With many dual LPGA-JLPGA members playing in Japan this week, I certainly didn't expect Inbee Park, Hee Young Park, Teresa Lu, Meena Lee, Shiho Oyama, or Soo-Yun Kang to enter the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup next week. But I definitely expected Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, Momoko Ueda, and Shanshan Feng's names to appear on the field list for the 3rd LPGA event of the season, given that they would have had plenty of time to fly back to the States and get over jet lag. Lo and behold, however, both Miyazatos are following up their missed cuts in Okinawa with no-shows in Phoenix, while Ueda is resting for 2 weeks after her best finish on any tour since last September. That makes Shin and Feng the only dual LPGA-JLPGA members to tee it up next week for charity.
With Na Yeon Choi, Suzann Pettersen, In-Kyung Kim, and Michelle Wie also electing to miss the LPGA's return to Phoenix, Ya Ni Tseng, Shin, Cristie Kerr, and Karrie Webb are the only players in the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings in the Founders Cup field. But with Anna Nordqvist, Maria Hjorth, and Catriona Matthew the only other LPGA members in the top 30 who won't be playing next week and Se Ri Pak the only other top 40er to do the same, the ratios shift more in the LPGA's favor the lower down the rankings you look:
top 10: 4/10
top 20: 8/16
top 30: 14/24
top 40: 17/28
top 50: 22/34
Still, missing over 1/3 of the eligible top 50 players in the world is not the best start in the world for the Founders Cup. On the bright side, their absence means that we get to see players like Alison Walshe, Allison Fouch, Paola Moreno, Libby Smith, Jean Reynolds, Nannette Hill, and rookies Alison Whitaker, Tiffany Joh, and Jenny Suh, who wouldn't otherwise have gotten the chance to play. And there are still 2 sponsor exemption and 2 Monday qualifier spots open, so the field is not yet full.
But with 9 JLPGAers among the MIA, it's clear that the tour's new membership rules, the rigors of international travel, and the lack of a real purse to go along with the charity fund-raising component of the event are playing significant roles in players' decision-making here.