Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tony Jesselli's LPGA "Stats & Facts," Vol 3

I am back from my 10-day trip to Mirabel for the Canadian Open. Lots of things have changed since I last posted, so let's get started.

The Titleholders Championship:

6 more players have qualified since my last posting. Ryann O'Toole, Vicky Hurst, and Hee Young Park got in via the Safeway Classic; and Tiffany Joh Jennifer Johnson, Jenny Shin, and Hee-Won Han via the CN Open.

Players with most top-5 finishes this year:

Yani Tseng 8
Cristie Kerr 8
Paula Creamer 6
Angela Stanford 6
I.K. Kim 5

Louise Friberg Watch:

Ms. Friberg missed the cut in both the Safeway and CN tournaments, bringing her consecutive missed cuts total to 11.

Players on the verge of taking Ms. Friberg's headline away:

Jee Young Lee - Has missed 10 cuts this year including her last 7.
Birdie Kim - Has now missed 9 consecutive cuts.
Allison Hanna - Same as the above.
Sara Brown - Has missed the cut in all 8 LPGA events she has played in.
Ji Young Oh - Has missed the cut in her last 7 events.

Rolex Mover of the Week:

Brittany Lincicome moves from #15 to #10.

Rookie of the Year race:

Hee Kyung Seo - 475 points (14 tournaments)
Ryann O'Toole - 209 points (8 tournaments)
Tiffany Joh - 165 points (8 tournaments)
Christel Boeljon - 136 points (8 tournaments)
Jenny Shin - 126 points (9 tournaments)

Player of the Year and Vare Trophy

I see no reason to list these at this point as Yani Tseng has huge leads in both. Each of these awards carries a Hall of Fame point with them.


With both Angela Stanford and Amy Yang missing the cut at the Safeway Classic, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, and Karrie Webb are the only players to play in all 15 events and not miss a single cut.

Yani Tseng and Mika Miyazato were the only players to finish in the top 15 in all 4 major championships.

Amy Yang had not missed a cut since 2009. She now has missed 2 in a row.

With her purse at the CN Open, Paula Creamer moves up to #10 on the career money List. Annika Sorenstam is #1.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why the Heck Do I Have to Figure Out Something Big about My Swing Right Now?

Don't tell anyone, but after getting up at 6:30 am Monday for an 8 am meeting on campus, I snuck out to The Course Formerly Known as the Easiest Course in the World and shot a 1-under 73 playing a couple of balls on the now-9-hole track before returning to work. Not a fantastic number, considering it has 3 reachable par 5s (although I did eagle one of them!). But I figured out something about my swing that got me an extra 10-30 yards off the tee and got me hitting my irons about a club further. It's so simple you're going to think I'm an idiot for not noticing it sooner.

Basically the only thing I worked on was making sure I transferred my weight as completely to my left side on the downswing as I possibly could (I'm a righty, in case that wasn't obvious). I still don't have the timing completely down, but a little lateral slide with my hips as I'm rotating them seems to be what's netting me the added distance. Some of the distance gains are attributable to my knowing the course and knowing where the dry sides of the fairways and where those distance-adding little ridges to try to land on the far side of are. But the key thing is that I was able to reach ones I had rarely ever been able to reach before. It wasn't particularly hot and the wind wasn't particularly strong in my favor, but I hit a few wind- and ridge-aided drives in the 290-to-300-yard range, to places in the fairway or just off it that I couldn't remember hitting from. All of a sudden, it was easy for me to hit it 270, even on drives I didn't full connect with or drew too much. So while it's true that there are very few penalties for errant drives on that course, and I could swing more freely there than virtually any of the courses I'm playing regularly in the Hamburg area, the feeling of almost stomping down with my left foot during my downswing is certainly something I want to keep and become more accustomed to.

The timing of this potential insight is certainly frustrating--as was my performance in all the tournaments I entered this summer. Now that the semester is in full swing, I may not be able to get out on the course all that much the rest of the year and I certainly don't have any tournaments left to test it in. But it does give me something to look forward to for next year....

Monday, August 29, 2011

CN Canadian Women's Open Sunday: Brittany Lincicome Wins Battle of Attrition

Brittany Lincicome was just about the only player near the top of the leaderboard at the CN Canadian Women's Open who hadn't been playing stellar golf over the 1st 54 holes, so it's only fitting that she gritted and scrambled her way to her 2nd win of the season and 5th in her career by outlasting an inspired Michelle Wie who did almost everything she needed to defend her title and staying just ahead of a relaxed Stacy Lewis who dropped a bogey-free 67 on the field before Hurricane Irene really opened up on the leaders. Despite hitting only 4 fairways all day, failing to birdie either par 5 on the back, and playing her last 11 holes in +1, Lincicome limited the damage to a single bogey on the par-4 12th, making par save after par save with the tournament on the line, even while Wie was making multiple clutch putts of her own right behind her.

The same couldn't be said for Lincicome's other challengers. Cristie Kerr got it to -13 with 4 holes to play, but missed up-and-down chances on 16 and 17. Tiffany Joh (wearing an uber-dorky rally hat) battled back to -12 with 4 to go, but finished double-bogey-bogey over her final 3 holes to knock herself out of the season-ending CME Titleholders (unless she continues to play as well as she did for most of this week in the LPGA's September events, that is; fellow rookies Jenny Shin and Jennifer Johnson, along with veteran Hee-Won Han, got in instead). Han herself bogeyed 18 when she needed a birdie to join Lewis at -12. Na Yeon Choi was in the same boat, but worse, as she had been -11 since birdieing the 10th hole--what would turn out to be her last of the tournament. Song-Hee Kim battled back to -11 with an eagle on the par-5 14th and birdie on the par-4 16th, but couldn't birdie 17 and doubled 18. And Ai Miyazato, who had a share of the lead at the end of each of the 3 previous rounds, struggled with her ballstriking and putting on her way to a 77 that almost dropped her out of the top 20.

Most of the good scores beat the worst of the weather, as 69s brought Katie Futcher to -8 and T12, Morgan Pressel, Mika Miyazato, and Gerina Piller to -6 and T18, and Amy Hung to -5 and T23. But for the most part just staying anywhere near par was a major accomplishment yesterday. Team USA should be feeling pretty proud of itself, as Americans locked up the top 5 and outnumbered Koreans in the top 25 by a 12-9 margin. Me, I was pleased to see Seon Hwa Lee and Mi Hyun Kim fight their way into the top 25 and move their way to #63 and #70 on the money list, respectively. And I'm glad to see that Lincicome is ready to break the $1M barrier in season winnings for the 1st time in her career--yet another sign that she's finally coming of age. But it's going to take some time to get over my disappointment for Ai-sama and T-Joh....

[Update 1 (12:54 am): Here's bangkokbobby! And]

[Update 2 (8:24 pm): I (selfishly) wish Hound Dog were posting more open. Just click on the link to see why!]

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nitori Ladies Sunday: Ritsuko Ryu Gets 1st JLPGA Win in Style

Ritsuko Ryu hadn't even found the top 10 on the JLPGA since the 1st week of June, but she birdied 3 of her last 6 holes of the Nitori Ladies today to blow by some of the biggest names on tour for her 1st career win.

A Ryu win looked unlikely after the 1st 12 holes of play. Her bogey on the 403-yard par-4 12th dropped her to -4, 2 shots behind playing partner Junko Omote and Hiromi Takesue (who had made 5 birdies in a 6-hole stretch to get to -7 for the tournament but followed that run up with 2 bogeys in a row before birdieing the 489-yard par-5 14th), 1 shot behind Mi-Jeong Jeon and Na-Ri Kim, and tied with Chie Arimura. But then her competitors stumbled or stalled. Takesue would double the par-4 15th and bogey the par-3 16th to fall off the map. Jeon would par out, having failed to birdie a hole since the par-3 8th. Kim would torpedo her chances with a bogey on the par-5 14th. Arimura played the best of the bunch, going -1 over her last 6 holes of bogey-free golf, but it wouldn't be enough to keep pace with Ryu's charge. In the end it came down to the playing partners: would it be the veteran Omote, with 2 wins in her 15-year career (both coming in 2005), who birdied the 14th to get to -7, or the 23-year-old Ryu, who birdied par-4s 13 and 15 to pull 1 behind her? Omote blinked 1st, with a bogey on the 380-yard par-4 17th. And then Ryu sealed the win with a walkoff birdie on the 397-yard 18th that Omote simply couldn't match.

Here's how the leaderboard looked when all the dust had settled:

1st/-7 Ritsuko Ryu (72-68-69)
2nd/-6 Junko Omote (69-71-70)
T3/-5 Chie Arimura (72-69-70), Na-Ri Kim (70-70-71), Mi-Jeong Jeon (69-71-71)
T6/-3 Shiho Toyonaga (69-75-69), Yui Kawahara (70-73-70), Sun-Ju Ahn (70-72-71), Hiromi Takesue (71-70-72)
T10/-2 Mayu Hattori (72-75-67), Esther Lee (72-74-68), Kaori Ohe (71-74-69), So-Hee Kim (70-72-72), Soo-Yun Kang (69-73-72), Yumiko Yoshida (71-70-73), Yui Mukaiyama (68-72-74)

17th/-1 Li-Ying Ye (72-68-75)
T18/E Rikako Morita (74-73-69), Tamie Durdin (70-77-69), Teresa Lu (75-71-70), Ji-Hee Lee (71-74-71), Mika Takushima (74-69-73), Bo-Mee Lee (72-70-74), Yuko Mitsuka (73-68-75)

T25/+1 Sakura Yokomine (73-74-70), Maiko Wakabayashi (72-75-70), Julie Lu (73-73-71), Megumi Kido (74-70-73), Kumiko Kaneda (72-72-73)
T32/+2 Erika Kikuchi (72-71-75), Bo-Bae Song (71-71-76)
T38/+3 Ayako Uehara (72-75-72)
T42/+4 Hiromi Mogi (73-75-72), Yuki Sakurai (75-69-74), Pei-Ying Tsai (70-73-77)
T49/+5 Yukari Baba (75-72-74), Shiho Oyama (74-73-74), Ji-Woo Lee (72-75-74), Akane Iijima (72-74-75), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (72-74-75)
T54/+6 Rui Kitada (73-73-76), Na-Ri Lee (71-72-79)
T62/+9 Miki Saiki (73-73-79)
65th/+11 Tao-Li Yang (74-74-79)

With the indifferent play of Sakura Yokomine and Ji-Hee Lee and the final-round collapse of Miki Saiki, the JLPGA money list is looking increasingly like a 2-player race to the finish. And Ryu finds herself in the JLPGA elite's 3rd tier all of a sudden with her win.

