey Pines in '09, but unless you check out regularly, this may be news to you.]

[Update 4 (1:27 am): More good news for the LPGA, this time courtesy of Jon Show: their deal for their season-ending Tour Championship is with IMG, not Stanford Financial, which explains why they've been relatively calm and why Dottie Pepper has sounded so confident lately, despite the "massive ongoing fraud" investigation and all.]

[Update 5 (1:33 am): Show also notes the Samsung could come back to the South Course in 2010, assuming Samsung decides to keep sponsoring the event.]

[Update 6 (3/12/09, 2:18 am): Alan Shipnuck is wrong wrong wrong about Angela Stanford. In what universe is she not the hottest golfer on the LPGA right now? Not ours, that's for sure.]

[Update 7 (2:57 am): Hound Dog offers some indirect confirmation for my hot list with his latest Hall of Fame Watch post.]

[Update 8 (4:14 pm): Hound Dog reports the latest from the SunCoast Series and I'm happy to report that Brittany Lincicome finished under par, in the money, and only 4 shots out of the lead this time around! She finished behind Alexis Thompson, it's true, but I suspect a lot of people will be saying that in upcoming years.]

[Update 9 (3/18/09, 5:42 pm): Hound Dog has a surer method than mine for determining who's hot!]

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