Sunday, February 21, 2010

Honda LPGA Thailand Sunday: I Can't Believe Ai-sama Did It!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow!!! Ai-sama, omedetou gozaimasu!

I was telling the Full Metal Archivist last night why I wasn't going to be doing any not-quite-live-blogging for the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand. 1st, and most important, our girls didn't let us really celebrate her birthday, so the night was hers. 2nd, this tournament was reminding me a lot of last year's Canadian Women's Open. As I responded to Jamie Belyea's history of Suzann Pettersen's Sunday collapses in my last update last night, he

asks the key question about Pettersen: can she hold this lead? Although he misses some earlier history--like the major Morgan Pressel ended up winning before Pettersen began her 5-win run late in the 2007 season--and he's generally right about what has to happen for anyone to have a chance tomorrow, where I really disagree with him is how relevant Pettersen's recent history is. Her mindset and conditioning seem awesome heading into the final round and most important her ball-striking is close to perfect. I just don't see her faltering at all tomorrow. Figure she's going to get to -21 no matter what and then you know what someone needs to shoot to have a chance to catch her....

Well, Miyazato shot a 63 and got to -21. Pettersen's bogey-free streak ended on her 63rd hole. At that point, after that 2-shot swing on the 9th, she was -19 and Ai-sama was -16. And this leads into my 3rd reason for not wanting to not-quite-live-blog the final round. I would have been an absolute wreck no matter what. If somebody else was going low--besides Momo-chan, Inky, or the Stone Buddha--I would have been wondering, "why not Ai-sama?" And if Ai-sama was the one to challenge Pettersen, I would have lived and died with every update. Knowing Ai-sama's perfectly capable of breaking 65 and "watching" her try to actually do it by building on her opening 32 are 2 very different things. Finally, I would have been exhausted afterwards, and I owe a colleague and her students a Tiger Woods post, which I only have this morning to write. (Don't worry, LPGA fans, it's not going up here.)

To say I'm shocked by the actual result would be the understatement of the year. Hardly anybody went low besides Ai-sama, so it's not like the course was set up easy. Sure, 14-year-old Thai amateur Ariya Jutanugarn shot a roller-coaster 68, Stacy Lewis fired a bogey-free 67 that included a walkoff eagle, Laura Davies came out of nowhere with a 65 that brought her to T6, and Karrie Webb's bogey-free 67 brought her to T4. But the only other players to break 70--Ya Ni Tseng (-15, 3rd), Na Yeon Choi (-8, T13), Amanda Blumenherst (-6, T18), and Ji-Yai Shin and Michelle Wie (both -5, T22)--barely did so with 69s. Big names like Cristie Kerr (70, -13, T3), Angela Stanford (70, -7, T16), and Lorena Ochoa (72, -6, T18) just couldn't get it in gear today.

Which makes Ai-sama's Sunday back-9 charge all the more amazing and impressive. She followed up her birdie on the 9th with 2 more on the next 2 holes, cutting Pettersen's lead to 2 (Pettersen birdied the 10th for the 4th time this week). Birdies on 13 and 15 erased Pettersen's lead entirely, and when Pettersen made her 2nd bogey of the tournament on the par-3 16th, Ai-sama had the lead. When she matched Pettersen's par on the 17th and birdie on the 18th, the win was hers. But of course it wasn't as simple as that. To save you a trip to for the details, here's their description, reordered:

Pettersen missed her eight-foot par putt at 16 while Miyazato chipped-in from 10 yards behind the pin at 18 for a two shot swing. Pettersen’s 72nd-hole eagle effort slid by the hole, but she tapped in for birdie to take runner-up honors by a stroke.... Miyazato, who was 10-under-par in her final 16 holes, chipped-in for birdie at 18 to clinch her second-career LPGA victory.... This year, a bogey at the 16th hole and a short birdie-putt miss on 17 cost [Pettersen] a chance at a seventh LPGA title.

2 chip-ins in her last 3 holes to take the win! Sugoi!!!!

Too bad onechan's violin teacher is part of a strings concert on campus this afternoon! Not only are we going, but even if we weren't, I'm pretty sure our friends with the 2 boys onechan's and imoto's age and whom we watched a few events with last season will also be at the concert. Maybe I'll see if they can tape it for us.

More on the meaning of this win tomorrow, when I update my list of the top 2-time winners on the LPGA Tour!

[Update 1 (8:58 am): OK, in my excitement, I wrote as if Ai-sama and Pettersen were playing together (and so, by the way, did But of course Ai-sama was 2 groups ahead of Pettersen. So Pettersen wasn't able to see anything Ai-sama did, and vice versa. From interviews and twitter, here's what I was able to piece together:

Pettersen knew Ai-sama was making a charge, but didn't know quite how serious it was until mid-way through the back: "When I came up to 14, I saw she was 20-under so I knew she was playing well."

Pettersen's 2nd bogey of the tournament was a straight 8-footer on the 16th. And the short birdie putt she missed on the 17th was "about six feet, down, left to right," according to Pettersen's interview.

Miyazato knew where she stood on the 18th tee: "I knew I needed to make birdie at the last because I saw the scoreboard before I go to the green. The pin position was really difficult for me and for everyone. I was trying to get it close on my third shot and I missed. It wasn’t that bad chipping it. Only 10 yards from the hole to the pin. I was lucky."

Pettersen just missed hitting the 18th in 2; she "[g]ripped down on [her] rescue so it would come down soft. It was 197, plays uphill about 12 [yards]." Her eagle putt from the fringe was, according to the LPGA, about 23 feet long, and she said it "broke right to left pretty much the whole way."

