Friday, September 30, 2011

Lexi Thompson Will Be on the LPGA in 2012, But Who from Q-School May Not Join Her?

I'm really pleased that Mike Whan granted Lexi Thompson's petition to join the LPGA in 2012, but I'm really worried about some of the other big names who will see their hopes of joining (or rejoining) the LPGA end today if they fail to make the top 70 in the final round of the 2nd stage of LPGA Q-School.  Right now there are 73 players at +4 or better, with the leaders out on the Bobcat course as I write.  Some big names who have already finished their rounds need that cut line to stay where it is or move higher, including:

T60/+3 Briana Vega
T66/+4 Kristie Smith
T74/+5 Brianna Do
T80/+6 Carlota Ciganda, Kendall Dye, Esther Choe
T103/+8 Meghan McChrystal
T115/+9 Katie Kempter, Joy Trotter, Maiya Tanaka

As for those on the course now, the following players have to be very careful:

E Natalie Sheary
+1 Cydney Clanton, Izzy Beisiegel, Blair O'Neal
+2 Danielle Kang
+4 Joanna Coe

Can't wait to find out how they do!

Commissioner Approves Lexi Thompson's Petition.

I just want to congratulate Lexi Thompson, who today was granted full LPGA membership by commissioner Michael Whan for the 2012 season. Full details can be found on the LPGA website.

Japan Women's Open Friday: Mika Miyazato Takes 1-Shot Lead

Ohtone Country Club's East course isn't long--those competing there in the Japan Women's Open this week are playing from tees that measure less than 6,400 yards--but it sure is playing tough.  Nobody in the star-studded field is at or under par after 36 holes.  The golfer closest to par, however, is none other than defending champion and 1st-round co-leader Mika Miyazato.  Surprise, surprise--this is now 6 rounds in a row that she's finished the day with at least a share of the lead in this, the biggest event in women's golf in Japan.  Starting on the back, Mikan made 2 bogeys in her 1st 5 holes before bouncing back with back-to-back birdies late on the side; after bogeying the long par-4 18th, she steadied the ship and finished with 9 straight pars.

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

1st/+1 Mika Miyazato (70-71)
T2/+2 Yukari Baba (73-69), Young Kim (71-71)
T4/+3 Ji-Woo Lee (75-68), Ayako Uehara (72-71)
T6/+4 Akane Iijima (73-71), Ji-Hee Lee (70-74)
T8/+5 Yuki Ichinose (74-71), Ai Miyazato (72-73), Saiki Fujita (71-74)

T11/+6 Onnarin Sattayabanphot (76-70), Miki Uehara (74-72), Yuri Fudoh (73-73), Eun-A Lim (73-73), Na-Ri Lee (73-73), Mamiko Higa [a] (73), Sun-Ju Ahn (72-74), Mi-Jeong Jeon (70-76), Teresa Lu (70-76)
T20/+7 Hyun-Ju Shin (77-70), Shanshan Feng (75-72), Ritsuko Ryu (74-73), Chie Arimura (71-76)
T26/+8 Ah-Reum Hwang (73-75)
T28/+9 Bo-Bae Song (76-73), Momoko Ueda (75-74), Rui Kitada (75-74), Asako Fujimoto (75-74), Harukyo Nomura (72-77), Erika Kikuchi (72-77), Na-Ri Kim (71-78), Kumiko Kaneda (70-79)
T37/+10 Sakura Yokomine (76-74), Eun-Bi Jang (76-74), Mayu Hattori (73-77)
T40/+11 Rui Yokomine (79-72), Eun-Hee Ji (72-79), Akiko Fukushima (72-79)
T46/+12 Soo-Yun Kang (80-72), Yuko Mitsuka (79-73), Shinobu Moromizato (77-75), Tamie Durdin (76-76), Bo-Mee Lee (75-77)
T53/+13 Kaori Aoyama (77-76), Rikako Morita (74-79)
T57/+14 Miki Saiki (82-72), Kaori Ohe (81-73), Sakura Kito [a] (76-78), Hinako Yamauchi [a] (75-79)

MC:  Maria Iida (81-74), Junko Omote (78-77), Li-Ying Ye (77-78), Megumi Kido (77-80), Haruka Morita [a] (75-84), Maiko Wakabayashi (83-76), Chihiro Ikeda [a] (74-86), Woo-Soon Ko (80-81), Tao-Li Yang (79-83), Sakurako Mori (82-82)
WD:  Yun-Jye Wei (74-WD)
As you can see, there are still 19 players within 6 shots of the lead and lots of opportunities for the leaders to blow up in a bad way.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

LPGA Q-School Stage 2, Round 3: Late Thunderstorms Can't Put a Damper on Boland, Howard, Suwannapura

17-year-old Ginger Howard, 18-year-old Thidapa Suwannapura, and Texas A&M graduate student Julia Boland didn't let a late thunderstorm interrupt their moving day charges as they overtook and passed 2nd-round leader Stephanie Na, along with Junthima Gulyanamitta and the rest of the field at Stage 2 of LPGA Q-School, on the strength of a 68, a 66, and a 67, respectively, on the Panther course today.  It'll be interesting to see if they can hold off Stephanie Connelly, Hannah Yun, and Lizette Salas, who are only 3 shots off the co-leaders' pace.  But it'll be even more interesting to see if much more experienced and accomplished players like Danielle Kang and Kristie Smith can stay on the right side of the cut line tomorrow--and whether Carlota Ciganda and Brianna Do, among many other notables, can break into the top 70.

T1/-9 Thidapa Suwannapura (70B-71P-66P), Julia Boland (73B-67P-67P), Ginger Howard (69B-70P-68P)
T4/-8 Junthima Gulyanamitta (69B-68P-71P), Stephanie Na (70P-66B-72P)
T6/-6 Stephanie Connelly (69B-73P-68P), Hannah Yun (68P-71B-71P), Lizette Salas (69P-69B-72P)
9th/-5 Camilla Lennarth (72B-70P-69P)
T10/-4 Kristin Walla (74P-69B-69P), Alejandra Llaneza (68P-75B-69P), Shayna Miyajima (70B-71P-71P)

