Monday, May 4, 2009

Atsui, Samui, Daijo Bu: East Asian Edition

We're coming back to the LPGA this week, but first a look back at who on the JLPGA and KLPGA are playing great, terrible, and just fine as of this past weekend.


Who are the hottest among the finest? Read on....

1. Hee Kyung Seo: Made up a 6-shot deficit to notch her 1st KLPGA major and 8th career KLPGA victory--all coming during and after the 2nd half of last season!

2. Sakura Yokomine: Having finished 1-2-3-2 over the last 4 weeks, she's riding a 21-event top-20 streak, with 2 wins, 10 top 5s, and 17 top 10s in that run.

3. Ji-Hee Lee: Took last week off to prepare for the Salonpas Cup, but as the player riding the longest hot streak in the world of women's professional golf, she didn't fall far down this list.

4. Yuri Fudoh: Never mind that missed cut--3 top 10s in 4 starts means that she's peaking for the JLPGA's 1st major!

5. Mi-Jeong Jeon: Once again, she was in contention on the back 9, but this time she struggled in her bid to come from behind, which has to be a lot less disappointing than fumbling away those 2 wins. Still, she's gotten 4 top 10s in 6 starts and is due for a return to the winner's circle.

Honorable Mention

Chie Arimura: Got off to a terrible start in '09, but capped off her recent 4-event top-20 streak with a win in the Crystal Geyser Ladies.

Bo-Bae Song: A tough final round dropped her to T16 last week, her worst finish of the year in 5 starts, but the 2nd in a row in which she's missed the top 10. Needs to start making more birdies to move up this list!

Yuko Mitsuka: Last season ended well for her, with 3 straight top-5 finishes and 5 straight top 20s. She already has a win and 2 other top-5 finishes this season, but only has 1 other top 10 in her 7 starts and has finished outside the top 20 twice (T22 and MC).

Erina Hara: She closed out last season with 4 straight top 20s, but no top 10s. This season, she already has 3 top-3 finishes, but in 7 starts also has a MC and a T22 and T20, the last 2 coming in the last 2 weeks.

Ah-Reum Hwang: Her back-to-back runner-up and win appear to be for real--she's finished T10 and T11 the last 2 events and like Mitsuka and Hara has really struggled in only 2 events, a WD and T37.


This is the list you don't want to be on and especially near the top of--it consists of those golfers who have been playing the furthest below expectations so far in 2009.

1. Shiho Oyama: Brought her frigid play from the LPGA over to the JLPGA.

2. Miki Saiki: Is there an LPGA Q-School curse? Saiki's missed 2 of her last 4 cuts and hasn't cracked the top 20 in 7 tries on the JLPGA this season.

3. Mayu Hattori: She's sat out the last 2 weeks, which makes me believe that injuries are the reason for her disappointing results since getting her 1st career JLPGA win and finishing 15th on the money list last season.

4. Esther Lee: 3 MCs, a WD, and no finish even in the top 30 in '09 is not the way to follow up on a 16th-place finish on the '08 money list.

5. The rest of the JLPGA young guns: Yuki Ichinose, Ritsuko Ryu, Kumiko Kaneda, Sakurako Mori, Rikako Morita, and the gang are all off to very slow starts in '09. For that matter, neither of the KLPGA's top rookies from last season, He Yong Choi and So Yeon Ryu, are playing all that well, either.

Daijo Bu

Here's where I keep track of players threatening to break into the hot list.

1. Miho Koga: Got only her 2nd top 10 of '09 last week, and it couldn't come sooner.

2. Ha Neul Kim: Her game seems to be coming around after a slow start this season.

3. Yuko Saitoh: A missed cut stopped short her 5-event JLPGA top-20 streak in '09, but she bounced back in style with a T3 this past week. And if she had played better down the stretch, she could have won the Crystal Geyser Ladies.

4. Sun Ju Ahn: Ji-Yai Shin's former top KLPGA rival had a somewhat disappointing 2008, but she seems to be playing fairly solidly in 2009.

5. Ayako Uehara: 1st 3 events--super hot. Last 3 events--super cold. After taking last week off, which Uehara will show up at the JLPGA's 1st major?

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