Monday, February 28, 2011

The 2011 Worldwide Women's Developmental Tour Schedule

Don't have very good status--or any--on the LPGA, JLPGA, KLPGA, or LET but still want to play golf professionally? Then the world's developmental tours are perfect for you! Here's a handy-dandy guide to playing opportunities custom-made for up-and-coming female pros, from the major tour-affiliated organizations like the Futures Tour in the USA, the Step-Up Tour in Japan, the Dream Tour in Korea, and the LET Access Series in Europe to mid-size tours like the ALPG in Australia, the LAGT in Asia, and the CLPGA in China, to the even smaller ones like the TLPGA in Taiwan, the CN Canadian Women's Tour in Canada, the Generali Ladies Tour in Europe, the Cactus Tour in Phoenix, AZ, and the SunCoast Series in Florida. You'll note from the list of winners and links to leaderboards that a good number of big-time players will often compete on these developmental and mini-tours, so don't take them too lightly!


2-3 St. Georges Basin Country Club Pro-Am (ALPG) JOANNE MILLS

17-19: Hyundai China Ladies Open (CLPGA/KLPGA) HYE YOUN KIM


6-8 Royal Open (TLPGA) MI RIM LEE
8-9 Xstrata Coal Branxton Golf Club Pro-Am (ALPG) RACHEL BAILEY

12 NRE Gujarat Russell Vale Challenge Cup (ALPG) RYANN O'TOOLE
13-14 Moss Vale Golf Club Classic (ALPG) KATHERINE HULL
14-16 Taifong Open YA NI TSENG

16-17 Mount Broughton Classic (ALPG) KATHERINE HULL
18-20 Orange Tree Country Club (SCS) CINDY LACROSSE
21-23 Bing Lee Samsung NSW Women's Open (ALPG) CAROLINE HEDWALL; Hitachi Classic (TLPGA) PORNANONG PHATLUM

24-26 West Orange Country Club (SCS) LAURA DIAZ
28-30 ActewAGL Royal Canberra Ladies Classic (ALPG) ASHLEY ONA [a]
31-2/2 The Legacy (CT) MINDY KIM


1-3 Red Tail Country Club (SCS) MOIRA DUNN
3-6 Women's Australian Open (ALPG/LET) YA NI TSENG

7-9 Papago (CT) JULIE YANG [a]
8-10 Magnolia Plantation (SCS) CHELLA CHOI
10-13 ANZ RACV Ladies Masters (ALPG/LET) YA NI TSENG

14-16 Wigwam Red (CT) ALENA SHARP
15-17 Mission Inn Resort--Las Colinas (SCS) HYUN-JI KIM
17-20 Pegasus New Zealand Women's Open (ALPG/LET) KRISTIE SMITH

22-24 CC of Mount Dora (SCS) KRIS TAMULIS
24 Lady Anne Funerals Ryde Parramatta Pro-Am (ALPG) SARAH KEMP
24-26 Yumeya Championship (LAGT) SAKURA YOKOMINE

28-3/2 Ocotillo (CT) MINA HARIGAE

MARCH 2011

1-3 LPGA International--Champions (SCS) PAIGE MACKENZIE

7-9 Florida Women's Open (CT) ISABELLE BEISIEGEL

14-15 Encanterra (CT) JENNIFER JOHNSON
15-17 Zellwood Station CC (SCS)
16-18 Terre Blanche Ladies Open (LETAS/GLT) HENRIETTA ZUEL

21-23 Palm Valley--Palms (CT) JOY TROTTER
25-27 Florida's Natural Charity Classic (FT) TZU-CHI LIN

29-31 Mission Inn Resort--El Campeon (SCS) RACHEL CONNOR

APRIL 2011

1-3 Daytona Beach Invitational (FT) HARUKYO NOMURA; Shanghai Classic (CLPGA) LI YING YE; Q-School [for foreign players] (CLPGA)
5-7 Falcons Fire GC (SCS) NICOLE HAGE

8-10 Santorini Riviera Navarit Classic (FT) RYANN O'TOOLE
11-13 Seville (CT) JOY TROTTER
12-14 Rock Springs Ridge (SCS)
13-15 La Nivelle Ladies Open (LETAS/GLT)

22-24 Yangzhou Challenge (CLPGA)

25-26 KLPGA Dream Tour #1
25-27 The Legacy (CT)
26-28 Harmony Golf Preserve (SCS)
29-5/1 Symetra Classic (FT)

MAY 2011

2-4 Southern Dunes (CT)
3-5 Eastwood GC (SCS)

10-12 Stoneybrook East GC (SCS)
11-12 KLPGA Dream Tour #2
12-14 Dinard Ladies Open (LETAS/GLT)
13-15 Kansas City Championship (FT)

16-18 Squamish Valley GC (CWT)
20-22 Beijing Renji Challenge (CLPGA)

27-29 Beijing Pearl Challenge (CLPGA)
30-31 KLPGA Dream Tour #3

JUNE 2011

2-3 Grand Course Rijasukuresuto (SUT)
3-5 Ladies Titan Tire Challenge (FT)

7-8 KLPGA Dream Tour #4
10-12 Teva Championship (FT)

13-14 KLPGA Dream Tour #5
13-15 Club de Golf Beloeil (CWT)
16-19 Tate & Lyle Players Championship (FT)

24-26 Island Resort Championship (FT); Caofeidian Challenge (CLPGA)

27-29 Blue Springs GC (CWT)

JULY 2011

1-3 Yantai Yangmadao Challenge (CLPGA)

7-8 ANA Princess Cup (SUT)

13-14 KLPGA Dream Tour #6
15-17 ING New England Golf Classic (FT)

22-24 The International at Concord (FT)
25-26 KLPGA Dream Tour #7

27-28 Kasutororuredisu (SUT)
29-31 Alliance Bank Golf Classic (FT)


1-2 KLPGA Dream Tour #8
4-7 Imperial Springs LPGA (CLPGA/LPGA)
5-7 Pennsylvania Classic (FT)

8-9 KLPGA Dream Tour #9
8-10 Whirlwind (CT)
12-14 Richmond Golf Classic (FT); China vs. Korea (CLPGA/KLPGA)

15-17 Ocotillo (CT)

22-23 KLPGA Dream Tour #10
22-24 The Legacy (CT)
26-28 Vidalia Championship (FT)

29-31 Wigwam Red (CT)


1-4 "WO" China Golf Pro-Am Championship (CLPGA)

6-8 Southern Dunes (CT)
7-8 KLPGA Dream Tour #11
9-11 Price Chopper Tour Championship (FT); China vs. Chinese Taipei (CLPGA/TLPGA)

16-18 Wenzhou Yangyi Challenge (CLPGA)
17-18 Women's Cup Sanyou Newspapers (SUT)

23-25 Wuhan Challenge (CLPGA)
27-28 KLPGA Dream Tour #12


6-7 KLPGA Dream Tour #13

11-13 TBA (CT)
12-13 KLPGA Dream Tour #14
13-14 Aso Guranvirioredisu Rutoinkappu (SUT)
13-15 Trophee Preven's (LETAS)

17-20 AZ Open (CT)
19-20 KLPGA Dream Tour #15
21-23 Sanya Ladies Open (LAGT/CLPGA/LET)

24-26 Palm Valley--Palms (CT)
28-30 Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open (LAGT/CLPGA/LET)


7-9 Ocotillo (CT)

14-16 The Legacy (CT)
17-19 Murcia Ladies Open (LETAS)
18-20 Zhuhai Challenge (CLPGA)


2-4 Hero Honda Women's India Open (LAGT/LET)

16-18 Ladies Indonesia Open (LAGT); China Ladies Open (CLPGA/KLPGA)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

HSBC Women's Champions Sunday: Karrie Webb's 37th LPGA Victory One of Her Best

Karrie Webb birdied the 11th through the 14th holes during the final round of the HSBC Women's Champions--part of an 8-hole par-free stretch starting on the 9th hole in which she made 6 birdies and 2 bogeys--to wrest the lead from Chie Arimura after the JLPGA star bogeyed both par 3s on the back 9, at the start and end of Webb's birdie train. But in the end it was a pair of pars for the Hall of Famer, on her 71st and 72nd holes, that sealed her 37th career LPGA victory by a shot over Arimura, -13 to -12.

Earlier in the round, world #1 Ya Ni Tseng had made things even more interesting by firing a bogey-free 31 on the front to get to double digits under par and to put the lead within her grasp. But bogeys on 10 and 12 made her birdies on 13 and 16 too little, too late, for her 5th win in her 5th start of 2011. Still, her 67 left her alone in 3rd at -10, 2 shots ahead of Sun Young Yoo (69), 3 shots ahead of Morgan Pressel (68), and 4 shots ahead of Na Yeon Choi (71). Even though Tseng matched Ai Miyazato's winning score last year, Webb and Arimura's brilliance this week ensured she wouldn't match Miyazato's feat of opening the LPGA season with 2 straight wins.

As for Ai-sama, she needed an eagle on the short par-4 16th to salvage her 2nd 74 of the week and end the tournament at E (T14 with Brittany Lincicome, who shot a 73). They got passed by Song-Hee Kim (70), Amy Yang (70), and Ji-Yai Shin (71) at -1 and Stacy Lewis (70) and Cristie Kerr (72) at -2, but none of them could chase down a resurgent Catriona Matthew (70) at -3, much less In-Kyung Kim, who bounced back from an early double with 5 birdies in her 1st 10 holes, but bogeyed 4 of her last 8 to end up alone in 7th at -4.

