Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Michelob Ultra Preview/Predictions/Pairings

The Michelob Ultra, which may well have the LPGA's best states-side claim to "5th major" status, is finally here! As always, Hound Dog's preview is the place to start, but also check out the tournament history, historical results, and last few leaderboards, along with my latest LPGA hot list. [Update (5/7/09, 2:03 am): And Hound Dog's.]

From the hole-by-hole overview, I'm trying to figure out why Jee Young Lee has always played the River Course so well. Perhaps it's the combination of short par 5s and longish par 3s? With water on 17 and 18, there certainly will be a lot of drama down the stretch, provided someone isn't lapping the field, as Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam have done 2 of the last 3 years. Here are my top picks for this week's Pakpicker at Seoul

1. Ochoa
2. Lee Jee Young
3. Pettersen
4. Kerr
5. Webb
6. Hull
7. Tseng
8. Shin
9. Choi Na Yeon
10. Stanford
11. Hurst, Vicky
12. Wie

Alts: Christina Kim, Lang, Yang

The pairings are particularly well-done this week. Just take a look at who's grouped together in the late-morning back-side prime-time quadrant:

Start Time: 8:32 AM
Michelle Wie
Vicky Hurst
Brittany Lincicome

Start Time: 8:43 AM
Ai Miyazato
Seon Hwa Lee
Angela Park

Start Time: 8:54 AM
Stacy Prammanasudh
Ji Young Oh
Hee Young Park

Start Time: 9:05 AM
Lindsey Wright
Silvia Cavalleri
Sun Young Yoo

Start Time: 9:16 AM
Meena Lee
Momoko Ueda
Jimin Kang

Start off with the long-hitting young Americans, go to the top precision players among the LPGA's Young Guns (who all have struggled at Kingsmill, by the way), then a trio with solid records at the River Course, and finish with a mix of international players who are itching to break through and whose games may well be ready for prime time. Not bad!

But as great as these pairings are, their counterparts going off the 1st tee are even better:

Start Time: 8:32 AM
Eun-Hee Ji
Hee-Won Han
Jee Young Lee

Start Time: 8:43 AM
Brandie Burton
Inbee Park
Louise Friberg

Start Time: 8:54 AM
Pat Hurst
Katherine Hull
Carin Koch

Start Time: 9:05 AM
Cristie Kerr
Suzann Pettersen
Karrie Webb

Start Time: 9:16 AM
Lorena Ochoa
Ji-Yai Shin
Angela Stanford

'Nuff said, eh? After that, it's hard to get that excited about the front-side early-afternoon pairings, but don't be fooled. Any of these players are ready to turn their 2009s around:

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Mi Hyun Kim
In-Kyung Kim
Laura Diaz

Start Time: 12:21 PM
Meaghan Francella
Rachel Hetherington
Sophie Gustafson

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Giulia Sergas
Sarah Lee
Nicole Castrale

Start Time: 12:43 PM
Heather Young
Laura Davies
Song-Hee Kim

Start Time: 12:54 PM
Teresa Lu
Brittany Lang
Na Yeon Choi

And the last 4 names on this list have some pretty decent momentum heading into Kingsmill. That leaves the early-afternoon back-side prime-time quadrant to provide the interesting pairings:

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Young Kim
Wendy Ward
Alena Sharp

Start Time: 12:21 PM
Ya Ni Tseng
Jane Park
Lorie Kane

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Maria Hjorth
Candie Kung
Helen Alfredsson

Start Time: 12:43 PM
Christina Kim
Kristy McPherson
Morgan Pressel

Start Time: 12:54 PM
Se Ri Pak
Natalie Gulbis
Juli Inkster

Let's go in reverse order. 2 active Hall of Famers with a popular American star? Check. A trio of young Americans who are all playing pretty well coming into this week? Check. A trio of veteran international players (including 1 naturalized U.S. citizen) who could contend any given week? Check. A showdown between 2 of the top Young Guns on the LPGA? Check. A veteran playing great golf paired with 2 players in the prime of their careers who are hungry to break through? Check.

With Stacy Lewis 1st off the 1st and Karen Stupples last off the back, you know this field is packed. Should be a fantastic week--let's hope the weather holds up for them!

No comments: