Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kraft Nabisco Championship Preview, Predictions, Pairings

The best of the LPGA have been joined by last week's winner Hee Kyung Seo, her top KLPGA rival So Yeon Ryu, 8 of the top 10 among the JLPGA's finest, and some of the best U.S. women amateurs this week at the 1st major of 2010, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Since I have two years of preview posts under my belt and plenty of guidance from others (including Golfweek), I'm jumping right in with my predictions in this week's PakPicker at Seoul I'm going with the players whose games seem the sharpest right now and who have a history of playing Mission Hills well.

1. Shin
2. Miyazato Ai
3. Kerr
4. Seo
5. Wie
6. Kim Song-Hee
7. Choi Na Yeon
8. Park Inbee
9. Tseng
10. Pettersen
11. Webb
12. Ochoa

Alts: Ueda; Yokomine; Lee Jee Young

As for the pairings, with Shanshan Feng, Maria Hjorth, and Helen Alfredsson DQed for missing their pro-am starting times, it remains to be seen whether the tournament organizers will reshuffle them. But assuming they won't, here are my top 12 pairings:

1. Ai Miyazato and Karrie Webb (#10, 8:34 am)
2. In-Kyung Kim and Mi-Hyun Kim (#1, 12:32 pm)
3. Seon Hwa Lee and Amy Yang (#1, 8:42 am)
4. Momoko Ueda and Vicky Hurst (#10, 8:58 am)
5. Chie Arimura and Hee Kyung Seo (#10, 8:02 am)
6. Ya Ni Tseng and Jeong Jang (#10, 12:48 pm)
7. Se Ri Pak and Na Yeon Choi (#1, 8:34 am)
8. Song-Hee Kim and Hee Young Park (#1, 8:58 am)
9. Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist (#10, 8:42 am)
10. Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel (#10, 8:26 am)
11. Angela Stanford and Stacy Lewis (#1, 8:26 am)
12. Lorena Ochoa and Juli Inkster (#1, 12:08 pm)

Check out the tournament preview and pre-tournament interviews from before the action begins!

[Update 1 (6:18 pm): Here's Ron Sirak's preview! And just as Hound Dog predicted, Paula Creamer had surgery yesterday to deal with her thumb/wrist issues.]

[Update 2 (4/1/10, 4:16 am): Ryan Ballengee strikes twice, first with a video interview with Suzann Pettersen and then with a report on Maria Hjorth's tweets on her DQ.]

[Update 3 (4:20 am): Here's Mike from Ruthless Golf with an embed of the Ladies of the Lake video of champions' leaps and take on the pre-tournament news. And here's Jamie at Snap Hook Herald with his mini-profiles of the KNC sponsor exemptions and tournament preview.]

[Update 4 (4:51 am): Here's Patti Myers in The Desert Sun on Ai Miyazato's quest for that 1st win on U.S. soil (outside Q-School, that is).]

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kia Classic Sunday: Seo Sweet!

There's little to add to's comprehensive round-up of the Kia Classic, which Hee Kyung Seo dominated. Be sure to read it all, including the interviews. Then check out Hound Dog and Bill Jempty on the final round, Golf Girl on Seo's fashions, Jeff Skinner and Geoff Shackelford on Wie's 2-stroke penalty, the Seoul tournament thread, and on-course reports from Seoul Sisters regulars Verdant Garden and IceCat.

Since I was on the road and then back to my cable-less home during the tournament, I couldn't follow anything, and since I don't have time to do my usual scorecard checking, I thought I'd end by listing a few observations:

  • Seo's win gives her great options when it comes to putting together a worldwide schedule in 2010. After the KNC next week, she can play on the KLPGA while the LPGA goes dark, then choose when to make her return. My guess is she'll realize she can rest a little during the KLPGA's summer vacation but come to the States for the LPGA Championship and try to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open (if she needs to), then stay with the LPGA through its European swing. She was probably planning to play the majors, anyway. So it's just a question of adding in a week here and a week there. If she's playing well and having a lot of fun, it may be tough to go back to the KLPGA in the fall and winter....
  • Great to see Inbee Park, Jee Young Lee, and Shanshan Feng high on the leaderboard again. Of the 3, I'd say Park is back among the game's elite for sure, I'm hoping Jelly keeps on rolling, and I'm not so sure this wasn't just a blip for Feng.
  • Who'da thunk Morgan Pressel would snag a top 10 this week? Certainly not me! But she didn't tie Wie for low American. They both couldn't pass Candie Kung. Naturalized citizens are still citizens.
  • Who'da thunk new mom Mi Hyun Kim would come to this tournament absolutely cold and beat Ai Miyazato, In-Kyung Kim, Suzann Pettersen, Lorena Ochoa, Karrie Webb, Katherine Hull, Kristy McPherson, and Laura Davies?? (Not to mention all who missed the cut.)
  • How about that Moira Dunn? On the same day she's listed among the career high scorers in girls basketball in the Greater Mohawk Valley (with over 1000 points), she ties Vicky Hurst and Maria Hjorth at T21 (+1) with a bogey-free 71.
  • It's really too bad Wie's 2-stroke penalty debate not only interrupted the awards ceremony but also was aired on national tv. I realize everything she does is news, a T2 is a lot better than a T6, and $100K or so is a lot of money to anyone, but, man, was it really 20 minutes?
I hope to have deeper thoughts soon, but that's all for now. Congratulations to Hee Kyung Seo!

[Update 1 (8:20 am): Here's Mike's rundown over at Ruthless Golf.]

[Update 2 (11:47 am): More linkage, to Hound Dog's thoughtful epilogue, Ryan Ballengee on why Wie was wrong, and Jay Busbee just shakin' his head.]

[Update 3 (3/30/10, 12:42 am): Heeeere's Jamie!]

[Update 4 (5:04 pm): Ron Sirak notes that it's not an either-or when it comes to LPGA/KLPGA membership and explains how a both-and is entirely workable for Seo.]

[Update 5 (9:42 am): Here's Happy Fan with an exhaustive update of a previous post on Seo's career.]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kia Classic Saturday: Pressure? Seo What!

Hee Kyung Seo played some cool, calm, and collected golf yesterday at the Kia Classic, firing a 69 that brought her to double digits under par, while most of the rest of the 2nd-round leaders treated Saturday's round like it was moving backwards day. Sure, Shanshan Feng (-4, T3), Anna Nordqvist (-3, T5), and Cristie Kerr (E, T19) outdid Seo by a shot, and Candie Kung (-5, 2nd), Ji-Yai Shin (-3, T5), and Jimin Jeong (E, T19) kept pace with her, but everyone else in the field lost ground to the leader, often by a large margin.

As I expected, La Costa put a lot of pressure on the LPGA's precision players. 1st-round leader Na On Min shot her 2nd-straight over-par round to drop to -3 overall, and she fared better than most. In-Kyung Kim, who had been playing great golf over the 1st 36 holes, couldn't do anything right yesterday, and turned a bad round into a terrible one when she finished double-triple-par for a 78 that dropped her all the way back to E (T19). Seon Hwa Lee, who hadn't gone over par in any of her 1st 4 9s, didn't make a birdie all day and followed up a 37 with a 40 to join Kim and Kerr 10 shots behind Seo. Stacy Prammanasudh? 73 (-2, T13). Morgan Pressel? 75 (E, T19). Inbee Park? 76 (+1, T24). But, really, every kind of player struggled. Christina Kim and Jee Young Lee both had great rounds going fairly late into the day, but neither could finish them off; Kim was +2 over her last 6 holes to settle for a 72 (-2, T13), while Lee bogeyed 3 of her last 5 to fall from -6 to -3 overall with a 73 (T5). Meanwhile, Golf Channel's featured pairing of Michelle Wie (73, -4, T3) and Vicky Hurst (74, -3, T5) exemplified the oldest golf cliche in the book, "drive for show, putt for dough"; neither could get anything going all day, despite having many opportunities to attack La Costa. Even a straight shooter like Song-Hee Kim imploded yesterday, making a double on each side on her way to a 75 that dropped her 8 shots behind Seo into a tie for 13th place.

So despite nice scores by Teresa Lu (70, -3, T5), Tamie Durdin (71, -3, T5), Pat Hurst (72, -3, T5), Amy Yang (70, -2, T13), and Na Yeon Choi (72, -2, T13), the fact is that they all threw away too many shots over the 1st 54 holes to be doing anything more than playing for the silver on Sunday.

Unless Seo comes back to them in a big way, that is. But our leader has made only 2 bogeys all tournament. And she hasn't even made a birdie on 2 of the 4 par 5s at La Costa, the 8th and 18th. Maybe her KLPGA mentor, the "final round queen," can come out firing at pins and put some early pressure on her. But Candie Kung is the only player within 5 shots of her. And with players who have already won this season way behind her--Ya Ni Tseng and Ai Miyazato are T54 at +6, Karrie Webb is T43 at +4, and Laura Davies is T27 at +2--and most of the world's best also out of the picture--Lorena Ochoa is T49 at +5, while Suzann Pettersen is T36 at +3--this win is Seo's for the taking. I hope she takes advantage of this opportunity to join the LPGA!

[Update 1 (3:45 am): Nice job again by Heather Daly-Donofrio is a great interviewer!]

[Update 2 (4:00 am): Just a reminder that there are lots of Seoul regulars on-course this week: Verdant Garden, IceCat, None, and Say_You_SeRi (twice).

[Update 3 (4:02 am): John Strege continues his mini-profiles series, this time on In-Kyung Kim. Which raises the question: is there a Local Knowledge jinx?]

[Update 4 (4:10 am): Forgot to mention I actually got to watch this thing on the telly. Loved Tom Abbott and Judy Rankin in the booth, couldn't stand the fact that they only showed the 1st page of the leaderboard for most of the 1st hour of coverage, hated the commercials and promos and "Golf Center Updates." Just show some golf, people! Appreciated what I could get of Christina and Jee Young and Candie and I have to admit it was really fun watching Michelle and Vicky blast it off the tee and seeing Hee Kyung and In-Kyung go in different directions. But it felt like I barely caught a glimpse of the players who actually ended up with really good rounds. And I got no sense of who was making a charge from behind, or that so many top players were moving backwards so far and so fast. Probably because despite all the hoopla about the GC contract, this was actually a lo-budget affair. A couple of camera crews on the last 2 pairings and on the last few holes is probably all they have.]

[Update 5 (4:40 am): Check out Lisa Mickey's reports from Mexico on the Futures Tour's 2nd round of the Riviera Nayarit Challenge. Now that's what golf writing oughtta be!]

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kia Classic Friday: Seo v. LPGA

Apparently Hee Kyung Seo did not appreciate being overshadowed in my Best 2009 in Women's Golf award deliberations, for she shot a bogey-free 67 yesterday to leap to -7 and lead the entire LPGA in the Kia Classic after 36 holes. Her lead chase pack consists of In-Kyung Kim (69, -6), Song-Hee Kim (68, -5), Michelle Wie (67, -5), Vicky Hurst (68, -5), and Seon Hwa Lee (71, -5), whom I've listed in relative order of threat to pass Seo on the weekend. Lee, the Stone Buddha, continues to scramble her way around the course, while Hurst is living dangerously off the tee thus far. That leaves Wie, who's driving the ball well and whose wedge game always makes her a threat on small greens, and the 2 Kims, precision-player Inky (who's not playing all that precisely by her standards) and straight shooter Song-Hee (who's hitting the ball great but having trouble on the greens), as Seo's greatest threats on moving day. But as Inky is the only player among the 143 who have completed 36 holes to have broken 70 both days, I wouldn't expect the leaders to up and run away from the field tomorrow.

In fact, if scoring conditions remain as benign as they were yesterday, there are lots of players 1 round away from serious contention. Candie Kung's bogey-free 68 moved her within 5 shots of Seo, while Jee Young Lee eagled the par-5 3rd hole (her 12th) on the way to a 67 that pulled her within 3 of the lead (tied with yesterday's leader Na On Min, who doubled the par-4 14th on her way to a 74). Ai Miyazato needs that kind of 7-shot swing on the 36-hole leader if she wants to keep her hopes of a record-setting 3rd consecutive LPGA win to start the season alive. But she's made only 2 birdies in her 1st 36 holes and sits 9 back at T37. Only there? Yup, a lot of players moved backwards yesterday. For every 69 (by Wendy Ward, Christina Kim, and Stacy Prammanasudh, which shot them up the leaderboard to T19, T13 and T9, respectively), there were far more 75s (most notably by Na Yeon Choi, Catriona Matthew, and Lorena Ochoa, which sent them tumbling down the leaderboard to T13, T19, and T27, respectively). Heck, when 70s by Morgan Pressel, Azahara Munoz, Teresa Lu and Karine Icher, and Mi Hyun Kim moved them into the top 10, top 15, top 20, and top 30, respectively, you know that it's probably going to be more important to get and stay under par than it will be to go super-low in the final 36 holes. (Unless, of course, you shot a 77 like Cristie Kerr to join Ya Ni Tseng, Angela Park, and Moira Dunn in the big group at +4.)

But of course you have to be playing on the weekend to have a chance to reach that goal, and unfortunately some of my favorite players won't have that chance this week. Angela Stanford and Mika Miyazato missed the cut by 1 shot, while Mina Harigae and Tiffany Joh joined Sun Young Yoo and Stacy Lewis 1 further back. Other notable victims of the cut line include Brittany Lang, Se Ri Pak, Hee-Won Han, Jeong Jang, Sophie Gustafson, Brittany Lincicome, Natalie Gulbis, Hee Young Park, and Grace Park.

Still, those playing early today have a great chance to make a move before the breeze comes up. I'm looking for low numbers from the past Rookies of the Year paired together at 9:48 and the European stars in the next 2 groups after them. But the decision to send the players off in pairs from the 1st tee only means that most of the field will be dealing with the wind for a good portion, if not all, of their rounds. I'm in Clinton at my folks' place, so will be subjecting my girls to some LPGA-watching this evening. Can't wait!

[Update 1 (4:15 am): Seo's a very funny interview, it seems, and her tribute to Juli Inkster was very moving! Nice to hear about Inky's peregrinations--never knew she first learned to really use her English in South Carolina! Does she have a Southern South Korean accent?]

[Update 2 (4:25 am): Hee Kyung Seo is the latest to get Stephanie Wei's Know Your Asians treatment!]

[Update 3 (4:33 am): Nice job by Beth Ann Baldry with the mini-updates on Christina Km and Natalie Gulbis.]

[Update 4 (4:38 am): Jay Busbee calls attention to Ai Miyazato's attempt to make LPGA history.]

[Update 5 (12:56 pm): Here are Hound Dog and Jamie on round 2.]

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kia Classic Thursday: All Eyes on La Costa

Na On Min's bogey-free 66 yesterday at the Kia Classic puts the 9th-ranked player in the Class of '07 1 shot ahead of Na Yeon Choi, 2 shots ahead of Inbee Park, Seon Hwa Lee, and Catriona Matthew, and 3 shots ahead of In-Kyung Kim and Amanda Blumenherst. Min, the current money list leader on the SunCoast Series (thanks in part in her mid-February win in horrific conditions), is coming back from a wrist injury that kept her from touching her clubs from the end of May to the end of September last season. Speaking of comebacks, it's great to see Seon Hwa Lee, whose debut on the JLPGA was deeply disappointing, among the leaders, along with Inbee Park, who seems to have finally shaken off the U.S. Women's Open jinx for good, even if it did crop up recently when a retroactive penalty denied her her 1st career win there. We'll see if Lee can keep scrambling her way around La Costa and if Park can straighten out her driver. If so, watch out for them to surprise hotter and steadier players like Kim and Choi, who seem to be picking up right where they left off at the end of last season.

It's fitting that so many Korean golfers, including the KLPGA's top player Hee Kyung Seo, would be playing so well in an event sponsored by a Korean car company, but it's still somewhat surprising that so many precision players have made their way to the top of the leaderboard. Sure, Korean-Americans Vicky Hurst (71) and Michelle Wie (72) bombed their way into the top 36 players after day 1, but like Suzann Pettersen (70) they were down around 260 in driving distance while Laura Davies (72) was the only player in the field to top 280. The only thing that really stands out to me about the lead pack is that they putted really well: lots of up-and-downs and good jobs converting their birdie opportunities. We'll see if over time the tour's straight shooters like Song-Hee Kim (71) and Cristie Kerr (71) can take advantage of their combination of length and accuracy over the next 54 holes and negate the advantages of great scrambling and hot putters that dominated the 1st 18.

We'll also see if Ai Miyazato can bounce back from an uncharacteristic 39 on the back that put her 8 shots off the lead. She found out during the pre-tournament interviews that nobody in LPGA history has ever won the 1st 3 events of a season in a row, so who knows how the added pressure will affect her. Speaking of pressure, Lorena Ochoa (70) is fielding lots of questions about her motivation and work ethic, when it's really a combination of getting used to new clubs, new strength, and playing at lower altitudes than Mexico City, where she practiced all season after getting married and moving there. Similarly, Ji-Yai Shin (72) has lost 10 pounds, gained a lot of strength, and switched from graphite to steel shafts, so she, too, is going through all kinds of technical and feel adjustments. The top 3 players in the world right now know what a fine line it is between greatness and mediocrity on a tour that has so much parity at the very top and so many players threatening to join the elite.

[Update 1 (1:18 am): I've really been enjoying Beth Ann Baldry's profiles of Mi Hyun Kim and the other new moms on tour (including Laura Diaz, which was a pleasant surprise to me!), as well as of Grace Park. Hope she keeps up that pace all season. There are so many great stories on tour.]

[Update 2 (2:18 am): Nice post on Ai Miyazato's quest to go 3 for 3 on the LPGA in 2010 by John Strege.]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kia Classic Preview, Predictions, Pairings

Work continues to grind me into as pulp, so I'll point you to Hound Dog's preview of the Kia Classic, the program (as discovered by IceCat), and note that a long course with narrow fairways and small greens favors the straight shooters of the LPGA, but leaves the door open for a precision player who's hitting her long irons well and a bomber who's hitting her short irons well. So with that in mind, here are my late entries in this week's PakPicker over at Seoul

1. Miyazato Ai
2. Kerr
3. Pettersen
4. Wie
5. Kim Song-Hee
6. Ochoa
7. Webb
8. Tseng
9. Yoo
10. Shin
11. Stanford
12. Ueda

Alts: Seo; Hjorth; Lee Jee Young

With a field this packed, I fully expect to come in last this week. Speaking of Seoul, be sure to follow the on-site reports from Verdant Garden, IceCat, and None.

