Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mizuno Classic Preview, Predictions, Pairings

Well, well, well, it's ironic that my second-favorite LPGA tournament of the year (after the Rochester-based Wegmans LPGA Championship!) is finally here and it finds me as busy as I've ever been in the classroom and outside it. In the midst of a grading crunch (of my own design) and a surprisingly rocky stretch run toward closing on the sale of our house in Dunkirk and purchase of one in Hamburg (on the former end), I somehow have to live up to Hound Dog's extravagant praise in his preview of the Mizuno Classic. And this functionally illiterate expert hasn't even had time to update last season's end-of-year ranking of the JLPGA's finest!

At least I already surveyed the field last week and have a great preview to crib off of! I guess the least I can do now is point you toward the JLPGA money list in English and Japanese. If you're thinking of making picks this week and wondering which JLPGA regulars stand a chance against Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Na Yeon Choi, Ya Ni Tseng, Song-Hee Kim, Katherine Hull, Inbee Park, Mika Miyazato, and the other hottest 20 LPGA regulars in Hound Dog's system, I'd recommend checking out the Japanese page, for it lists scoring averages and also links to each player's profile page. If you're going by overall performance this season, Sun-Ju Ahn and Sakura Yokomine are your 2 most obvious picks, for their scoring averages are close to Shin's and Park's, the JLPGA irregulars leading that category, but don't overlook Chie Arimura and Mi-Jeong Jeon, who are right there with Ai Miyazato. If you're going to go by momentum, checking out my list of worldwide winners this season will reveal that Ahn and Yokomine have plenty of it (although Ahn hasn't broken 70 since going 67-65-62 at the end of the Sankyo and start of the Fujitsu and Yokomine hasn't consistently been putting herself in contention as much this year as usual), but don't overlook Arimura (who's riding a 5-event top 10 run), Jeon (whose own top-10 run is 3 and counting), ex-LPGAer Young Kim (who's on a 2-event top-5 run of her own), Yukari Baba (who's been having a career year), Mayu Hattori (who's been racking up good finishes ever since a bad performance at the Japan Women's Open), or Ji-Hee Lee (who's been having a bad season by her standards but a great season by most players'). If you're going by past performances at Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club, defending champion Bo-Bae Song, former champion Momoko Ueda, and Shinobu Moromizato shouldn't be counted out, even though all their 2010s have been pretty disappointing. And if you're going by looks, check out the head shots of the entire field over at the MBS tournament site!

So how do I plan to pass bangkokbobby and retake the season-long lead in Seoul's PakPicker? By going with my gut, of course!

1. Miyazato Ai
2. Choi
3. Shin Ji-Yai
4. Park Inbee
5. Yokomine
6. Kim Song-Hee
7. Tseng
8. Hull
9. Miyazato Mika
10. Ahn
11. Arimura
12. Pressel

Alts: Jeon; Yoo; Lewis

Gotta go with Mizuno girl as my last alternate there! She's paired with Mika Miyazato and Song-Hee Kim in the prime-time groupings going off the front Thursday:

Start Time: 9:10 AM
Momoko Ueda
Akane Iijima
Chie Arimura

Start Time: 9:20 AM
Mika Miyazato
Stacy Lewis
Song-Hee Kim

Start Time: 9:30 AM
Ai Miyazato
Katherine Hull
Morgan Pressel

Start Time: 9:40 AM
Karrie Webb
Ya Ni Tseng
Kristy McPherson

Start Time: 9:50 AM
Na Yeon Choi
Brittany Lincicome
Sun-Ju Ahn

Start Time: 10:00 AM
Ji-Yai Shin
Bo-Bae Song
Sakura Yokomine

I'm pissed on Inbee Park's behalf that she was placed in the back-side prime-time groupings; if she had decided to play more often on the JLPGA, she'd be in the running for both rookie and player of the year! Sure, she has great playing partners (Ji got a top 10 at the Japan Women's Open), but in what universe does Kristy McPherson or Akane Iijima deserve to play with the other top contenders and Inbee doesn't?

Start Time: 9:20 AM
Inbee Park
Eun-Hee Ji
Sun Young Yoo

Start Time: 9:30 AM
Wendy Ward
Jimin Kang
Seon Hwa Lee

Start Time: 9:40 AM
Catriona Matthew
M.J. Hur
Sophie Gustafson

Start Time: 9:50 AM
Hee-Won Han
Christina Kim
Maria Hjorth

Start Time: 10:00 AM
Angela Stanford
Candie Kung
Anna Nordqvist

While the tournament organizers kept JLPGAers and LPGAers pretty strictly separated in the prime-time pairings, they did a pretty good job mixing them outside them. Gwladys Nocera and Akiko Fukushima at 8:40 am off the 1st tee is brilliant, as is Azahara Munoz and Mayu Hattori 2 groups after them. Still, I think they could have done more to get golfers who would otherwise never get to play with each other together from the 1st round on.

Those critiques and complaints aside, I'm super-psyched to see if Ai-sama can put herself back in the conversation for the LPGA money-list and Rolex Rankings lead. And curious to see if I'll be able to do some not-quite-live-blogging this week....

[Update 1 (11/5/10, 6:12 am): Nice preview by Randall Mell that I missed earlier!]

No comments: