Tuesday, December 7, 2010

LPGA Q-School Preview, Predictions, Pairings

Well, the LPGA stats pages may have crashed at the worst possible time of the year, but the show must go on and this week 120 hopefuls (including 71 from the Futures Tour) will be playing LPGA International's Champions and Legends courses from December 8th through December 12th to see who can make the top 20 (to gain full status on the LPGA in 2011) and the next 20 (for partial status on tour next season) via the Final Qualifying Tournament.

Given that the weather should get a little warmer by the end of the week down in Orlando (even into the 70s over the weekend!), I expect to see players' scores improve over the course of the week, as they need to warm up figuratively as well as literally. Many haven't played a round of competitive golf in a very long time--or at least a round with as high stakes as this week's. The Futures Tour season ended in early September; the sectional qualifiers were in late September and early October; and Futures Tour Q-School was in early November. Sure, some have played the Cactus Tour or the SunCoast Series (including this past week), but really only those with recent LET experience have faced this level and scope of competition.

All of which makes hazarding predictions very difficult. But coming off my winning the season-long PakPicker competition (thanks to bangkokbobby not entering picks for last week's LPGA Tour Championship because he wanted to finish 2nd for the 3rd-straight year), I'm ready for anything. So here goes:

1. Tiffany Joh
2. Caroline Hedwall
3. Ashleigh Simon
4. Belen Mozo
5. Jessica Korda
6. Jaclyn Sweeney
7. Christel Boeljeon
8. Ryann O'Toole
9. Pernilla Lindberg
10. Hannah Jun
11. Becky Brewerton
12. Dewi Claire Schreefel
13. Mollie Fankhauser
14. Jodi Ewart
15. Sydnee Michaels
16. Allison Fouch
17. Pornanong Phatlum
18. Virada Nirapathpongporn
19. Angela Oh
20. Jane Rah

Never count out young guns like Esther Choe, Kimberly Kim, Mallory Blackwelder, Jennifer Johnson, Danielle McVeigh, Lucy Nunn, Sarah Brown, Jennie Lee, or Amelia Lewis, much less comparatively seasoned players like Aree Song, Cathryn Bristow, Reilley Rankin, Lisa Strom, Meredith Duncan, Beth Bader, Briana Vega, Mo Martin, Paola Moreno, Leah Wigger, Sophia Sheridan, Alison Walshe, Jimin Jeong, Nicole Hage, Libby Smith, Danielle Downey, Samantha Richdale, Jean Reynolds, Whitney Wade, Miriam Nagl, Jamie Hullett, Jeehae Lee, Kim Welch, Michelle Ellis, Dorothy Delasin, Christi Cano, and Kelli Kuehne, but these are the 20 I have the best feeling about. Apologies to NYers Downey and Nannette Hill, as well as to Ayaka Kaneko, Harukyo Nomura, Yukari Nishiyama, Junko Nakada, and Shayna Miyajima, but even though I'll be rooting for you I think top 40s would be great accomplishments for you this week. Still, given how closely packed the top half of the field is, accomplishment- and experience-wise, I wouldn't be surprised to be surprised over the next 5 rounds!

Here are the 1st-round pairings. The geographic diversity in each--there are only a few groups where 2 Californians are paired together and 1 where a couple of Canadians are, while the rest have threesomes from totally different states and nations--shows what a draw the LPGA remains. But the relatively small number of unfamiliar Asian names--and the choice of some of the biggest names on the KLPGA to remain there or seek membership on the JLPGA, coupled with the decision by many mid-career Asians on the LPGA to join them at JLPGA Q-School--suggests that the LPGA's position as the preeminent women's tour on the planet may be slipping. It's too bad for the LPGA that Lee-Anne Pace is off in Dubai this week trying to beat Laura Davies to the top of the LET's 2010 money list and become the only player ion the world of women's golf to garner 6 wins this season, but that's a prime example of the lack of coordination between tours when it comes to assembling their schedules. Hopefully there's still time to plan the 2011 schedule more sensibly.

[Update 1 (12/8/10, 3:39 am): Here's more from Brent Kelley, Hound Dog, and LPGA.com. Looks like it's going to be a freezing start to the festivities later this morning!]

[Update 2 (9:31 am): Ryan Ballengee notes the cold weather has delayed the start of the 1st round by an hour.]


courtgolf said...

Isn't Jessica Korda just 15 or 16 ? Interesting to see what happens if she gets through Q-school. She's not from a golf family like the Thompsons. Her dad was a top 10 in the world professional tennis player. I wonder if he would be as patient as the Thompsons or run right to the lawyers. Money isn't a question for the Kordas.

Here we go on Sarah Brown again - having to think about which one is which.

Did you see that Sara (no "h") Brown finished T2 at the LET pre-Q-school qualies last week ?

The Constructivist said...

Yeah, that was pretty amazing! Sarah Brown (with the "h") has been tearing up the mini-tours of late, so we may see both of them get their LPGA cards this week!

tonyj5 said...

Courtgolf....I think you are miving up Korda with Lexi Thompson.

Korda is currently 17 years old and will be 18 when the season starts.

diane said...

TC, based on what I know about the players involved, I think your top 20 will probably be close.

Even though she's been around for awhile, I hope Angela Buzminski gets some good status for next year. She's dealt with injury issues the last couple of years and could use a break.