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥70.99M
2. Chie Arimura ¥62.02M
3. Miki Saiki ¥57.08M
4. Ji-Hee Lee ¥56.51M
5. Sakura Yokomine ¥52.22M
6. Yuri Fudoh ¥36.32M
7. Ritsuko Ryu ¥30.34M
8. Hiromi Mogi ¥29.48M
9. Rui Kitada ¥29.18M
10. Ayako Uehara ¥27.57M
11. Inbee Park ¥24.33M
12. Kumiko Kaneda ¥23.72M
13. Bo-Bae Song ¥22.86M
14. Junko Omote ¥21.89M
15. Yukari Baba ¥21.48M
16. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥21.16M
17. Rikako Morita ¥19.64M
18. Mayu Hattori ¥19.36M
19. Shanshan Feng ¥18.92M
20. Na-Ri Kim ¥18.62M
21. Asako Fujimoto ¥18.16M
22. Saiki Fujita ¥16.86M
23. Teresa Lu ¥16.12M
24. Akiko Fukushima ¥15.97M
25. Ji-Woo Lee ¥15.54M
26. Bo-Mee Lee ¥15.44M
27. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥14.40M
28. Shinobu Moromizato ¥14.33M
29. Eun-A Lim ¥13.99M
30. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥13.97M
31. Momoko Ueda ¥13.77M
32. Na-Ri Lee ¥13.56M
33. Esther Lee ¥13.42M
34. Soo-Yun Kang ¥13.31M
35. Eun-Bi Jang ¥12.77M
36. Shiho Oyama ¥12.38M
37. Young Kim ¥12.29M
38. Ji-Yai Shin ¥11.91M
39. So-Hee Kim ¥11.91M
40. Akane Iijima ¥11.35M
41. Kaori Aoyama ¥11.13M
42. Yumiko Yoshida ¥11.07M
43. Miho Koga ¥10.67M
44. Nikki Campbell ¥10.58M
45. Mie Nakata ¥10.25M
46. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥9.37M
47. Megumi Kido ¥8.79M
48. Li-Ying Ye ¥8.29M
49. Yuki Ichinose ¥8.16M
50. Satsuki Oshiro ¥7.98M

With the Golf5 Ladies next week leading up to the 2nd JLPGA major of the year, the Konica Minolta Cup, the following week, it'll be interesting to see whether any dual LPGA-JLPGA members decide to skip the Walmart (and, if so, probably the Navistar) LPGA tournaments in September. Frankly, with the Solheim Cup not involving Asian players and the new China LPGA event opposite the biggest JLPGA event of the year, the Japan Women's Open, I wouldn't blame anyone for ditching the LPGA all September. Ai Miyazato has only 3 JLPGA starts and Hee Young Park has only 4; both need to get to 7 and climb into the top 50 to keep their cards. Right now the only names I spot are Shanshan Feng in both events and Teresa Lu and Momoko Ueda in the Konica Minolta Cup, but the field lists are likely to change in the next couple of days. As for the JWO, both Miyazatos have already committed, as have Inbee Park, Momoko Ueda, Teresa Lu, and Eun-Hee Ji. We'll see if that field list expands over the course of the month, as well. September is huge on the JLPGA and it should be a very interesting month!

CN Canadian Women's Open Saturday: Tiffany Joh and Michelle Wie Catch Ai Miyazato at -12

Somehow Ai Miyazato held onto a share of the lead at the CN Canadian Women's Open despite charges from Tiffany Joh and Michelle Wie and about a half-dozen putts that looked from 6 inches out like they would drop that didn't. If T-Joh had been able to sustain her early birdie barrage, where she birdied 7 of her 1st 11 holes but took "one delicious chili dip" from close range on the par-5 12th to stop her momentum dead--or if Wie had gotten another few close birdie tries to fall instead of hanging on or burning the edge of the cup--Miyazato would have been left in the dust. As it is, she shares the lead for the 3rd straight round, now at -12.

On a moving day when few players made big moves--Hee-Won Han's 66 and Maude-Aimee LeBlanc's 67 were the only really nice numbers put up besides Joh's bogey-free 65 and Wie's 5-birdie 68--Miyazato and 2nd-round co-leader Angela Stanford let the field back into contention with shaky ballstriking on the latter's part and a less magical putter than the previous 2 rounds on the former's. As a result, Catriona Matthew, Jennifer Johnson, Natalie Gulbis, and Anna Nordqvist pulled within 5 shots (or less) of the lead by matching Wie's 68, while 69s brought Brittany Lincicome within 1 and Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi, and Ji-Yai Shin within 2 of the co-leaders. All in all, with 24 players within 5 shots of the lead, I wouldn't be surprised to see another 65--or better--from one of them later today, while most struggle to break 70. After all, we have only 4 players left--Wie, Lincicome, Choi, and Kerr--who have broken 70 all 3 rounds

So who's going to pull this one out tomorrow? There are so many great potential stories. Successful title defense from Wie on the eve of the Solheim Cup would be the best for the tour and the corporate media. Solheim Cup statements by Stanford, Lincicome, or any other Team USA member would also work (although one by Catriona Matthew would be almost as good). Sunday redemption for Choi after last Sunday's collapse would be awesome. Charges by Creamer, Kerr, Shin, or Kim to break their winning droughts (or mini-slumps) would be super-cool (a Stanford or Matthew win would also fall in this category). Star-is-born stories for Joh, Jennifer Johnson, Caroline Hedwall, or hometown fave Maude-Aimee LeBlanc would be heart-warming (and get Hedwall a Solheim Cup captain's pick for sure). And let's not forget Becky Morgan at -10. A win for her would also guarantee her a spot on Team Euro for the Solheim Cup. Naturally, I'm pulling for a win from one of my faves, namely Ai Miyazato, Tiffany Joh, or Na Yeon Choi, in that order. But I mostly want an exciting finish. It seems pretty likely I'll get it, given that LeBlanc is riding a 50-hole-and-counting bogey-free run, Shin has missed only 1 fairway all week, Kerr's made only 1 bogey all week and is riding a 45-hole-and-counting bogey-free run of her own, Ai's wielding her irons like a brain surgeon, and Lincicome hasn't come close to playing her best this week but is only 1 back. Whoever beats them--if anyone does--will have accomplished something very significant.

I'm hoping that the CBC's announcing and production team successfully conveys a sense of that significance. One major gaffe they made yesterday makes me worried, though. I was stunned that they failed to mention T-Joh's 2 WAPL wins at any time during yesterday's broadcast. The announcers seemed to be at a loss for what to say about Joh, mostly repeating that she came from San Diego and UCLA and hardly ever going deeper. If you couldn't tell from yesterday's interview at, T-Joh has one of the truly awesome personalities on the LPGA--and the planet. I'm not just saying that because I've been following her career for years or because she granted me a long interview right after finishing the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Nope, just check out the music videos she's made that bangkokbobby embeds in his 3rd-round recap post (which also includes other good background on Joh and observations on the other leaders). You'll see what I mean. If the CBC can't get across what T-Joh is like to their audiences, they'll have missed a major opportunity.

That said, Joh's going to have to conquer the last several holes of Hillsdale's Laurentien course (provided she can keep herself in contention that long today) if she wants to walk away with a win. On Thursday, a walkoff double made her go +2 over her last 5 holes; on Friday, 2 late bogeys put her at +2 over her last 4. Given that recent history, she was right to be satisfied Saturday with her even-par finish over her last 7 holes. But she'll need to hang in there for all 18 holes to get her 1st LPGA win.

Here's hoping Mother Nature treats Montreal better than Hurricane Irene's been treating NYC! The tournament organizers are sending the players out early in threesomes, so the tv coverage that starts at 2 pm will be tape-delayed. Still, the LPGA should get a little more of a spotlight from the golfy media than usual, what with the Barclays reduced to 54 holes and all. (Too bad the U.S. Amateur's final's happening today, too. Go, Cantlay!) Time to shine, ladies!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nitori Ladies Friday and Saturday: Logjam on the Leaderboard, with 20-somethings Hoping to Knock Off Mi-Jeong Jeon

So far in 2011 Mi-Jeong Jeon has been suffering through her most disappointing season in a storied JLPGA career highlighted by 16 wins in 7 years. You have to go back to 2005 to find a year in which she didn't win at all on tour, but since then she's never won fewer than 3 times per season. Although she hasn't played consistently great golf this week at the Nitori Ladies, she's made birdies in bunches--4 on the back 9 yesterday, and 2 early on the front and late on the back today--to join a huge logjam at the top of the leaderboard. She's tied at -4 with ex-LPGAer Na-Ri Kim, up-and-coming JLPGA star Ritsuko Ryu, China's Li-Ying Ye, veteran Junko Omote, and youngster Yui Mukaiyama. But with 33 golfers within 5 shots of the lead--including Chie Arimura looking to make it 2 wins in a row only 1 back and fellow Korean stars Sun-Ju Ahn, Bo-Mee Lee, Bo-Bae Song, and Soo-Yun Kang 2 behind--anything can happen.