T13/-3 Susan Nam (73B-75P-65P), Jacqui Concolino (69P-74B-70P), Victoria Tanco (71B-71P-71P), Lili Alvarez (70B-71P-72P), Callie Nielson (69B-72P-72P)
T19/-2 Maude-Aimee LeBlanc (69P-75B-70P), Laura Kueny (71B-70P-73P), Karlin Beck (70B-71P-73P), Rebecca Lee-Bentham (70B-70P-74P)
T25/-1 Laura Bavaird (73P-72B-70P), Stephanie Kono (73B-71P-71P), Mitsuki Katahira (70B-74P-71P), Juliana Murcia Ortiz (73B-70P-72P), Patcharajutar Kongkraphan (69B-71P-75P)
T34/E Natalie Sheary (69P-76B-71P)
T43/+1 Cydney Clanton (75P-71B-71P), Izzy Beisiegel (73P-73B-71P), Blair O'Neal (71B-71P-75P)
T54/+2 Danielle Kang (73P-74B-71P), Briana Vega (73B-73P-72P), Kristie Smith (70B-73P-75P)
T67/+3 Anya Sarai Alvarez (73P-74B-72P)
T74/+4 Joanna Coe (72B-77P-71B), Brianna Do (75B-72P-73P), Sandra Changkija (73P-75B-74P)
T83/+5 Eileen Vargas (74P-72B-75P), Megan McChrystal (71B-74P-76P)
T92/+6 Esther Choe (74B-75P-73B), Kendall Dye (72B-76P-74P), Jenny Lee (71B-77P-74P)
T98/+7 Seema Sadekar (75B-75P-73B), Katie Kempter (74B-74P-75P), Elena Robles (74P-74B-75P), Carlota Ciganda (74B-72P-77P)
T121/+8 Jessica Yadloczky (76B-76P-72B), Lauren Doughtie (77P-71B-76P)
T132/+9 Joy Trotter (77B-74P-74B), Maiya Tanaka (76P-75B-74B)
T178/+13 Maria Laura Elvira (72P-77B-80B)
T203/+18 Ki-Shui Liao (83P-71B-80B)
T208/+20 Bo Bea Park (78B-81P-77B)
WD Junko Nakada (75P-72B-WD)

With the leaders finishing the tournament tomorrow on the Bobcat course and the rest of the field on the Panther course, I'll be curious to see who plays steady golf, who goes low, and who blows up.  But I'll be rooting for Hannah Yun to take medallist honors!

Japan Women's Open Thursday: Defending Champion Mika Miyazato Co-Leader at Even Par

Mika Miyazato loves the Japan Women's Open.  She bounced back from a heartbreaking Sunday breakdown in 2009 with a runaway wire-to-wire win in 2010.  And after today's 70, in which she mixed and matched 4 birdies with 4 bogeys, she's in perfect position to defend her title.  That's not to say it's going to be easy.  She's tied at E with Ji-Hee Lee, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Teresa Lu, and Kumiko Kaneda.  She's only 1-up on Chie Arimura, Na-Ri Kim, Young Kim, and Saiki Fujita.  Sun-Ju Ahn, Ai Miyazato, Eun-Hee Ji, Akiko Fukushima, Harukyo Nomura, and Ayako Uehara are among those only 2 behind.  Yuri Fudoh, Akane Iijima, Yukari Baba, and Mayu Hattori lead the chase pack from 3 back.  Heck, even though Momoko Ueda and Shanshan Feng opened with 75s and Sakura Yokomine and Bo-Bae Song with 76s, they're by no means out of this 72-hole tournament.

Here's how the leaders and notables stand at the end of the 1st round of the most important tournament of the year for women golfers in Japan:

T1/E Mika Miyazato, Ji-Hee Lee, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Teresa Lu, Kumiko Kaneda (70)
T6/+1 Chie Arimura, Na-Ri Kim, Young Kim, Saiki Fujita (71)
T10/+2 Sun-Ju Ahn, Ai Miyazato, Eun-Hee Ji, Akiko Fukushima, Harukyo Nomura, Ayako Uehara, Erika Kikuchi, Yui Kawahara (72)

T18/+3 Yuri Fudoh, Akane Iijima, Yukari Baba, Mayu Hattori, Eun-A Lim, Na-Ri Lee, Ah-Reum Hwang, Mamiko Higa [a] (73)
T27/+4 Rikako Morita, Ritsuko Ryu, Yuki Ichinose, Yun-Jye Wei, Miki Uehara, Chihiro Ikeda [a] (74)
T35/+5 Shanshan Feng, Momoko Ueda, Bo-Mee Lee, Rui Kitada, Asako Fujimoto, Ji-Woo Lee, Hinako Yamauchi [a], Haruka Morita [a] (75)
T47/+6 Sakura Yokomine, Bo-Bae Song, Tamie Durdin, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Eun-Bi Jang, Sakura Kito [a] (76)
T59/+7 Shinobu Moromizato, Hyun-Ju Shin, Li-Ying Ye, Kaori Aoyama, Megumi Kido (77)
T68/+8 Junko Omote (78)
T71/+9 Yuko Mitsuka, Rui Yokomine, Tao-Li Yang (79)
T83/+10 Soo-Yun Kang, Woo-Soon Ko (80)
T90/+11 Kaori Ohe, Maria Iida (81)
T94/+12 Miki Saiki, Sakurako Mori (82)
T99/+13 Maiko Wakabayashi (83)
WD Hiromi Mogi

If these scores don't convey how difficult Ohtone Country Club's East course is playing, consider that nobody could put together a bogey-free round, there were about as many double bogeys as birdies from the field, and Ai Miyazato made more bogeys (7) than pars (6) or birdies (5).  The usual crop of teenyboppers who are invited to play in this event did fairly well for themselves today; I'll have more on any of them who rise higher on the leaderboard in later rounds.  For now, the most interesting story to me is whether Mikan can shrug off her poor performance last Sunday when she had a chance to win and keep grinding away against a top-notch field.

Miho Koga to Retire from JLPGA

Miho Koga, a 12-time winner and 2008 money-list title holder on the JLPGA, announced recently that this will be her last season on tour.  Although she only turned 29 at the end of July, the Kumamoto native has been suffering from a nagging wrist injury since 2009 and has been slipping down JLPGA money lists ever since--plus since last fall she's been a victim of Japan's tabloid media for her rumored relationship with baseball star Darvish Yu.  My guess is that the mental strain of dealing with those kind of intrusions into her private life are playing a much bigger role than any physical issues she may have.

We'll see where Koga ends up on the career money list at the end of this, her 11th season on tour, but right now she's #15, with only 3 players in her generation (Sakura Yokomine, Ji-Hee Lee, and Mi-Jeong Jeon) ahead of her.  She missed her best chance for win #13 in the final round of the Meiji Chocolate Cup in early August; despite opening with a 63, she was overtaken by Shanshan Feng.  Otherwise, it's been pretty much the worst year of her career, with 7 missed cuts in 16 starts and a no-show at the Japan Women's Open this week (whether because she decided not to enter or failed to qualify, I don't know).  At least now we know why she was invited to play with Tiger Woods in that early-November charity match....

