Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tres Marias Championship Preview, Predictions, Pairings

Finally, the Tres Marias Championship is here! In a year with so few tournaments on the LPGA, every single one matters, but of course this one matters more because it could well end up being Lorena Ochoa's last event as an LPGA regular. Like Hound Dog, I'm astounded that there will be no U.S. television coverage. I'll be busting out my unused-since-college Spanish to surf ESPN Deportes to see what video they choose to post. I love the Mojo 6 and all, but CBS had better be doing regular updates on the action in Morelia over the weekend!

Back when this was the Corona Championship and the then-newly-crowned #1 golfer in the world of women's golf failed to win it for the only time in the last 4 years, I made a double in-joke that proved remarkably prescient on two levels (sure, the details were all wrong, but I got the big picture right, you have to admit), so this tournament will always mean something extra to me. Last year's preview gives you a pretty good sense of the results from the year before and the vibe of the tournament: go low early and often. With lots of hills and water, lots can happen, but the winner's probably going to have to average around 68 per round (it's a par-73 course). Keeping in mind that Ai Miyazato's 1st LPGA win came on the hilly Evian Masters track, her solid history at Tres Marias, the pressure on Lorena, and the fact that the hottest female player (Inbee Park) is competing in Japan this week, here's the 12 players I think will separate themselves out from this strong field:

1. Miyazato Ai
2. Pettersen
3. Ochoa
4. Kim Song-Hee
5. Choi Na Yeon
6. Nordqvist
7. Pressel
8. McPherson
9. Kim In-Kyung
10. Wie
11. Yoo
12. Lang

Alts: Prammanasudh, Ward, Hull

With Ji-Yai Shin also playing in Japan this week, Cristie Kerr, Ya Ni Tseng, and Karrie Webb inexplicably sitting this one out, and Jeong Jang, Mi Hyun Kim, Grace Park, and Angela Park still in comeback mode, this is a great opportunity for Miyazato, Pettersen, and Nordqvist to put in a claim on being the next #1. The tournament organizers clearly have a sense of history, as they're pairing Lorena with Ai-sama in the top prime-time quadrant going off the 10th tee in the late morning:

Start Time: 8:36 AM
Jeong Jang
Leta Lindley
Soo-Yun Kang

Start Time: 8:47 AM
Michele Redman
Sun Young Yoo
Liselotte Neumann

Start Time: 8:58 AM
Anna Nordqvist
Sandra Gal
Michelle Wie

Start Time: 9:09 AM
Giulia Sergas
Pat Hurst
Meaghan Francella

Start Time: 9:20 AM
Lorena Ochoa
Ai Miyazato
Natalie Gulbis

Next-best quadrant is going opposite them off the front:

Start Time: 8:36 AM
Christina Kim
Katherine Hull
Grace Park

Start Time: 8:47 AM
Angela Park
In-Kyung Kim
Kristy McPherson

Start Time: 8:58 AM
Hee-Won Han
Juli Inkster
Helen Alfredsson

Start Time: 9:09 AM
Amy Yang
Stacy Prammanasudh
Mi Hyun Kim

Start Time: 9:20 AM
Sherri Steinhauer
Hee Young Park
M.J. Hur

Glad to see Steinhauer back--hope her hips can take the hills! Next-best quadrant goes off the 10th in the early afternoon:

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Laura Diaz
Wendy Ward
Jimin Kang

Start Time: 12:21 PM
Angela Stanford
Lorie Kane
Suzann Pettersen

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Brittany Lincicome
Karine Icher
Na Yeon Choi

Start Time: 12:43 PM
Vicky Hurst
Nicole Castrale
Anna Grzebien

Start Time: 12:54 PM
Becky Morgan
Brandie Burton
Meena Lee

And finally there are a lot of dark horses in the front-side early-afternoon quadrant:

Start Time: 12:10 PM
Kyeong Bae
Morgan Pressel
Eunjung Yi

Start Time: 12:21 PM
Stacy Lewis
Ji Young Oh
Janice Moodie

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Brittany Lang
Mika Miyazato
Louise Friberg

Start Time: 12:43 PM
Se Ri Pak
Candie Kung
Maria Hjorth

Start Time: 12:54 PM
Jane Park
Jee Young Lee
Song-Hee Kim

I'm very curious to see how Moira Dunn (#1, 1:05 pm), Mina Harigae (#1, 1:16 pm), and Pernilla Lindberg (#1, 7:41 am) do this week, along with Lorena's young successors from the Spanish-speaking world, particularly Azahara Munoz (#10, 8:03 am), Mariajo Uribe (#1, 8:03 am), Maria Hernandez (#1, 7:30 am), Tania Elosegui (#10, 1:16 pm), and Beatriz Recari (playing with Moira). Amazingly, both Se Ri Pak and Karen Stupples (playing with Elosegui) are in this event for the 1st time. Erica Blasberg and Diana D'Alessio Monday-qualified with scores of 73 and 74, respectively, so my guess is the course is playing pretty tough.

We'll see if that poses obstacles to Ai-sama's quest to get back in birdie mode and put an end to her mini-slump. Gambare!


Hound Dog said...

Larry Smich is looping for your fave Moira this week. Good luck charm or kiss of death? ;)

The Florida Masochist said...

Kiss of death more likely. Smich has had one winning bag in his last 27 years working the LPGA.