As for the pairings, I'm going to have to let you look for yourself. Yes, this is my Worst. Preview. Post. Ever. My deepest apologies to my regulars and to the LPGA!

[Update 1 (12:10 pm): Here's Jamie's preview and profiles of the Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions.]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hainan Island Celebrity Co-Ed Pro-Am Conflicts with LPGA Hana Bank Championship

In news of the weird in the world of women's golf, a co-ed celebrity pro-am will take place on Hainan Island the same week as the LPGA Hana Bank Championship. Looks like China's communist leaders think they can best promote their answer to Hawaii and Okinawa by bringing the bling during the LPGA's stretch run, instead of during the silly season, where this thing belongs. I mean, it's super-cool that the Full Metal Archivist's faves, Hugh Grant and Sanma (kind of like Japan's answer to Johnny Carson and Oprah, rolled into one funny, hyper, golf-loving guy), will have the chance to play alongside Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak, offical tournament ambassador Greg Norman, Colin Montgomerie, Corey Pavin, and 15 other pros, but how is this not a slap in the face for the LPGA?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Around the World of Women's Golf in One Belated Post

Lots of crucial developments happening this month at work are coming to a head this coming week, so I've had to put my golf writing on the back burning the last few days. In the spirit of my overviews of major and developmental women's professional tours, I'll take a look at what's going on on the JLPGA, LET, LAGT, and Futures Tour, where Rui Kitada, Anja Monke, Solar Lee, and a player yet to be determined have taken the victor's laurels.


The big story in the inaugural T-Points Ladies Open was '09 stars Sakura Yokomine and Chie Arimura, along with last week's winner Yun-Jye Wei, blowing their chances to remain in contention during the final round. But they weren't alone in struggling in what must have been challenging weather conditions today--Yukari Baba's 70 was not only the low score of the day, but the only one under par in the entire field, while a walkoff triple cost Shinobu Moromizato a top 10 finish. Even though newcomers Sun-Ju Ahn and Young Kim continued to show great promise, it was tour veteran Rui Kitada who took advantage of a 67 on moving day and held on for a 5-shot victory over Yuko Mitsuka, thanks to a bogey-free 34 on her final 9. This is her 6th career JLPGA victory since joining the tour in 2004.

1st/-8 Rui Kitada (69-67-72)
2nd/-3 Yuko Mitsuka (72-69-72)
T3/-2 Young Kim (73-69-72), Ji-Hee Lee (73-68-73)
T5/-1 Yukari Baba (71-74-70), Sun-Ju Ahn (70-72-73), Sakura Yokomine (72-67-76), Chie Arimura (69-68-78)
T9/+1 Esther Lee (73-71-73), Yun-Jye Wei (72-66-79)

T11/+2 Shinobu Moromizato (71-72-75), Akiko Fukushima (74-68-76), Miki Saiki (73-69-76), Yuki Ichinose (69-72-77)
T17/+3 Ayako Uehara (73-73-73), Akane Iijima (76-68-75), Nikki Campbell (74-69-76), Yuri Fudoh (71-71-77)
T25/+5 Mie Nakata (76-70-75), Maiko Wakabayashi (75-71-75), Jae-Hee Bae (71-71-79)
T34/+6 Mi-Jeong Jeon (74-74-74), Eun-A Lim (70-77-75), Bo-Bae Song (75-71-76)
T41/+7 Hiromi Mogi (76-72-75), Na-Ri Lee (74-72-77)
T44/+8 Ritsuko Ryu (74-73-77)
T47/+9 Hyun-Ju Shin (72-73-80)
T55/+11 Rikako Morita (73-73-81)
T57/+13 Saiki Fujita (76-72-81), Miho Koga (75-73-81)
60th/+14 So-Hee Kim (77-70-83)
61st/+15 Erina Hara (74-73-84)

MC: Sakurako Mori, Kumiko Kaneda, Na-Ri Kim, Li-Ying Ye

Here's how the JLPGA money list now stands:

1. Sun Ju Ahn ¥18.62M
2. Rui Kitada ¥16.41M
3. Yun-Jye Wei ¥16.31M
5. Inbee Park ¥11.25M
5. Kaori Aoyama ¥9.73M
6. Chie Arimura ¥7.64M
7. Sakura Yokomine ¥7.52M
8. Shinobu Moromizato ¥7.51M
9. Mie Nakata ¥7.30M
10. Yuko Mitsuka ¥6.16M
11. Ji-Hee Lee ¥5.78M
12. Young Kim ¥5.43M
13. Ji-Yai Shin ¥4.93M
14. Yukari Baba ¥4.38M
15. Akane Iijima ¥4.04M
16. Ayako Uehara ¥3.75M
17. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥3.39M
18. Nikki Campbell ¥2.73M
19. Saiki Fujita ¥2.63M
20. Yuri Fudoh ¥2.56M
21. Orie Fujino ¥2.53M
22. Ai Miyazato ¥2.40M
23. Miki Saiki ¥2.33M
24. Esther Lee ¥2.25M
25. Miho Koga ¥2.25M
26. Rikako Morita ¥2.23M
27. Asako Fujimoto ¥1.80M
28. Akiko Fukushima ¥1.80M
29. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥1.80M
30. Natsu Nagai ¥1.80M


Anja Monke beat Carin Koch by 1 shot in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco. Other notable finishes include Maria Verchenova's T12 (-3), Ashleigh Simon's T15 (-1), Mallory Blackwelder's and Kiran Matharu's T23s (E), Stephanie Na's T28 (+1), Kim Welch's T47 (+5), and MCs by Mollie Fankhauser, Linda Wessberg, Nina Reis, and Sophie Giquel.


Despite a final-round 76 caused by bogeys in 4 of her last 5 holes on the front, Korea's Solar Lee held on for a 1-shot victory over Japan's Mina Nakayama in the Ladies Indonesia Open today. A 75 dropped Nontaya Srisawang back to T4 (+3), while Onnarin Sattayabanphot jumped to T6 (+4) with a closing 71. Other notables include China's Tao Li Yang (T13, +7) and Na Zhang (T20, +10), Taiwan's Tzu-Chi Lin (19th, +9) and Pei Lin Yu (T25, +11), and Japan's Yuki Sakurai (T41, +17). Pornanong Phatlum is listed as "RTD."

Futures Tour

With several promising members playing internationally this week, 2nd-round co-leaders Angela Oh and Jane Rah have a great chance to establish themselves on the tour with a win today in the Florida's Natural Charity Classic. To do that, they'll have to hold off 7 players within 5 shots of their lead at -7, including Cindy LaCrosse (3rd, -6), Gerima Mendoza and Garrett Phillips (T4, -5), and Dewi Claire Schreefel and Esther Choe (T7, -3). A little farther back are my projected #1, #2, and #14 Kristie Smith, Carolina Llano and Jennie Lee (T10, -1) and #3 Tiffany Joh and #9 Paola Moreno (T23, E). Even further behind are #4 (but still amateur until after the Curtis Cup) Jennifer Song, #8 Christine Song, #11 Hannah Yun, and #15 Virada Nirapathpongporn (T39, +3), and #6 Sophia Sheridan, (T50, +4). I won't be able to follow the live scoring today, but I hope you can follow the players in person or on line. Good luck to all the competitors! I'll be back with results when I can.

[Update 1 (3/22/10, 12:39 am): Here's more on the LAGT's final round. And congrats to Angela Oh, who beat Jane Rah on the 1st playoff hole after weather forced the cancellation of the final round and a Monday finish proved impossible because of the condition of the course and the need to travel to Mexico next week.]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Na Zhang Returns to Competitive Golf in the Ladies Indonesia Open This Week

Check out the field list for the Ladies Indonesia Open, the 2nd event on the LAGT this season. Present and former LPGAers Pornanong Phatlum, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, and Nontaya Srisawang, along with JLPGAers Yuki Sakurai and Na Zhang, headline the field. It's great to see Zhang returning to competitive golf after back problems over the last 2 seasons destroyed her game. She's aiming to return to the JLPGA in their Q-School at the end of the season. Let's see how she does!

Last month, in the Thailand Ladies Open, Jung Min Lee held off Yu-Ling Hsien by 2 shots, while Russy Gulyanamitta and Pornanong Phatlum were T3, 1 further behind, and Nontaya Srisawang was 6 back in 9th. Also playing that week were Aram Cho (T15), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (T18), Virada Nirapathpongporn (T21), Libby Smith (T32), Samantha Richdale (T42), Jimin Jeong (MC), and Yuki Sakurai (MC).

2010 Futures Tour Preview: The Top 60

Picking up where I left off last March, I'm going to try to predict who will be in the top 60 on the Futures Tour money list and how they will stand at the end of the 2010 season. With so many players having membership on a variety of major and minor tours, it's going to be hard to predict who plays enough on the Futures Tour to end up on top. The Florida's Natural Charity Classic field gives some sense of who the FT regulars will be, but a lot of this is guesswork. The most talented players on this tour often graduate from it early.