Here's a quick survey of who has a chance to win tomorrow, along with notables who either just made the cut or missed it:

T1/-4 Ritsuko Ryu (72-68), Li-Ying Ye (72-68), Na-Ri Kim (70-70), Mi-Jeong Jeon (69-71), Junko Omote (69-71), Yui Mukaiyama (68-72)
T7/-3 Yuko Mitsuka (73-68), Chie Arimura (72-69), Hiromi Takesue (71-70), Yumiko Yoshida (71-70)

T11/-2 Bo-Mee Lee (72-70), Bo-Bae Song (71-71), Sun-Ju Ahn (70-72), So-Hee Kim (70-72), Soo-Yun Kang (69-73)
T20/-1 Mika Takushima (74-69), Erika Kikuchi (72-71), Na-Ri Lee (71-72), Pei-Ying Tsai (70-73)
T28/E Megumi Kido (74-70), Kumiko Kaneda (72-72)
T31/+1 Ji-Hee Lee (71-74)
T34/+2 Teresa Lu (75-71), Yuki Sakurai (75-69), Miki Saiki (73-73), Rui Kitada (73-73), Julie Lu (73-73), Akane Iijima (72-74), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (72-74), Esther Lee (72-74)
T46/+3 Yukari Baba (75-72), Shiho Oyama (74-73), Rikako Morita (74-73), Sakura Yokomine (73-74), Ayako Uehara (72-75), Ji-Woo Lee (72-75), Mayu Hattori (72-75), Maiko Wakabayashi (72-75), Tamie Durdin (70-77)
T59/+4 Tao-Li Yang (74-74), Hiromi Mogi (73-75)

MC: Yuri Fudoh (79-70), Ah-Reum Hwang (75-74), Yun-Jye Wei (75-74), Aiko Ueno (75-74), Hyun-Ju Shin (74-75), Asako Fujimoto (74-75), Lala Anai (74-75), Eun-Bi Jang (73-76), Yuki Ichinose (79-71), Miki Uehara (77-73), Mie Nakata (76-74), Shinobu Moromizato (76-75), Erina Hara (75-76), Ji-Na Lim (75-76), Saiki Fujita (72-81), Miki Sakai (82-74)
WD: Eun-A Lim

It would be a huge story if Yuko Mitsuka were to finally rejoin the JLPGA's elite with a win tomorrow; she's probably the biggest dark horse among the big names near the top of the leaderboard, as she hasn't played well at all since being exiled from the tour for half of last season. And of course a win by the unheralded Mukaiyama (who's never made the top 10 in her 5 years on tour) would be a huge shock. Looking forward to the final-round results!

CN Canadian Women's Open Friday: Ai Miyazato and Angela Stanford Tied at -11

Ai Miyazato birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to get to -11 in the CN Canadian Women's Open, but was still caught by Angela Stanford, who fired a bogey-free 31 on the back after making her only bogey of the tournament on the par-4 9th. Both players putted the lights out, as Miyazato hit 12 greens and had 26 putts, while Stanford hit 13 and took only 24.

They'll have to keep it up to remain ahead of the resurgent Song-Hee Kim and Seon Hwa Lee, who have also found their putting strokes this week. Kim took only 28 putts in her 68, while Lee needed only 25 during her bogey-free 65. Kim's only bogey of the week came at a bad time, however, as it dropped her back to -9, while Lee leads a host of golfers at -8, including defending champion Michelle Wie, yesterday's co-leader Pernilla Lindberg, Futures Tour stalwart Gerina Piller, and a few golfers you've probably never heard of like Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Sophie Gustafson, and Becky Morgan (who's hoping to impress Team Euro Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas over the weekend). In fact, the leaderboard is clogged with no-names, with Cristie Kerr, Ji-Yai Shin, Na Yeon Choi, and Jenny Shin 4 off the pace, In-Kyung Kim, Sun Young Yoo, and Mi Hyun Kim 5 back, and Brittany Lang, Hee Young Park, Maria Hjorth, Catriona Matthew, Karen Stupples, Caroline Hedwall, Tiffany Joh, and Jennifer Johnson lurking 6 shots behind the co-leaders.

Along with Lee's 65, Stanford and Piller's 66s, and Shin and Morgan's 67s, Meena Lee dropped an 8-birdie 66 on the field, and Mina Harigae, Jennifer Johnson, and Kris Tamulis fired 67s. All told, however, there are only 10 players who have shot in the 60s both rounds. It'll be interesting to see who among them can keep it going over the weekend, and who else will be able to make it 3 of 4 sub-70 rounds.

Unfortunately, we already know that last week's winner Suzann Pettersen won't be one of them, as she's the biggest name to miss the cut. She's in good company, as many very good golfers couldn't get to or stay in red figures over the 1st 36 holes, including Amy Yang, Hee Kyung Seo, Se Ri Pak, Grace Park, Candie Kung, Katherine Hull, Inbee Park, Eun-Hee Ji, Jee Young Lee, Shanshan Feng, and much-hyped young Americans Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and Ryann O'Toole. Meanwhile, O'Toole's fellow captain's pick for the U.S. Solheim Cup team, Vicky Hurst, clawed her way back to the right side of the cut line with a 69 that got her to -1, tied with teammates Morgan Pressel and Christina Kim and living legends Karrie Webb and Laura Davies and only 1 shot behind world #1 Ya Ni Tseng. It's really odd that so many players who have been struggling this year would be taking advantage of the benign scoring conditions while long hitters like Pettersen, Yang, and Tseng have been bedeviled by Hillsdale, but that's golf.

Me, I'm curious to see if Piller, who's been bombing it out there all week and playing the back great, can get off to a good start today as she plays with Becky Morgan in the 3rd-from-last pairing of the day. But there are so many great groups to keep an eye on tomorrow, not least the Mika Miyazato-Moira Dunn one at 10:48 am and the Stacy Lewis-Katie Futcher one at 11:28. When you get to the afternoon, however, they really get compelling. Take a look at the best:

12:00 pm: Hee Young Park, Maria Hjorth [huge roller-coaster potential]
12:16: Karen Stupples, Caroline Hedwall [potential Team Euro captain's picks]
12:24: Brittany Lang, Tiffany Joh [potential future Team USA teammates]
12:48: In-Kyung Kim, Sun Young Yoo [looking to kick their seasons up a notch]
1:04: Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi [still without wins this season, both Pettersen victims]
1:12: Ji-Yai Shin, Pernilla Lindberg [among Korea and Sweden's finest, but struggling in '11]
1:20: Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie [largest gallery of the day?]
1:36: Brittany Lincicome, Sophie Gustafson [long-driving contest, anyone?]
1:52: Song-Hee Kim, Seon Hwa Lee [time to put their slumps firmly behind them]
2:00: Ai Miyazato, Angela Stanford [how low can they go?]

Lots of great notes and interviews at for you to check out before the mid-afternoon coverage begins today. Like Michele Redman the week before, Sherri Steinhauer decided to retire from competitive golf mid-season. Congratulations to them both on impressive careers and best of luck in their future endeavors!

I'll leave you with a link to a great fan diary by sometime-commenter Canadian Glen and blog post by bangkokbobby! Got Japanese school for the girls and then a birthday party, so I'll be late again with my moving day post.

Friday, August 26, 2011

CN Canadian Women's Open Thursday: Ai Miyazato and Pernilla Lindberg Share Lead at -7

Ai Miyazato and Pernilla Lindberg are your co-leaders in the CN Canadian Women's Open after opening with 65s. Paired with Stacy Lewis and Maria Hjorth, Miyazato joined them in playing bogey-free golf all day, thanks to 12 fairways, 15 greens in regulation, and only 26 putts. But one of her best holes was a par save midway through the front (her back) after she pulled her drive left behind a tree, hit a near-grounder from the wet rough, but recovered with a fantastic wedge to tap-in range. Also starting on the 10th tee, Lindberg birdied her 1st 3 holes in a row, then made 2 pairs of consecutive birdies early and late on the front to catch Miyazato at -7.

But they were not alone in taking advantage of the welcoming fairways and rain-softened greens of Hillsdale's Laurentien course. Samantha Richdale was low Canadian with a bogey-free 66, while 67s were carded by defending champion Michelle Wie, Mi Hyun Kim, Song-Hee Kim, Angela Stanford, and Jenny Shin, and 68s by Na Yeon Choi, In Kyung Kim, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Sun Young Yoo, Maria Hjorth, Sophie Gustafson, Hee Young Park, Beatriz Recari, and Silvia Cavalleri. All in all, 30 players broke 70 and 40 are within 5 shots of the lead, including Cristie Kerr, Mika Miyazato, Stacy Lewis, Shanshan Feng, Caroline Hedwall, and Mariajo Uribe at -3 and Karrie Webb, Ji-Yai Shin, Azahara Munoz, Karen Stupples, and Tiffany Joh at -2. (T-Joh, by the way, suffered a walkoff double.)

