Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Near Miss for Harigae on the Futures Tour

Hurricane Bill made life difficult for the players continuing their long, hard slog through the 2009 Futures Tour season in Harrisburg this week. In a Monday finish, Samantha Richdale clinched an LPGA tour card by beating Amanda Mathis in a playoff after both golfers ended the morning at -10, the former by making birdies on 3 of her last 4 holes and the latter by doing the same on 3 of her last 7.

The top 5 golfers on the FT money list get full status on the LPGA, while the next 5 get very low status but a bye into the finals of Q-School to try to improve upon it. #5 Whitney Wade's +2/T34 finish only got her $790, which means that she can be passed for the final assured spot by anyone from #6 to #14 on the money list if she were to miss the cut in Albany the 1st week of September and one or more of them were to win or finish high enough to displace her. But #8 Alison Walshe, #9 Dewi Claire Schreefel, and #10 Pernilla Lindberg will be looking over their shoulders, as well. At under $30K for the season, they're vulnerable to being passed by multiple people, dropping out of the top 10, and having to go through sectional qualifying for Q-School in mid-September or late-September through early-October. If Lindberg were to miss the cut in Albany, a win could vault everyone from #11 through #41 on the money list into the 10th spot or better. But there are so many permutations, it's impossible to predict who will end up in the top 10.

For me, though, the biggest story coming out of Harrisburg today is Mina Harigae losing another lead down the stretch. After birdies on 5 of her 1st 6 holes yesterday vaulted her to -12, she looked like a lock for her 4th win of the season, but a bogey on the 8th before play was stopped due to darkness brought her momentum to a screeching halt. She just didn't have it today, bogeying 14 and 15 to settle for a 38 on the back and a 70 on the round that left her 1 shot out of the playoff. That's gotta hurt. The big question for Harigae fans like me is whether she'll be more like Vicky Hurst or M.J. Hur next year on the LPGA. Hur infamously had trouble on Sundays in contention, while Hurst had one of the most dominant seasons in FT history. This year on the LPGA, Hurst is having a respectable but not breakout campaign thus far; at #53 on the money list and 6th in the Rookie of the Year race, she's doing all right, but her missed cut in Korea this week shows how far she has to go to join the game's elite. Hur is fighting to get into the top 80 (she's about $4500 behind Allison Fouch at #80 right now) and is a non-factor in the ROY race at #10. Since winning her historic battlefield promotion, Harigae's had chances to match Hurst's FT win total. Even though she hasn't done it, she still has improved her scoring average (to 71.03), birdie rate (to 3.38 birdies per round), and percentage of rounds under par (to 56.8%). Bottom line, I'm still not sure what to make of her potential and ability to compete on the global stage that is the LPGA.

[Update 1 (8/26/09, 2:04 am): Check out the very funny on-course observations from Seoul's Carl Spackler. I wouldn't put too much stock in the putting woes he witnessed; getting the speed (and hence line) right on wet greens on a course you don't know very well is one of the toughest challenges in golf.]


Anonymous said...

CAREFUL now - don't be messing with Newnan, Georgia's own Jean Reynolds in the #2 spot ! :-)

The Constructivist said...

She's got Mindy Kim written all over her. Sorry, CG. Gotta call it like I see it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little more confidence on Mina's chances. Yes she has let the last two tournaments sort of slip out of her fingertips, but she has won three times this year (two back-to-back) and had been one of the top amateurs.

I think she just might be getting a little fatigued, she mentioned that in the story after her 3rd win, that she was growing tired. She just might need to get used to the idea of consistently winning!

Also to be super annoying I've followed Tiff Joh among others into the tumblr world, and rebranded myself as Jamie in the Rough.

So, if you wouldn't mind updating your RSS feed or whatever I would be so very happy!

The Constructivist said...


So one thing Mina will have to work on is conditioning, then. If things go the way I expect on the sponsorship front, the 2010 LPGA schedule will have more than 2x the number of events on the 2009 Futures Tour. She's not a bomber like Vicky Hurst, so she won't be overpowering courses. She'll need to be in as good shape as possible to avoid fatigue next year and play consistently at her best.

The Constructivist said...

Just found out Samantha Richdale's Japanese-Canadian. That's 2 players of Japanese descent who will be on the LPGA next season!

The Constructivist said...

Plus, Ayaka Kaneko of Honolulu made it in via Monday qualifying!