1. Kristie Smith
2. Carolina Llano
3. Tiffany Joh
4. Jennifer Song
5. Nontaya Srisawang
6. Sophia Sheridan
7. Pornanong Phatlum
8. Christine Song
9. Paola Moreno
10. Jane Chin
11. Hannah Yun
12. Cindy LaCrosse
13. Whitney Wade
14. Jennie Lee
15. Virada Nirapathpongporn
16. Sarah-Jane Smith
17. Meredith Duncan
18. Jenny Suh
19. Nannette Hill
20. Libby Smith
21. Lisa Strom
22. Jessica Shepley
23. Lisa Ferrero
24. Adrienne White
25. Kitty Hwang
26. Sofie Andersson
27. Angela Buzminski
28. Gerina Mendoza
29. Jamie Hullett
30. Yoora Kim
31. Briana Vega
32. Ayaka Kaneko
33. Caroline Larsson
34. Mo Martin
35. Kim Welch
36. Janell Howland
37. Angela Oh
38. Stephanie Otteson
39. Jane Rah
40. Garrett Phillips
41. Ashley Prange
42. Lucy Nunn
43. Esther Choe
44. Sophie Jang
45. Hana Kim
46. Christi Cano
47. Min Seo Kwak
48. Stephanie Connolly
49. Hwanhee Lee
50. Perry Swenson-Livonius
51. Leanne Bowditch
52. Dewi Claire Schreefel
53. Hannah Jun
54. Alison Walshe
55. Mallory Blackwelder
56. Miriam Nagl
57. Lori Atsedes
58. Dorothy Delasin
59. Camila Mori
60. Lauren Doughtie

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hannah Yun Interview, Part II: The Sequel

Hannah Yun graciously agreed to continue our ongoing/intermittent email conversation after we signed off on Part I in early February. With the Futures Tour kicking off this Thursday Friday, we thought it was high time to wrap things up. Technical difficulties aside, I had a great time and I want to thank Hannah and her family for the chance to interview her. I wish her the best this week and over the rest of her golfing career!

[Note to BerubeWatch fans of MH's days of yore (rather than "fore!") (10:01 am): Head on over to Citizen of Somewhere Else for my invocation of Berube's response to the Habermas-Lyotard debate/conundrum in light of the SUNY vs. UUP leadership throw-down currently happenin' in the Empire State. Excelsior!]

THE CONSTRUCTIVIST (2/3/10): Over the years now that I've been following women's golf closely and blogging about it, I've developed an informal taxonomy of kinds of players. To me, it seems like there are bombers like Lorena Ochoa, Ya Ni Tseng, Michelle Wie, Suzanne Pettersen, Vicky Hurst, Maria Hjorth, and Brittany Lincicome who may struggle with accuracy off the tee more (Lincicome, Wie) or less (Ochoa), but who know how to take advantage of their length; there are straight shooters like Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang, Song-Hee Kim, and Sun Young Yoo who may not be quite as long as the bombers but reach the fairway much more reliably; and there are precision players like Paula Creamer, Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Seon Hwa Lee, Morgan Pressel, and Natalie Gulbis whose games are keyed by their ability to hit the fairway most of the time. Sure, there are players who are difficult to characterize--is Miyazato long enough off the tee to be considered a straight shooter instead of a precision player?--and the lines between kinds of players aren't that hard and fast. But generally the bombers average around 270 yards and hit the fairway less than 65% of the time; the straight shooters average between 255 and 265 yards and hit the fairway between 65% and 75% of the time; and the precision players average under 255 yards and hit the fairway over 75% of the time. In other words, to be successful on the LPGA, as all of the players I've named have been, you need to be more accurate the shorter a hitter you are and longer the less accurate a ball striker you are. So what do you think of this breakdown? If you think it's generally accurate, how would you identify yourself as a golfer within it? If not, what other category would you put yourself in and who else belongs in it? What kind of player would you most like to be?

HANNAH YUN: Well one thing that links all those great players together is that they all have a strong short game. Being 5'2" and 120 lbs., I've always had to keep it in play in order to compete. This past off-season I started working on making my swing more efficient, which helped me gain distance while maintaining my accuracy; I normally hit around 10-11 fairways a round. It was nice to see that I was hitting my drives consistently with Maria Hjorth a couple weeks ago because she's one of the longer LPGA players. I personally believe that it's possible to be both long and accurate.

By the way, I realized I never asked what classes you teach.

TC (2/5): Hey, you're not trying to change the subject there, are you? ;) I teach introductory world literature, American Studies, and multiethnic studies courses, intermediate-level courses in American literature, science fiction, and critical theory, and a range of advanced courses, usually on topics in those areas. All my syllabi are online at my home page. Check 'em out when you get a chance! I'll have some questions for you that connect to the American Identities course I'm teaching this semester in a little while, but for now I want to keep the focus on what kind of player you aspire to be. I don't know if you caught my blog post that elaborated on my opening question or fellow LPGA blogger Hound Dog's thoughtful response, but it sounds to me from your answer that you're aspiring to be a very rare kind of player, let's say a "straight-up bomber." The only players I can think of who attained that for any length of time in recent memory have been Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. Nothing like setting your sights high, eh? If you don't mind sharing the information, what are the normal distances you hit each club (assuming no wind or slope or anything like that)?

HY (2/8): You want me to look at all your syllabi? Why do you think I left school? haha All of your classes seem like they have thought provoking topics, though.

I like to hit my 7-iron 150 yards; I'm not big on trying to max out my irons 'cause I figure that's why we have 14 clubs :P. My coach helped me to be more efficient with energy transfer in my swing so that lets me maximize distance but still maintain my accuracy. We've been tinkering alot with my driver and I just changed shafts to Graphite Design's new Tour AD shaft in my R9 head. I was able to go on the trackman system during a demo day at our club a couple days ago and it said I was hitting it over 260.

TC: Hey, "when you get a chance" can mean 15 years from now! So, OK, in my system, then, you'd have recently graduated from "precision player" to "straight shooter." I've just erased 4 different attempts to politely suggest that your becoming a "straight-up bomber" is dependent on whether you're still growing--each time I looked at one of them, I imagined you reading it and reacting like Ed does in Full Metal Alchemist when anyone comments on his (lack of) height. Let me hasten to add that I'm 5'6" and can sometimes hit a 7-iron 150, and that's only because I switched from forged irons to Callaway X-14 Steelheads some years ago.... I just couldn't see myself playing often enough to deserve Mizunos. :(

Since you brought up equipment, I'm wondering if you have any hybrids in your bag, and if so, how many and when/why you switched to them. Also, have you noticed any patterns in how the new grooves rules have affected your iron play and particularly your wedge game?

HY (2/14): Haha I'm used to people calling me short so I don't mind :) But I've never actually watched FMA so don't exactly know how Ed would react. But if it's like any other anime character that gets upset, I'm guessing flames in the background? haha

I have a 19 degree Taylormade Raylor that I use instead of a 5w actually. I found that I'd rather have an extra wedge to give me more scoring options than having a small gap between my woods. Also, the Raylor is designed to go through the rough better. I'm not sure if you remember, but the concept is similar to the La Jolla fairway woods that came out about 6-7 years ago.

I have the new grooves for all my wedges and irons but thankfully I haven't noticed a significant difference between the old and new grooves. Of course, I don't spin it as much as the guys but the only place I could tell a difference from was the bunker... Good for me I guess :P

TC: Bingo! I'll see if I can embed a youtube clip of Ed losing his temper here when this goes on the blog, but you already have an admirable knowledge of anime conventions. What do you like to watch? And draw?

[Too brilliant an AMV not to link to, even though there's no real reaction to what we've been talking about in it. The contrast between Ouran High School Host Club and FMA is too awesome to pass up.--TC]

[Ah, this one is short and sweet!--TC]

Interesting that you're not seeing all that much difference with the new grooves. From what I've been reading, we might see more "flyers" from the rough with them. If they put more of a premium on hitting the fairway, more power to you, eh? In a post I wrote today giving my reasons why I think Ai Miyazato will be LPGA Player of the Year in 2010, I speculated that the "bombers" on tour might have more of an adjustment to make than any other kind of player. Have you been talking about this with other players? Anything you've been hearing that might confirm my theory?

So you go driver, 3-wood, raylor, then 3-iron and 3 wedges, right? (Or do you skip down to 4-iron and carry 4 wedges?) Have you experimented with different loft combinations since you got the new grooves, or are you happy with your regular configuration?

Sorry to ask so many questions--been saving them up! ;)

HY (2/15): I haven't watched any anime in a while but I think my favorites would be Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo. I read the Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece manga though. I only did a few sketches a couple years ago but I don't really draw a lot; I think I go through phases.

Right, if players see any change it'll most likely be from the rough, since it used to spin the same as when the ball would be in the fairway. The higher swing speed players will see more of a difference since they spin the ball more, which is why the guys will see a bigger difference than the women.

I go Driver, 3w, Raylor, then 4 iron. I used to use a 58, 52, PW configuration but I recently switched to a 60, 56, 52, and PW. I'm still trying to experiment with other lofts but I'm sticking with the one I have for now.