Katie Futcher, who didn't get a captain's pick for the U.S. Solheim Cup team last Sunday, also opened with a 69, 5 shots better than Vicky Hurst and 6 better than Ryann O'Toole, both of whom did get the call from Rosie Jones. Let's see if she can maintain that margin after today's round. With the likes of Amy Yang, Eun-Hee Ji, Christina Kim, Lexi Thompson, and Laura Davies opening with 74s, Suzann Pettersen, Inbee Park, Hee Kyung Seo, and Mina Harigae with 73s, and Se Ri Pak, Grace Park, Morgan Pressel, Sandra Gal, Cindy LaCrosse, and Jennifer Johnson with 72s, I wouldn't make too much of the slow starts by Hurst and O'Toole. Heck, world #1 Ya Ni Tseng could only manage a 71.

If scoring conditions stay benign, expect the cut line to fall somewhere between +1 and -2, so all the golfers who failed to take advantage of Hillsdale yesterday will have their work cut out for them today. I'll leave you with a link to's notes and interviews and the observation that TSN's intro makes Golf Channel's look positively multicultural. With 7 players from Asia and another 3 of Asian descent part of the 18 at T9 or better, the only one of them to get face time was Wie. Granted, not all of them were there when coverage started, but to skip over top-10 players with compelling stories--like Choi trying to bounce back from a heartbreaking final-round collapse last week, I.K. Kim trying to come back from a badly-missed cut, and Miyazato trying once again to win one for Japan (not to mention M.H. Kim trying to return from injuries, pregnancy, and new motherhood and S.H. Kim trying to extricate herself from the 2nd big slump of her pro career)--is unconscionable.

[Update 1 (4:08 am): bangkokbobby gets it--and has lots of photos and videos, to boot!]

[Update 2 (4:20 am): Nice work from Ruthless Mike, too!]

Thursday, August 25, 2011

CN Canadian Women's Open Preview, Predictions, Pairings

If it weren't the 1st week of classes, I'd be taking a road trip up to the Montreal area for the CN Canadian Women's Open. Given how late this post is, I'll simply point you toward's pre-tournament notes and interviews, the tournament media guide, and Hound Dog's preview, mention how strong the field is, note that Hillsdale's Laurentien golf course is playing long and wet with very penal rough, and point out that the tournament has a history of longer hitters winning it (although precision players have played well). So here are my entries in this week's PakPicker competition at Seoul

1. Tseng
2. Pettersen
3. Yang, Amy
4. Kerr
5. Lincicome
6. Choi Na Yeon
7. Miyazato, Mika
8. Lewis
9. Lang
10. Park Hee Young
11. Hjorth
12. Gustafson

Alts: Creamer; Hurst, Vicky; O'Toole

The pairings, as usual, are an embarrassment of riches:

1st tee, 12:10 pm: Ai Miyazato, Stacy Lewis, Maria Hjorth
10th tee, 8:40 am: Se Ri Pak, Ya Ni Tseng, Mika Miyazato
1st tee, 12:20 pm: Suzann Pettersen, Na Yeon Choi, Katherine Hull
1st tee, 12:40 pm: Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer, Kristy McPherson
10th tee, 8:30 am: In-Kyung Kim, Morgan Pressel, Lorie Kane
1st tee, 12:30 pm: Cristie Kerr, Anna Nordqvist, Grace Park
10th tee, 9:10 am: Ji-Yai Shin, Brittany Lang, Wendy Ward
10th tee, 8:50 am: Michelle Wie, Angela Stanford, Catriona Matthew
10th tee, 9:00 am: Juli Inkster, Brittany Lincicome, Beatriz Recari
10th tee, 12:40 pm: Song-Hee Kim, Hee Young Park, Amy Hung
1st tee, 9:10 am: Inbee Park, Karen Stupples, Mi Hyun Kim
1st tee, 8:40 am: Sun Young Yoo, Meena Lee, Pornanong Phatlum
1st tee, 8:30 am: Ryann O'Toole, Hee-Won Han, Laura Diaz

With Tiffany Joh going off the 1st tee at 7:30 am, Mina Harigae the 10th at 7:50, and Seon Hwa Lee and Moira Dunn the 1st tee at 1:30 pm, I'll have plenty of rooting interests besides Ai-sama and Mikan to follow over the course of the day, when I'm not preparing for class, meeting with students and colleagues, playing a little basketball, teaching, and attending a department picnic. Hmm, looks like my 1st-round recap will be as late as this preview!

[Update 1 (6:50 am): Looking at Hound Dog's Hot 20 list, I'm already regretting leaving Inbee Park and Angela Stanford off mine!]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The 2011 Worldwide Women's Developmental Tour Schedule and Results

Here's another update to my 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 well-established and even big-time players will often compete on these developmental and mini-tours, so pay attention!


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 Ladies Open (TLPGA) 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
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) CHELLA CHOI
13-15 La Nivelle Ladies Open (LETAS/GLT) ANNE-LISE CAUDAL

22-24 Yangzhou Challenge (CLPGA) PORANI CHUTICHAI

25-26 KLPGA Dream Tour #1 HYE NA JUNG
25-27 The Legacy (CT) JOY TROTTER
26-28 Harmony Golf Preserve (SCS) RENEE SKIDMORE
29-5/1 Symetra Classic (FT) LISA FERRERO

MAY 2011

2-4 Southern Dunes (CT) DINA AMMACCAPANE
3-5 Eastwood GC (SCS) LISA MELDRUM

9-11 Ocotillo (CT) KENDALL DYE
10-12 Stoneybrook East GC (SCS) MARIA HJORTH
11-12 KLPGA Dream Tour #2 HAE RIM KIM

16-18 Squamish Valley GC (CWT) JESSICA SHEPLEY
20-22 Beijing Renji Challenge (CLPGA) PORANI CHUTICHAI

30-31 KLPGA Dream Tour #3 DA SOM LEE

JUNE 2011

2-3 Deodeo Cup (SUT) AOI NAGATA
3-5 Ladies Titan Tire Challenge (FT) KATHLEEN EKEY

7-8 KLPGA Dream Tour #4
8-10 Forest Lake (SCS) GINGER HOWARD
10-12 Teva Championship (FT) LISA FERRERO; Yantai Yangmadao Challenge (CLPGA) TIAN HONG

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

24-26 Island Resort Championship (FT) STEPHANIE KIM; Caofeidian Wetlands Challenge (CLPGA) PATCHARAJUTAR KONGKRAPHAM

28-29 Blue Springs (CWT) JESSICA WALLACE [a]
30-7/2 South Shore Championship at White Hawk (FT) TIFFANY JOH

JULY 2011

5-7 Stoneybrook West (SCS) JACQUI CONCOLINO

12-14 LPGA International (SCS) GINGER HOWARD
13-14 KLPGA Dream Tour #6
15-17 ING New England Golf Classic (FT) BRITTANY JOHNSTON

18-20 Harmony Golf Preserve (SCS) GINGER HOWARD
22-24 The International at Concord (FT) JESSICA SHEPLEY
25-26 KLPGA Dream Tour #7

27-28 Castrol Ladies (SUT) CHIAKI TAKAHASHI
29-31 Alliance Bank Golf Classic (FT) KATHLEEN EKEY


1-2 KLPGA Dream Tour #8
5-7 Pennsylvania Classic (FT) CATHRYN BRISTOW

8-9 KLPGA Dream Tour #9
8-10 Whirlwind (CT) KAYLA MORTELLARO
9-11 Orange County National (SCS) HAEJI KANG
12-14 Eagle Classic (FT) MO MARTIN

16-18 Falcon's Fire (SCS) GINGER HOWARD

22-23 KLPGA Dream Tour #10
26-28 Vidalia Championship (FT) SYDNEE MICHAELS


5-7 Southern Dunes (CT) NUMA GULYANAMITTA; Reunion Resort (SCS) GINGER HOWARD
7-8 KLPGA Dream Tour #11
9-11 Price Chopper Tour Championship (FT) SYDNEE MICHAELS

13-15 Reunion Resort (SCS) JACQUI CONCOLINO
16-18 Wenzhou Yangyi Challenge (CLPGA) YAN HONG PAN
17-18 Women's Cup Sanyou Newspapers (SUT) AOI NAGATA

20-22 Reunion Resort (SCS) CASSANDRA BLANEY
23-25 Wuhan Challenge (CLPGA) PORANI CHUTICHAI
27-28 KLPGA Dream Tour #12
27-29 Seville (CT) ALENA SHARP

29-10/2 Imperial Springs LPGA (CLPGA/LPGA)


3-5 Kokopelli (CT) JESSI GEBHARDT

6-7 KLPGA Dream Tour #13

12-13 KLPGA Dream Tour #14
13-14 Aso GrandVrio Ladies Route Inn Cup (SUT) MINA NAKAYAMA
13-15 Trophee Preven's (LETAS) MARIEKE NIVARD

19-20 KLPGA Dream Tour #15

24-26 Palm Valley--Palms (CT) THERESE KOELBAEK
25-27 Metrowest (SCS) JACQUI CONCOLINO
28-30 Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open (LAGT/CLPGA/LET) YA NI TSENG


7-9 Ocotillo (CT) JENNIE LEE

16-18 LPGA International (SCS) MITSUKI KATAHIRA
17-19 Murcia Ladies Open (LETAS) CARLOTA CIGANDA

21-23 LPGA International (SCS) REBECCA LEE-BENTHAM
25-27 Zhuhai Challenge (CLPGA)


2-4 Azores Ladies Open (LETAS) MARIEKE NIVARD

9-11 Hero Women's India Open (LAGT/LET) CAROLINE HEDWALL; TLPGA Swinging Skirts Invitational (TLPGA/CLPGA) YA NI TSENG

16-18 Ladies Indonesia Open (LAGT)
16-19 Hyundai China Ladies Open (CLPGA/KLPGA) HYE-YOUN KIM

Monday, August 22, 2011

Safeway Classic Sunday: Suzann Pettersen Erases 9-Shot Deficit with Sizzling 64, Beats Na Yeon Choi on 1st Playoff Hole

Suzann Pettersen moved backward in a big way on Saturday in the Safeway Classic, but a birdie to end her day brought her within 9 shots of 1st- and 2nd-round leader Na Yeon Choi. As Choi was going out in a birdie-less 39 on Sunday, however, Pettersen kept the birdies and pars coming in a bogey-free 34. But an eagle on the par-5 10th kicked Pettersen into another gear, as she followed it up with birdies on 11, 15, and 17 to post a 30 on the back and become the leader in the clubhouse at -6 just as Golf Channel coverage began. Having gone -8 over the final 21 holes of the 54-hole tournament, all she could do was wait and see how Choi would respond.

