Aye, aye, Ai
Just when it appeared that Ai Miyazato was poised for the breakout season that everybody was expecting, oh, about four seasons ago, she went for a swim along the Pacific Coast. Miyazato, a mega-hyped Japanese star who finally won her first LPGA title earlier this year in France, had a one-shot lead at Torrey Pines on Sunday when she dunked her approach shot from 200 yards into the greenside pond, handing the victory to unheralded Na Yeon Choi, who had spit up a seven-shot lead. By the way, an American player hasn't won in the past 13 LPGA starts dating to May 10, extending the tour record for foreign dominance. And yes, I am counting.
Look, Choi is "unheralded" only to lazy American golf writers. She was a star in Korea before this win, came in 2nd to Ya Ni Tseng in the Rookie of the Year race last year (making over $1M in the process), has never missed a cut in her LPGA career (48 events and counting), and was at the head of the prestigious Mostly Harmless best w/o a win list. Let's get our Koreans straight, Steve: Eunjung Yi was a real long-shot, M.J. Hur was a surprise because of her trouble closing the deal the year before on the Futures Tour, but Na Yeon Choi is a bona fide world-class player. She was #17 on the Rolex Rankings last week and is #12 now.
As for Ai-sama, I'm sick of the insinuations that she's all hype. She's been one of the best players on tour since the middle of last season, when she finally put the previous season's mid-summer injury and subsequent swing meltdown behind her. Here's a secret: it's hard to win on the LPGA. Just ask Lorena Ochoa. Or Michelle Wie. Ai-sama's had half a dozen good chances to close the deal this season and has only done it once. And even though she may only be playing 3 more LPGA events this season, she could still steal the POY from Shin.