Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Setting Up the LPGA's Asian Swing and Stretch Run

All right, so this is how all the LPGA's season-long races stand as the top 10 LPGAers of 2010 prepare to face off in Malaysia this week. Even resting, Ai Miyazato gained enough Rolex Ranking points last week to stay a hair's breadth ahead of Cristie Kerr and Ji-Yai Shin, who played some great golf on the LPGA and JLPGA, respectively--just not great enough.

1. Ji-Yai Shin $1.46M (1 win in 15 starts, 128 POY points, 70.20 scoring average, 3.86 birdies per round, 10.74 Rolex points [#3])
2. Na Yeon Choi $1.45M (1/18, 134, 69.89, 4.32, 9.41 [#6])
3. Ya Ni Tseng $1.43M (3/15, 2 majors, 176, 70.44, 3.84, 10.40 [#4])
4. Ai Miyazato $1.39M (5/17, 174, 70.41, 4.13, 10.90 [#1])
5. Cristie Kerr $1.38M (2/17, 1 major, 163, 69.88, 4.23, 10.81 [#2])
6. Suzann Pettersen $1.32M (0/15, 115, 70.00, 3.81, 10.36 [#5])
7. Song-Hee Kim $.99M (0/17, 93, 70.13, 4.05, 7.22 [#8])
8. Michelle Wie $.85M (1/16, 62, 71.20, 3.65, 8.30 [#7])
9. In-Kyung Kim $.84M (0/17, 83, 70.62, 3.77, 7.17 [#9])
10. Paula Creamer $.74M (1/11, 1 major, 64, 71.08, 3.47, 6.89 [#11])
11. Inbee Park $.74M (0/16, 55, 70.86, 3.52, 6.27 [#12])

Creamer is the only player on this list not to be entred in the Malaysia event, but her name shows up on the LPGA Hana Bank Championship final field list, so she's not shutting it down this season like I speculated last week; perhaps she'll play the Mizuno Classic in Japan, Lorena's invitational in Guadalajara, and the LPGA Tour Championship in Orlando, as well, but that remains to be seen. In her Sunday interview in Danville, Kerr revealed that she'll be skipping the Mizuno Classic, so Malaysia, Korea, Guadalajara, and Orlando are her last 4 events of the season. Ai Miyazato continues her tradition of skipping the Korea event (even though countrywomen Mika Miyazato and Momoko Ueda will be playing there once again), so her schedule most likely will be Malaysia, Japan, Guadalajara, Orlando. My guess is that Ji-Yai Shin will be playing the next 3 weeks, but skipping Guadalajara and returning for Orlando. Michelle Wie is entered in Malaysia and Korea; if, as I suspect, she's getting study abroad credit for the Asian swing from Stanford, she'll also be playing the Mizuno Classic, where she can practice her Japanese, as well, before returning to Guadalajara to defend her title. If she plays that many events, why not conclude the season in Orlando in December? Wouldn't it be funny if she turned out to be the only player on this list to play all 5 remaining events on the LPGA schedule? I have to wonder whether Choi, Tseng, Pettersen, the Kims, or Park will play both Japan and Guadalajara back-to-back. That's one brutal commute!

I'll let you know as soon as the Mizuno and Guadalajara field lists have been published, but my guess is that all the top LPGAers will play 4 of the 5 final events of the 2010 LPGA season. What we do already know is that Miyazato, Shin, and Park, along with Morgan Pressel and Mika Miyazato, will be playing the JLPGA's final event and major in 2010, the Ricoh Cup. And that all the Korean and Japanese golfers on this list will have to choose between individual glory and national pride when deciding whether to play in Orlando or in the Japan-Korea international team competition known this season as the Pinx Cup (it's called the Kyoraku Cup when it's hosted by Japan) the following week. So the resolution of both the LPGA races and the race to end the season at #1 in the Rolex Rankings could still be seriously affected by scheduling conflicts and choices. Wouldn't it be great if the end of the 2011 season was smoother?

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