Thursday, March 17, 2011

RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup Preview, Predictions, Pairings

I should be more excited about the LPGA's domestic debut, the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, which takes place this week amidst growing recognition that Golf Channel is treating the tour better in 2011, sometimes-grudging acknowledgment that the event's all-for-charity model provides RR Donnelley and the players with a unique opportunity to support Japan (as Ya Ni Tseng, Paula Creamer, Mina Harigae, and Harukyo Nomura are aiming to do), and loads of great previews from Hound Dog, Ruthless Mike, Jeff Skinner, Emily Kay, and Cameron Morfitt (not to mention Plus, yesterday was the 10-year anniversary of Annika's 59--and it took place in Phoenix, where the LPGA is finally returning to this week! Oh, and Ron Sirak is passing along rumors of a possible LPGA-PGA partnership down the road (although Ryan Ballengee is shooting them down). And, hey, former WNBA Commissioner Donna Orender will be watching the Founders Cup on tv!

Blame the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan for my emotional numbness right now. But even before it all started, many of my favorite players had already decided to give this week a pass. Still, the field features Tseng (who's going for her 2nd LPGA win of 2011 and 5th worldwide), Ji-Yai Shin and Cristie Kerr (who are trying to track her down), Karrie Webb (who's gunning for her 2nd-straight LPGA victory), Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Kristy McPherson, Vicky Hurst, Angela Stanford, Christina Kim, Brittany Lang, and Juli Inkster (who are trying to win one for the home team), and more rookies than you can shake a stick at (including Jennifer Song, Hee Kyung Seo, Belen Mozo, Tiffany Joh, and Jessica Korda). So which stars do I think will burn brightest at Wildfire this week? From the hole-by-hole description and video, I'm going with the following players in this week's PakPicker competition at Seoul

1. Shin Ji-Yai
2. Tseng
3. Webb
4. Kerr
5. Yang
6. Kim Song-Hee
7. Hull
8. Creamer
9. Pressel
10. Yoo
11. Lewis
12. Song, Jennifer

Alts: Mozo, Seo, Ji

There are some pretty cool pairings for Friday's 1st round. Here are my favorites:

1st tee, 8:35 am: Song-Hee Kim, Jee Young Lee, Lindsey Wright
10th tee, 12:20 pm: Grace Park, Mariajo Uribe, Na On Min
1st tee, 12:10 pm: Morgan Pressel, Vicky Hurst, Christina Kim
1st tee, 11:50 am: Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Hee Kyung Seo
1st tee, 12:00 pm: Ya Ni Tseng, Natalie Gulbis, Amanda Blumenherst
1st tee, 12:20 pm: Paula Creamer, Amy Yang, Laura Davies
10th tee, 8:25 am: Seon Hwa Lee, Brittany Lang, Kyeong Bae
10th tee, 8:55 am: Hee-Won Han, Helen Alfredsson, Shanshan Feng
1st tee, 8:15 am: Ji-Yai Shin, Brittany Lincicome, Gwladys Nocera
10th tee, 8:35 am: Katherine Hull, Kristy McPherson, Karen Stupples

Also of particular interest to me going off the 1st tee are Laura Diaz (8:45 am), Mi Hyun Kim (8:55 am), Pornanong Phatlum (1:20 pm), and Nannette Hill (1:30 pm), while back-9ers Libby Smith (7:55 am), Moira Dunn (8:05 am), Karrie Webb (8:45 am), Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari (9:05 am), Sun Young Yoo and Eun-Hee Ji (12:00 pm), Meaghan Francella (12:10 pm), Mina Harigae (12:40 pm), and Tiffany Joh (1:00 pm) stand out to me.

Well, now I'm getting a bit more psyched up for this thing. Looking forward to the tv coverage Friday early evening....

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