In the end, though, the day belonged to Webb, who showed the LPGA's Young Guns a thing or 2 about winning in style. While #37 can't possibly be as significant as her 7 majors, I can't think of a non-major victory in the last 8 years as big as this one is for her. From 1996-2002, these kinds of wins were pretty much par for the course for Webb, who never won less than twice in a season in that stretch and snagged 28 in all; except for 2005, though, when she won 5 times, she hasn't had a multiple-win season ever since. I can't wait to see all the fireworks from today's round--and to see what Webb does for an encore the rest of the season!

[Update 1 (9:40 am): Here are Ruthless Mike and Hound Dog on the final-round action.]

[Update 2 (7:42 pm): Here's Brent Kelley on Webb's win and career.]

[Update 3 (7:45 pm): Here's bangkokbobby with a focus on how close Arimura came to changing her career and life!]

[Update 4 (7:49 pm): And here's Ryan Ballengee.]

HSBC Women's Champions Saturday: Arimura 1-up on Webb, 6-up on Tseng, Choi, and Yoo

Just like on Thursday, the 17th hole interrupted 16 holes of bogey-free golf from the JLPGA's Chie Arimura, but even though it forced her to accept her 1st round in the 70s of the week, she managed to maintain a slim 1-shot lead on Karrie Webb after 54 holes of the HSBC Women's Champions, even after the Hall of Famer birdied the 18th to post her 2nd 70 of the week. Meanwhile, Ya Ni Tseng bounced back from her 1st merely average round since January on Friday with 4 birdies in her last 10 holes to post a 69 and catch Na Yeon Choi and Sun Young Yoo at -5, 6 shots behind Arimura. For her to get her 5th win in her 5th start of 2011 from so far back would be truly awe-inspiring.

With In-Kyung Kim firing a great 67 to get to -4 and leapfrog Morgan Pressel (71) at -3 and Ai Miyazato and Mika Miyazato (70s) and Cristie Kerr (73) at -2, the leaderboard is packed. And with others bouncing back from bad starts--Karine Icher followed up an opening 77 with a pair of 69s to join Catriona Matthew and Brittany Lincicome at -1, while Song-Hee Kim did almost as well after an opening 79, going 68-70 to catch Suzanne Pettersen, Amy Yang, and Natalie Gulbis at +1--moving day must have been really exciting.

Too bad my DVR was taping the wrong golf while I was driving onechan and imoto back home from dropping the Full Metal Archivist off at the Toronto Pearson airport. But at least I didn't have to see Hee-Won Han, Katherine Hull, and Beatriz Recari (76s), Karen Stupples, Michelle Wie, Momoko Ueda, Inbee Park, Wendy Ward, and Se Ri Pak (77s), M.J. Hur (78), Vicky Hurst (79), and Seon Hwa Lee (80) move backwards in a big way. Maybe I'll just watch Sunday's round on "live" tape delay this afternoon! From the live scoring, it's been an amazing final round already. More on that in a bit....

HSBC Women's Champions Friday: Arimura and Webb Take a Joy Ride on Route 66

Chie Arimura and Karrie Webb played some fantastic golf on Friday at the HSBC Women's Champions event in Singapore. Arimura recovered from 2 bogeys in her 1st 3 holes with an eagle on the par-5 5th and 5 birdies in her last 11 holes to post a 66 that got her to -10 through 36 holes, while Webb simply shot a 5-birdie 66 that was sparked by an eagle on the par-5 9th and kept her within 2 of the lead. Their brilliance overshadowed a great 68 by Sun Young Yoo (which put her alone in 3rd at -6), an awesome 67 by Cristie Kerr (which more than made up for her opening 74), and a hot 68 by Song-Hee Kim (which improved on her opening 79 by 11 shots), not to mention 69s by Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome, and Karine Icher.

By contrast, Na Yeon Choi, Karen Stupples, and Ya Ni Tseng had seriously up-and-down rounds. Choi was right in the thick of things until she pulled an approach shot on the 18th, whiffed from inside the hazard line due to her ball being so close to a large rock, decided to chip backwards next, and saved a double with a fantastic pitch to tap-in range. At -4, she joined Stupples in a tie for 4th, but even though the Englishwoman made only 1 birdie and shot a 70, it felt like she threw away a lot of shots on the back 9. Meanwhile, Tseng bogeyed 3 holes in a row as she made the turn, then seemed to be playing better on the back with a nice par save on 15 and a great birdie on 16, but made a sloppy bogey on 17 and needed a great birdie on 18 to salvage a 72.

I was pleased to see that Ai Miyazato posted a 70 on Friday to come back from her 74 the day before. Watching the 1st-round coverage, I had been struck by how disgusted with her ball-striking Ai-sama was for most of the day, but noticed that she seemed to figure out something late in her round. So I can't say I was surprised to see that she made 4 birdies in her middle 14 holes, but I was disappointed that she bogeyed 2 and 17.

From the scoring Friday, it seems the players were starting to adjust to the slower greens on the Tanah Merah Garden course. Unfortunately, my DVR failed to record the 3rd round, so my next make-up post will be worse than this one!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rassin' Frassin' Snow!

Hey folks, sorry for the delay in posting about the exciting HSBC Women's Champions action, where Chie Arimura and Karrie Webb have opened up a huge gap on Ya Ni Tseng, Na Yeon Choi, and Sun Young Yoo, but that winter storm that hit Western NY yesterday was just big enough to double our driving time yesterday to the Toronto airport, where I was supposed to get the Full Metal Archivist in time for her flight to Japan. Somehow the storm decided to miss the airport, so her plane left without her, and now I'm writing from the lobby of a Toronto hotel. Since the girls and I won't be back in the States for hours, and I'll have a lot of golf on the DVR to catch up on, don't expect another post from me for awhile. Suffice to say I'm excited that Arimura could win and get LPGA membership for 2012 tomorrow!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

HSBC Women's Champions Friday Pairings

I'm psyched that the organizers of the HSBC Women's Champions decided to reshuffle the 1st-round pairings for tomorrow's 2nd round. When you've got 63 of the best female players on the planet competing on the same course, I'm all in favor of maximizing the chances for them to play with and get to know a wide range of their fellow competitors. Consider tomorrow's key permutations, for instance:

10:04 am, 1st tee: Ya Ni Tseng, Karrie Webb, Sun Young Yoo. All eyes will be on Tseng's attempt to get her 5th worldwide win in her 5th 2011 start, but Webb is playing well enough to win and Yoo mowed down some of the best in the world last year when she won the Sybase Match Play Championship--plus she played bogey-free golf in today's winds. Don't be surprised to see Yoo make some serious noise this week.

8:36 am, 1st tee: Suzann Pettersen, Michelle Wie, Amy Yang. How cool is it to see these 3 power players in the same pairing? 5 shots back with no cut means that Friday has to be moving day for them. The point is to win, right?

10:15 am, 1st tee: Na Yeon Choi, Chie Arimura, Karen Stupples. Choi seems to play her best when she's bouncing back from a big disappointment. After she missed the 1st cut of her LPGA career midway through last season, she went on a tear that brought her the money-list title and the Vare Trophy. Well, last week on moving day, she dropped out of contention in a big way and fell further behind Tseng, who edged her out for Rookie of the Year back in 2008. You think she's going to take that lying down? No way! As for Arimura and Stupples, it'll be interesting to see if they can hang with Choi and stay ahead of their lead chase pack in the final pairing off the front.

9:31 am, 1st tee: Hee Kyung Seo, Lindsey Wright, Eun-Hee Ji. Call this trio the comeback kids. Seo disappeared after winning the Kia Classic at the start of last season, Wright fell apart at the end of last season and has gotten off to a bad start this one, and Ji is finally getting major swing changes grooved after a year and a half in the wilderness following her U.S. Women's Open win in 2009. They're right in the thick of things, only 4 back, but they'll need to make a move tomorrow and/or the next day to not just follow but surpass the leaders.

9:09 am, 1st tee: Stacy Lewis, Mika Miyazato, Gwladys Nocera. All are looking for their 1st LPGA wins and all can point to evidence that they're getting closer and closer to breaking through. Nocera couldn't outdo Beatriz Recari toward the end of last season in Northern California, Lewis was hanging with Ya Ni Tseng shot for shot Down Under on the LET earlier this month, and Miyazato's victory at the Japan Women's Open last year has given her loads of confidence. Nocera's 5 back and Lewis and Miyazato are 4 back, so it'll be interesting to see if they can feed off each other's play tomorrow. Lewis was -4 over her last 6 holes today, Miyazato -2 over her last 8, and Nocera -2 over her last 5, so they've definitely got some mo' goin'.

8:47 am, 1st tee: Morgan Pressel, Angela Stanford, Momoko Ueda. They, too, are 5 behind Arimura, so will need to be taking dead aim tomorrow. This is a threesome that's had to deal with the weight of high expectations for a long time. Let's see if they can come through when the spotlight's a little bit off them.

8:25 am, 10th tee: Inbee Park, Anna Nordqvist, Seon Hwa Lee. Park has been upping her power levels (even at the cost of accuracy off the tee) in recent years, while Nordqvist is a surprisingly short hitter for someone of her height and Lee has always been a precision player. None of them have won in a while and being 6 off the lead after only 18 holes isn't the way to break that streak, but it'll be interesting to see who among them can turn things around tomorrow.

These are the 7 that stand out to me. How about you?