But before then, she would have to dodge a few bullets from other players who were also going low Sunday. Hee Young Park moved from -1 after 14 holes on Saturday to -6 through 17 on Sunday--a 21-hole bogey-free stretch of her own in which she made 5 birdies--but she yanked her approach shot on the tough 18th way left and failed to get up and down from a vicious lie in the thick rough. Paula Creamer got it to -4 with 10 holes left to play, but barely missed a bunch of great birdie chances down the stretch and ended up alone in 4th still at -4. Vicky Hurst and Ryann O'Toole, who were picked by captain Rosie Jones to add some firepower to the U.S. Solheim Cup team, made a lot of birdies on Sunday, but too many bogeys kept them 3 shots off Pettersen's pace. So in the end it did come down to what Choi, who was looking for her 5th career LPGA victory and 1st of 2011, would do down the stretch.

Having made 8 birdies in her 1st 11 holes of the tournament, including 7 in a row, Choi had gotten off to a near-perfect start to the week. She was -8 through 17, then fought her way back there after a double on the 18th by the 10th hole on Saturday and again on the 15th hole, where she stayed until she missed the 1st of her short par saves on the par-4 2nd hole on Sunday. Choi would never see -8 again and after a bogey on the par-4 13th found herself out of at least a share of the tournament lead for the 1st time all week. Yet she bounced right back with solid birdies on the par-5 15th and shortened par-4 17th to take a 1-shot lead with 1 hole left to play. After a perfect drive down the left side of the 18th fairway left her a 9-iron in, she pulled it slightly and ended up just in the rough off the back-left portion of the green. It looked to me like she decelerated a bit on her run shot and left herself at least 10 feet to win the tournament. But she misread the putt and hung it out to the right. Playoff time!

Unfortunately for Choi, after another great drive on 18, she dumped her approach shot in the pond guarding the right side of the green and lost to a great up-and-down from right behind the pin by Pettersen, who extended her bogey-free streak to 22 holes on her way to her 8th career LPGA victory. Whereas Pettersen never bogeyed the 18th all week and played it in a cumulative -1, Choi was +5 in all on the final hole. Ouch! Meanwhile, Pettersen's 2nd LPGA win of the season and 2nd in her last 2 worldwide starts (her LET win the other week featured a 63-64 finish at the site of the '11 Solheim Cup!) helped her break the million-dollar mark in LPGA winnings and move into (an admittedly distant) 2nd in the Player of the Year race behind Ya Ni Tseng. I feel terrible for NYC, but I'm glad that it was Pettersen who was the beneficiary of her mistakes, given all the frustration on the course and tragedy off the course that has befallen her.

Plus, I'm glad that my fave Ai Miyazato sneaked into the top 10 with a bogey-free 68. And that Tiffany Joh kept bouncing back from troubles each day on the 7th through 9th holes; going 78-68-71 may not seem all that impressive, but it puts her 4th in the Rookie of the Year Race and safely in the top 75 on the money list in only 7 LPGA starts. Those kind of comebacks from players I really like more than makes up for my disappointment at Mika Miyazato's inability to take advantage of NYC's struggles, due to a pair of doubles as she made the turn on Sunday. T13 isn't anything to sneeze at, but it's much worse than Mikan should have finished this week.

Well, onward to the CN Canadian Women's Open in Quebec, where Michelle Wie will be looking to turn her game around and successfully defend her title, while Pettersen will be trying to make it 3 worldwide wins in a row.

[Update 1 (2:44 am): Check out's notes and interviews!]

[Update 2 (10:57 pm): Great epilogue from Hound Dog! And interesting thoughts on the U.S. Solheim Cup team from bangkokbobby!]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

CAT Ladies Sunday: Chie Arimura Holds Off Rikako Morita for 9th JLPGA Victory

23-year-old Chie Arimura started the final round of the CAT Ladies with a 2-shot lead on 21-year-old Rikako Morita, but she found herself 1 down for the 1st time all day after her challenger made her 5th birdie of the round on the 553-yard par 5. But an Arimura birdie and Morita bogey on the very next hole, a 421-yard par 4, gave her the lead right back and she matched Morita par for par on the final 2 holes to take her 9th JLPGA title and 2nd victory in her last 4 starts. A bogey-free 34 on her final 9 brought Miki Saiki to -8 for the week, but she ran out of holes in her attempt to chase down the 2 leaders, while Ji-Hee Lee stalled with a 1-under-par 36 on the same 9 and was caught by Yukari Baba at -7. As a result, Arimura pulled right between Saiki and Lee on the JLPGA money list, with all 3 of them about 1 win away from challenging Sun-Ju Ahn, who just missed a top 10 this week, for the top spot.

Here are the results:

1st/-11 Chie Arimura (69-67-72)
2nd/-10 Rikako Morita (69-69-71)
3rd/-8 Miki Saiki (69-74-68)
T4/-7 Ji-Hee Lee (73-69-70), Yukari Baba (72-70-70)
T6/-6 Hiromi Takesue (70-75-68), Akiko Fukushima (70-72-71), Na-Ri Kim (69-72-72), Ayako Uehara (70-70-73), Asako Fujimoto (66-74-73)

T11/-5 Ah-Reum Hwang (76-68-70), Sun-Ju Ahn (73-71-70), Esther Lee (73-70-71)
T14/-4 Sakura Yokomine (71-74-70), Rui Kitada (71-73-71), Soo-Yun Kang (70-73-72), Li-Ying Ye (74-68-73), Lala Anai (70-72-73)
T19/-3 Eun-Bi Jang (71-74-71), Junko Omote (70-74-72), Julie Lu (72-71-73), Na-Ri Lee (72-69-75)
T25/-2 Saiki Fujita (75-71-71), Mayu Hattori (75-70-72), Nikki Campbell (72-72-73), Tamie Durdin (72-72-73), Kumiko Kaneda (68-74-75)
T32/-1 Mika Takushima (72-75-71), Yuko Mitsuka (76-70-72), Mi-Jeong Jeon (71-74-73), Akane Iijima (70-71-77)
T38/E Eun-A Lim (75-72-72), Miki Uehara (71-75-73)
44th/+1 Young Kim (74-72-74)
T45/+2 Teresa Lu (71-76-74)
T47/+3 Kaori Ohe (74-74-74), Hiromi Mogi (73-75-74), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (74-73-75), Ritsuko Ryu (73-73-76)
53rd/+4 Shiho Oyama (77-71-75)
55th/+6 Hyun-Ju Shin (74-74-77)

Ex-LPGAer (and Class of '06er) Na-Ri Kim wasted a couple of eagles in her final round but still posted her 2nd top 10 in a row. She's put herself in great position to keep her JLPGA card. It'll be interesting now to see if she and the other ex-LPGAers or dual LPGA-JLPGA members can make a push in the last 3 months of the JLPGA season. Here's how their money list stands:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥68.07M
2. Miki Saiki ¥56.82M
3. Chie Arimura ¥56.62M
4. Ji-Hee Lee ¥55.73M
5. Sakura Yokomine ¥51.59M
6. Yuri Fudoh ¥36.32M
7. Hiromi Mogi ¥29.08M
8. Rui Kitada ¥28.86M
9. Ayako Uehara ¥27.11M
10. Inbee Park ¥24.33M
11. Kumiko Kaneda ¥23.09M
12. Bo-Bae Song ¥22.35M
13. Yukari Baba ¥21.13M
14. Shanshan Feng ¥18.92M
15. Rikako Morita ¥18.85M
16. Asako Fujimoto ¥18.16M
17. Mayu Hattori ¥17.94M
18. Saiki Fujita ¥16.86M
19. Akiko Fukushima ¥15.97M
20. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥15.76M
21. Teresa Lu ¥15.34M
22. Ji-Woo Lee ¥15.19M
23. Bo-Mee Lee ¥14.65M
24. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥14.40M
25. Shinobu Moromizato ¥14.33M
26. Ritsuko Ryu ¥14.14M
27. Eun-A Lim ¥13.99M
28. Junko Omote ¥13.97M
29. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥13.97M
30. Momoko Ueda ¥13.77M
31. Na-Ri Lee ¥13.24M
32. Na-Ri Kim ¥13.22M
33. Eun-Bi Jang ¥12.77M
34. Young Kim ¥12.29M
35. Shiho Oyama ¥12.03M
36. Esther Lee ¥11.99M
37. Ji-Yai Shin ¥11.91M
38. Soo-Yun Kang ¥11.89M
39. Kaori Aoyama ¥11.13M
40. Akane Iijima ¥10.99M
41. Miho Koga ¥10.67M
42. Nikki Campbell ¥10.58M
43. So-Hee Kim ¥10.48M
44. Mie Nakata ¥10.25M
45. Yumiko Yoshida ¥9.65M
46. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥8.97M
47. Yuki Ichinose ¥8.16M
48. Megumi Kido ¥8.16M
49. Satsuki Oshiro ¥7.98M
50. Miki Sakai ¥7.48M

Next up is the Nitori Ladies, which features the return of Yuri Fudoh to JLPGA action along with the rest of the top 20 except for LPGAers Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng, who will be competing in the CN Canadian Women's Open. Should be a real dogfight in the dog days of summer on the JLPGA!