That's ok! Keep the questions coming :)

TC: Ah, an Adult Swim fan! I loved Cowboy Bebop and was fine with Samurai Champloo. But my favorites were Ghost in the Shell and Full Metal Alchemist. These days I'm keeping up with the new season of the latter through youtube and fandub sites like Anime Crazy, as we, ahem, haven't had cable for almost 3 years, ever since we got back from a year in Japan and realized there were only a few channels in the States we ever felt like watching. Through youtube, my girls have gotten into older shoujo anime like Ojamajo Doremi and Pretty Cure. And of course we're all huge Miyazaki fans. But I draw the line at moe romancey stuff like Kimi No Todoke that my wife is trying to get them into. I'll stick to the fantasy romancey stuff in Inuyasha, thank you very much. My older daughter turned 6 last December and is just starting to read in both English and Japanese. I'm really curious to see what manga she gets into. How old were you when you first started reading it? What got you into it? And do you read any from Korea/in Korean?

Makes sense to go to 4 wedges now that you're longer, I think. Having a lot of options from 100 yards in is what it's all about! How much time do you spend practicing with your wedges relative to your woods and irons? What kinds of games do you play to keep yourself focused while practicing those 30-to-100-yard shots?

HY (2/19): Mmm... I think I started getting into anime a few years ago because one of my friends in high school showed me. I've never read any Korean manga, though. Wow your older daughter can read Japanese already?! I can speak Korean well enough but I'm not very good and reading and writing :(

I try to spend an equal amount of time on every area unless I feel I have to focus in on one thing. I get bored easily so I try to mix things up and do different types of drills every day to keep myself competitve and focused during practice. The most important thing in pitching, and ball striking in general, is the strike and distance control so that's what I work on to hone in from 30 to 100 yards. Did I spell that right?

I'll do extra on things if I feel that I'm lacking in that area but I try to even out the time I spend on each part of my game.

TC: Well, she can sound out Japanese, which is a lot easier to do than in English, once you've got the basic hiragana alphabet memorized (she's even got a lot of katakana--mostly used for Japanizations of non-Japanese words--down, which is more than I can say now), because the sounds of the characters hardly ever change. Her vocabulary is pretty decent for someone who only spent 6 months in a Japanese day care center almost 3 years ago now, but we can't wait to get back there for a month or more at a time so she can experience elementary school there and get back in a setting where her friends are using Japanese all the time. She's kind of unilaterally decided that the official language here at home when she plays with her younger sister is English, so neither are speaking all that much Japanese over the course of a day--basically just when they're home with mom and I'm not there.

I'm assuming you grew up hearing a lot of Korean at home and that the Korean/Korean-American communities where you lived in California were large enough that you had friends your age who spoke it, too. Am I right? I'm wondering if there's anything in Korean pop culture today that's drawing kids in America to the Korean language.... What we're finding here in western NY is that there are a small number of American dad-Japanese mom families in Buffalo, but not really a critical mass of kids who have spent time in Japan recently enough for many of them to really get or stay fluent in their once-a-week Japanese class. The interest level in Japanese among the kids is pretty uneven. Miyazaki helps--all the little kids love Ponyo and Totoro, and even the older kids--but the pull of American pop culture and English is super-strong, as you'd expect. Our girls are dual citizens until they hit 21, when they have to choose between the U.S. and Japan (assuming the rules don't change). Do you have dual citizenship? What kind of attachment do you feel to Korean and Korea?

Oh, and by the way, were you all playing in a blizzard on the SunCoast Series this week? Those scores hurt my eyes!

HY (3/6): Sorry, Bruce! For some reason I thought I replied to this and was waiting for the next question.

I grew up speaking Korean with my mom because she didn't used to be very good at English but I don't remember speaking a lot of Korean outside with other kids. In fact, I became closer to other Korean-American kids when I started playing in the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association). I'd say my pronunciation is good but my vocabulary is limited to the basics.

I think Korea is the most popular in all of Asia and is even popular in some parts of the US in the entertainment industry; I know that most people who watch anime also watch Korean dramas. For such a small country Korea has really expanded out into the world, whether it's in business, sports, music, or tv shows.

I was born in San Jose, CA, so I'm a citizen in only the US. We used to go to Korea about once a year when I was little but we haven't been there since I was 10. I'm proud of being Korean and I enjoy listening to Korean music and watching shows online but see myself as an American. There was a big Korean community in San Jose but we moved to San Diego when I was 9 and there weren't that many Koreans there. Then we moved here to Florida when I was 12 so I basically grew up drinking sweet tea haha. This is actually a subject that comes up often between my parents and me because the two cultures are very different and I worry that when other Koreans see me they expect me to follow the Korean culture. Since I grew up here, I'm not comfortable following that although I have an idea on what to do. But at the end of the day, I stand firmly as an American with a proud Korean heritage :).

TC (3/16): No problem, Hannah. Things have gotten crazy on this end, what with New York state politics getting more melodramatic than any J- or K-drama, funding for public higher education becoming even more of a political football than usual, and little ol' me as chair of our University Senate feeling a responsibility to speak up for SUNY. I'm really worried that the state is going to cut us so sharply in the coming years that we'll soon be losing campuses like the LPGA was losing tournaments at the end of the Bivens era.... (Check out this month's posts at Citizen of Somewhere Else if you ever need a reason to get excited again about golf!)

And sorry for the delay on my end--this is the 4th try for getting this email through to your address!

My girls were both born in Dunkirk, NY, but we decided to do the paperwork needed to get them Japanese citizenship. We want them to be equally comfortable in both cultures until they're old enough to decide which country they want to be a citizen of (although why they can't keep dual citizenship their entire lives is beyond me). Now the struggle is as much financial as anything. It's looking very unlikely that we all can afford to go on a summer trip to Japan this year, now that the girls are being charged full fares. Guess who's going to be the odd one out if our tax refund isn't large enough? No fair! (Although the one bright side for me would be that I'd get to start playing golf regularly again, if I were left behind!)

So I'm wondering about a few things now as the Futures Tour kickoff event is about to begin. Obviously, playing golf as your job is a lot different than playing it as an amateur. What have been the biggest differences for you? What would you say you've already learned from/about being a professional golfer? And what are your goals this season on the DFT?

HY: I think it's good to be as knowledgeable as you can about every culture and I don't mean to step out of line but I'm sure your daughters will be thankful to you and your wife as they get older; especially because it's part of their heritage. I've only heard good things about Japan so I do feel bad for least you get to play golf though. Give or take right? :)

It's definitely different playing as a professional than as an amateur. I think the biggest difference is the mindset I have going into a tournament and strategically planning how I want to play the course. Score is always the most important thing but one stroke on the Duramed Futures Tour could be worth hundreds of dollars. My parents have fully supported me throughout my life but I'd like to start being able to take the pressure off them as soon as I can; especially because my dad turned 61 last December and I feel bad for him haha. Plus I'd like to buy my first car this year ^_^. But all joking aside I've realized that I have responsibilities now as a professional golfer so I have to play to the best of my abilities. I also have to play smarter around the course to take as much stress off as possible while giving myself the most opportunities to score. My goal is to always be in contention every week and earn my LPGA Tour card for next year. I learned a lot last year and I'm continually learning but I have much more confidence in my game this year.

Thank you for your time and your patience! I know I took a long time on some questions but thanks for this great opportunity, I had a lot of fun during this experience. If there's anything I can do to help just let me know and I'll be continuing to read your blog! :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MIT vs. Hound Dog

Looks like Hound Dog, tatkins, and I have a lot more competition when it comes to golf stats: there's a team at MIT using advanced mathematics and supercomputers to develop a new way of isolating putting skill from other factors. Their measure is called "putts gained per round," and it sounds pretty impressive to me. By comparing the length and kind of each putt taken to tour averages for similar putts, and totalling up the gains and losses over the course of a round, this stat improves on total putts, putts per green in regulation, and total length of putts holed, the three standard stats on the PGA Tour. Apparently, ShotLink is trying to incorporate this measure into their record-keeping, the tour is planning to roll out many more stats from ShotLink, and the MIT team is already trying to develop other performance stats.

So unless Hound Dog has a supercomputer hidden in his basement, it's looking like the only thing that's going to keep us LPGA stats guys in business is the poverty of the tour. Given that they can't afford to keep any performance stats in Asian events, they're a long way from collecting the kind of data that would allow them to generate tour averages for different kinds of putts. I'm guessing that they'd need measures for the speed, slope, break, and length of every putt taken by every player on tour for at least a full season before they could roll out a similar stat....

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's Good for the Gander...

Nice survey by John Paul Newport of the latest crop of 25-and-under wunderkinds in the world of men's professional golf (even if he missed Charl Schwartzel, who won't turn 26 until the end of August). It's particularly interesting to see a major golf writer picking up on the three major themes of my LPGA blogging:

  • the youth movement in women's golf;
  • the joy of rivalries and races; and
  • the globalization of the game.
Although he doesn't make a big deal of it, it's worth noting that a good number of the players he focuses on are Asian (Ryo Ishikawa, Danny Lee, Seung-Yul Noh) or of Asian descent (Anthony Kim, Rickie Fowler). With this past weekend's Taiwanese sweep of the major women's tours, not to mention Ai Miyazato's dominance of the LPGA so far this season, isn't it about time for golf writers writing on the women's game to finally get over their anxiety about the rise of Koreans and the fall of Americans? Why is it so easy for golf writers to embrace rivalries among golf's global youth when the players are male and so hard to do it when they're female?