HSBC Women's Champions Thursday: Chie Arimura Leads Na Yeon Choi by 1, Ya Ni Tseng by 2

The JLPGA's Chie Arimura fired a 5-birdie 68 to take a 1-shot lead over Na Yeon Choi and a 2-shot lead over Ya Ni Tseng, Karrie Webb, Karen Stupples, and Sun Young Yoo in the 1st round of the HSBC Women's Champions. Only a late bogey by Arimura and a late charge by Choi (she was -3 over her last 7 holes of bogey-free golf) kept the deficit that small. Tseng had birdied her last 3 holes in a row on the front to post a 34, but mixed 3 bogeys with her 3 birdies on the back to settle for a 70. Webb needed to birdie 2 of her last 3 holes to get her 5-birdie 70. Yoo, meanwhile, played bogey-free golf all day, but couldn't buy a birdie on the back. It was Stupples, though, who had the real roller-coster round of the day. She bogeyed 1 and doubled the island-green par-3 3rd, and even bogeyed the 7th after coming back with 2 birdies in a row on 4 and 5. But then she went off, eagling the par 5s 9 and 13 and birdieing the par-4 16th to offset her lone bogey the rest of the way on 12.

The Garden Course at Tanah Merah was playing tough today, as notes. Only 5 other players went under par, including Ji-Yai Shin and Natalie Gulbis, and only 8 other players, among them In-Kyung-Kim, Stacy Lewis, Mika Miyazato, Vicky Hurst, Eun-Hee Ji, and Hee Kyung Seo, shot even-par rounds. Still, there are 30 players within 5 shots of the lead and Ai Miyazato (74), Cristie Kerr (74), Katherine Hull (74), and Paula Creamer (76) just need 1 really low round or 3 good rounds to get right back in this thing. But what's up with Song-Hee Kim? A 79 today is even worse than her moving-day 77 in Thailand! Not the start I expected for her this season, to say the least.

But that's why they tee it up! Can't wait to see the coverage!

[Update 1 (11:02 am): bangkokbobby's got lots of photos from the 1st round!]

[Update 2 (11:24 am): Here's Ryan Ballengee.]

[Update 3 (11:54 am): I was in a rush this morning and forgot to link to Mike Southern's set-up post, where he links the 32 guys going home from the WGC match play event to the 63 ladies starting their engines in Singapore at the time of his writing!]

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Best on the LPGA: 3- to 6-Time Winners, February 2011

With Ya Ni Tseng's play in 2011 starting talk of a Tseng Dynasty on the LPGA, it's time to update my November 2010 assessment to focus on who among the LPGA's 3-to-6-time winners is likeliest to add to their victory totals in 2011.

Most Likely to Win in 2011

1. Ya Ni Tseng (6/3): Her victory in Thailand was her 4th worldwide win in 2011. Will she be the 1st to graduate from this list?
2. In-Kyung Kim (3/0): Her opening 63 in Thailand shows what she's capable of, but I was impressed by the way she kept grinding when things weren't going her way over the next 54 holes.
3. Na Yeon Choi (4/0): What will she do for an encore after taking the Vare Trophy and money-list title last season? Except for going in reverse on moving day in Thailand, she played very good golf last week. Her T15 there extends her streak to 14-straight top 20s in LPGA events and was only the 3rd finish in that run outside the top 10.
4. Suzann Pettersen (6 wins/1 major): Look her up in the dictionary under "D-U-E." You know it. I know it. She knows it. And therein lies the problem. I saw a lot of frustration in Thailand on a course she used to own.
5. Ai Miyazato (6/0): Let's see if the 3rd time is the charm when it comes to title defenses for Ai-sama! She underwhelmed at Evian last season and Thailand last week.

The Contenders

6. Angela Stanford (4/0): It's about time for her to rejoin the game's elite.
7. Brittany Lincicome (3/1): She's pretty much convinced me she's for real, but until she overcomes her "onebadrounditis," she won't be contending with any regularity on the LPGA.
8. Seon Hwa Lee (4/0): 2011 started the way 2010 ended for this former top-10 player and still #2 in the Class of 2006--on the wrong foot. It's not time to hit the panic button, but she's definitely in an extended slump that she had managed to avoid longer than anyone else in her rookie class.

Quantum Leap Candidates

9. Maria Hjorth (4/0): She got hot at the very end of 2010, but may be too wild to turn that streak into another win in the early-season Asian swing of 2011. But how much better would her T8 in Thailand have been without that 78 in the 2nd round? [Update: Pretty impressive win #5 for Hjorth at the Avnet! Next time I update this, I'd better move her up a category!]
10. Catriona Matthew (3/1): She impressed me in Thailand, joining Pettersen and Hjorth at T8. Maybe 2011 will be a comeback year for her.
11. Candie Kung (4/0): Broke a run of 5-straight top 30s at the end of last season with a T38 in Thailand. Still looking for the game that had her among the world's top 10 for a pretty long time last decade.
12. Sophie Gustafson (5/0): The LET's leading money winner of 2009 continued her 2010 struggles in the 2011 season opener on the LPGA.
13. Hee-Won Han (6/0): She hasn't finished outside the top 40 in last season's year-end Asian swing or this one's early-season one, but she hasn't come close to a top 10, much less to contending.
14. Pat Hurst (6/1): She kicks off 2011 in Singapore.

On the Bottom, Looking Up

15. Wendy Ward (4/0): Just like last season, she's gotten off to a very slow start this one.
16. Grace Park (6/1): Looks like her 1st event will be in Phoenix, thanks to a medical exemption for 2011 that puts her at #84 on the priority status list.
17. Lorie Kane (4/0): At #112 on the priority status list, will get to play pretty much all the full-field events she wants to in 2011. Let's see how she does.
18. Wendy Doolan (3/0): At #100(a) on the priority status list thanks to a medical exemption, she, too, will get another chance to extend her LPGA career yet further.
19. Dorothy Delasin (4/0): This 2000 Rookie of the Year had been struggling to keep her card from 2006-2008, but she fell off a cliff in 2009, going 0 for 16 in made cuts and even bombing out of Q-School. This season, her only made cut was at the Navistar, bringing her total to 1 for 25 in the last 2 seasons. Her 1st 4 years on tour when she averaged a win a year and was a consistent top 30 threat are a distant memory now. But she's still #184 on the priority status list, which is effectively in the low 160s, so look for her to get in a decent number of events in 2011.

HSBC Women's Champions Thursday Pairings

They're going off the front and back in threesomes for the 1st round of the HSBC Women's Champions. Here are the 15 pairings I'm most interested in following on Thursday (virtually, that is):

10:19 am, 1st tee: Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Michelle Wie. Wie exceeded expectations in Thailand while Shin and Miyazato struggled. With an island green on a par 3 and plenty of water near many other greens at Tanah Merah, we'll see exactly what kind of shape their ball-striking and confidence are in this week.

10:08 am, 1st tee: Ya Ni Tseng, Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi. Tseng is on an impressive roll, going for her 5th win in 5 worldwide starts and 2nd-straight LPGA victory in Singapore, while Kerr and Choi are hoping they scraped off lots of rust in Thailand.

9:57 am, 1st tee: In-Kyung Kim, Paula Creamer, Karrie Webb. They all showed signs of brilliance in Thailand, but their hot streaks were surrounded by lots of lukewarm play. Can they turn up the heat in Singapore?

9:13 am, 1st tee: Inbee Park, Eun-Hee Ji, Christabel Goh [a]: Given how well amateurs like Lydia Ko, Cecelia Cho, Ashley Ona, and Ariya Jutanugarn have been playing early in the season, the 2 U.S. Women's Open champions in this threesome had better bring their A-games!

10:30 am, 1st tee: Amy Yang, Stacy Lewis, M.J. Hur. Don't be surprised if the winner comes from this pairing. Yang and Lewis are on the verge of breaking through into the game's super-elite, while Hur is coming off a top 10 in Thailand and faced down none other than Suzann Pettersen for her 1st career LPGA win.

9:46 am, 1st tee: Suzann Pettersen, Juli Inkster, Momoko Ueda. They all showed signs of life in Thailand, but all left for Singapore with sour tastes in their mouth. Can they put themselves into contention this week and stay there?

9:35 am, 1st tee: Morgan Pressel, Katherine Hull, Jimin Kang. Hull's top 20 in Thailand was disappointing given how much good golf she'd already been playing in 2011, whereas Pressel's and Kang's barely getting into the top 40 there is just plain disappointing. Can they all bounce back in Singapore?

9:57 am, 10th tee: Sun Young Yoo, Vicky Hurst, Stacy Prammanasudh. Yoo is sneaky good, Hurst has loads of talent and it's about time she started realizing her vast potential, and Stacy P, like Hurst, is gunning for a Solheim Cup berth.

10:08 am, 10th tee: Mika Miyazato, Candie Kung, Brittany Lang. The "other Miyazato" is on the verge of breaking through, while Kung and Lang are trying to find the games that had them among the best female golfers on the planet not that long ago.

9:35 am, 10th tee: Angela Stanford, Seon Hwa Lee, Kyeong Bae. Another trio looking to get their games on the right track this week.

9:46 am, 10th tee: Kristy McPherson, Azahara Munoz, Karen Stupples. There's tons of talent in this pairing, but McPherson is coming off elbow surgery, Munoz is trying to avoid a sophomore jinx, and Stupples is trying to find her way out of the golfing wilderness.

8:40 am, 10th tee: Maria Hjorth, Hee-Won Han, Amanda Blumenherst. They each had 1 disastrous round in Thailand. Only problem is, there's even more opportunities to make big numbers in Singapore. But at least their scorecards should be entertaining to watch--if you like roller coasters, that is.

8:52 am, 1st tee: Sophie Gustafson, Gwladys Nocera, Jessica Korda. Look for more roller-coaster scorecards from these bombers!

8:40 am, 1st tee: Chie Arimura, Brittany Lincicome, Haeji Kang. Let's see how precision players Arimura and Kang hang in there with the bombs-away Lincicome at Tanah Merah. My guess is, pretty darn well.