LPGA Q-School Stage 2, Round 2: Stephanie Na Goes Low

Stephanie Na fired a 66 in the 2nd round of the 2nd stage of LPGA Q-School to take a 1-shot lead on Junthima Gulyanamitta, a 2-shot lead on Lizette Salas, and a 3-shot lead on Hannah Yun and Ginger Howard.  On the other end of the leaderboard, many good golfers find themselves outside the magic top 70, including Danielle Kang, Brianna Do, Junko Nakada, Maria Laura Elvira, Katie Kempter, Lauren Doughtie, Kendall Dye, Esther Choe, Anya Sarai Alvarez, Jessica Yadloczky, and Bo Bea Park.  Meanwhile, 1st-round co-leader and amateur Alejandra Llaneza struggled, but stayed inside the top 25.

Here's how all the leaders and notables stand halfway through the competition, which is being played on the Panther and Bobcat courses at Plantation Golf and Country Club:

1st/-8 Stephanie Na (70P-66B)
2nd/-7 Junthima Gulyanamitta (69B-68P)
3rd/-6 Lizette Salas (69P-69B)
T4/-5 Ginger Howard (69B-70P), Hannah Yun (68P-71B)
T6/-4 Julia Boland (73B-67P), Rebecca Lee-Bentham (70B-70P), Patcharajutar Kongkraphan (69B-71P)
T9/-3 Laura Kueny (71B-70P), Thidapa Suwannapura (70B-71P), Lili Alvarez (70B-71P), Shayna Miyajima (70B-71P), Karlin Beck (70B-71P), Callie Nielson (69B-72P)

T15/-2 Victoria Tanco (71B-71P), Blair O'Neal (71B-71P), Stephanie Connelly (69B-73P)
T22/-1 Juliana Murcia Ortiz (73B-70P), Kristie Smith (70B-73P), Jacqui Concolino (69P-74B), Alejandra Llaneza (68P-75B)
T34/E Stephanie Kono (73B-71P), Mitsuki Katahira (70B-74P), Maude-Aimee LeBlanc (69P-75B)
T41/+1 Laura Bavaird (73P-72B), Megan McChrystal (71B-74P), Natalie Sheary (69P-76B)
T60/+2 Cydney Clanton (75P-71B), Carlota Ciganda (74B-72P), Eileen Vargas (74P-72B), Briana Vega (73B-73P), Izzy Beisiegel (73P-73B)

T78/+3 Brianna Do (75B-72P), Junko Nakada (75P-72B), Danielle Kang (73P-74B), Anya Sarai Alvarez (73P-74B)
T93/+4 Lauren Doughtie (77P-71B), Katie Kempter (74B-74P), Elena Robles (74P-74B), Sandra Changkija (73P-75B), Kendall Dye (72B-76P), Jenny Lee (71B-77P)
T110/+5 Esther Choe (74B-75P), Maria Laura Elvira (72P-77B), Joanna Coe (72B-77P)
T133/+6 Seema Sadekar (75B-75P)
T145/+7 Joy Trotter (77B-74P), Maiya Tanaka (76P-75B)
T161/+8 Jessica Yadloczky (76B-76P)
T180/+10 Ki-Shui Liao (83P-71B)
T213/+15 Bo Bea Park (78B-81P)

The leaders can be found on the Panther course later today.  It's worth checking out's wrap stories from the 1st and 2nd rounds for more on the leaders!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hannah Yun Co-Leader after 1st Round of 2nd Stage of LPGA Q-School

Hannah Yun and Alejandra Llaneza fired 68s to lead the 1st round of the 2nd stage of LPGA Q-School by a shot over a host of golfers, including Natalie Sheary, Lizette Salas, Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, Junthima Gulyanamitta, Patcharajutar Kongkraphan, Ginger Howard, Jacqui Concolino, and Stephanie Connelly.  While many of these players aren't household names by any stretch of the imagination, some of them have been tearing up the world's developmental tours in 2011.  Howard is a 5-time winner on the SunCoast Series, Kongkrapham is a 2-time winner on the CLPGA, Gulyanamitta is a 3-time winner on the Cactus Tour, and Concolino is a 2-time winner on the SunCoast Series, while Llaneza just won as an amateur on the Cactus Tour last week. 

Kristie Smith and Mitsuki Katahira headline the players 2 shots off the pace, while Victoria Tanco and Megan McChrystal are the most notable players at -1.  Rounding out the 57 players at E or better are the likes of Maria Laura Elvira and Kendall Dye.  Other notables didn't fare as well:  Danielle Kang, Stephanie Kono, Briana Vega, Juliana Murcia Ortiz, Anya Sarai Alvarez, and Isabelle Beisiegel are at +1, Carlota Ciganda, Katie Kempter, and Esther Choe are at +2, Brianna Do and Junko Nakada are at +3, Jessica Yadloczky is at +4, Joy Trotter (who won 3 times on the Cactus Tour in the spring) is at +5, and Bo Bae Park is at +6.  All in all 115 players broke 75 and 207 broke 80 on day 1.  With 54 holes to go, though, there's plenty of time for any of them to make the top 70 and ties and move on to Stage 3.

Tony Jesselli's LPGA Stats & Facts, "Vol 4"

We have have a week off between the Solheim Cup and the Hana Bank Championship, so let us take a look at some key statistics.

Players with most top 5 finishes this year:
Yani Tseng 9
Cristie Kerr 9
Angela Stanford 7
Paula Creamer 6
I.K. Kim 5

Players with most consecutive missed cuts:
Allison Hanna 11
Ji Young Oh 9
Jean Reynolds 8

Players who have not missed a cut this year:
Paula Creamer (All 17 tournaments)
Brittany Lincicome (17)
Karrie Webb (16)
Maria Hjorth (15)
Jiyai Shin (14)

Most tournaments played, without a top 20 finish:
Lindsey Wright 14
Meaghan Francella 13
Mariajo Uribe 12
Na On Min 11
Anna Grzebien 11
Ji Young Oh 11
Laura Davies 11
Karin Sjodin 11
Jennifer Rosales 11

Rookie of the Year race:
1- Hee Kyung Seo - 475 points (16 tournaments)
2- Tiffany Joh - 257 points (10 tournaments)
3- Ryann O'Toole - 209 points - (10 tournaments)
4- Christel Boeljon - 186 points (10 tournaments)
5- Jenny Shin - 182 points (11 tournaments)

Rolex Player of the Year: (Winner receives Hall of Fame point)
1 Yani Tseng 259.00
2 Stacy Lewis 115.00
3 Cristie Kerr 104.00
4 Suzann Pettersen 97.00
T5 Brittany Lincicome 82.00
T5 Karrie Webb 82.00
7 Angela Stanford 73.00
8 Paula Creamer 61.00
9 Morgan Pressel 60.00
10 Ai Miyazato 58.00

Vare Trophy Award: (Winner receives Hall of Fame point)
1- Yani Tseng - 69.71 (strokes per round)
2- Cristie Kerr - 70.46
3- Stacy Lewis - 70.68
4- Suzann Pettersen - 70.88
5- Brittany Lincicome - 70.90
6- Paula Creamer - 70.92
T7- Jiyai Shin - 70.96
T7- Na Yeon Choi - 70.96
9- I.K. Kim - 71.04
10-Amy Yang - 71.07

Rolex Rankings Mover of the Week:
Shanshan Feng - Winner of last week's JLPGA event, moves from #28 to #23.