[Update 1 (2:40 am): Jason Sobel discusses Schwartzel's PGA Tour breakthrough right alongside "LPGA parity" in his Weekly 18 (which would have been improved if he'd included JLPGA and LET/ALPG results on his chart documenting how the lead chase pack is closing on the best of the LPGA), while the guys joke about the internationals' success on tour:
Dusek: I love that Dan Hicks said this is a coming out for Schwartzel, then a minute later mentioned that he won the first two events on the European Tour this season. I guess results outside the United States aren't important or legitimate.

Van Sickle: Yeah, typical American blinders. What he means is, HE doesn't pay attention to results outside the U.S. Like a lot of people.

Shipnuck: We do possess the Ryder and President's Cups, but it seems like all the exciting young talent is from overseas, except Mr. Layup, Rickie Fowler.

Godich: With all due respect, when Matt Kuchar is carrying the flag at Doral...

Van Sickle: Alan's right. It won't be long before the cliche storyline will be the same one taken from the pages of the LPGA--why can't the Americans win? The simple answer is, it's the U.S. against the world now as golf has gone global, and we're badly outnumbered.

Evans: Don't buy what they tell you on TV. The U.S. has a ton of a great talent. The success of a handful of South Africans and Europeans doesn't mean that America needs to start rebuilding its junior programs. Numbers-wise and consistency, the rest of the world is no match for the U.S. And don't pay attention to the World Rankings, which favor players who play international schedules.

Dusek: So ignore the fact that going into Doral, Europe had six players ranked in the top 10 and 20 players in the top 50?

Van Sickle: Excuse me? Forget the Ryder Cup against Europe. The U.S. could have a pretty tough match just against England. Or Australia. Or South Africa. Probably not Fiji.

Shipnuck: Farrell is correct that some random Asian tourneys get too many points. I think the World Ranking has gotten much more sensitive and accurate. Don't count out our boys. The last few Cups the U.S. has had great chemistry and played better than their individual parts.

Van Sickle: Sorry, Alan. I forgot what a big backer of the U.S. teams you have historically been.

Shipnuck: Well, Mrs. Pavin did ask me to be her Valentine via Twitter!

Herre: Wonder if Captain Corey has spoken with Azinger yet?

They slay me! I prefer Sobel's analysis: the top-shelf Americans are probably about as good as ever, but the internationals are catching up in the next rank in a big way.]

[Update 2 (10:32 am): To see how global the women's game is, check out the ALPG money list, which includes winnings from non-members as well as members.]

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup Sunday: Wei Under Par!

Yun-Jye Wei took a page from the title of Stephanie Wei's blog and went way under par to take the Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup for her 4th career JLPGA title and 1st since 2006. Her 66 brought her to -11 overall, which was just good enough to outdistance Mie Nakata (whose 67 was marred by bogeys on her 1st and last holes) and Inbee Park (whose 66 was marred by an opening double bogey). Sakura Yokomine won the battle of the final group with a 70, as Rikako Morita (73) and Sun Ju Ahn (72) dropped to T10 at -6, but '09's Player of the Year had to settle for T5, as Kaori Aoyama blew by her with a 67 to take solo 4th. Nice 65 by Mi-Jeong Jeon and 66 by Shinobu Moromizato to snag top 10s, as well.

Here's how the top 10 and notables finished:

1st/-11 Yun-Jye Wei (69-70-66)
T2/-10 Inbee Park (74-66-66), Mie Nakata (68-71-67)
4th/-9 Kaori Aoyama (72-68-67)
T5/-8 Rui Kitada (70-71-67), Akane Iijima (71-68-69), Sakura Yokomine (70-68-70)
9th/-7 Mi-Jeong Jeon (73-71-65)
T10/-6 Shinobu Moromizato (73-71-66), Sun Ju Ahn (72-66-72), Rikako Morita (67-70-73)

T13/-5 Miho Koga (73-68-70), Ji-Woo Lee (71-68-72)
T17/-4 Eun-A Lim (71-70-71), Midori Yoneyama (74-67-71)
T22/-3 Sakurako Mori (75-69-69), Momoko Ueda (73-70-71), Akiko Fukushima (73-69-71)
T26/-2 Ji-Hee Lee (74-70-70), Ayako Uehara (74-69-71), Na-Ri Lee (72-70-72), So-Hee Kim (71-71-72), Yuri Fudoh (72-68-74)
T31/-1 Bo-Bae Song (74-71-70), Hiromi Mogi (71-73-71), Young Kim (74-68-73), Nikki Campbell (73-66-76)
T38/E Yukari Baba (73-69-72), Miki Saiki (73-69-72)
T43/+1 Hyun-Ju Shin (74-70-73), Teresa Lu (73-70-74), Esther Lee (76-66-75)
T49/+3 Na-Ri Kim (72-73-74)

Pretty exciting result, even if Wei was only E over her last 5 holes. It gave lots of players chances to take a run at her, but in the end, nobody could beat her or force a playoff. Now, if Ya Ni Tseng hadn't taken down Karrie Webb on the LET/ALPG today and if Ahn had been able to put together a final-round charge to keep pace with everyone passing her, I would have had an even better title for this post than what I actually came up with: "Webb and Ahn Make it Deuces Wild in 2010." But you gotta work with what you've got, eh? And it shows just how amazing Ai Miyazato's 2-event winning streak to kick off the LPGA season was, doesn't it?

[Update 1 (5:50 am): Wei makes it 2 for Taiwan this week--a complete sweep in major women's tours! And she leaps to #2 on the JLPGA money list:

1. Sun Ju Ahn ¥15.90M
2. Yun-Jye Wei ¥14.73M
3. Inbee Park ¥11.25M
4. Kaori Aoyama ¥9.73M
5. Mie Nakata ¥6.80M
6. Shinobu Moromizato ¥6.43M
T7. Ji-Yai Shin ¥4.93M
T7. Chie Arimura ¥4.93M
9. Sakura Yokomine ¥4.81M
10. Rui Kitada ¥3.81M
11. Akane Iijima ¥3.33M
12. Ayako Uehara ¥3.05M
13. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥3.00M
14. Orie Fujino ¥2.53M
T15. Ai Miyazato ¥2.40M
T15. Saiki Fujita ¥2.40M
17. Nikki Campbell ¥2.02M
18. Miho Koga ¥2.02M
19. Rikako Morita ¥1.98M
20. Yuri Fudoh ¥1.86M
21. Yukari Baba ¥1.66M
T22. Natsu Nagai ¥1.59M
T22. Ji-Woo Lee ¥1.59M
24. Yuko Saitoh ¥1.47M
25. Momoko Ueda ¥1.36M

I wonder how motivated Inbee Park is to compete for JLPGA Rookie of the Year? Could be a great season-long shootout between her and Sun Ju Ahn if she decides to make the JLPGA her primary tour....]

[Update 2 (3/15/10, 2:20 am): Various sources are reporting that Inbee Park's double on 1 was the result of a volunteer telling Park's playing partners that her ball had moved on the 1st green and she hadn't replaced it. In Wei's words:

"What happened on the first green was that a volunteer saw her ball move and saw her take a putt without replacing it, but I and Nakata- san (Park's playing partners) weren't watching," Wei said.

"Three of us then decided we would talk to a tournament official if we saw one later in the round, but we didn't see any officials and just kept on playing as we were close in title contention."

Park was upset about the retroactive ruling that turned her tournament-winning 64 into a runner-up 66: "'I still can't accept this ruling for what happened,' she told a press conference. 'I believe I'm the winner of this tournament. But there is nothing I can do after all this, I guess.'"

Wow, I wonder how they verified that Park's ball actually moved?]

[Update 3 (2:20 pm): Nice post by Brent Kelley on Park's penalty and Wei's win. And thanks for the linkage to Mike at Ruthless Golf.]

[Update 4 (3/26/10, 12:18 am): Here's Park's account of what happened from an interview after the 1st round of the Kia Classic:

Q. How close did you come to winning those?
INBEE PARK: Second tournament, I really won that tournament but got a two‑stroke penalty.

Q. What happened there?
INBEE PARK: It was on the putting green, I was trying to finish the putt, and I didn't address the ball, but during my practice swing the ball moved, so I thought that wouldn't be a problem so I just finished it as it is. And they thought ‑‑ the rules officials in Japan thought that I made the ball move in the process of making a practice swing, so I got a penalty.

Q. Were you upset about that?
INBEE PARK: I got the penalty after everything was done, so I was disappointed, but what they say is what they said.

Q. Is that the first time anything like that has ever happened to you?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, first time that's happened.

Q. How did they determine? Did they watch replays?
INBEE PARK: They watched a video.

Q. Are you going to be more careful now?
INBEE PARK: I think I got to be more careful. I guess it was a really good experience.]

LET/ALPG Update: Ya Ni Tseng Denies Webb and Davies 2nd Down Under Swing Wins

What could have developed into a thrilling head-to-head battle between Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Laura Davies in the final round of the Women's Australian Open turned into another demonstration of how deep the worldwide talent level is in women's professional golf. Ya Ni Tseng made 7 birdies in her last 12 holes to blow by Webb and Davies like they were standing still.