9:24 am, 1st tee: Anna Nordqvist, Beatriz Recari, Natalie Gulbis. They played pretty solid golf at Thailand except for 1 bad round each. I'd love to see them play well enough to get plenty of air time in Singapore!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

HSBC Women's Champions Preview and Predictions: Setting Up the Showdown in Singapore

The HSBC Women's Champions, with its stellar field and superb course, is the perfect venue for Ya Ni Tseng to attempt to match winning streaks established by Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, and Tiger Woods. If she can make it 5-for-5 in 2011 at the Showdown in Singapore, I'll join the media chorus and my fellow bloggers who are calling this the Tseng Dynasty!

Even though JLPGAers Sun Ju Ahn, Sakura Yokomine, and Mi-Jeong Jeon have elected to start their 2011s in Okinawa next week, and Jee Young Lee and Jeong Jang are skipping the LPGA's season-opening Asian swing, the addition of the JLPGA's Chie Arimura and LPGA rookie Hee Kyung Seo to the group of LPGAers who played last week in Thailand (including sponsor exemptions Nicole Castrale and Jessica Korda), along with everyone who finished from from #56 to #63 on last year's money list (most notably the resurgent Eun-Hee Ji), more than makes up for the loss of LET '10 leading money-winner Lee-Anne Pace, Super Soph Mariajo Uribe, rookie sensation Jennifer Song, and Pornanong Phatlum from last week. This will be the strongest field Tseng has faced all year.

Given how good the official program for the tournament is and how useful its event history is, I won't do more than point you to my previews from 2008, 2009, and 2010, along with the results from 2009 and 2010 (right now the '08 results are lost in the ether on, although you can get a taste of them from my final-round post back then). Can Ya Ni Tseng match Ai Miyazato's feat of opening last season with wins in Thailand and Singapore? Let's put it this way: I'm not betting against her!

1. Tseng
2. Kim In-Kyung
3. Pettersen
4. Creamer
5. Miyazato Ai
6. Kerr
7. Choi
8. Shin
9. Yang
10. Wie
11. Miyazato Mika
12. Webb

Alts: Hull, Yoo, Ji

It hurts not to put Stacy Lewis and Song-Hee Kim in my top 15, but that's the breaks. I'll have a separate post on the pairings when they're announced.

[Update 1 (2/23/11, 1:04 am): Here's that pairings post I promised!]

[Update 2 (10:40 am): Here's a tournament preview and pre-tournament interviews from]

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tim Maitland on the Dragon Ladies

Dragon Ladies on Fire
Tim Maitland

One of the most remarkable group of athletes the world has ever seen are back in Singapore this week for the HSBC Women's Champions. Led by Jiyai Shin, until a few days ago the world number one and a winner here in 2009, they are the Dragon Ladies and they are the dominant force in the world of women's golf despite being only 22 or 23 years old.

"We're the girls who were born in 1988, in the year of the dragon; that's pretty much it," explains Inbee Park, 2008 US Women's Open winner, in a massive understatement.

"The Dragon Ladies are unique," states Giles Morgan, HSBC's Group Head of Sponsorship far more emphatically.

"Personally I'm surprised the world hasn't sat up and taken more notice, but we're fully aware of them because they bring so much to the HSBC Women's Champions. We brought the tournament to Singapore because we knew Asia and Korea in particular was about to produce some remarkable players and the emergence of such talent from countries that are relatively new to golf is close to our hearts as a business. I honestly cannot think of anyone to compare with them," he adds.

There are now four Dragon Ladies in the top 12 of the Rolex Rankings. Jiyai, with eight LPGA wins, is ranked second in the world and is on course to secure her place in the LPGA's Hall of Fame faster than any other player in history. Ignoring Na Yeon Choi, rated fifth, but four months too old to be a Dragon Lady, next comes In-Kyung Kim, who is number seven worldwide. Song-Hee Kim currently rates eleventh on the planet, just below Sun Ju Ahn, another Korean born a few months before the 1998 Year of the Dragon. Meanwhile Inbee Park rates 12th, due partly to the fact that, like Ahn she plays significantly more events in Japan. Throw in Ji Young Oh, whose 2010 season was disrupted by hip problems but who has two LPGA wins to her name, and you start to understand how great their year group already is.

They're part of a slightly broader generation of women, dubbed Se Ri's kids, who as young girls were inspired by Se Ri Pak winning two majors in her rookie season in 1998 on the LPGA, headed straight to Korea's multi-story urban driving ranges.

When the HSBC Women's Champions first arrived in Singapore in 2008 the Dragon Ladies were only just emerging onto the world stage. Jiyai showed her potential by finishing as the leading Korean in seventh place. A year later, in 2009, she won at Tanah Merah, and last year became only the fifth woman to top the world rankings. The Dragon Ladies return to Singapore with their careers, in normal golf terms, still in their infancy--most players their age are happy to have their tour card and would be delighted to have a first win under their belt--but Jiyai is adamant that they are long out of their golfing nappies.

"Still babies? No!" she insists.

"We're 23; we're grown up already, aren't we? I'm not getting taller anymore," she jokes, showing the same humour that she often uses to explain the secret of her success as being from "kimchee power."

But Jiyai admits to being amazed at how fast the Dragon Ladies have raced into the superstar echelon of the women's game, something, she admits, none of them could have imagined when they first started playing against each other in Korean junior tournaments around 10 years ago.

"We had a dream. We had a dream, but coming through so quickly? All the time we were dreaming of playing on the LPGA tour or being the number one, but it has come so quickly. I'm really surprised about that. We talk as friends and rivals too. A couple of years ago we were saying 'Wow, we're playing on the LPGA tour, we're 21...we can drink!'" she explains, once again dissolving into a mischievous giggle.

The combination of being both friends and rivals is what the Dragon Ladies say has driven them all to such a remarkably high level; spurring each other on with their success and yet, at the same time, supporting each other, too.

"I think all the friends of the '88 girls have practiced harder than the previous generations. I'm really happy for that. We've tried our hardest and done our best to get better. It's been important having those friends, because all the travelling is lonely and you need a lot of people around you to travel together and eat together and spend time together," says Song-Hee, who, in sharp contrast to Shin's outgoing demeanour, stands out for two reasons. Firstly, she's remarkably shy around relative strangers and secondly, unlike the other Dragon Ladies and most of Se-Ri's kids, she hasn't yet won on the LPGA.

For that reason, with the exception of a fully-fit Ji Young Oh, Song-Hee might be the one with the most potential to rise further up the world rankings. She's steadily increased the number of top 10 finishes each year, from eight in 2008 to 12 in 2009 and 16 last year, including no missed cuts, two second-places and three 'bronze medals.' That 2010 success rate equates to almost 70 per cent. How good that is can be understood by considering the fact that Jiyai's conversion rate of top 10 finishes in 2009 tournaments, when she came within one shot of winning every single award for the LPGA season, was 48 per cent.

"I wanted to become more consistent. That was my target. Not just at golf, but in everyday life," Song-Hee explains.

"In my rookie year I wanted to so much, I wanted it too badly. I had too many things in my mind and it became a challenge for me. Now I know what I need and it's helping me be more consistent. I'm going to keep to that strategy and keep it simple, but eventually I'm going to win...soon."

While Song-Hee might still have scope to surprise the golf world, there's no doubt among the Dragon Ladies who the biggest surprise has been.

"Me! Myself!" exclaims Jiyai, who lagged behind the others, particularly IK Kim, when the girls were around 13 years old, only to discover the mental strength needed to win after her mother was tragically killed in a car crash in 2003.

"When we were young, I wasn't really that good and suddenly I changed and I played really well on the KLPGA and LPGA tours, so I've surprised myself. The other girls; they were all really good playing as juniors. I was a little bit on the outside, a little bit, growing up," says Jiyai, who is cutting a more glamorous figure this year since laser surgery allowed her to shed her trademark thick glasses.

In the golfing sense, Jiyai was the ugly duckling that turned into a beautiful swan. She thinks about it briefly: "The ugly duckling? I think so.... I was not THAT ugly, though!"

Ya Ni Tseng Has the Biggest Lead in the Rolex Rankings of Any #1 Player in a Year

You have to go back to last year's edition of the Rolex Rankings to find a #1 player with a bigger lead on the #2 player than Ya Ni Tseng has right now. Back then, Lorena Ochoa lead Ji-Yai Shin by 1.73 points; this week, Tseng leads Shin by 1.27 points, a scant .02 larger lead than Ochoa had on Shin on 1 March 2010. The difference, of course, is that Shin was closing fast on Ochoa last year (she'd pass her on 3 May), whereas Tseng is pulling away from her lead chase pack this season.

The other thing worth noting about the early-season Rolex Rankings is that the gap between the top 6 in the world of women's golf and the rest of the best is closing rapidly. #6 Ai Miyazato now leads #7 In-Kyung Kim by only 1.09 points and #8 Michelle Wie by 1.70 points. Back on 6 December 2010 the top 6 in the RR were all averaging over 10 points per tournament; now, only Tseng is, at 11.16 points, only .01 less than Shin was at when play closed on the LPGA last year.

I think it's too soon to start comparing Tseng to Tiger in 2000, as Shane Bacon just did at Devil Ball Golf. After all, her 1st win came against a decidedly minor-league field in Taiwan (even with the occasional LPGAer, JLPGAer, and Futures Tour stalwart rounding it out), her next 2 came against strong-for-the-LET but not LPGA-quality fields, and even her win in the LPGA debut yesterday was against a strong but limited (and, quite frankly, largely rusty) field. If she can keep winning on the LPGA early in the season, I'll give her credit for being as hot as Ai Miyazato was last winter and spring, but until then, I'll simply salute her incandescent play and wish her the best at the Showdown in Singapore this week!

[Update 1 (2/22/11, 2:16 am): See the comments for an interesting exchange between Mike Southern and me; see the HSBC web site for the company Tseng would be keeping with a win this week: Tiger, Annika, and Nancy Lopez!]