So Ai-sama played inspired--and, yes, lucky--golf down the stretch, and Pettersen had trouble with her putter under pressure. Amazing!]

[Update 2 (9:03 am): Why am I so stubborn to insist on 1st doing this stuff on my own, only consulting primary sources, when I could have simply linked to stories by my blogging buddies Bill Jempty and Hound Dog?]

[Update 3 (9:09 am): Check out Ai-sama's tempo:

I'll post more clips as Ai-sama's fans get on the ball!]

[Update 4 (12:12 pm): Here's Brent Kelley on Ai-sama's win and Creamer's WD.]

[Update 5 (12:33 pm): Lots of great pics up at Seoul!]

[Update 6 (2/22/10, 12:42 am): Here's Golf Girl's take on Ai-sama's win!]

[Update 7 (12:48 am): Here's Hound Dog's epilogue!]

[Update 8 (12:52 am): Wanchai Rujawongsanti, whose preview post was too wacky for even me to link to, had really great stories about Ai-sama's galleries, Hee Young Park's short shorts, and other gallery favorites. Must-read!]

[Update 9 (12:55 am): Wanchai's "Avian Open" made me think of other cross-language phonetics stories. The funniest recent one was when my mom called me last night and said, excitedly, "Ai won a tournament!" Having heard, "I won a tournament," I tried to find out which one and when she played it and where. Two minutes later, we had it all straightened out....]

[Update 10 (1:10 am): Nice choice of music by MH regular LPGA Fan!

Sorry, 1 more Wanchai response here, prompted by seeing the slide show. I'm not sure Wanchai knows Ai-sama's from Okinawa....]

[Update 11 (2:24 am): Here's LPGA Fan's full-field slideshow:

Great visual of the tour's diversity!]

[Update 12 (2:34 am): Whoops, overlooked Candie Kung's closing 68. Sorry, Candie!]

[Update 13 (4:24 am): My friend did tape the Golf Channel coverage for me and seeing it I realized that there was no chip-in for Ai-sama on 16, just a good sandie. Too bad the Champions Tour went into a playoff; it was cool to see Bernhard Langer shaping his approach shots on the 18th in opposite directions to close out the final round and put himself in position on the 1st playoff hole for that amazing sand shot from the plugged lie, but since it meant missing almost every single one of Ai-sama's birdies, I'm against it.]

[Update 14 (11:25 pm): Here's Beth Ann Baldry on the experience of reporting from Asia. Ai-sama, by the way, is now #4 in the Rolex Rankings and #6 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index!]

[Update 15 (11:59 pm): Check out the Thailand LPGA Rewind--most of the Ai-sama birdies Golf Channel didn't have time to show are there!]


The Florida Masochist said...


I beat you to the punch at OTB sports. It so surprised me that you didn't blog first but I see you had a good reason.

The Constructivist said...

Thanks, that's update 2--in a sec!

LPGA Fan said...

Turned on to confirm what I thought would be the winner at Honda-PTT.


Blinked and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, blinked again to make sure what I thought I saw was true.


Brings joy to my ol' heart and a tear to my ol' eyes.

Ai Miyazato, wins the Honda-PTT.
Now, how good is that?

The Constructivist said...

Let me know when your youtube montage is up!

The Florida Masochist said...

I decided to give Ai her own tag at OTB sports. There are now five posts with that tag in it but I'm betting on at least a few more before 2010 ends.

Its more likely I'll write about Ai than Appalachian State which also has a tag.

Only golf people with tags- Woods, Wie, Ochoa, Sorenstam, Shin, Bivens, and now Miyazato

Thanks for the link. I am generous with them to golf bloggers as are you.

The Constructivist said...

NP, Bill--just noticed Brent Kelley beat us all to the punch! Did you see my comment at HD's place?

The UnGolf Pro Blogs said...

I have noticed she has a slightly closed clubface at the top of her backswing.

that means there are many ways in which to skin a cat in golf.

Whatever works best for you.

A person with over active hips should have a stronger grip to compensate for the clubs position at the tope of the backswing.

The Florida Masochist said...


Somewhere along the line I flip flopped Miyazato and Nordqvist in my top 30 picks. At OTB I have it 5 Miyazato and 6 Nordqvist whereas at WR and Hound Dog it is the other way around.

I picked Creamer to win a major this year. If she's too injured to play, I'll take Miyazato next.

The Florida Masochist said...


I been watching pro golf for many years. Lee Trevino was a great player with a very unorthodox swing. Miller Barber was a consistent PGA pro and winner and one of the most successful senior tour players ever. His swing was compared to making a figure 8.

Whatever works.

Mike said...

Gotta give you props on this one, TC -- you nailed it when you said Ai would come out hot. Look for a link to this in my Monday summary post... as well as to your post lavishing praise on Ai.

BTW, Cristie posted a T4. Not bad for her, this early in the season. Maybe she got her mindset right in the off-season and will get out of her own way this season. Two majors this year, maybe? Hmmmmm...

LPGA Fan said...

Short video of Ai-chan posted. This one just Ai. Later will do the full field.

The Constructivist said...

Mike, Cristie impressed the heck out of me on moving day. But I can't say I wasn't glad to see that Ai-sama dusted her playing partner today. Realistically, that's all I was hoping for.

Bill, which top 30 do you want me to count in the derby? OTB?

The Florida Masochist said...


Use my OTB list please.


The Constructivist said...


LPGA Fan said...

I noticed different caddy faces on some of the bags. Wonder if due to playing in Asia or real 2010 changes.
Sherry Lin, Yani's for one.