Monday, February 8, 2010

What the New Zealand Women's Open Suggests about the LET ROY Race

In a recent preview of the 2010 LET season, the tour mentioned Kristie Smith, Maria Hernandez, Carly Booth, and Caroline Masson as likely frontrunners in its Rookie of the Year race. Last month, the only one of those 4 that I had focused on was Hernandez--my top picks were Azahara Munoz, Mariajo Uribe, and Pernilla Lindberg. Since we know the 1st 3 are rookies this season, it doesn't make any sense not to name them, too (and I'm 99% sure Lindberg is one, too). Like Hernandez, they'll be splitting their time between the LPGA and LET--unlike fellow rookies Ai Miyazato and In-Kyung Kim, who will have to make the most of their few LET appearances on the LPGA's European swing to have a chance to challenge their fellow dual members with an incentive to play more often on the LET.

Now, unless some players drop out of the New Zealand Women's Open before it starts on the 25th, some of my frontrunners won't be competing that week on the LET. Uribe is 1st alternate and Hernandez is 5th. It's absolutely crucial that they give themselves as many opportunities to play on the LET as Munoz and Lindberg.

In addition, many of the players I noted with only partial LPGA status in 2010--

I’m thinking that those LET rookies with only partial LPGA status--Mallory Blackwelder, Alison Walshe, and Dewi Claire Schreefel--may have the advantage in the LET ROY race as a result. They can concentrate almost exclusively on the LET and won’t have to deal with as much transcontinental travel. Same for Diana D’Alessio, Hannah Jun, Jeehae Lee, and Mollie Fankhauser....

--are on the field list, as well. D'Alessio and Walshe are already in the field, while Jun is 2nd alternate, Schreefel is 3rd, Lee is 6th, and Blackwelder is 7th. So chalk up an advantage to D'Alessio and Walshe, provided that the LET considers them to be rookies.

As a co-sponsored event with the ALPG, the NZ Women's Open is a limited-field event for the LET because of all the Australian and New Zealand natives in the field. There will still be plenty of opportunities for all the LET rookies with LPGA status to play on their "other" tour. But good performances in the limited-field events by those who get into them could make all the difference at the end of the LET's ROY race this season.

[Update 1 (2/10/10, 5:14 pm): The third set of profiles is out and everyone I thought was a rookie is.]

[Update 2 (2/17/10, 6:39 am): Mariajo Uribe tweeted that she won't be in the field, and Hannah Jun decided not to go, either, but the KLPGA's He Yong Choi and the LPGA's Mina Harigae and Taylor Leon will be there, plus Schreefel got in off the alternates list. Alison Walshe is now listed under Ireland, not the U.S., btw!]


Mike said...

The alternates thing must really suck for the ladies. I mean, PGA hopefuls have to travel to their tourneys and wait to see if an alternate spot opens up too... but there's a lot more money up for grabs. Seems like trying to make it as an alternate would be an expensive proposition for the ladies, since the money is so much less.

The Constructivist said...

Plus how many of the alternates want to travel all the way to NZ and Australia in hopes they get in??