Ignoring all State Department warnings, the LPGA went to Mexico for spring break. Fortunately, the only carnage was caused by Bosque Real's hilly layout. So who's returning to the States with a great tan (atsui), a bad hangover (samui), and some nice souvenirs (daijo bu)?
1. Angela Stanford: Tops on the hot list is someone who decided to stay home and study rather than going out and partying. Stanford's 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 in Phoenix if she wants to stay #1, though.
2. 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 6 of her 1st 9 events. By normal standards, she's plenty hot lately, with 2 wins, 7 top 5s, and 9 top 10s in her last 13 starts, but that's only ho-hum for Super Ochoa. A great 1st round and final 7 holes (in which she made 4 birdies) were not enough to offset a bad stretch in the middle of the MasterCard Classic or chase down Pat Hurst.
3. Cristie Kerr: Her hot streak dates back to last May, for in her last 21 tournaments, she's only finished outside the top 20 twice (her worst being a T34 in China), while garnering 11 top 10s, including a win, a runner-up, and yesterday's 5th-place finish.
4. Ji-Yai Shin: Lackluster performance in Mexico was a disappointing follow-up to Thailand, where she came from behind for her 4th win in her 8 previous LPGA starts. Hopefully just a blip.
5. Paula Creamer: Once again, Mexico was cruel to her. But she would have been in contention for yet another top 20 if she hadn't suffered a walk-off snowman on Saturday.
Katherine Hull: A missed cut at Bosque Real?! What's up with that?
Ya Ni Tseng: Yup, I invoked the Mostly Harmless jinx just by drafting the following before the MasterCard Classic was finished: "Yup, we have a new #3! That 2nd career win was a long time coming for Tseng, but no doubt it was well worth the wait--and sweet vindication for a Super Soph who let her 1st career win slip through her fingers in her final round at Bosque Real last season. It gives her her 2nd top 5 and 3rd top 10 of 2009, not to mention her 6th-straight top 20." Still, yet another runner-up for Tseng is nothing to sneeze at. Oh, and by the way, for what it's worth, Jason Sobel may have jinxed Tseng, too.
Angela Park: With 2 top 3s in her 1st 3 official starts on the LPGA in '09 and 3 top 10s in her last 4, taking the week off didn't hurt her standing on the hot list all that much.
Jee Young Lee: Started a new top 10 streak in Mexico (after having a 6-event streak broken in Thailand) and brought her top 20 streak to 9 events (following up on an earlier streak where she had 8 top 20s in 12 starts). Watch out for her in Phoenix! I know, different course this time around, but still....
Eun-Hee Ji: Her T9 gives her 2 top 10s in 4 events this season and top 20s in her last 6 starts.
Na Yeon Choi: Struggled mightily Sunday with the co-leader target on her back, but still managed to hang on for her 2nd top 10 of '09.
Brittany Lang: Started a new top-20 streak in Mexico.
Sun Young Yoo. Struggled on Sunday and fumbled a chance for her 5th top 10 in her last 9 starts.
Jane Park: Even with a disappointing Sunday in Mexico, she still has 2 top 10s and hasn't finished outside the top 30 in '09.
1. Julieta Granada: Another badly missed cut for her, this time in Mexico.
2. Inbee Park: Ditto.
3. Brittany Lincicome: 81-68-76 in Mexico. At least she made the cut.
4. Shiho Oyama: Made the cut in Mexico, but couldn't follow up on a great 1st round.
5. Ashleigh Simon: Skipped Mexico and is not listed in the Phoenix field--must be resting that back injury.
Dishonorable Mention: Na On Min's disappointing tenure as a full-time member of the LPGA continued this week. At least she made the cut. But after 2 top 5s in her 1st 6 LPGA events (back in '07), she hadn't had a top 10 since. Minea Blomqvist is also off to an underwhelming start to the season. With her T50 in Mexico, she's now had 3 finishes outside the top 40 in her 1st 4 events of '09. She hasn't had an LPGA top 20 since the Women's British Open or a top 10 since the Ginn Open.
1. Song-Hee Kim: Birdies on 4 of her last 7 holes at Bosque Real boosted her to her 1st top 4 since the Samsung World Championship.
2. Suzann Pettersen: After a couple of un-Pettersen-like starts to the season, she's gotten a pair of top 20s in her last 2 starts, including a T6 in Mexico. And she still isn't playing all that well by her standards.
3. Seon Hwa Lee: Still playing inconsistently by her standards, but got her 2nd straight top 20 this past weekend in Mexico.
4. Se Ri Pak: Is Pak back? Despite a disappointing final 10 holes at Bosque Real, all signs point to "yes"!
T5. Meena Lee and Teresa Lu: Their solid play in '09 continued in Mexico, as each earned their 2nd top 20 of 2009.
Honorable Mention: Among the recovering Korean stars, Grace Park gave her fans some hope that she's back from her recurring back problems (despite that trio of doubles as she made the turn on Sunday), Mi Hyun Kim rested her knee, and Jeong Jang recently had wrist surgery. I'm sure Park and Kim would tell her not to rush her comeback!
[Update 1 (5:21 am): Bill Nichols has a Texas-sized profile of Stanford.]
[Update 2 (3/25/09, 11:20 am): Here's Hound Dog's latest LPGA hot list, a top 20 that's much better thought-out than mine.]
[Update 3 (11:35 am): Nice of Alan Shipnuck to mention both Hurst and Papago on his hot list.]