[Update 1 (8/22/11, 10:58 pm): Great info, photos, and videos from bangkokbobby!]

Safeway Classic Saturday: Can Stacy Lewis Chase Down Na Yeon Choi?

Thanks to steady play in tough afternoon conditions at Pumpkin Ridge's Ghost Creek course, Na Yeon Choi takes a 3-shot lead over Stacy Lewis into today's final round of the Safeway Classic. Lewis fired a rollercoaster 68 in the morning to get to -5, but Choi responded with a 3-birdie 69 that brought her to -8 through 36 holes. With no other golfer breaking 70 twice this week and Mika Miyazato the only other player among the 82 who made the cut at +7 to be within 5 shots of the lead, it's looking very unlikely that we won't witness a match-play-like situation later today to decide who succeeds Ai Miyazato as the Safeway Classic champion.

True, when you look at the number of bogeys, doubles, and worse pretty much everyone has been making, it's possible that Choi or Lewis could come back to the field in a big way. I suppose if In-Kyung Kim can miss the cut by going 80-79, Sun Young Yoo by going 82-74, Morgan Pressel with a 76-77 combo, Angela Stanford with a 76 and a 78, and Amy Yang with a 76 and 74, anything is possible. And, yes, a 75 by Se Ri Pak, 74s by Suzann Pettersen and Ai Miyazato, and 73s by Grace Park, Anna Nordqvist, and Hee Kyung Seo show how easy it is to move backwards at Ghost Creek. But I just don't see Choi or Lewis getting spooked. They'll be playing in their own twosome and facing pretty much the same conditions as the other 12 players within 7 shots of the lead. Somebody there will have to get off to a hot start and avoid the mid-round mistakes that have sabotaged most good starts to take advantage of any slips from the final pairing. I just don't see it happening.

That's not to say that there won't be a lot of interesting things happening before the final twosome tees off. I'm particularly intrigued by the Karrie Webb-Mi Hyun Kim pairing at 9:03 am, Michelle Wie and Moira Dunn at 9:35, Tiffany Joh and Paola Moreno at 10:23, Juli Inkster and Kristy McPherson at 10:39, Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson at 11:43, Suzann Pettersen and Se Ri Pak at 11:51, and Ji-Yai Shin and Azahara Munoz at 12:07 pm. So you can bet I'll be checking the online leaderboard before Golf Channel coverage begins at 7 pm. Whether or not I post anything before then depends on just how interesting these and other players are....

[Update 1 (11:09 am): bangkokbobby focuses on Na Yeon Choi and Grace Park, but includes lots of great photos and a rundown of the entire leaderboard.]

Saturday, August 20, 2011

CAT Ladies Saturday: 4 Birdies in a Row Help Lift Chie Arimura to Double Digits Under Par, and Lead

Chie Arimura birdied her 1st 4 holes on the back 9 of the par-73 Daihakone Country Club and held on for a 7-birdie 67 that brought her to -10 in the CAT Ladies--good enough for a 2-shot lead on Rikako Morita and a 4-shot lead on Ayako Uehara and 1st-round leader Asako Fujimoto. Arimura is riding a 7-event top-10 streak and is looking for her 2nd win in her last 4 starts. Can anyone stop her from collecting her 9th career JLPGA victory? With the rest of the tour's finest--including defending champion Akiko Fukushima--many shots behind Arimura, tomorrow is a golden opportunity for her.

1st/-10 Chie Arimura (69-67)
2nd/-8 Rikako Morita (69-69)
T3/-6 Ayako Uehara (70-70), Asako Fujimoto (66-74)
T5/-5 Na-Ri Lee (72-69), Akane Iijima (70-71), Na-Ri Kim (69-72)
T8/-4 Li-Ying Ye (74-68), Ji-Hee Lee (73-69), Yukari Baba (72-70), Akiko Fukushima (70-72), Lala Anai (70-72), Natsu Nagai (70-72), Kumiko Kaneda (68-74)

T15/-3 Esther Lee (73-70), Julie Lu (72-71), Soo-Yun Kang (70-73), Miki Saiki (69-74)
T20/-2 Ah-Reum Hwang (76-68), Sun-Ju Ahn (73-71), Nikki Campbell (72-72), Tamie Durdin (72-72), Rui Kitada (71-73), Junko Omote (70-74)
T29/-1 Mayu Hattori (75-70), Sakura Yokomine (71-74), Mi-Jeong Jeon (71-74), Eun-Bi Jang (71-74)

T35/E Yuko Mitsuka (76-70), Saiki Fujita (75-71), Young Kim (74-72), Ritsuko Ryu (73-73), Miki Uehara (71-75)
T42/+1 Eun-A Lim (75-72), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (74-73), Mika Takushima (72-75), Teresa Lu (71-76)
T50/+2 Shiho Oyama (77-71), Hyun-Ju Shin (74-74), Kaori Ohe (74-74), Hiromi Mogi (73-75)

MC: So-Hee Kim (76-73), Shinobu Moromizato (75-74), Ji-Woo Lee (75-74), Miki Sakai (75-74), Erika Kikuchi (74-75), Miho Koga (73-76), Kaori Aoyama (74-76), Maiko Wakabayashi (79-72), Yumiko Yoshida (77-74), Rui Yokomine (77-74), Jae-Hee Bae (76-75), Yuki Ichinose (79-73), Erina Hara (77-77), Erina Yamato (78-77), Mie Nakata (79-77), Yun-Jye Wei (79-77), Pei-Ying Tsai (84-73), Megumi Kido (80-78), Aiko Ueno (78-82)

Morita's only JLPGA win was a rain-shortened one last season; this year she's only added 1 top 10 to her 5th-place finish in Okinawa at the start of the season. But she has 8 top 20s in her 15 starts in 2011, has broken 70 3 of her last 5 rounds, and is the only player in the field besides Arimura to shoot in the 60s in both rounds this week. She birdied 3 of her last 4 holes and fired a bogey-free 33 on the back to get into this position. It would be quite a story if the 21-year-old could knock off the 23-year-old Arimura!

Safeway Classic Friday: Na Yeon Choi Rides 7-Hole Birdie Train to 2-Shot Lead on Grace Park

Na Yeon Choi birdied 7 holes in a row at Pumpkin Ridge's par-71 Ghost Creek golf course and had a bogey-free round heading into the tough 18th hole, where she made a double bogey to settle for a 65 in the 1st round of the Safeway Classic. Nobody from the afternoon groups could surpass Grace Park's early-morning 67, which was similarly bogey-free until late in her round, when she finally made one on the par-4 17th. But even as the winds picked up, the greens firmed up, and Ghost Creek toughened up, Se Ri Pak fired a bogey-free 34 on the front (her back) to secure a 68.

The Hall of Famer will be paired tomorrow with the other 2 golfers who played the best in the afternoon, Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lang, who both joined Park at -4 for a time, but stumbled down the stretch to a 69 for the former and a 70 for the latter. With Suzann Pettersen tied with Lewis and defending champion Ai Miyazato and 2-time winner in '11 Karrie Webb tied with Lang--not to mention Anna Nordqvist, M.J. Hur, and Ashli Bunch tied with Pak--Choi is going to have to bounce back quickly from her final-hole miscue if she wants to make this week her return to the winner's circle. With loads of pressure from Korean sponsors, media, and fans, NYC has her work cut out for her.

Speaking of cuts, lots of the LPGA's best will be struggling just to make it tomorrow. Sun Young Yoo opened with a humbling 82, In-Kyung Kim with an 80, and Amy Yang, Morgan Pressel, and Maria Hjorth with 76s. Media magnets Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, and Jessica Korda could only manage 74s (T62), while straight shooters Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, and Song-Hee Kim had to settle for 73s (T46). Meanwhile, world #1 Ya Ni Tseng finished bogey-par-double-par for a 72 that left her tied with Ji-Yai Shin, Paula Creamer, Mika Miyazato, and Brittany Lincicome 7 shots off the pace set by Choi.

Still, given how penal Ghost Creek can be, no lead is really safe. With only 25 golfers at par or better after 18 holes, it'll be interesting to see if Choi can keep the pedal to the metal or whether others will make big moves on her on moving day!

[Update 1 (8/20/11, 6:35 am): Taking a little more time to look at scorecards from the 1st round, I was struck by how quickly Ghost Creek can strike fear in the hearts of the best women golfers in the world. And especially those who have been struggling with their games. If you're not afraid of being haunted, check out what happened to Libby Smith and Jane Park after solid starts to yesterday's rounds. Ouch!]

[UPdate 2 (6:43 am): Some awesome on-course reporting from Verdant Garden, a regular at Seoul Na Yeon Choi's birdie train, among other cool things!]

[Update 3 (8:51 am): See if you can get this Golf Channel recap to work for you!]

Friday, August 19, 2011

CAT Ladies Friday: Asako Fujimoto Goes Low

Asako Fujimoto blitzed the nearly 6700-yard par-73 Daihakone Country Club with a bogey-free 66 in the 1st round of the CAT Ladies to take a 2-shot lead on Kumiko Kaneda and a 3-shot lead on Chie Arimura, Miki Saiki, Na-Ri Kim, and Rikako Morita. Fujimoto's coming off her 2nd top 5 of the season and is now on a 4-round sub-70 run; in fact, she's failed to break 70 only 3 times in her last 10 rounds.