It certainly didn't look like that would be the final result at the start of the day, when Webb birdied 3 of her 1st 5 holes to get to -9 overall. But bogeys on the 6th, 7th, and 9th opened the door for the field. Davies was the only one, it seemed, willing to take advantage, as she matched Webb's early birdies, yet, she, too, faltered with 3 bogeys in her last 6 holes on the front. When both veterans birdied the 10th, Webb stood at -7 and Davies was tied with Tseng at -5. But then Webb stumbled (going _2 the rest of the way), Davies stalled (going +1 until making back-to-back birdies to pass Webb), and Tseng found another gear (going -4 over her last 6 holes). Just like that, the chance for veteran domination of the LET's Down Under swing vanished in the face of a birdie barrage from the LPGA's top Young Gun.

The rest of the field couldn't keep up with the fireworks at the top of the leaderboard. But Katherine Hull made a nice little charge, going -3 over her last 6 holes, to catch Giulia Sergas at -4. And Lindsey Wright was -3 over her last 10 holes to grab solo 6th. So once again the top Aussies played very well against international competition.

The same can't be said for the Americans in the field, unfortunately. Stacy Lewis was the lone top 10, Alexis Thompson the lone top 20, and Mina Harigae the lone top 30 finisher. Sure, Harigae outplayed Jeong Jang and He-Yong Choi, Thompson tied Bo-Mee Lee, and Lewis beat Hee Kyung Seo, Shin-Ae Ahn, and Hyun-Soo Kim, but once again the KLPGA demonstrated its depth at the top.

Tseng's win helps her make the case that she's been one of the best women golfers in the world in the past calendar year. Not only does it mark her return to the top 10 with an exclamation point after ending an 8-event worldwide top-10 run with last week's T11 finish. But it also means that since this time last March, she's earned 2 golds, 3 silvers, 2 bronzes (in the 1st 2 LPGA events of 2010), 11 top 5s, and 16 top 10s in her last 28 starts. And as Tim Maitland recently pointed out, she weathered a big slump (by her standards) mid-way through it all. Wow!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup Saturday: Ahn Makes Another Move

Just like yesterday, recent history is repeating itself today at the Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup. Once again, KLPGA standout and JLPGA rookie Sun Ju Ahn has made a big move on moving day, firing a bogey-free 66 that brings her to -6 overall, 1 shot behind 1st-round leader and 2009's Rookie of the Year Rikako Morita (who played a much more solid 2nd round than last week's, despite today's walkoff bogey). But Ahn wasn't the only player to take advantage of moving day: U.S. Women's Open champion Inbee Park, Aussie Nikki Campbell, and Korean Esther Lee posted 66s, as well, while last year's Player of the Year Sakura Yokomine joined her in 2nd.

Here's how the top 10 and notables stand as they head into the final round.

1st/-7 Rikako Morita (67-70)
T2/-6 Sun Ju Ahn (72-66), Sakura Yokomine (70-68)
T4/-5 Nikki Campbell (73-66), Ji-Woo Lee (71-68), Akane Iijima (71-68), Yun-Jye Wei (69-70), Mie Nakata (68-71)
T9/-4 Inbee Park (74-66), Yuri Fudoh (72-68), Kaori Aoyama (72-68), Orie Fujino (72-68)

Park was -7 over her last 12 holes, including an eagle on the 315-yard par-4 16th that was amazingly matched by Campbell, trumped by Aoyama's eagle on the 392-yard par 4 6th, and overshadowed by Natsu Nagai's hole in one on the 163-yard 14th.

T13/-3 Midori Yoneyama (74-67), Miho Koga (73-68), Eun-A Lim (71-70),
Rui Kitada (70-71)
T20/-2 Esther Lee (76-66), Young Kim (74-68), Akiko Fukushima (73-69), Yukari Baba (73-69), Miki Saiki (73-69), Na-Ri Lee (72-70), So-Hee Kim (71-71)
T29/-1 Ayako Uehara (74-69), Momoko Ueda (73-70), Teresa Lu (73-70)
T36/E Sakurako Mori (75-69), Ji-Hee Lee (74-70), Hyun-Ju Shin (74-70), Shinobu Moromizato (73-71), Mi-Jeong Jeon (73-71), Hiromi Mogi (71-73)
T47/+1 Bo-Bae Song (74-71), Na-Ri Kim (72-73)

Lots of good players failed to make or sustain moves, of course, even though the scoring was generally lower today than yesterday. While Yoneyama was playing bogey-free golf, Fukushima doubled the short par-4 16th. Moromizato was +2 over her last 6 holes, Kim +2 over her last 3, and Jeon and Ueda both bogeyed the 187-yard 17th to mar otherwise fine rounds.

T63/+3 Yuko Mitsuka (74-73), Mayu Hattori (73-74), Maiko Wakabayashi (72-75)
T70/+4 Chie Arimura (75-73), Yuko Saitoh (73-75)
T77/+5 Saiki Fujita (74-75)
T83/+6 Jae-Hee Bae (79-71), Ritsuko Ryu (77-73)
T98/+10 Erina Hara (83-71)

But the real shock was seeing Arimura miss the cut, along with Mitsuka (Hara's 1st round was the shocking one; at least she got a moral victory today).

Be that as it may, Sunday's final round has a chance to be truly special. With 28 players within 5 shots of the lead, half the field has a chance to come from way back in the pack and steal this from the leaders in the final pairings. Or it could turn into an Ahn-Morita-Yokomine showdown. The possibilities are endless--stay tuned!

[Update 1 (4:22 am): Just like Ahn is trying to make it 2 in a row on the JLPGA, Karrie Webb is trying to make it 2 in a row on the LET/ALPG. She's putting the lights out and scrambling like crazy. Let's see how she handles the last 18 holes of her 4th event in a row. Katherine Hull and Ya Ni Tseng are in a great position to put some pressure on the Webb, Sergas, and Davies. Let's see if they or even darker horses like Stacy Lewis, Azahara Munoz, and Anna Nordqvist can post some early scores!]

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup Friday: Morita Opens with 67 for 2nd Week In a Row

JLPGA Super Soph Rikako Morita has fired her 2nd-straight opening 67 of 2010, which just like last week has given her a 1-shot lead in this week's Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup heading into the weekend. Her bogey-free performance has opened up a fairly large lead on some of the JLPGA's biggest names, such as last year's Player of the Year and money-list queen Sakura Yokomine (70), living legend and Billion-Yen Barrier Breaker Yuri Fudoh (72), and last week's winner Sun Ju Ahn (72), not to mention the rest of the JLPGA's finest and irregulars from the LPGA, including Na-Ri Kim (72), Momoko Ueda (73), Teresa Lu (73), Inbee Park (74), and Young Kim (74). We'll see if Morita can do better this weekend than her 77-75 performance last one. With Ai Miyazato, Ji-Yai Shin, and Seon Hwa Lee sitting this week out, it's a great opportunity for last year's JLPGA Rookie of the Year to snag her 1st career win on the big tour.

Here's how the top 10 and notables stand:

1st/-5 Rikako Morita (67)
T2/-4 Mie Nakata, Kyoko Kadokawa (68)
T4/-3 Yun-Jye Wei, Mika Takushima (69)
T6/-2 Sakura Yokomine, Rui Kitada, Yeo-Jin Kang (70)
T9/-1 Eun-A Lim, Akane Iijima, Hiromi Mogi, Ji-Woo Lee, So-Hee Kim, and 4 others (71)

T18/E Yuri Fudoh, Sun Ju Ahn, Na-Ri Kim, Maiko Wakabayashi, Kaori Aoyama, Na-Ri Lee (72)
T30/+1 Momoko Ueda, Shinobu Moromizato, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Miho Koga, Akiko Fukushima, Teresa Lu, Yukari Baba, Miki Saiki, Mayu Hattori, Yuko Saitoh, Nikki Campbell (73)
T51/+2 Ji-Hee Lee, Inbee Park, Young Kim, Bo-Bae Song, Yuko Mitsuka, Ayako Uehara, Hyun-Ju Shin, Saiki Fujita (74)
T70/+3 Chie Arimura, Sakurako Mori (75)
T80/+4 Esther Lee (76)
T84/+5 Ritsuko Ryu (77)
T95/+7 Jae-Hee Bae (79)
108th/+11 Erina Hara (83)

Some weak finishes by good players: Mitsuka closed out her round bogey-triple, while Hara finished bogey-par-triple-double-par. It's not easy out there!

[Update 1 (5:24 am): Speaking of not easy, Americans on the LET's Down Under swing are finding it tough going this week on the Women's Australian Open. Christina Kim and Diana D'Alessio barely made the cut, but Amanda Blumenherst, Meaghan Francella, Alison Walshe, and Taylor Leon weren't so fortunate. That leaves Stacy Lewis and Alexis Thompson 7 shots and Vicky Hurst and Mina Harigae 9 off the pace set by leader Giulia Sergas.]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2010 Worldwide Women's Professional Golf Schedule: LPGA, JLPGA, KLPGA, LET

Thanks to Happy Fan at Seoul, who posted the 2010 KLPGA schedule in a language I can understand, I'm able to provide this update of the worldwide women's professional golf schedule for all the major tours. The LET has firmed up its schedule since I last updated that post, as well. I'll update the list of winners as the year goes on.