Hard to believe Stat of the Week:
Paula Creamer lost just one of her five Solheim matches last week. She has now played in 19 Solheim Cup matches in her career......and lost only 3.

Monday, September 26, 2011

10 Reasons Team U.S.A. Could Not Retain Cup.

I sit here, still wiping the tears from my eyes over what happened this weekend at Killeen Castle. I ask myself how could the U.S.A. team lose, when Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, and Ryann O'Toole lost only one of 13 matches between them? Yes, they went 9-1-3 in a tournament where they only needed 14 points to win. All the other 9 members needed to do was get 5 more points. They couldn't do it. Here are my top 10 reasons (in reverse order), of why I think the U.S. team lost.

10- Brittany Lincicome - On the surface her 2-2-0 record was not that bad. A closer look will tell you that her two wins both came paired with Paula Creamer, who was winning those matches single handed. The singles match between her and Christel Boeljon, was one I thought would be in the American column; I was wrong. Brittany had at least 4 chances on the back 9 to sink a putt to square the match, but couldn't salvage even a half point by making one.

9- Cristie Kerr injury - I don't want to rank this higher, as It would appear I am using it as an excuse. That said, it has to be mentioned that if Kerr plays and wins her match, the U.S. team retains the cup.

8- Brittany Lang - Although partially redeeming herself with her singles win, that was her only point in four matches.

7- The European team wanted it more - Was it because the U.S. dominated this event over the past years? I don't know for sure, but the U.S team (with very few exceptions), never seemed as motivated as I have seen them in previous Solheim matches.

6- Stacy Lewis - If there is such a thing as being too intense, it surely applies here. As we have seen all year, if she has one bad hole, she has a hard time putting it behind her. I was expecting better than a 1-3 record from this girl. Rosie Jones said, "I put Ryann out with her, to calm her down." What's wrong with that picture?

5- The format used to pick the U.S. team - Yes I know they have been successful using this before. That does not mean I have to like it. The Europeans take the top 4 from the points list, top 4 from the Rolex Rankings, and 4 captain's picks. The U.S takes the top ten from the points list, and 2 captain's picks. It has now been changed for upcoming years to the top 8 from the points list, next 2 from the Rolex Rankings, and 2 Captain's picks. In my opinion, Christina Kim and Juli Inkster were not playing well and did not belong on the team. They were numbers 9 and 10. They would not have been on the team, in this new format.

4- Rosie Jones - She kept putting the same losing teams out to play together, only to lose again. Inkster/Lang and Stanford/Lewis needed to be broken up. Rosie said later, "She did it against her better judgement." Wish she would have elaborated on that.

3- Juli Inkster - She missed putts of 2 feet on both the 15th and 16th hole in her singles match with Laura Davies. The match ended all square. Julie finished 0-2-1.  We all admire what she has accomplished, and that she is still competitive at her age, but I hope we never see her play again in a Solheim Cup match. I would like to see her as the 2013 captain.

2- Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson were great - Though I am focusing on what the U.S. did wrong, I have to congratulate Suzann and Sophie for carrying the European team on their shoulders. Suzann was spectacular down the stretch, beating Michelle Wie (who played better than her record indicated), and Sophie was 4-0.

1- Angela Stanford - She was a mess from beginning to end. She lost every match she played in. If she gave the U.S. just one point, they would have retained the cup. She has just 3 wins in 13 lifetime Solheim matches, which scares me for 2013.

I want to close by saying how much I admired Morgan Pressel's performance. Down in a number of her matches, she would not even think about the possibility of losing. She finished 4-0-0. She has only lost 2 of 11 lifetime matches.

I will close by saying how well Ryann O'Toole played. She finished 2-0-2. It is unfortunate the tournament ended on her match, which finished all square. Ryann stepped up Friday and Saturday and kept the U.S. team in it, when many of our veterans didn't show up. The final scene of her crying with her parents,was a very sad one. Ryann, hold your head up high.....we are proud of you.

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Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open Overview: Shanshan Feng Blows by Yuri Fudoh and Shiho Oyama

When Shanshan Feng made her 1st bogey of the week on her 45th hole in the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open, it dropped her back to -1 for the day and -5 for the tournament and left her 3 shots behind JLPGA legend and 2nd-round leader Yuri Fudoh, 1 shot behind resurgent veteran Shiho Oyama, tied with fellow 1-time winner Kumiko Kaneda, and barely ahead of a host of talented golfers, including veteran Ji-Hee Lee and the winless and suddenly imploding Asako Fujimoto and Chiharu Tsunekawa at -4, a similarly self-destructing Kumiko Kaneda as well as a charging Yukari Baba and Mayu Hattori at -3, and non-JLPGA member and 1st-round co-leader Mika Miyazato at -2 (who was beginning to recover from 4 bogeys made in her 1st 7 holes). 

But Feng didn't lose patience on the back 9 and slowly made up ground on Fudoh:  pars on 10 and 11 cut the lead to 2, thanks to a Fudoh bogey on 9; a birdie on the 386-yard par-4 12th cut it to 1; and a string of 4 pars in a row enabled her to pull even with Fudoh, as the Billion Yen Woman bogeyed the 154-yard par-3 15th to fall back to -6.  And what of Oyama?  Playing in the final group with Fudoh, she, too, made a pair of bogeys, on two medium-length par 4s, the 13th and the 16th, to fall 2 shots behind the co-leaders.  By the time Feng reached the 17th tee, everyone else had fallen even further off the pace:  Kaneda followed up her bogey-free 33 on the front with a double on the 10 and killed her chances with back-to-back bogeys later on the back; Fujimoto fell apart by playing her last 10 holes birdieless and +4; a slew of bogeys on the back ended Baba's and Hattori's charges; and Feng's playing partners stalled, with Lee parring out to end the day at -4--a mark Tsunekawa would soon match from the final group--while Miyazato could only join Kaneda and a late-charging Junko Omote at -3 by following up her opening 40 with a bogey-free 34.