Meanwhile, defending champion and last week's near-winner Akiko Fukushima opened with a solid 70 as the woman who defeated her in a playoff, Sun-Ju Ahn, bounced back from a birdieless front with a bogey-free back for a 73. With Soo-Yun Kang, Sakura Yokomine, Mi-Jeong Jeon, and Teresa Lu within 5 of the lead and 36 holes yet to be played, it's far too soon for Fujimoto to be thinking about her 1st JLPGA win or Kaneda her 2nd. But it certainly would be exciting for either youngster to pull it off.

Here's how the leaders and notables stack up heading into the weekend:

1st/-7 Asako Fujimoto (66)
2nd/-5 Kumiko Kaneda (68)
T3/-4 Chie Arimura, Miki Saiki, Na-Ri Kim, Rikako Morita (69)
T7/-3 Akiko Fukushima, Soo-Yun Kang, Ayako Uehara, Akane Iijima, Junko Omote, Lala Anai, and 3 others (70)

T16/-2 Sakura Yokomine, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Teresa Lu, Rui Kitada, Miki Uehara, Eun-Bi Jang (71)
T23/-1 Yukari Baba, Nikki Campbell, Tamie Durdin, Na-Ri Lee, Mika Takushima, Julie Lu (72)
T31/E Sun-Ju Ahn, Ji-Hee Lee, Miho Koga, Hiromi Mogi, Ritsuko Ryu, Esther Lee (73)
T39/+1 Young Kim, Hyun-Ju Shin, Kaori Aoyama, Li-Ying Ye, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Kaori Ohe, Erika Kikuchi (74)
T54/+2 Shinobu Moromizato, Mayu Hattori, Saiki Fujita, Ji-Woo Lee, Eun-A Lim, Miki Sakai (75)
T62/+3 Yuko Mitsuka, So-Hee Kim, Ah-Reum Hwang, Jae-Hee Bae (76)
T70/+4 Shiho Oyama, Yumiko Yoshida, Rui Yokomine, Erina Hara (77)
T79/+5 Aiko Ueno, Erina Yamato (78)
T84/+6 Mie Nakata, Maiko Wakabayashi, Yuki Ichinose, Yun-Jye Wei (79)
T91/+7 Megumi Kido (80)
T95/+11 Pei-Ying Tsai (84)

It'll be interesting to see who will make a charge from back in the pack on moving day. Watch out for Iijima, who made a pair of eagles today, and Morita, who not only eagled the 1st but made 4 birdies in a row on the back.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Safeway Classic Preview, Predictions, Pairings

Thanks to Hound Dog, Tony Jesselli, and's Ward Clayton, who already have their Safeway Classic previews out, I'll be able to keep my focus on Blue Heron Hills, the site of the Rochester qualifier for the NYSGA's Mid-Amateur Championship, instead of having to pay too much attention to Pumpkin Ridge's Ghost Creek course, which has been toughened up for this year's competition. Yes, I know that's practically sacreligious coming from one of defending champion Ai Miyazato's biggest fans this side of the Pacific, but I'm going to lean on my previous preview posts and skip to this week's picks:

1. Miyazato Ai
2. Yang Amy
3. Kim In-Kyung
4. Choi Na Yeon
5. Tseng
6. Pettersen
7. Kerr
8. Creamer
9. Lewis
10. Miyazato Mika
11. Pressel
12. Shin Ji-Yai

Alts: Yoo, Stanford, Lang

For more clues on who in the excellent field should excel this week, check out's spectator guide, pre-tournament interviews, trivia, and tournament history pages, Golf Observer's player performance chart, and Hound Dog's Hot 20. Also of note are Mike Tokito's fantastic work at The Oregonian, along with Solheim Cup speculation from Stina Sternberg and Randall Mell.

So many great pairings, so little time! Here are my faves--love how the tournament organizers are highlighting Solheim Cuppers and other young Americans:

1st tee, 9:32 am: Ai Miyazato, Anna Nordqvist, Vicky Hurst
10th tee, 12:54 pm: Ji-Yai Shin, Amy Yang, Mika Miyazato
1st tee, 8:32 am: Na Yeon Choi, Song-Hee Kim, Ryann O'Toole
1st tee, 12:21 pm: Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie
1st tee, 12:32 pm: Cristie Kerr, Juli Inkster, Brittany Lincicome
1st tee, 8:54 am: Ya Ni Tseng, Hee Kyung Seo, Katie Futcher
10th tee, 8:43 am: Suzann Pettersen, Morgan Pressel, Grace Park
1st tee, 12:10 pm: Angela Stanford, Mindy Kim, Michele Redman
10th tee, 9:16 am: Karrie Webb, Sandra Gal, Beatriz Recari
10th tee, 12:21 pm: Se Ri Pak, Inbee Park, Lorie Kane
10th tee, 12:43 pm: Momoko Ueda, Karen Stupples, Mi Hyun Kim
1st tee, 8:43 am: Sun Young Yoo, Maria Hjorth, Meena Lee
1st tee, 1:16 pm: Becky Morgan, Mariajo Uribe, Tiffany Joh
1st tee, 2:22 pm: Jennifer Song, Belen Mozo, Dewi Claire Schreefel

With Lexi Thompson (1st tee, 1:05 pm), Cindy LaCrosse (1st tee, 8:21 am), Mina Harigae (1st tee, 7:26 am), Jennifer Johnson (1st tee, 7:59 am), Jessica Korda (10th tee, 7:15 am), Lisa Ferrero (playing with LaCrosse), and Monday qualifier (along with Kim Welch) Erynne Lee (10th tee, 1:38 pm) in the field, there's no shortage of up-and-coming Americans playing in Oregon this week. Me, I'll be rooting for them and for veteran Moira Dunn (10th tee, 1:16 pm) to play well tomorrow and on the weekend in this 54-hole shootout!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Checking on My Top 30 Predictions

This will be my last post for awhile as I am leaving to go to the Canadien Open in Montreal. Before I leave I would like to take a look at my top 30 predictions.

Way back in February, before the first tournament was played, the Constructivist asked us to predict our top 30 players for the coming year. Fourteen of twenty-four tournaments are now in the books, so let's see how I am doing.

1- Na Yeon Choi- Missed big time here, she is currently #13 on the official Rolex Player of the Year rankings. Haven't given up on her moving up yet.

2- Ji Yai Shin- Currently T15 on the Rolex P.O.Y. Seems I got this one wrong also.

3- Suzanne Pettersen- Not a bad pick as she is currently #6.

4- Paula Creamer- Currently T8, so I still have chance.

5- Yani Tseng- Pretty much has the #1 honors for the year wrapped up. At least I had her top 5.

6- Cristie Kerr- Currently in third place. Not my worst pick.

7- Song Hee Kim- Who could have figured this? In 28th place, I bet I'm not the only one who screwed this one up.

8- Ai Miyazato- Hanging in at #10. I should be real close on this one.

9- I.K. Kim- My pick is looking good as she is T11.

10-Michelle Wie- Currently tied for 18th. She needs to step it up.

11-Mika Miyazato- She is also T18, I need a big finish.

12-Morgan Pressel- Her inability to hit long drives always makes me underestimate this girl. Currently tied for 6th in the rankings, I may have to start rethinking her.

13-Hee Young Seo - I went out on a limb here picking her this high in her rookie season. Her current T15 ranking is making me look brilliant.

14-Brittany Lincicome- Currently tied for 8th.

15-Amy Yang- I'm still waiting for her to be the next Stacy Lewis and have a breakthrough year. Currently T20, it hasn't happened yet.

16-Angela Stanford- Such a streaky player, she is playing more consistent this year, as shown by her T6 position.

17-Anna Nordqvist- Did winning that major championship in her rookie year make me think she is better than what she is? She has been dropping off since. Currently 27th on the Rolex Player of the Year rankings.

18-Stacy Lewis - She finished 25th in the 2010 player of the year rankings. I thought I was doing her solid by predicting her this high. Be honest, how many people thought she would be #2 now?

19-Brittany Lang- Looking pretty good here, she is T15.

20-Inbee Park- I'm also looking good here, as her T23 shows.

21-Karrie Webb- What can I say, even with her current cooling off period she is #4.

22-Amanda Blumenherst- This is only her second year on tour. Have to stop picking with my heart and not my head. No P.O.Y points this year.

23-Vicky Hurst- The talent is there. Wish she would show it more often. No P.O.Y. points this year.

24-Karine Icher- Her maternity leave gives me a pass on this one.

25-Azuhara Munoz- I thought the sophomore jinx was a baseball term.

26-Beatriz Recari- Ditto.

27-Natalie Gulbis- What was I looking at? Don't answer that! A good bet to always finish top 40, I picked her way too high.

28-Christina Kim- I thought this being a Solheim Cup year would motivate her. Guess I was wrong again. Not a single P.O.Y. point.

29-Hee Young Park- Her collapse this year was unforeseen by many.

30-Belen Mozo- I knew I should have put the cap on the glue tube before I made this pick!

As you can see my picks for the top 20 were certainly better than my last 10. The good news is that ten more tournaments have yet to be played.

Hard-to-Believe Fact of the Week:

Suzann Pettersen has not won a stroke-play event since September of 2009.

Just a Thought.........

I keep reading about how weak this year's LPGA rookies are. I can't argue with that. I may be getting ahead of myself here, but I am licking my chops over the possibilities of next year's crew. There are many, but here are just four I think will shine:

1- Kathleen Ekey- She is already a multiple winner on the Futures Tour this year. Currently with a sizable lead on top of the money list, she will get her LPGA card and a nice spot on the priority list without having to go to qualifying school.
Both fans and sponsors are going to love this girl.

2- Danielle Kang- Winner of two consecutive U.S. amateur championships, she will be entering phase two of Q-School next month. A sure thing.