[Update 2 (1:10 pm): Stephanie Wei suggests a new nickname for Ya Ni--Queen Bee--and strongly implies she has a profile on her coming out in print pretty soon.]

Pegasus New Zealand Ladies Open Sunday: Kristie Smith Wins, Guilia Sergas Implodes, Tiffany Joh Rocks, Lydia Ko Impresses

Even as Ya Ni Yseng was holding off Karrie Webb, among many others closer to her age in Thailand, to win the LPGA's opening event and her 4th tournament in 4 2011 starts, Kristie Smith held off Laura Davies, among many others closer to her age on Sunday in the Pegagus New Zealand Ladies Open. As bangkokbobby points out, Smith's gain was Guilia Sergas's loss, as the rising Italian star fell from -16 with 2 holes to play in her 3rd round to -8 after 3 holes in her 1st round. She'd recover to play her last 15 holes in -1 in tricky winds, but by then the damage had been done. Smith played her opening 12 holes Sunday in bogey-free golf, making 4 birdies in that span before bogeying the par-4 13th. At that point her lead on Sergas and fellow Futures Tour prodigy Tiffany Joh was 3 shots, and that's where it stayed, as all 3 players birdied the par-5 18th to end their weeks in style. A huge disappointment for Sergas was a huge step for T-Joh and a huge win for Smith.

It was also a huge week for 13-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko, as she tied LET star Melissa Reid for 4th at -7, only 5 shots off the pace set by Smith and 2 behind Joh and Sergas. To put that in perspective, she beat Reilley Rankin by 2 shots, Laura Davies and Linda Wessberg by 3 shots, Lorie Kane, Katie Futcher, and Sarah Kemp by 4, Christel Boeljon and Caroline Hedwall (who a few weeks ago had benefitted from Ko's closing 3-putt to win an ALPG event) by 5, Jaclyn Sweeney by 6, Sarah Jane Smith, Sarah Oh, and Nikki Garrett by 7, Maria Hernandez, Jimin Jeong, Amelia Lewis, and Alison Whitaker by 8, Belen Mozo, Cindy LaCrosse, and fellow teenage New Zealand amateur Cecelia Cho by 9, Anja Monke, Becky Brewerton, Pernilla Lindberg, and Caroline Masson by 10, Diana D'Alessio, Alison Walshe, Hannah Jun, and Jeehae Lee by 11, Lindsey Wright, Sophie Giquel, and Stephanie Na by 12, Rebecca Hudson and Florentyna Parker by 13, Becky Morgan by 15, and Louise Friberg by 16. Not to mention Louise Stahle, Cathryn Bristow, Mollie Fankhauser, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Titiya Plucksataporn, and Frances Bondad, who missed the cut. Move over, Lexi Thompson! Top-ranked U.S. girls golfer Ariya Jutanugarn snagged a T8 yesterday on the LPGA, but Ko's 2011 is so far the most impressive of any teenager's!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Honda LPGA Thailand Sunday: Ya Ni Tseng Dominates for 4th Win in a Row

Ya Ni Tseng, the Taiwanese Tsunami, hit Taiwan this week and walked away with her 4th victory in 4 worldwide starts this season. A Sunday 66 left her 5 shots ahead of Michelle Wie and 6 shots ahead of In-Kyung Kim and Karrie Webb at the close of the Honda LPGA Thailand. I'll let Brent Kelley give you the overview, Hound Dog the play-by-play, and bangkokbobby the details of Kim's disaster on the 71st hole. Until I see the Golf Channel coverage, I'll just note a few things:

(1) Tseng did to Kim and Wie in the final round what she did to the Final Round Queen, Ji-Yai Shin, and a resurgent Eun-Hee Ji in the Aussie Women's Open a couple of Sundays ago. Make some of the hottest golfers on the planet melt like icicles in a mid-February western NY warming spell.

(2) How on was Tseng? She finished 32 shots ahead of Gwladys Nocera, 29 ahead of Hee Young Park, 27 ahead of Christina Kim, Lee-Anne Pace, and Jennifer Song, 26 ahead of Azahara Munoz and Jessica Korda, 25 ahead of Seon Hwa Lee and Sophie Gustafson, 24 ahead of Song-Hee Kim and Brittany Lang, 22 ahead of Inbee Park and Amanda Blumenherst, 21 ahead of Morgan Pressel and Shanshan Feng, 20 ahead of Ji-Yai Shin, Se Ri Pak, and Hee Won Han, and 19 ahead of Ai Miyazato, Angela Stanford, and Kristy McPherson. There's not a bad or even mid-level golfer in that bunch. All of them are either already ranked near the top of the world, have been recently, or have the potential to get there.

(3) OK, so the group who got lapped can rightly claim they played badly. But what about Tseng's top rivals who didn't play their best, but didn't come close to playing their worst? Well, Paula Creamer was 7 back, Suzann Pettersen 12, Na Yeon Choi 15, and Cristie Kerr 16.

(4) So the obvious question is, can Ya Ni make it 5-for-5 in 2011 next week at the HSBC Women's Champions?

[Update 1 (2/21/11, 5:16 am): Jason Sobel wonders how many players have ever gone 5-for-5 in events they've entered.]

[Update 2 (2/21/11, 3:33 pm): Here's Ryan Ballengee with the run-down of Wie's win.]

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Can Laura Davies Chase Down Guilia Sergas Tomorrow?

Just as Karrie Webb is looking to chase down Ya Ni Tseng in the Honda LPGA Thailand on Sunday, Laura Davies is hoping to add Guilia Sergas to her list of early-season victims in her long career tomorrow at the Pegasus New Zealand Women's Open. Her roller-coaster, 7-birdie 69 brought her within 4 shots of Sergas, alone in 2nd. Call it the Revenge of the Vets if both Webb and Davies can pull off upset wins this week.

But the other big story on the LET of the week is the Rise of the Rooks. Tiffany Joh continued her comeback from her opening 74 with her 2nd-straight sub-70 round, this one a 5-birdie 68 that got her within 6 shots of the lead, alone in 7th. She's probably too far back to have a hope of catching Sergas tomorrow, but she can make a statement by finishing ahead of fellow rookies Christel Boeljon and Amelia Lewis (-5), Caroline Hedwall (-4), Belen Mozo (-3), Alison Whitaker (E), Becky Brewerton (+1), and Jaclyn Sweeney (+4), not to mention Super Sophs Pernilla Lindberg (-4), Cindy LaCrosse (-2), Maria Hernandez and Alison Walshe (+2), and Jeehae Lee (+4). At the very least, she's looking to finish ahead of 13-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko (-6)!

Dai-chan, Arigato Gozaimasu!!

Daisuke Takahashi won the ISU's Four Continents figure skating competition today, on the Full Metal Archivist's birthday. That's a better birthday present than anything I can get her. Way to go, Dai-chan!

Here's how he did it, first in the short program:

I'll post his free skate when his fans get around to uploading it onto youtube. [Update (2/20/11, 10:11 am): Here it is:

Not his best ever, but good enough to dominate for the win!]

BTW, the FMA will be super-pleased to hear that teenage sensation Yuzuru Hanyu finished 2nd! Here's his short program:

Honda LPGA Thailand Saturday: Tseng Plays Leapfrog with Kim and Wie, Creamer and Webb Lurk

After the 1st round of the Honda LPGA Thailand, it looked like In-Kyung Kim was going to run away and hide from the rest of the field after her record-tying 63. Yesterday, the tournament looked like it was shaping into a huge game of tag, as Kim's 73 opened the door to a host of golfers, including the charging Michelle Wie and lurking Ya Ni Tseng. Today, Tseng's walkoff eagle leapfrogged her into a 1-shot lead on Kim and Wie, a 2-shot lead on Paula Creamer, and a 3-shot lead on Karrie Webb. On a day when Na Yeon Choi plunged from the top of the leaderboard with a 77, Momoko Ueda and Maria Hjorth dropped out of contention with 75s, and other highly-ranked golfers blew up (Ji-Yai Shin and Brittany Lincicome had 76s, while Song-Hee Kim and Morgan Pressel had 77s), the leaders were fortunate their game of leapfrog didn't turn into Shoots and Ladders.

2nd-round leader Kim bogeyed 3 holes in a row early in her round, Tseng followed up a double on the par-4 2nd with a pair of consecutive birdies on 7 and 8 but ended up going back over par on the front with a bogey on 9, and Wie bogeyed 3 of her 1st 6 holes. It's not like Creamer started off much better--she went bogey-par-birdie-par-bogey-birdie in her 1st 6 holes. In fact, she was +1 through 13 before rattling off 3 birdies in a row to get to -7, where she stayed after pars on 17 and 18. But by then Tseng, Wie, and Kim had righted their ships, as well. Tseng has birdied 3 of her 1st 6 holes on the back to get to -9, Wie had birdied 3 holes between the 7th and 13th to get back to -6 (thanks to a bogey on 12), and Kim had managed to play even-par golf between the 6th and 14th holes to remain at -5. Then they exploded: Tseng's eagle offset back-to-back bogeys that had dropped her back into a tie with Creamer, Wie ended her round with back-to-back birdies to get to -8, and Kim joined her with birdies on 3 of her last 4 holes. They made Webb's great day--which had started with 3 birdies in her 1st 10 holes, seen her stay at -3 through 15, then finish bogey-birdie-birdie for a 68 that got her to -6--seem the slightest bit futile, as she went from 1 off the lead to 3 off the pace.

Still, with only 1 other player within 4 shots of the lead and 10 in all within 5, Webb has to feel pretty good about her chances of reminding her younger peers how she got into the Hall of Fame. If she can prevent Tseng from getting her 4th win in her 4th start of 2011, Wie from getting her 3rd career LPGA win, Kim her 4th, and Creamer her 10th, 2011 will become an even more interesting year in women's golf!