So in the end it came down to the final 2 holes.  And when Feng birdied both the medium-length holes as Oyama could only manage one on the penultimate par 4 and Fudoh one on the final par 5, well, Shanshan had won her 2nd JLPGA title in only her 6th start as a member.  Here's how the final leaderboard looked:

1st/-8 Shanshan Feng (70-70-68)
2nd/-7 Yuri Fudoh (68-69-72)
3rd/-5 Shiho Oyama (69-69-73)
T4/-4 Ji-Hee Lee (69-71-72), Chiharu Tsunekawa (68-70-74)
T6/-3 Junko Omote (72-71-70), Kumiko Kaneda (70-72-71), Mika Miyazato (68-71-74)
T9/-2 Ji-Woo Lee (72-69-73), Yukari Baba (70-71-73), Asako Fujimoto (70-71-73)

T12/-1 Mayu Hattori (71-73-71), Rikako Morita (75-67-73), Hiromi Mogi (71-71-73), Esther Lee (72-69-74)
T17/E Teresa Lu (71-74-71), Na-Ri Lee (73-71-72), Kaori Aoyama (71-71-74), Bo-Bae Song (70-71-75)
T23/+1 Sakura Yokomine (73-71-73), Megumi Kido (70-71-76)
T26/+2 Erina Hara (73-73-72), Akane Iijima (71-75-72), Ai Miyazato (73-72-73), Rui Kitada (72-72-74), Yuki Ichinose (70-74-74), Saiki Fujita (72-70-76)
T35/+3 Erina Yamato (76-71-72), Shinobu Moromizato (70-75-74), Mika Takushima (72-72-75), Eun-A Lim (70-72-77)
T40/+4 Sakurako Mori (73-73-74)
T42/+5 Hee Young Park (71-74-76), Mina Nakayama (71-74-76)
47th/+6 Chie Arimura (73-72-77)

MC:  Kaori Ohe (77-71), Ayako Uehara (75-73), Miki Saiki (74-75), Inbee Park (77-72), Yuko Mitsuka (78-72), Eun-Bi Jang (76-74), Momoko Ueda (75-75), Maiko Wakabayashi (75-75), Erika Kikuchi (75-75), Yumiko Yoshida (78-73), Rui Yokomine (75-76), Yun-Jye Wei (71-80), Serena Aoki (80-72), Lala Anai (79-73), Miki Sakai (78-74), Kotono Kozuna (76-76), Miki Uehara (76-77), Aiko Ueno (77-77), Ah-Reum Hwang (80-75), Tao-Li Yang (76-80), Miho Koga (80-77)

As you can see, LPGAers and ex-LPGAers for the most part didn't fare nearly so well as Feng, Park, and even Mikan, nor did the players at the top of the JLPGA money list (besides Lee) who had a real chance to make a move on the idle Sun-Ju Ahn:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥72.55M
2. Sakura Yokomine ¥68.23M
3. Chie Arimura ¥63.93M
4. Ji-Hee Lee ¥62.62M
5. Miki Saiki ¥60.50M
6. Yuri Fudoh ¥47.73M
7. Shanshan Feng ¥44.42M
8. Mayu Hattori ¥40.55M
9. Ritsuko Ryu ¥36.98M
10. Kumiko Kaneda ¥34.46M
11. Hiromi Mogi ¥33.45M
12. Ayako Uehara ¥31.17M
13. Rui Kitada ¥30.32M
14. Yuko Mitsuka ¥28.70M
15. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥28.55M
16. Junko Omote ¥28.36M
17. Bo-Bae Song ¥26.57M
18. Rikako Morita ¥25.36M
19. Na-Ri Kim ¥24.84M
20. Li-Ying Ye ¥24.74M
21. Inbee Park ¥24.33M
22. Yukari Baba ¥23.55M
23. Asako Fujimoto ¥22.58M
24. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥22.37M
25. Saiki Fujita ¥21.97M
26. Akiko Fukushima ¥19.83M
27. Eun-Bi Jang ¥19.77M
28. Soo-Yun Kang ¥18.96M
29. Shiho Oyama ¥18.86M
30. Ji-Woo Lee ¥17.70M
31. Teresa Lu ¥17.54M
32. Eun-A Lim ¥17.38M
33. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥17.26M
34. Esther Lee ¥16.62M
35. Shinobu Moromizato ¥16.41M
36. Bo-Mee Lee ¥16.34M
37. Kaori Aoyama ¥15.58M
38. Na-Ri Lee ¥14.85M
39. Momoko Ueda ¥14.79M
40. Nikki Campbell ¥14.03M
41. So-Hee Kim ¥13.81M
42. Young Kim ¥13.66M
43. Akane Iijima ¥13.27M
44. Yumiko Yoshida ¥12.99M
45. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥12.11M
46. Miho Koga ¥11.95M
47. Ji-Yai Shin ¥11.91M
48. Megumi Kido ¥11.75M
49. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥10.80M
50. Mie Nakata ¥10.25M

With Ai Miyazato and Hee Young Park still outside the top 75, time is running out on their bids to keep their JLPGA cards.  Of the 2, though, only Ai-sama is entered in the Japan Women's Open for this week.  Feng's win got her into the field of the biggest tournament of the year for women in Japan, but neither Hee Young nor Inbee Park could join her. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Best-Laid Plans....

So my little experiment in word-of-mouth-only news of the Solheim Cup resulted in my parents once forgetting not to tell me where things stood in the middle of day 2, and no other words from anyone I encountered in Albany or on the road.  And then I came home to discover I forgot to tape the coverage!

So I'm relying on Brent Kelley and Hound Dog to fill me in on how Team Euro beat Team U.S.A. 15-13.  But I'm too down to go look at scorecards and try to piece together how the team matches played out.

More later (sniff)....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tiger Filling Out His Fall Schedule--in Japan

Thanks to Larry the Looper for a link to the news that Tiger Woods will play a 9-hole exhibition on November 1 against JLPGA stars Miho Koga, Shinobu Moromizato, and Rui Kitada at the site of the Masters GC Ladies in Miki City, Hyogo, Japan.  (Although I shouldn't be thanking Mr. Life on Tour for the link because all I needed to do was visit Tiger's own website!)  The total donation for Japanese tsunami/earthquake relief will be 45 million yen, divided equally among the 3 hardest-hit prefectures. 

