Monday, December 19, 2011

Were My Pre-Season Questions Answered?

Way back in February, before the LPGA season began, I listed 10 questions that I hoped would be answered this year.

Below I asked those same questions again.  Let us see whether or not they were answered.

1- Is Paula Creamer finally healthy and ready to return to her 2008 form, which brought her 4 victories?

Under normal circumstances, if an elite player like Paula goes an entire year without a victory, I wouldn't call it a success. However, in this instance, I have to make an exception. Because of her thumb surgery, she is just now starting to get back some of her length off the tee. She will be working with a strength coach this off season, to address that situation. Paula did have two 2nd-place finishes, seven top fives, and 10 top tens. She started the year #11 in the Rolex Ranking, and finished at #5. Yes, she is now ready to get back to her earlier form.

2- Can Michelle Wie climb to the next level, while taking exams?

Michelle failed to climb to the next level in 2011. She dropped from #10 to #17 in the Rolex Rankings. She will be an early graduate from Stanford in February. No more running back to her hotel room to study or mail in her exams. Hopefully she will now have the time to straighten out her putting woes. If she does, watch out!

3- Was Azahara Munoz really the best 2010 rookie? Was she even the best Spaniard?

After a horrible first half of the 2011 season, Azahara turned it completely around, finishing in the top 20 in 4 consecutive tournaments. Her back-to-back top 3 finishes in Asia really capped off her season. The answer to the above questions: Yes and Yes.

4- How many times will Suzann Petterson be a bridesmaid, before winning again?

The answer turned out to be Zero. Suzann quieted all critics by winning the Sybase Match Play Championship in May. She later followed that up by winning the Safeway Classic. She moved up to #2 in the world rankings, and did not have a single 2nd-place finish all year.

5- Will the Miyazatos join the Kims with 2 players in the top 10 of the world rankings?

No. Mika Miyazato looked so good in 2010, as she stormed to #22 position, never really got hot this year and dropped to #24. Meanwhile, Ai barely hung on to her top-10 position, dropping from #6 to #9. As far as the Kims are concerned, they no longer have 2 players in the top ten, either, as Song-Hee dropped from #9 to #29.

6- Is Lexi Thompson ready to compete with the girls at age 16.

This one is a resounding Yes! Lexi sure made believers out of anyone who may have had doubts, when she won the Navistar Classic by 5 strokes. The victory made her the youngest winner in LPGA history. She has now followed that up with a victory at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, making her the youngest professional to win on the LET.

Granted full-time membership by commissioner Michael Whan, she will be teeing it up regularly in 2012. Rookie of the Year in 2012? Maybe. Solheim Cup member in 2013? Definitely. It is hard not to get excited about this girl's future.

7- Will the number one player in the world change on a weekly basis, or will someone step up and dominate?

If you don't know the answer to this question, I guess you must have spent the last year on Mars.

8- Will Song-Hee Kim reach 50 top tens (she has 34), before she actually wins?

Maybe a better question would have been, will she ever get another top 10? Song-Hee's 2011 season was already summarized in question #5.

9- Can the United States retain the Solheim Cup for the 4th consecutive time, on the road in Ireland?

We all know the answer turned out to be No, and I still haven't gotten over it. 2013 can't come soon enough.

10- With all the efforts these girls are making on and off the golf course, will they finally be rewarded with more tournaments in 2012?

The LPGA schedule has not been released as of this writing, but it seems slow progress is being made. The ladies played 23 official tournaments in 2011. We know that in 2012 they have lost the State Farm Classic. We also know that the Jamie Farr Classic will return to the schedule. Add to that new tournaments in Australia and Waterloo, Canada, and we should be up to at least 25. More tournaments in the United States would be nice, but as the old saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day." Maybe Michael Whan still has some surprises for us. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Sometime early next year, I will be listing the top 10 questions I would like to be answered in 2012.

Rolex Rankings Mover of the Week:
Lexi Thompson's win in Dubai moves her from #53 to #38.


Jim C said...

I think Wie will bounce back and return to about 10 in the rankings with a strong finish next year. But I don't expect dramatic improvement until 2013.

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