[Update 1 (10:06 am): Hound Dog points out that a quarter of the field is within 6 shots of the lead, so it's still anyone's tournament tomorrow.]

Lots of Questions to be Answered This Year. I Hope.

After what seemed like an eternity, we are now underway with 2011 LPGA season.

If 2010 was any indication, expect another exciting year on the horizon.
As was the case last season, I can see continued tight races for all the major awards.

I see the Player of the Year, Vare Trophy and Rookie of the Year races going down to the wire. We even have the added exciement of this being a Solheim Cup year.

I am also hoping that this year I will get the answers to some of the questions that have been rolling around in my head. These are my top 10.

1- Is Paula Creamer finally healthy and ready to return to the form which brought her 4 trophies in 2008?

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

3- Was Azahara Munoz really the best player to come out of the 2010 crop? Was she even the best Spaniard?

4- How many more times will Suzanne Petterson be a bridesmaid before finding the winner's circle again?

5- Will the Miyazatos join the Kims with 2 players in the top ten in the world?

6- Is Alexis (Lexi) Thopson ready to compete on an elite level with the big girls at the age of 16?

7- Will the number 1 player in the world continue to change on a weekly basis, or will someone step up and dominate?

8- Will Song-Hee Kim reach 50 top 10s (she has 34) before she actually wins?

9- Can the United States retain the Solheim cup for a 4th consecutive year, playing on the road in Ireland?

10- And finally my most important question. With all the efforts these girls are making on and off the golf course, will they finally be rewarded with more tournaments in the year 2012?

I actually have other questions but I will be a very happy camper if I can get the answers to the majority of the above in the coming year.

Please feel free to comment on any of my questions or add some of your own.

Tim Maitland on Ya Ni Tseng's Singapore Wishes

Here's a guest post and interview from Tim Maitland! --The Constructivist

Yani Hopes Number One Rule Applies in Singapore

New women's world number one Yani Tseng is hoping that the HSBC Women's Champions rule that its winners belong to the exclusive club of top-ranked players still applies when she gets to Singapore next week.

The three champions of the tournament at Tanah Merah come from the elite group of six players to have been rated number one since the Rolex Rankings were introduced in 2006: Ai Miyazato of Japan, Korea's Jiyai Shin and Lorena Ochoa of Mexico.

"That sounds really good! Yeah! Thanks for reminding me of that!," said the 22-year-old Taiwanese star, who is playing in the Honda LPGA Thailand this weekend hoping to extend her 2011 record to four wins in four events.

"I'm really looking forward to this year. I know I have lots of confidence right now and I can't wait to get to Singapore and see my old friends, to play that tournament and see all my HSBC friends over there. It'll be pretty nice," said Tseng, who is eager to test herself on the Garden Course after winning the Taifong Ladies Open on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour and claiming the Handa Women's Australian Open and the ANZ Ladies Masters in Queensland in successive weeks.

"It's a great golf course. You can play all 14 clubs on that course; it's not just driver-wedge, driver-wedge. You hit a three wood off the tee, you hit a rescue off the tee--all the different kinds of shots you have to hit. You really need to focus on what your strategy is and every hole is different. Some of the par fives are reachable, which makes it more fun and then there are island greens; it's just a fun golf course to play. You never know the winning score and there are big crowds too," she says.

However Tseng will face fierce competition to keep hold of her number one ranking both this week in Thailand and when she gets to Singapore. As well as 2009 HSBC Women's Champions winner Jiyai Shin, who Tseng toppled from top spot on the Rolex Rankings at the start of this week, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr and Na Yeon Choi are all one win away from taking the number one ranking away.

"It's an incredibly exciting time for golf at the moment. We had Lee Westwood arrive at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai last November as the new number one with Tiger Woods, Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickleson all with the opportunity to topple him that week and it made for a great tournament. The HSBC Women's Champions is going to have that same buzz and excitement," said Giles Morgan, HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship.

"Last year was the first time that a tournament in Asia had impacted the very top of the men's world rankings; now we have young talented Asian women fighting for the right to be world number one in a world-class event in Singapore. It all proves Asia's emerging into the top echelons of the golfing world," he added.

For Tseng, just being able to return to the Lion City as number one, to a place where she played and won some of her earliest junior tournaments as a girl, will be a memorable moment.

"That would be great! I'd really wish that. I'm trying not to think too much about only staying number one for one week, but sometimes you never know. I really just want to stay focused and keep working hard," she says.

"When I first started playing [tournaments] in Singapore, I didn't even think of being women's number one; I just came to play and to try and win those championships. I didn't think about the world. I didn't even know how big the world is. It's only since I went to the United States that I started to know how big it is. But all the tournaments I won in Singapore gave me a lot of confidence too. I'd win a tournament, come back the next year and win again."


Tim Maitland: So, little Ruby* Tseng is the world number one! How about that?

Yani Tseng: It's very exciting for me to be world number one. For the last five or six months everybody in the top six in the world has had the chance to be number one and then finally I've got to world number one. It's really, really exciting. I've dreamed about being world number one and I've talked about being world number one and now that moment has come it feels so unreal. I wasn't expecting that it was really going to come. It makes me so appreciative. I appreciate my friends, my team, my coach and all the people around me that are always supporting me. I just really appreciate it.

Now, I have lots of confidence. I know how to be on top. I feel like I know more how to win a tournament. I'm not afraid to be in the lead. I'm happy to be in the lead. Everything's started to change a little bit; I feel like I'm improving and improving every year and it's very exciting for me to see how I'm getting on this year.

TM: Was there a moment when it really sank in?

YT: Not really. All the moments are there in my mind. I've looked back at every day from the first time I started playing golf and I've finally become world number one, but you know we're all still very close; you never know what will happen this week or next week. So I just want to keep working hard, because everybody's working, so it's very challenging for me. There are still a lot of things to learn. It's not just for the short term. I want to be long-term, like Annika and Lorena.

When I first started playing [tournaments] in Singapore, I didn't even think of being women's number one; I just came to play and to try and win those championships. I didn't think about the world. I didn't even know how big the world is. It's only since I went to the United States that I started to know how big it is. But all the tournaments I won in Singapore gave me a lot of confidence too. I'd win a tournament, come back the next year and win again. Through all the years it's been very successful, as an amateur playing all over Asia. Going back for the HSBC [Women's Champions] I was always very happy to go back there again.

TM: Can you believe the little girl who used to go over there to play tournaments is now number one?

YT: No. I was expecting that, but I didn't know it would be so soon. This year I set out the goal to be world number one, but it's been just two weeks! After three tournaments this year I've become world number one! It feels unreal.

TM: Your game seems to be so good. It's not just that you're winning, but you don't seem to be making mistakes!

YT: Yeah. I'm trying. I'm working out with my coach Gary Gilchrist and I've been changing my swing and I think my swing is better now. I've been working on my putting; my putting has always been sometimes up and sometimes down, but I'm working to be more consistent. My putting is working pretty well and I think everything is all set.

TM: And the HSBC Women's Champions? A course you HAVE to be straight on...

YT: Yeah, that's for sure. It's a great golf course. I'm really looking forward to playing that course. You can play all 14 clubs on that course; it's not just driver-wedge, driver-wedge. You hit a three wood off the tee, you hit a rescue off the tee--all the different kinds of shots you have to hit. You really need to focus on what your strategy is and every hole is different. Some of the par fives are reachable, which makes it more fun and then there are island greens; it's just a fun golf course to play. You never know the winning score and there are big crowds too.

TM: And always a good champion. The three champions so far** have all been...

YT: Number one! That sounds really good! Yeah! Thanks for reminding me of that! I'm really looking forward to this year. I know I have lots of confidence right now and I can't wait to get to Singapore and see my old friends, to play that tournament and see all my HSBC friends over there. It'll be pretty nice.

TM: Is it important to you to keep that number one so you can go back and see those friends as number one?

YT: That would be great! I'd really wish that. I'm trying not to think too much about only staying number one for one week, but sometimes you never know. I really just want to stay focused and keep working hard.

TM: And what's happening in Taiwan? They must be going crazy.

YT: Yeah, I think so. On Sunday (at the ANZ Masters) I wrote on Facebook, "Everybody wear pink. I'm going to wear pink and want everyone to support me," and lots of people were wearing pink on Sunday in Taiwan. That was really interesting. I want to thank them for their support in Taiwan. It's huge. I'm going back to Taiwan after the HSBC.

TM: So you have two homecomings? A homecoming in Singapore and then a homecoming in Taiwan.

YT: Yeah. Yeah.

[*Ruby was the western name Yani used for a time when she was an amateur.]
[**Strictly speaking, it's better to say the three winners of the HSBC Women's Champions also belong to the group of six women to have been ranked number one since the Rolex Rankings were introduced in 2006.]

Friday, February 18, 2011

Meanwhile, Guilia Sergas Serves Notice on the LET

There's a full-field women's tournament--with a cut and everything--going on in New Zealand this week and if you're interested in seeing what kind of golf many who can't get into the limited-field events that start the LPGA season are playing, check out the leaderboard of the Pegasus New Zealand Women's Open. Guilia Sergas made 4 birdies in a row today to follow up yesterday's 64 and take her to -13 through 36 holes, but thanks to a 64 by Kristie Smith and a 63 by Linda Wessberg, her lead has shrunk to 2 and 4 shots, respectively, on her closest pursuers.

