Wednesday, February 24, 2010

HSBC Women's Champions Preview, Predictions, Pairings

How psyched am I for this year's Showdown in Singapore? Try taking any answer you can imagine and putting it to the power of your second-highest answer.... With Ai Miyazato looking to make it 2 in a row in 2010, with my other favorite golfers (Momoko Ueda, Seon Hwa Lee, In-Kyung Kim, Ya Ni Tseng, and Na Yeon Choi) playing well in Thailand last week, with the JLPGA's Finest joining the Best of the LPGA, and with Tim Maitland contributing the majority of writing to the awesome HSBC tournament site, the only missing pieces of the puzzle are Paula Creamer and the top KLPGA players from 2009. I hope the tournament organizers consider reserving spots for major winners and leading money winners from the JLPGA and KLPGA, expanding the field to 90, and instituting a cut to the top 60. If they really want to be considered Asia's major in women's golf, they'd also better consider upping their purse to compete with the LPGA's fall-season events--right now the Hana Financial Group is way ahead of HSBC.

With Lorena Ochoa dominating in 2008 and Ji-Yai Shin making a stirring weekend charge in 2009, and both going on to win the LPGA money-list title in those years, there's extra motivation to get your name added to the short list of winners here in 2010. Having already done previews for both seasons, I don't have too much to add. So let's jump right into my predictions:

1. Miyazato Ai
2. Shin Ji-Yai
3. Pettersen
4. Kerr
5. Ochoa
6. Ueda
7. Tseng
8. Kim Song-Hee
9. Yokomine
10. Kim In-Kyung
11. Choi Na Yeon
12. Lee Seon Hwa

Alts: Yang; Stanford; Hull

I'll tell you what, it hurts not picking Karrie Webb, Hee Young Park, Michelle Wie, Maria Hjorth, or Bo Bae Song! It's going to be a real accomplishment for anyone to make the top 20 this week, that's for sure.

Once again, every pairing has a few paragraphs worth of greatness in it, so I'll settle for just listing my top 5 threesomes:

1st tee, 10:19 AM
Ji-Yai Shin
Ai Miyazato
Lorena Ochoa

1st tee, 9:57 AM
Cristie Kerr
Na Yeon Choi
Momoko Ueda

10th tee, 9:57 AM
Jee Young Lee
Vicky Hurst
In-Kyung Kim

10th tee, 8:40 AM
Brittany Lang
Sakura Yokomine
Hee-Won Han

1st tee, 8:40 AM
Christina Kim
Kristy McPherson
Hee Young Park

Do take a look for yourself--Ya Ni Tseng and Michelle Wie are playing together, as are Morgan Pressel and Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen and Angela Stanford, Amy Yang and Bo Bae Song, and Candie Kung and Angela Park, just to name a few.

It's going to be a great week!

[Update 1 (6:07 am): Golf Girl agrees!]

[Update 2 (6:15 am): As always, go to Seoul for the best fan commentary and photos on the web. Despite getting my #1 pick right in last week's PakPicker, I finished only 4th. But I'll take a 4th-place finish for an Ai Miyazato win any day. This week I'm hoping that my dark horses Sakura Yokomine and Seon Hwa Lee come through for me!]

[Update 3 (6:24 am): Jay Busbee throws some red meat to the Wie-haters/Wie-fanatics that duke it out in comments at Devil Ball Golf.]

[Update 4 (6:46 am): Ryan Ballangee's interview with Sandra Gal went well:

Never knew she got migraines--ouch! She noted the fairways are tighter than last week, but the rough is low, so the key is to fire at pins. She thought the greens were better than last week, too. She's been working on driving accuracy in the off-season, so it's really too bad we won't be able to track her (or anyone's) results in that stat this week.]

[Update 5 (2:15 pm): Vince Spence at One-Eyed Golfer got my hopes up with his title that he'd be expanding his LPGA blogging, but he just means doing more Wie blogging. All well and good, but hasn't the Tiger saga shown that no tour can afford to put all its eggs in one basket? Why should bloggers be any different?]

[Update 6 (2:25 pm): Tan Yo-Hinn hopes for an Ochoa-Shin showdown this week. So do I, but the fact is that any 1 of maybe 12-20 golfers could be part of that party. We're going to have to give up pinning our hopes on any 1 or even 2 golfers to help the LPGA get to where it ought to be.]

[Update 7 (2/25/10, 12:46 am): Pretty funny that the only mistake the Yomiuri Shinbun made in its report on Ai Miyazato's win, offseason preparation, and goals for 2010 was the number of wins in Japan she's had (15, not 14!). Oh, and "money queen" is probably too literal a translation of the Japanese phrase that sounds to me like "shocking joe" (shakinjo?).]

[Update 8 (12:51 am): And that Ravipan Pavasuthipand's only big mistake was his claim that Ai-sama came to LPGA Q-School with 15 JLPGA titles to her name--nope, 12.]

[Update 9 (1:06 am): Back to looking ahead, here's's pre-tournament notes and interviews--love the range of players interviewed and the questions put to them!]

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