Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Uh Oh! Is Ji-Yai OK?

Just saw this Beth Ann Baldry piece on the possibility that Ji-Yai Shin might need to skip the last 2 events of the season on the LPGA. I'm going to do a little digging and see if I can't find out more about the state of her health and her schedule planning process....

[Update 1 (9/22/10, 8:54 am): Just checked my email and saw that I got permission from Shin's caddie, Dean Herden, to quote the following about her tentative schedule for the rest of the season:

Miyagi TV (JLPGA)
week off
Hi Mart (KLPGA) [home town Gwangju area]
Fujitsu (JLPGA)
Malaysia (LPGA)
Hana Bank (LPGA/KLPGA)

What follows is my own interpretation of what I'm hearing from people in Ji-Yai's camp and observations on the LPGA's and JLPGA's schedules.

Given how burned out she was at the end of last season and the health issues she's faced this season--sadly ironic given how much attention she paid in the off season to both her physical conditioning and to developing a sustainable schedule, but no amount of preparation and planning can stop life's vicissitudes--it makes sense that she'd minimize her travel in the next few weeks. What makes the stretch run of the worldwide women's golf schedule so difficult for players with dual membership in an Asian tour and the LPGA is the sheer amount of shuttling back and forth in such a short time. For instance, if you wanted to play every JLPGA and LPGA event from mid-September on, you'd be flying from NW Arkansas to Japan, stay there for 3 weeks, then fly to Alabama, California, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Mexico, back to Japan for 2 weeks (Ji-Yai's JLPGA win this season has already qualified her for their season-ending major, the Ricoh Cup), and then have to decide whether to fly back to the states for the LPGA Tour Championship or stay in East Asia for the Kyoraku/Pinx Cup (the team Japan v. Korea showdown). What's more, Lorena Ochoa's invitational is played at high altitude, which can't make dealing with pre- and post-event jet lag any easier.

In the face of all that travel, nobody's going to play 12 events in a row, of course. So the question becomes where to skip so as to maximize one's odds of playing well, finishing high, and doing as well as possible on both the LPGA and JLPGA money lists. That's a tough decision for the healthiest of golfers. Looks to me like there's been a decision made to go public on key aspects of Ji-Yai's decision-making process, so that the places she's skipping understand why it's playing out this way. And so that the LPGA understands the repercussions of its approach to fall scheduling on its players who are most instrumental in helping them expand into Asia.

Now I'm wondering if we'll be hearing soon from Ai Miyazato, Ya Ni Tseng, Na Yeon Choi, In-Kyung Kim, and other global stars as to their own scheduling processes.]

1 comment:

Mike said...

I don't think it's such a surprise. She came back so soon after the appendectomy that I'm surprised she hasn't taken time off earlier. Healing from a serious health problem takes a big toll on that deep "well of wellness" that makes our bodies able to recuperate, and it takes months for your body to replace that energy.

I just hope she gives herself enough time to do it.