Still, anything can happen tomorrow in the windy conditions. Check out the following scoring swings by LPGAers in the field:

T4/-6 Laura Davies (74-68), Pernilla Lindberg (74-68)
T10/-4 Sarah Kemp (73-67)
T14/-3 Caroline Hedwall (76-65), Tiffany Joh (74-67), Reilley Rankin (73-68)
T23/-2 Sarah Jane Smith (74-68), Cindy LaCrosse (74-68), Jimin Jeong (73-69)
T29/-1 Alison Whitaker (76-67)
T36/E Jessica Shepley (75-69), Becky Brewerton (74-70)
T43/+1 Lindsey Wright (77-68)
T48/+2 Louise Friberg (77-69)
T58/+3 Maria Hernandez (78-69), Jeehae Lee (76-71)
T66/+4 Jaclyn Sweeney (78-70), Katie Futcher (77-71)

MC: Louise Stahle (80-69)

A pair of teenage New Zealand amateurs have gotten off to great starts. 13-year-old Lydia Ko is T4 after going 70-68 and 16-year-old Cecelia Cho is T21 after going 77-66! Belen Mozo, by contrast, is playing slow and steady golf at T29, while Christel Boeljon and Amelia Lewis are alone at T8 after going 69-70 over the 1st 36 holes.

Lots of chances for the LPGA's Class of 2011ers to make some noise this weekend!

Recommended Reading: Why Tiffany Joh Rocks

Check out T-Joh's 1st rookie blog. She's in full-on hilarious self-deprecation mode in describing her double eagle Down Under. I put her only at #5 in my preseason rundown of her rookie class's prospects in 2011 on the LPGA, but she's in the running with Jane Park and Christina Kim for funniest golfer on tour. I SO want to see them all on the U.S. Solheim Cup team this year!

Honda LPGA Thailand Friday: Wie Defies Expectations, Joins Tseng 1 Behind Kim

Michelle Wie broke 70 at the Pattaya Old Course for the 2nd-straight day to join Ya Ni Tseng 1 shot behind In-Kyung Kim at the summit of the leaderboard of the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament today. Let me tell you, I never expected a player with a history of being so wild off the tee to go 69-68 to start the season, much less play bogey-free golf over her last 20 holes and counting. By contrast, the world #1 snapped her own bogey-free streak at 22 holes with a double bogey at the 5th hole, and she followed it up with 2 bogeys on the back to offset her 4 birdies. And yesterday's leader opened the door to the entire field by following up her record-tying 63 with a 4-birdie, 5-bogey 74, but even though she ended her own bogey-free streak at 19 holes and struggled all day, she maintained a slim lead with a walkoff birdie on the closing par 5.

Instead of a romp for Kim, then, we now have a tight tournament with 13 players within 5 shots of the lead. Even Ji-Yai Shin, who came back with a 71 today, and Ai Miyazato, who birdied every par 5 on the way to a 69, are only 8 shots back at E. And there are plenty of big names even closer to the lead. Amy Yang, Brittany Lincicome, and Amanda Blumenherst have all gone 73-70 to join Kristy McPherson, Karen Stupples, M.J. Hur, and Beatriz Recari at -1. Karrie Webb (74-68), Cristie Kerr (71-71), Mika Miyazato (70-72), and Sun Young Yoo (69-73) have all taken different paths to -2. Natalie Gulbis (71-70) and Stacy Lewis (69-72) are lurking at -3. Suzann Pettersen (68-72), Catriona Matthew (67-73), Stacy Prammanasudh (71-69), and Pornanong Phatlum (70-70) are right in the thick of things at -4. And Na Yeon Choi (69-70), Paula Creamer (69-70), Juli Inkster (66-73), and Momoko Ueda (70-69) at -5 are poised to pass Tseng, Wie, and Kim if they stall on moving day.

Japanese fans must be going nuts, as Mikan and Momo-chan were paired together and both are exceeding early-season expectations, Ueda by a heck of a lot. If Ai-sama can't make a charge on the weekend to defend her title, I'm sure Honda would love to give that big winner's check to 1 of her compatriots. I'm even more certain that Prammanasudh, who's part-Thai, and Phatlum, who's already won this season in Taiwan (in an event sponsored by Japanese corporation Hitachi, no less), are the fan favorites. But I'm sticking to my guns when I say the most unexpected performance this week has to be Wie's. Seriously, did anyone imagine she'd be the only player in the field to stay in the 60s in her 1st 2 competitive rounds of 2011?

Can't wait to see how Golf Channel covers this! Look for an update after I've finished watching....

[Update 1 (5:30 am): Looks like Ruthless Mike had to deal with weather- or internet-related delays when he was scoreboard watching before going to sleep!]

[Update 2 (2:04 pm): Here's Ryan Ballengee on the leaders.]

[Update 4 (2:07 pm): And here's Hound Dog's 2nd-round overview.]

[Update 5 (2:13 pm): And here's bangkokbobby with a focus on the leaders in text and photos.]

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ranking the Rookies: On the LPGA's Class of 2011

I've gotta admit, I'm excited about the long-term prospects of the LPGA's Class of 2011. Building on Hound Dog's use of an excellent assessment of past trends in rookie classes' performance their 1st seasons on the LPGA to rank the rookies, his list of the best LPGA rookie seasons ever, and my own mini-profiles of many in the class from the last day of Q-School, I'm thinking the last class in the LPGA's New Blood generation will have more players making an immediate impact than the rather disappointing Class of 2010. Here's how I break down the players' odds of doing well this season, but keep in mind that even if they have low status via the 2011 priority list at the moment or even for the entire season, they will have plenty of chances to improve on it over the course of what I'm expecting to be long and prolific professional careers for many of them.

Simply the Best

Jennifer Song (Category 9, #91 on the priority status list): She's my pick for Rookie of the Year for a variety of reasons, but probably the deciding factor for me is that I expect her to have an easier transition to the LPGA from USC and the Futures Tour than the player many are expecting to be the ROY, Hee Kyung Seo of the KLPGA.
Hee Kyung Seo (Category 7, #89): She's coming off a down year on the KLPGA in 2010. In fact, she hasn't played world-class golf since winning the Kia Classic last March. So I'm seeing her as more of a Hee Young Park than a Ji-Yai Shin or Na Yeon Choi right now. Here's hoping she proves me wrong--on the upside!

The Contenders
Belen Mozo (Category 11, #111): With dual membership on the LPGA and LET and 2011 being a Solheim Cup year, it's difficult to predict where Song's USC teammate will focus her efforts. She definitely has the talent to be ROY on both tours but in practice will probably have to decide between them at some point in the season. If she's in the mix on the LPGA, I expect her to choose the big tour and try to follow in her good friend Azahara Munoz's footsteps, but if not the Solheim Cup and emerging rivalry with Caroline Hedwall may call her more to the LET. She opened with an even-par 72 today in New Zealand to fall 8 shots behind leader Guilia Sergas and 3 shots behind classmates Christel Boeljon and Amelia Lewis to kick off a week in which she's looking to extend her lead in the LET's ROY race.
Jessica Korda (Category 11, #97): She couldn't get medalist honors at LPGA Q-School, but she impressed a lot of people. Still, I find it hard to believe a 17-year-old can really win the LPGA's ROY. A top 50 player this season? I hope so, but I wouldn't put that much pressure on her to excel in her 1st full season as a pro.
Tiffany Joh (Category 16, #150): I expect one of my favorite golfers to get into a good number of tournaments on the LPGA this season, as plenty of players skip events for all kinds of reasons and she can always Monday qualify if necessary. But if she doesn't build on her successes in Australia quickly on the LPGA, she may choose to focus her efforts on finishing in the top 5 on the Futures Tour so she doesn't have to go back to Q-School.

Quantum Leap Candidates
Christel Boeljon (Category 11, #127): She was in the top 10 on the LET last season on the strength of 3 runner-up finishes, so definitely has the potential to make the leap to the LPGA more successfully than others who have tried to translate good European results onto the big tour. But will she? I'm doubtful.
Jenny Shin (Category 9, #93): She poured it on during the 2nd half of 2010 on the Futures Tour to snag the #4 spot on their money list. Now let's see if she can ride that momentum early in the LPGA's 2011 season and gain some serious confidence with some good results.
Kimberly Kim (Category 11, #120): This bomber's got loads of talent and a smashing junior and amateur record, but I question her maturity, mental toughness, and readiness to compete against the world's best on a regular basis. Now if that doesn't give her more motivation, I don't know what will!
Sara Brown (Category 11, #128): I was surprised that she skipped the LET's Down Under swing. You'd think a top 10 in LET Q-School would get her high enough status to enter the Australia and New Zealand events. In any case, she's going to be trying to figure out how to use her dual membership to her advantage this season. Obviously the goal is to do well enough on each tour to avoid having to return to any Q-School at the end of the season. Can she do it?
Ryann O'Toole (Category 17, #157): Those 7 spots lower on the priority list she is than her UCLA teammate T-Joh is the main reason I'm putting her so much lower on this list. If I could be confident she'd get into more events, I'd give her better odds of replicating her early-season LET success in Australia on the LPGA.
Jennie Lee (Category 11, #126): She's already experienced the Duke curse with a difficult transition from the amateur to the professional ranks, but I think she's going to be a better player in the long run for doing things the hard way. A golf career is a marathon, not a sprint. Or at least it can be, for those good enough to stay in the race. We'll find out in the next 3-to-5 years if she's 1 of them.
Dori Carter (Category 11, #118): She was one of the hottest players on the Futures Tour at the end of 2010, but with all due respect I see her as more of a Jean Reynolds than a Stacy Lewis.
Danah Bordner (Category 11, #101): A few nice finishes at the end of the Futures Tour season (her best in Syracuse, where I must have been her good luck charm or something!) carried over into Q-School success for a player who's taken the scenic route to the LPGA.
Stephanie Sherlock (Category 11, #122): Let's see if LPGA success will be "elementary" for her or whether she'll have more of a Jessica Shepley start to her career on the big tour.
Alison Whitaker (Category 16, #149): If she weren't from Duke, I'd have put her higher in this category. Just kidding. There should be some great UCLA/USC/Duke rivalries among the rookies this year!
Jenny Suh (Category 16, #153): Like Bordner, she rode the wave of some good late-season Futures Tour finishes into a good performance at LPGA Q-School, but like Joh, Whitaker, and Shasta Averyhardt will have to hope enough people higher than her on the priority status list decide not to enter an event that she can avoid Monday qualifying. Her lone Futures Tour win came in Syracuse 2 seasons ago, so I'm rooting for her to beat the odds this year.
Shasta Averyhardt (Category 16, #155): She came out of nowhere in Q-School and only a disastrous final round prevented her from having a lot more playing opportunities this season. It'll be interesting to see what she makes of her opportunities.