Imagine how much more they could have raised if they had landed Japanese women who are actually playing some good golf right now like Sakura Yokomine, Chie Arimura, and Miki Saiki--or even bigger global stars like Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, and Yuri Fudoh.  Sure, Koga won there more recently and more often than Ai Miyazato (2006 and 2007 vs. 2004), but Yokomine is the defending champion (and will have taken her shot at the title defense a couple of weeks before the start of the exhibition) and is currently #2 on the JLPGA money list, while Kitada at #13 is the highest-ranked of those actually playing (Moromizato's at #34 and Koga's at #46). 

Sounds to me like someone's worried about being upstaged at "Challenge!  Tiger Woods"--or maybe it's just that TW's advances were rejected by those who are already bigger stars than he is in Japan!

Solheim Madness

I'm hoping the Solheim Cup acts as a kind of gateway drug this week for people who aren't already fans of the LPGA, but the title of this post doesn't just allude to Reefer Madness; it also refers to a little experiment I'm going to be conducting over the next few days, as well. 

You see, contrary to Steve Elling 's view that the NFL and Fed Ex Cup finale will trump the Solheim Cup for most Americans, it's actually my union's delegate assembly in Albany tomorrow and Saturday that's going to be forcing me to utilize the newfangled technology of the DVR to catch up on the live action that I'll be missing.  So what's the experiment?  Without actively seeking to find out what happened before I fire up the DVR Saturday night--that is, no web surfing or newspaper scanning, no Golf Channel peeking, no highlights-seeking--I'm going to wait and see how much information about it comes to me "on its own," so to speak.  Who, in other words, is not only watching the extensive coverage of the Solheim Cup that Bill Jempty and Ruthless Mike are so excited about, and is not only more passionate about it than other options like Jeff Skinner, but is also willing to talk about it to other people?  What kind and quality of information can I get about the Solheim Cup simply by waiting for word of mouth to make its way to me?

So, farewell, gentle readers, until after I catch up with all the Cup coverage (probably sometime in the wee hours of Monday morning if I'm lucky).  I'll leave you with the links to my own preview as well as those by others such as Hound Dog, Brent Kelley, Ron Sirak, Beth Ann Baldry, Ryan Ballengee, Emily Kay, Shane Bacon.

Oh, and even if I still favor my own idea of getting all 4 major women's golf tours together to play the Solheim (U.S. and Europe) and Pinx/Kyoraku Cups (Japan vs. Korea) in odd-numbered years and have the winners and losers face off in even-numbered years, I wouldn't mind seeing just about any kind of showcasing of a wider range of the best women's players on the planet in a team-golf match-play format, such as:

  • the return of the Lexus Cup, which was modelled after the President's Cup format of the US vs. the world;
  • the addition to the Solheim Cup of a Team Asia that would play this year's loser next year for the privilege of facing this year's winner in 2013;
  • the addition to the Solheim Cup of a Team Asia (Korea, China, Thailand, India, and probably Taiwan for political reasons) and a Team Pacific (Japan, Australia, Mexico, Colombia, Philippines, etc.) that would compete in 2012 to decide who faces this year's Solheim Cup winner and loser in 2013;
  • the creation of a totally new international competition modelled after soccer's World Cup, where every nation that can field a 6-member team gets to attempt qualifying in their own region for the privilege of competing in the cup itself.
Feel free to discuss while I'm away from golfoblogaramaville!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Will Steve Elling please pick up the blue courtesy phone

The writer whines about the LPGA Tour again.

The scheduling of these LPGA-sanctioned events continues to baffle one and all. Why have this event the same week as the PGA Tour's bazillion-dollar finale? With the choice between watching the Solheim or the East Lake event, most Americans will, of course, choose ... football. Hey, at least I am honest.
Steve, you're not being honest. You're being a total imbecile. When does this weekend's Solheim Cup go up against any form of football?

The Solheim's television schedule-

# Friday: 2:30 am - 1:00 pm (replay 10:00 pm - 12:30 am)
# Saturday: 2:30 am - 1:00 pm (replay 7:00 - 10:00 pm)
# Sunday: 5:00 am-11:30 am, plus Closing Ceremony (replay 8:00 - 10:00 pm)
The only time Football goes up against the Solheim is Saturday afternoon for an hour(or two. The matches are known for running late)

On Sunday the television coverage ends 90 minutes before the NFL begins playing. There is no football vs. Solheim Cup choosing to be done.

Elling has been showing signs of carrying a grudge against the LPGA ever since he wrote this column which I took to a shredder here. If he picks up the courtesy phone, I will recommend he see a good proctologist. So as to get his head out of his ass.

Hat tip- Geoff Shackelford

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Year - Part 2

As we get ready for the Solheim Cup to begin, let us see what players made the biggest leaps and dives in the Rolex Rankings this year.

Rolex ranks the ladies based on average points per event on a rolling 2-year calendar. For example, Yani Tseng (the #1 player in the world), has accumulated 824.77 points playing in 50 events over that period, for an average of 16.50 points per tournament. I have gone back to the first published RR of the year and compared them to the rankings released this week. The only requirement for my list is that a player must have been in the top 100 at the start of the year or the top 100 now.

This year's Biggest Winners:

1- Yani Tseng - 9.25 to 16.50 - Gain of 6.75 (moved from #5 to #1)
2- Stacy Lewis - 3.23 to 7.16 - Gain of 3.93 (Move 37-10)
3- Brittany Lincicome - 4.42 to 7.25 - Gain of 2.83 (move 21-9)
4- Caroline Hedwall - 0.19 to 2.97 - Gain of 2.78 (move 351-41)
5- Kumiko Kaneda - 0.49 to 2.63 - Gain of 2.14 (move 234-49)
6- Shanshan Feng - 1.85 to 3.89 - Gain of 2.04 (move 79-28)
7- Sandra Gal - 1.11 to 2.96 - Gain of 1.85 (move 126-42)
8- Tiffany Joh - 0.20 to 2.03 - Gain of 1.83 (move 346-71)
9- So-Yeon Ryu - 2.83 to 4.63 - Gain of 1.80 (move 42-25)
10-Suzann Pettersen - 10.12 to 11.89 - Gain of 1.77 (move 3-2)
11-Miki Saiki - 3.06 to 4.80 - Gain of 1.74 (move 39-22)
12-Cristie Kerr - 10.14 to 11.71 - Gain of 1.57 (move 2-3)
13-Ji-Hee Lee - 3.33 to 4.64 - Gain of 1.31 (move 30-24)
14-Amy Yang - 3.98 to 5.27 - Gain of 1.29 (move 25-18)
15-Lexi Thompson - 1.64 to 2.87 - Gain of 1.23 (move 89-44)