[Update 1 (3/16/10, 5:42 am): Thanks to Tim Maitland for passing along the KLPGA's official English tournament listing for 2010.]

[Update 2 (5/6/10, 5:51 am): Thanks to Happy Fan for posting the updated KLPGA schedule at Seoul!]

[Update 3 (5/31/10, 10:03 am): With the LET updating its schedule recently and a new information source on the KLPGA's schedule, I've gone ahead and created a new update page. Check there for new winners from now on!]


17-19: Orient China Ladies Open (KLPGA) SO YEON RYU


18-21: Honda PTT LPGA Thailand (LPGA) AI MIYAZATO

25-28: HSBC Women's Champions (LPGA) AI MIYAZATO; New Zealand Open (LET) LAURA DAVIES

MARCH 2010

4-7: ANZ Ladies Masters (LET) KARRIE WEBB
5-7: Daikin Orchid Ladies Open (JLPGA) SUN JU AHN

11-14: Women's Australian Open (LET) YA NI TSENG
12-14: Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup (JLPGA) YUN JYE WEI

18-20: Lalla Meryem Cup (LET) ANJA MONKE
19-21: T Points Ladies Open (JLPGA) RUI KITADA

25-28: Kia Classic Presented by J Golf (LPGA) HEE KYUNG SEO

APRIL 2010

1-4: Kraft Nabisco Championship (LPGA major) YA NI TSENG
2-4: Yamaha Ladies Open (JLPGA) MIHO KOGA

7-9: Kim Young Joo Golf Ladies Open (KLPGA) BO MI LEE
9-11: Studio Alice Ladies Open (JLPGA) CHIE ARIMURA

14-16: Lotte Mart Ladies Open J Golf Series (KLPGA) BO BAE KIM
16-18: Nishijin Ladies Classic (JLPGA) INBEE PARK

23-25: Fujisankei Ladies Classic (JLPGA) MAYU HATTORI

29-5/2: Tres Marias Championship (LPGA) AI MIYAZATO
30-5/2: Cyber Agent Ladies Cup (JLPGA) JI-YAI SHIN; SBS Tour Sports Seoul Ladies Open (KLPGA)

MAY 2010

5-7: Rush & Cash Charity Classic (KLPGA) HYE YOUN KIM
6-9: Salonpas Cup (JLPGA major) MORGAN PRESSEL
7-9: Turkish Ladies Open (LET) MELISSA REID

13-16: Bell Micro LPGA Classic (LPGA) SE RI PAK; Unicredit Ladies German Open (LET) LAURA DAVIES
14-16: Fundokin Ladies (JLPGA) SAKURA YOKOMINE; Taeyoung Cup Korean Women's Open (KLPGA major) SOO JIN YANG

20-23: Sybase Match Play Championship (LPGA) SUN YOUNG YOO; Doosan Match Play Championship (KLPGA) JUNG MIN LEE
21-23: Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open (JLPGA) YURI FUDOH

27-30: Ladies Slovak Open (LET) MARIA HERNANDEZ
28-30: Yonex Ladies (JLPGA) MI-JEONG JEON

JUNE 2010

4-6: Resort Trust Ladies Open (JLPGA), Woori Financial Ladies Championship (KLPGA), ABN AMRO Ladies Open (LET)

9-11: S-OIL Champions Invitational (KLPGA)
10-13: LPGA State Farm Classic (LPGA), Suntory Ladies Open (JLPGA), Carta Si Ladies Italian Open (LET)

16-18: SBS Tour Lakeside Ladies Open (KLPGA)
17-20: Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open (LET)
18-20: ShopRite LPGA Classic (LPGA), Nichirei PGM Ladies (JLPGA)

24-27: LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans (LPGA major)
25-27: Ladies Open of Portugal (LET)

JULY 2010

tba Hillstate Seoul Economy Open (KLPGA)

1-4: Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic (LPGA), Tenerife Ladies Open (LET)
2-4: Nichi-Iko Ladies Open (JLPGA)

8-11: U.S. Women's Open (LPGA major)
9-11: Meiji Chocolate Cup (JLPGA)

16-18: Stanley Ladies (JLPGA)

22-25: Evian Masters (LPGA/LET)
23-25: China Dangsan Cup Ladies Open (KLPGA)

29-8/1: Ricoh Women's British Open (LPGA/LET major)
30-8/1: SBS Tour Hidden Valley Ladies Open (KLPGA)


4-6: Lyle & Scott Ladies Open (KLPGA)
6-8: AIB Ladies Irish Open (LET)

12-15: S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe (LET)
13-15: NEC Karuizawa 72 Ladies (JLPGA), High1 Resort Cup SBS Charity Ladies Open (KLPGA)

18-20: Ladies Scottish Open (LET)
19-22: Nefs Masterpiece (KLPGA)
20-22: Safeway Classic (LPGA), CAT Ladies (JLPGA)

26-29: Canadian Women's Open (LPGA)
27-29: Nitori Ladies Cup (JLPGA), LIG Ladies Open (KLPGA), Finnair Ladies Masters (LET)


3-5: Golf5 Ladies (JLPGA), TANI-KLPGA Ladies Pro-Am (KLPGA); UNIQA Ladies Golf Open (LET)

9-12: Konica Minolta Cup (JLPGA major), Open de France Feminin (LET)
10-12: NW Arkansas Championship (LPGA), Daewoo Securities Ladies Open (KLPGA)

16-19: KLPGA Championship (KLPGA major), Open de Espana Femenino (LET)
17-19: Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic (JLPGA)

23-25: Madrid Ladies Masters (LET)
24-26: Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open (JLPGA)

30-10/3: Japan Women's Open (JLPGA major), Acapulco LPGA Classic (LPGA)


1-3: Centerium Ladies Open (KLPGA)

7-10: Navistar LPGA Classic (LPGA)
8-10: Sankyo Ladies Open (JLPGA), Himart Ladies Open J Golf Series (KLPGA)

14-17: CVS LPGA Challenge (LPGA), Hite Cup Championship (KLPGA major)
15-17: Fujitsu Ladies (JLPGA)

21-24: KB Star Tour Grand Final (KLPGA major)
22-24: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia (LPGA), Masters GC Ladies (JLPGA), Anji King Valley Ladies Open (LET)

29-31: LPGA Hana Bank Championship (LPGA/KLPGA), Hisako Higuchi IDC Otsuka Kagu Ladies (JLPGA), Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open (LET)


5-7: Mizuno Classic (LPGA/JLPGA), KLPGA-LET Daishin Securities-Tomato Tour Korean Women's Masters (KLPGA/LET)

11-14: Lorena Ochoa Invitational (LPGA)
12-14: Ito-En Ladies (JLPGA)

18-21: LPGA Tour Championship (LPGA)
19-21: Daio Paper ElleAir Ladies (JLPGA), ADT CAPS Championship (KLPGA)

25-28: Ricoh Cup (JLPGA major)


4-5: Pinx Cup (KLPGA/JLPGA team competition)

8-10: Dubai Ladies Masters (LET)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Yu Na...and T-Joh!

I hope everyone reads Happy Fan's fantastic essay on Olympic gold medalist figure skater Yu Na Kim. It provides a great window into the difficulties and pressures of not only training to become a world-class athlete, but to have the hopes and dreams of an entire nation riding on your shoulders, as well. Indirectly, it points to the passions engendered by nationalism in Asia, for Kim's rival throughout her career has been Mao Asada, Mao-chan, of Japan, and neither skater's group of fans has been particularly kind to the other, to say the least. Just go to youtube to see for yourself the tit-for-tat videos posted by the most obsessive and least mature of them. Conscripting star athletes into your own private cyberwar may sound like a colossal waste of time to Americans, but then again, we have our own fallout from past nationalisms to deal with--and the English colonization of America was so long enough ago and was so much less harsh than the Japanese colonization of Korea that we really have no historical analogue to help us understand why it's happening.

Which is not always a bad thing. One of the more positive effects of other versions of American nationalism is the defusing of real tensions in other parts of the world. How else would my brother, a descendant like me in part of Polish Jews, have married into a Polish-American Catholic family, given what happened in Poland during World War II? Even closer to home, my dad was born the year of Pearl Harbor, but he's the father-in-law of a woman from Japan. There really is something to that "Only in America" cliche, isn't there?

Which brings me around, of course, to golf. Can anyone imagine Tiffany Joh, who's just been given a sponsor exemption into the Kia Classic Presented by J Golf, being set up as the good guy (or bad guy) in a grudge match with, say, Mina Harigae--with bragging rights for Korean-America and Japanese-America on the line? An order or two of magnitude more ridiculous to imagine than the race between Ji-Yai Shin and Ai Miyazato to catch Lorena Ochoa for world #1 (they're now separated by .09 points in the latest Rolex Rankings) becoming a nationalist spectacle, isn't it? Much more likely to be a UCLA vs. Duke thing, come to think of it....

By the way, if Joh were to nab a top 10 at the Kia Classic, she'd qualify for the Kraft Nabisco Championship (under their new eligibility rules)! Go, T-Joh!