Spirits have to be pretty low on the LPGA this week, what with Lorena Ochoa's sudden retirement and Erica Blasberg's mysterious death, but the players are going to have to tough it out and try to focus on golf, at least while they're on the course. With its multimillion dollar renovation complete, the Robert Trent Jones-designed Magnolia Grove course is about 300 yards longer than when they last played it in September 2008. You might want to check out Hound Dog's and my previews from then, along with Hound Dog's current preview/predictions and Hot 20 posts and Jeff Skinner's set-up.
The key thing to keep in mind this week is that even when playing long, RTJ courses are score-able if you're playing well, but they feature severe penalties for mistakes, particularly those caused by bad ball-striking. The other thing to keep in mind is that many of the top players in the field will be dealing with jet lag, having only just recently flown back from Japan and the JLPGA's 1st major of 2010. So the question for those playing the PakPicker this week is whether to go with the rested but rusty or the sharp but exhausted? Here are my picks:
1. Kim Song-Hee
5. Miyazato Ai
8. Yang Amy
10. Choi Na Yeon
12. Kim In-Kyung
Alts: Park Inbee; Tseng; McPherson
More on the pairings soon!
[Update 1 (4:00 pm): Randall Mell reminds us that the last 14 spots in next week's Sybase Match Play are up for grabs this week. (The top 48 on the LPGA money list are already in; top 10 not already qualified after 36 holes are in, plus the next 4 on the money list after 72.) Go, Moira!
Here are the pairings of note for me:
10th tee, 8:07 AM
10th tee, 8:18 AM
Ya Ni Tseng
1st tee, 8:40 AM
It may actually be an advantage for the jet setters in these pairings--Miyazato, Shin, Tseng, and Ueda--to be going off in what will still feel like late evening to them. At least they'll be finishing their rounds before 2 am, Japan time. I'll bet it'll be hard even to stay awake for the rest of the jet-setters--Pressel, Park, Gustafson, and Ji--who will be playing in what will feel like the middle of the night through early morning--
1st tee, 11:50 AM
10th tee, 12:01 PM
Ji Young Oh
1st tee, 12:12 PM
10th tee, 12:12 PM
It'll all even out for them on Friday, when they flip the sides and morning/afternoon starts....
Other pairings of interest:
1st tee, 7:01 am
Feng almost broke through for her 1st LPGA win the last time they played the Bell Micro; Moreno's coming off a Futures Tour win, but only got in because of Anna Nordqvist's decision not to play this week.
10th tee, 6:50 AM
Cho was one of Blasberg's best friends on tour. Munoz can win any given week.
1st tee, 12:34 PM
Se Ri Pak
When was the last time the players known as Our Girl and Our Grace at Seoul Sisters.com were paired together for 2 opening rounds? Pretty cool!
10th tee, 8:29 AM
1st tee, 12:01 PM
Couldn't forget some of the biggest names on tour, could I?]
[Update 2 (4:03 pm): Check out the Solheim Cup announcement in the All-American pre-tournament interviews!]