3- So-Yeon Ryu- Won the U.S. Open this year as a non LPGA player. Already ranked #26 in the world, she will be the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award next year.

4- Lexi Thompson- She doesn't turn 17 until early next year. Look for her to make an immediate impact.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kuromi Is My Motor; Or, Listen to Your Mother

The past couple of years--since my girls have gotten old enough for me to get back to gearing up for and playing competitive golf--I've been very frustrated with my game. I've been generally hitting the ball very well and putting well intermittently, but what used to be my bread and butter--partial wedges and recovery shots around the green--has become my nemesis. It's been no fun feeling cursed with hands of stone. Well, after my latest tournament disappointments--a bad Utica City Amateur followed by a terrible Buffalo district men's amateur qualifier--in July and early August, I took a little time away from playing golf, and whattaya know, as I've been gearing up for the NYSGA Mid-Amateur qualifier in Rochester in a couple of days, every part of my game is working pretty well. I've been shooting a bunch of 35s, 36s, and 37s of late, due to hitting a lot more fairways and greens, getting up-and-down better when I miss the green, and making more of my birdie opportunities.

I don't know if it's just that I usually play really well in August, but I do know that my mom's advice to just play a little looser and avoid overthinking in the middle of a round has been very helpful, once I actually thought about what she said, that is. Switching over to a Kuromi suito (thermos) with water instead of going with bottled Ito-En teas is helping me remember to swing more freely, too.

Hoping some Onegai My Melody helps me qualify for my 2nd-ever Mid-Am! Here's some relevant youtube for ya until I get my Safeway Classic preview out--hope it helps your game as much as it's been helping mine:

Think I'll be listening to some Cake on my ride to Rochester!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Safeway Classic Preview

After a two-week break in the schedule, the tour resumes in the state of Oregon for the Safeway Classic.

Here are some of the details:

Course: Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club
Where: North Plains, Oregon
Defending Champion: Ai Miyazato
2011 Winning Score: 66-67-72=205 (-11)

Field 150 Players
Yardage: 6,552
Par: 71
Purse: $1.50 Million

The only notable absentees from the LPGA priority list are Shanshan Feng and Catriona Matthew.

Here is the television schedule:
Aug 19 : GC 6:30-8:30 PM ET
Aug 20 : GC 6:30-9:30 PM ET
Aug 21 : GC 7:00-9:30 PM ET

Tony Jesselli's Player of the Year update:

1- Yani Tseng - 260.64 Points
2- Stacy Lewis - 148.30
3- Cristie Kerr 136.84
4- I.K. Kim 119.78
5- Karrie Webb - 111.56
6- Angela Stanford - 106.42
7- Suzann Petterson - 106.36
8- Mika Miyazato - 106.24
9- Amy Yang - 100.80
10-Morgan Pressel 96.70
11-Paula Creamer - 90.26
12-Maria Hjorth - 84.02
13-Brittany Lincicome - 77.18
14-Ai Miyazato - 73.38
15-Inbee Park 72.72
16-Na Yeon Choi - 71.68
17-Sun Young Yoo - 69.20
18-Anna Nordqvist 65.18
19-Jiyai Shin 64.78
20-Michelle Wie 63.90

Hard-to-Believe Fact of the Week:
With her 4 wins, 2 of which are majors, Yani Tseng has added 6 Hall Of Fame points already this season. She also has what seems to be insurmountable leads in both the Player of the Year and Vare Trophy races, both of which carry H.O.F. points with them.

Rolex Ranking Move of the Week:

Sun Ju Ahn moves from #8 to #6 (won last week's JLPGA tournament).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

NEC Karuizawa 72 Sunday: Sun-Ju Ahn Beats Akiko Fukushima in Playoff

Sun-Ju Ahn solidified her position atop the JLPGA money list today with a playoff win over 1st- and 2nd-round leader Akiko Fukushima in the NEC Karuizawa 72. Ahn fired a bogey-free 66 in which she caught the 4-time champion in Nagano at -13 after 10 holes, then matched her birdie for birdie down the stretch as each golfer finished at -16. Unfortunately, I can't find any accounts in English of how Ahn got her 6th career JLPGA victory and 1st since the Salonpas Cup in May. So I'll have to settle for a rundown of the final results.

1st/-16 Sun-Ju Ahn (68-66-68) [won in playoff]
2nd/-16 Akiko Fukushima (66-66-68)
T3/-10 Na-Ri Kim (70-69-67), Sakura Yokomine (71-65-70)
5th/-9 Asako Fujimoto (69-69-69)
T6/-7 Bo-Bae Song (72-69-68), Ji-Hee Lee (72-66-71)
T8/-6 Chie Arimura (73-69-68), Shanshan Feng (72-68-70)
T10/-5 Teresa Lu (73-71-67), Ji-Yai Shin (71-72-68), Shiho Oyama (73-68-70), Midori Yoneyama (73-68-70)

T14/-4 Mi-Jeong Jeon (69-75-68), Li-Ying Ye (73-70-69), Saiki Fujita (71-70-71), Yukari Baba (71-69-72), Rikako Morita (71-69-72)
T21/-3 Eun-Bi Jang (74-71-68), Jae-Hee Bae (73-72-68), Bo-Mee Lee (73-70-70), Akane Iijima (73-70-70), Junko Omote (73-70-70), Esther Lee (70-71-72)
T28/-2 Ritsuko Ryu (71-73-70), Tamie Durdin (69-75-70), Young Kim (73-70-71), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (72-71-71), Hyun-Ju Shin (71-72-71), Eun-A Lim (75-67-72), Lala Anai (72-69-73)
T35/-1 So-Hee Kim (75-70-70), Shinobu Moromizato (70-71-74)
T39/E Rui Kitada (73-72-71)
T42/+1 Na-Ri Lee (73-72-72), Mayu Hattori (70-74-73), Kumiko Kaneda (73-70-74), Kaori Aoyama (72-70-75), Miki Uehara (72-70-75)
T51/+2 Miho Koga (72-73-73), Ji-Woo Lee (74-70-74), Maiko Wakabayashi (74-69-75)
T54/+3 Julie Lu (73-72-74), Nikki Campbell (70-74-75), Megumi Kido (72-71-76)
T58/+4 Ji-Na Lim (75-70-75)

As you can see, the cream of the JLPGA rose to the top, but nobody could keep up with Ahn and Fukushima. Still, Na-Ri Kim's T3 is very important to her, as she had been hanging on at #50 on the JLPGA money list. Others moved up the list thanks to their top-10 finishes, as well, although a late double kept Ji-Hee Lee from passing Miki Saiki and taking over the #2 spot:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥67.02M
2. Miki Saiki ¥52.62M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ¥52.43M
4. Sakura Yokomine ¥50.79M
5. Chie Arimura ¥45.82M
6. Yuri Fudoh ¥36.32M
7. Hiromi Mogi ¥28.84M
8. Rui Kitada ¥28.06M
9. Ayako Uehara ¥25.31M
10. Inbee Park ¥24.33M
11. Kumiko Kaneda ¥22.63M
12. Bo-Bae Song ¥22.35M
13. Shanshan Feng ¥18.92M
14. Yukari Baba ¥17.83M
15. Mayu Hattori ¥17.47M
16. Saiki Fujita ¥16.39M
17. Asako Fujimoto ¥16.36M
18. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥15.37M
19. Ji-Woo Lee ¥15.19M
20. Teresa Lu ¥15.07M
21. Bo-Mee Lee ¥14.65M
22. Shinobu Moromizato ¥14.33M
23. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥14.19M
24. Akiko Fukushima ¥14.17M
25. Ritsuko Ryu ¥13.90M
26. Momoko Ueda ¥13.77M
27. Eun-A Lim ¥13.68M
28. Rikako Morita ¥13.57M
29. Junko Omote ¥13.42M
30. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥12.92M
31. Na-Ri Lee ¥12.69M
32. Eun-Bi Jang ¥12.22M
33. Young Kim ¥12.01M
34. Ji-Yai Shin ¥11.91M
35. Shiho Oyama ¥11.81M
36. Na-Ri Kim ¥11.42M
37. Kaori Aoyama ¥11.13M
38. Soo-Yun Kang ¥11.09M
39. Esther Lee ¥10.95M
40. Miho Koga ¥10.67M
41. Akane Iijima ¥10.60M
42. So-Hee Kim ¥10.48M
43. Mie Nakata ¥10.25M
44. Nikki Campbell ¥10.11M
45. Yumiko Yoshida ¥9.65M
46. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥8.70M
47. Yuki Ichinose ¥8.16M
48. Megumi Kido ¥8.16M
49. Satsuki Oshiro ¥7.98M
50. Miki Sakai ¥7.48M

Fukushima has extra motivation to put today's disappointment behind her quickly, as she's the defending champion of the CAT Ladies. With none of the dual LPGA-JLPGA members in the field except Shiho Oyama, we could have another Ahn-Fukushima showdown next weekend!

Danielle Kang Going for her 2nd Straight U.S. Women's Amateur Title

Danielle Kang looked beatable yesterday and Brooke Pancake started sticking some shots on the back 9 to go from 2 down to 1 up, but Kang found another gear over the last 3 holes and moved on to the finals to face a very hot Moriya Jutanugarn. The 17-year-old phenom with her younger sister Ariya on the bag went out in 31 and recovered from a couple of miscues with her driver on the way in to take out NCAA individual champion Austin Ernst, who shot a 68 of her own but couldn't get up and down on the final hole to extend the match. Kang is playing hurt but playing well and Jutanugarn is playing great. I won't give away how the 36-hole championship round has started out, but it'll be well worth tuning in to see if Kang can defend her title or Jutanugarn can win the biggest tournament of her life.