This Year's Biggest Losers:

1- Song-Hee Kim - 6.98 - to 5.17 - Loss of 1.81 (move 9-20)
2- Jiyai Shin - 10.60 to 8.87 - Loss of 1.73 (move 1-5)
3- Ai Miyazato - 9.47 to 7.88 - Loss of 1.58 (move 6-7)
4- Anna Nordqvist - 5.12 to 3.74 - Loss of 1.38 (move 14-31)
5- Shinobu Moromizato - 3.27 to 1.90 - Loss of 1.37 (move 35-79)
6- M.J. Hur - 2.80 to 1.49 - Loss of 1.31 (move 44-110)
7- Mi-Jeong Jeon - 5.09 to 3.81 - Loss of 1.28 (move 15-30)
8- Jee Young Lee - 3.20 to 1.95 - Loss of 1.25 (move 38-77)
9- Lindsey Wright - 2.33 to 1.10 - Loss of 1.23 (move 64-146)
10-Katherine Hull - 4.58 to 3.37 - Loss of 1.21 (move 19-33)
11-Kristy McPherson - 3.27 to 2.06 - Loss of 1.21 (move 34-68)
12-Na Yeon Choi - 10.00 to 9.00 - Loss of 1.00 (move 4-4)
13-Laura Davies - 2.67 to 1.72 - Loss of 0.90 (move 49-88)
14-Christina Kim - 2.60 to 1.72 - Loss of 0.88 (move 51-93)
15-Momoko Ueda - 2.80 to 1.99 - Loss of 0.81 (move 45-74)

I will review this once again, at the end of the season.

Some Extra Stuff:

Rolex Movers of the Week:
Lexi Thompson moves from #124 to #44
Tiffany Joh moves from #135 to #71

Louise Friberg Watch:
Ms. Friberg missed the cut for the 13th consecutive time. She did get the last laugh by ending this headline..... she retired!

The Titleholders Championship:
Latest to qualify are Lexi Thompson, Tiffany Joh, and Giulia Sergas.

Hard to Believe Stats of the Week:
M.J. Hur has missed the cut in 6 of her last 7 tournaments.

The 2011 Women's Worldwide Professional Golf Schedule and Results

With the cancellation of the LPGA's China event and new information on LET Q-School, I thought I'd better provide a new update of the LPGA's, JLPGA's, KLPGA's, and LET's 2011 schedules and most recent winners.

Note: A [D] following a player's name indicates that she is the defending champion of a tournament that has not yet been completed.


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


3-6: ISPS HANDA Women's Australian Open (LET/ALPG) YA NI TSENG

10-13: ANZ RACV Ladies Masters (LET/ALPG) YA NI TSENG

17-20: Honda LPGA Thailand (LPGA) YA NI TSENG; Pegasus New Zealand Women's Open (LET/ALPG) KRISTIE SMITH

24-27: HSBC Women's Champions (LPGA) KARRIE WEBB

MARCH 2011

4-6: Daikin Orchid Ladies Open (JLPGA) INBEE PARK

11-13: Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup (JLPGA) YUN JYE WEI [D] [cancelled due to earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis]

18-20: RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup (LPGA) [new event] KARRIE WEBB; T Points Ladies Open (JLPGA) RUI KITADA [D] [cancelled due to earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis]

24-27: Kia Classic (LPGA) SANDRA GAL

31-4/3: Kraft Nabisco Championship (LPGA major) STACY LEWIS; Lalla Meryem Cup (LET) ZUZANA KAMASOVA

APRIL 2011

1-3: Yamaha Ladies Open (JLPGA) MIHO KOGA [D] [cancelled due to earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis]

8-10: Studio Alice Ladies Open (JLPGA) CHIE ARIMURA [D] [cancelled due to earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis]

14-17: LOTTE Mart Ladies Open (KLPGA) HYUN HWA SHIM; European Nations Cup (LET team event) SWEDEN
15-17: Nishijin Ladies Classic (JLPGA) YURI FUDOH

22-24: Fujisankei Ladies Classic (JLPGA) KUMIKO KANEDA; Hyundai E&C Seokyung Ladies Open (KLPGA) HA NEUL KIM

28-5/1: Avnet LPGA Classic (LPGA) MARIA HJORTH
29-5/1: Cyber Agent Ladies Cup (JLPGA) YURI FUDOH

MAY 2011

5-8: Salonpas Cup (JLPGA major) SUN-JU AHN; Turkish Airlines Turkish Ladies Open (LET) CHRISTEL BOELJON

12-15: Taeyoung Cup Korean Women's Open (KLPGA major) YEON JOO JEONG
13-15: Fundokin Ladies (JLPGA) MIKI SAIKI; ISPS Handa Portugal Ladies Open (LET) ASHLEIGH SIMON

19-22: Sybase Match Play Championship (LPGA) SUZANN PETTERSEN; Unicredit Ladies German Open (LET) DIANA LUNA
20-22: Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open (JLPGA) HARUKYO NOMURA; Rush & Cash Charity Classic (KLPGA) SUNG HYUN LEE

26-29: Doosan Match Play Championship (KLPGA) SOO-JIN YANG; Ladies Slovak Open (LET) CAROLINE HEDWALL
27-29: Yonex Ladies (JLPGA) HIROMI MOGI

JUNE 2011

3-5: ShopRite LPGA Classic (LPGA) BRITTANY LINCICOME; Resort Trust Ladies Open (JLPGA) SAKURA YOKOMINE; Woori Investment & Securities Ladies Championship (KLPGA) SUL AH YOON; Deloitte Dutch Ladies Open (LET) MELISSA REID

9-12: LPGA State Farm Classic (LPGA) YA NI TSENG; Suntory Ladies Open (JLPGA) SUN-JU AHN
10-12: Tenerife Ladies Match Play (LET) BECKY BREWERTON; Lotte Cantata Women's Open SBS Tour (KLPGA) SO YEON RYU

16-19: Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open (LET) DIANA LUNA
17-19: Nichirei PGM Ladies (JLPGA) JI-HEE LEE; S-OIL Champions Invitational (KLPGA) MI RIM LEE