On the Bottom Looking Up
Caroline Hedwall (Category 20, #251): She dominated LET Q-School and has already won on the ALPG, so you know she could become a major talent. But we'll be seeing much more of her on the LET as she makes a run for their Solheim Cup team in 2011 than on the LPGA, where she has very little chance of getting into many events. Long-run, I think she'll be 1 of the best in her class on the LPGA. But not this year.
Becky Brewerton: (Category 20, #257): She's been the LET's hard-luck kid when it comes to LPGA Q-School and only a snap decision by LPGA brass allowed her and others into the bottom of Category 20 in this year. Still, as one of the most experienced rookies in the Class of 2011, this 2-time LET winner is certainly poised to make the most of what playing opportunities she gets on the LPGA this season. And her winnings on the European swing count toward the LPGA money list as well as the LET's, so she could do a lot of damage in very few events and improve her status ffor next season very quickly.
Jennifer Johnson: (Category 20, #258): She turned pro in summer of 2010 and rode a T7 in Albany on the Futures Tour into a measure of Q-School success, but expect her to focus her efforts on improving her status for 2012 via a top 5 on the 2011 FT money list.
Jodi Ewart (Category 20, #247): She posted a number of impressive finishes when she joined the Futures Tour last June, but stumbled in the home stretch with 3 straight missed cuts, starting at Syracuse (where I must have been a bad luck charm for her!). I expect her to be in the mix for the top spot on the FT this season.
Jaclyn Sweeney: (Category 20, #260): A runner-up finish at LET Q-School gives her a chance to gain much-needed experience and confidence at the professional level across the pond.
Stephanie Kim (Category 20, #246): A teammate of Natalie Sheary and Cheyenne Woods at Wake Forest, she's beaten them to the LPGA. But did she make the leap to the professional ranks to soon? We'll see how she does on the Futures Tour this season.
Amelia Lewis (Category 20, #249): She finished 19th on the Futures Tour money list in 2010 and 2nd in Syracuse, so let's see how this soon-to-be 20-year-old (her birthday is next Wednesday) fares as an LPGA member on the FT.
Ayaka Kaneko (Category 20, #254): I followed her for awhile during the last round of the Syracuse Futures Tour stop and thought she was too focused on technique to be ready for the big leagues. Whether her Q-School performance proved me right or wrong remains to be seen. She'll be proving herself on the Futures Tour again in 2011.
Sarah Brown (Category 20, #262): I gotta admit that I was turned off by her dad's approach to the wrongful DQ she suffered at the hands of an overzealous and ill-informed rules official on the Futures Tour, but I've gotta hand it to her--she played much better than I expected her to in Q-School, even taking her final-round collapse into account. Let's see if she continues to exceed my expectations on the Futures Tour in 2011.
Harukyo Nomura (Category 20, #253): Let's see how her experience as a top amateur golfer in Japan and in the occasional JLPGA event helps the teenager on the Futures Tour this season--if she does seek membership on the FT, that is (she's not listed there now).
Junko Nakada (Category 20, #259): Let's see if this 20-year-old decides to join the Futures Tour, seeks sponsor exemptions into JLPGA events, or tries the Monday qualifying route on the LPGA.

Honda LPGA Thailand Thursday: In-Kyung Kim Opens 2011 with a 63

I've said it before and I'll say it again: In-Kyung Kim was one of the hottest golfers in the world at the end of 2010. Well, the 3-time winner on the LPGA and LET's '10 Rookie of the Year picked up today in Thailand right where she left off last season with an opening 63 in the Honda LPGA Thailand. Unfortunately, I can't tell you more about her round because for whatever reason the site redesign at appears to be a little buggy right now and the official tournament site is super-slow to load. What I can tell you is that Juli Inkster is the closest golfer to her, at -6 with 1 hole left to play, that new world #1 Ya Ni Tseng is right in the mix at -4 with 3 holes to go, that Suzann Pettersen was a few under par, and Mika Miyazato opened with a 70. But many of the other top-ranked golfers in the world of women's golf were either stuck in neutral or going the wrong direction. Ji-Yai Shin and Ai Miyazato, for instance, were over par and still on the course last I checked. Or I should say the last time live scoring worked! Right now it's not working. I'll be back when it is!

[Update 1 (3:55 am): Here's 1 update from the LPGA's twitter account.]

[Update 2 (4:11 am): Ruthless Mike was able to get the live scoring working earlier tonight. Still not happening for me.]

[Update 3 (4:13 am): Whoops, it came up for a second and then it disappeared on me. But it looked like Inkster did post a 66, Jessica Korda a surprise 67 (to me, at least), Tseng was -5 with the 18th left to play, and...that's all I remember of what I saw!]

[Update 4 (11:40 am): I love the internet! Hound Dog, bangkokbobby, and Ryan Ballengee cover the 1st-round results so I don't have to (except to note that Korda shot a 73, not a 67, and that Ai-sama has only begun to fight!).]

[Update 5 (12:30 pm): Here are 1st-round interviews and 2nd-round pairings from]

[Update 6 (2/17/11, 5:34 am): The Asian Ladies Golfer Appreciation blog has photos from round 1.]

Introducing New Mostly Harmless Co-Author Tony Jesselli

Hey, folks, I'm happy to welcome a new co-author to the team here at Mostly Harmless. Yes, this originally started as a group blog, founded by refugees from Michael Berube's first major sabbatical from academic blogging, but it quickly evolved into a pop culture blog when we ended up forming our own standalone site (which had a short but rich life!). Although I brought in some friends and colleagues and some stalwarts from the original team kept posting (particularly Bill Benzon), this quickly evolved into a blog that almost exclusively developed my own focus on the wide world of women's professional golf (along with contributions from co-author Bill Jempty). I'm really psyched that Tony Jesseli is interested in bringing his own perspectives on the LPGA to our readers here at Mostly Harmless. Before I turn the keyboard over to him, I'll extend an invitation to others who are interested in joining the Mostly Harmless golf writing team (or pop culture team, for that matter) to contact me via the coordinates in my profile. OK, take it away, Tony! --The Constructivist

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Tony Jesselli and I am honored to announce that I am a new author on Mostly Harmless.

I am a longtime fan of the LPGA and that is what I will be writing about here. I am a frequent visitor to LPGA events. Last year I was fortunate enough to attend the Sybase Championship (10 minutes from my hometown), the Wegmans LPGA Championship in Rochester, the U.S. Women's Open held at Oakmont, and the Canadian Women's Open in Quebec.

This year I will be at Sybase, and will be attending the Open in Colorado Springs, the Women's British Open held at Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland, and the Canadian Women's Open in Mirabel.

I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with everyone.

Golf is a passion of mine. Although I have never been that great at playing it, I keep trying and still get excited at any improvement. I have been following the LPGA for many years. I think it is the world's best kept secret. Not enough people are aware of what a good time they will have attending a tournament. If they go just once they will be hooked. They will go again. The girls are so friendly and cooperative when it comes to signing hats, balls and pictures. They will also be more than glad to take photos with you.

Where else can you get this? If I attended a Mets game and told you, "I'll be right back--I am going into the dugout to get Jose Reyes's and David Wright's signatures," you'd think I was crazy and of course I would be. But you can get Paula Creamer or Yani Tseng to sign for you anytime. I hope I can use this website to promote the LPGA and get more people to turn on their televisions and get the ratings up and get out of the house and attend a tournament in their area.

I am also a statistics freak. I have an accounting background and love to play with numbers. You will be seeing much of this in my future postings. I have already posted my predictions for my top 30 for 2011.

I have also created my own system for coming up with the 2011 player of the year.

I give 40 points to a winner of a tournament, 20 points for finishing 2nd, 19 for third, all the way down to 2 points for finishing 20th. Anyone finishing out of the top 20 will not receive any points. The points are doubled for the 4 major championships. How many of those maximum points they keep is based on the strength of field in a given week. I use the current week's Rolex Rankings top 50. For example, if a player wins a non major and 40 of the 50 top players were in the field, the winner gets to keep 80% (40/50ths) of her 40 points or 32 points. The 2nd place finisher keeps 80% of 20 points or 16 points and so on. At the end of the year the total points are divided by the number of tournaments a player played in for a final average score. (This gives someone like "Lexi" who might play in just 10 events a chance to average out with the big girls.)

Interlude: Honda LPGA Thailand Set-Up

It felt like a real long time for me but the first official tournament is this week.
Can anyone stop Yani Tseng? She has won 2 consecutive tournaments down under and is the new #1 player in the world. This is a very strong field as 48 of the top 50 ladies from the LPGA priority list are in the field. Only Jee Young Lee and Jeong Jang are missing. The field also includes 34 of the Rolex Rankings top 50, giving my player of the year system a 68% strength-of-field rating for this week.

In closing, I want to thank The Constructivist for getting me up and running here. I have been a big fan of his and other bloggers like Hound Dog for a long time. I'm excited to join them and hope you enjoy my posts.