23-26: Wegmans LPGA Championship (LPGA major) YA NI TSENG

30-7/2 Finnair Ladies Masters (LET) CAROLINE HEDWALL

JULY 2011

1-3: Nichi-Iko Ladies Open (JLPGA) AYAKO UEHARA

7-10: U.S. Women's Open (LPGA major) SO YEON RYU

15-17: Stanley Ladies (JLPGA) CHIE ARIMURA

21-24: Evian Masters (LPGA limited-field event/LET major) AI MIYAZATO

26-20: Stage 1 (LPGA Q-School) LEXI THOMPSON
28-31: Ricoh Women's British Open (LPGA/LET major) YA NI TSENG
29-31: SBS Tour Hidden Valley Ladies Open (KLPGA) HYUN MIN PYUN


5-7: Meiji Chocolate Cup (JLPGA) SHANSHAN FENG; Ladies Irish Open (LET) SUZANN PETTERSEN

12-14: NEC Karuizawa 72 Ladies (JLPGA) SUN-JU AHN

17-19: Stage 1 (JLPGA Q-School) YANG PAN RED [?] (District B)
18-20: Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open (LET) CATRIONA MATTHEW
18-21: Nefs Masterpiece (KLPGA) JUNG EUN LEE 5

24-26: Stage 1 (JLPGA Q-School) YUSHU YAO XUAN (District A), XIE LING ? (District C)
25-28: CN Canadian Women's Open (LPGA) BRITTANY LINCICOME
26-28: Nitori Ladies Cup (JLPGA) RITSUKO RYU; LIG Ladies Classic (KLPGA) HYUN HEE MOON


1-4: Hanhwa Finance Network Open (KLPGA) NA YEON CHOI
2-4: Golf5 Ladies (JLPGA) LI-YING YE; UNIQA Ladies Golf Open (LET) CAROLINE HEDWALL

8-11: Konica Minolta Cup (JLPGA major) YUKO MITSUKA; Prague Golf Masters (LET) JADE SCHAEFFER
9-11: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship (LPGA) YA NI TSENG

15-18: Navistar LPGA Classic (LPGA) LEXI THOMPSON; Open de Espana Femenino (LET) MELISSA REID
16-18: Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic (JLPGA) MAYU HATTORI

22-25: MetLife Hankyung KLPGA Championship (KLPGA major) HJ CHOI
23-25: Solheim Cup (LPGA/LET team competition) EUROPE; Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open (JLPGA) SHANSHAN FENG

27-30: Stage 2 (LPGA Q-School) GINGER HOWARD
29-10/2: Japan Women's Open (JLPGA major) YUKARI BABA; Lacoste Open de France Feminin (LET) FELICITY JOHNSON
30-10/2: Daewoo Securities Ladies Open (KLPGA) YU NA PARK


7-9: LPGA Hana Bank Championship (LPGA/KLPGA) YA NI TSENG; Sankyo Ladies Open (JLPGA) SUN-JU AHN; Sicilian Ladies Italian Open (LET) CHRISTINA KIM

13-16: Hite/Jinro Cup Championship (KLPGA major) HA NEUL KIM
14-16: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia (LPGA) NA YEON CHOI; Fujitsu Ladies (JLPGA) SAIKI FUJITA

20-23: Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship (LPGA) YA NI TSENG
21-23: Masters GC Ladies (JLPGA) SHIHO OYAMA; Sanya Ladies Open (LET/CLPGA) FRANCES BONDAD

27-30: 2011 KB Star Tour Grand Final (KLPGA major) AMY YANG
28-30: Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Weider Ladies (JLPGA) CHIE ARIMURA; Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open (LET/CLPGA) YA NI TSENG


2-4: Stage 2 (JLPGA Q-School) DA E NA (Kyoto); YA-HUEI LU (Ibaraki); MEGUMI SHIMOKAWA (Gunma); MAMI FUKUDA (Mie)
4-6: Mizuno Classic (LPGA/JLPGA) MOMOKO UEDA;  Daishin Securities-Tomato M Korea-European Ladies Masters (KLPGA/LET) HYUN-JI KIM [D] EDaily Kim Young Joo (KYJ) Golf Ladies Open (KLPGA) HA NEUL KIM

10-13: Lorena Ochoa Invitational (LPGA) CATRIONA MATTHEW
11-13: Ito-En Ladies (JLPGA) ASAKO FUJIMOTO; Sambu-Tani Ladies Open (KLPGA) [new event?]

17-20: CME Group Titleholders (LPGA) HEE YOUNG PARK
18-20: Daio Paper ElleAir Ladies (JLPGA) JI-HEE LEE; ADT CAPS Championship 2011 (KLPGA) YOUNG-RAN CHO

22-24: Stage 3 (JLPGA Q-School)
24-27: Ricoh Cup (JLPGA major) INBEE PARK [D]

29-12/2: Final Qualifying Tournament (JLPGA Q-School)
30-12/4: Final Qualifying Tournament (LPGA Q-School)


3-4: Pinx Cup (KLPGA/JLPGA team competition) [cancelled 2010]

9-11: Hero Women's Indian Open (LET) LAURA DAVIES [D]

14-17: Omega Dubai Ladies Masters (LET) IBEN TINNING [D]


8-11: Pre-Qualifying Tournament (LET Q-School)

15-19: Final Qualifying Tournament (LET Q-School)


I'll add in dates for the KLPGA's Q-School when I find them.

Not a Golf Ball


Monday, September 19, 2011

Navistar Classic Sunday: Lexi Thompson Comes of Age

One moment from the final round of the Navistar Classic will live forever in my memory.   It came on the 16th tee, seconds after Lexi Thompson, who had seen her lead shrink from 7 shots to 3 after making back-to-back bogeys for the 1st time all week even as playing partner Tiffany Joh began a run of 4 birdies in a row, realized that her tee shot on the short par 3 had caught the same ridge Joh's had just earlier and tracked even closer to the cup than had Joh's stellar approach.  The Golf Channel's cameras, zooming in on the pair near their bags as they waited for Meena Lee to tee off, captured the perfect reaction shot:  Joh looked back at Thompson, Thompson caught her eye, and both players began laughing in awe and disbelief at what they had just done.  From their body language after their balls had left their clubs, it looked like each thought she had pulled her shot too far left to catch the ridge, so there was a little bit of relief in that not-quite-girlish not-quite-giggle, but on the whole I would say it was more of a kind of "Can you believe what we just did?" amazed laugh.  For two young golfers in the heat of career-defining competition to share a moment like that was simply awesome, and speaks volumes to how entertaining and inspiring the LPGA can be.  The mutual respect and enjoyment in each other's achievements they exhibited then carried over to their post-round interviews and is something everyone in sports should try to learn from and emulate.  But the best thing about it was its spontaneity.

I have to add that as a super-fan of Joh's (and of close finishes no matter who's involved), I sure wish she had sunk that 8-footer to make it 5 straight birdies and put extra pressure on the 16-year-old phenom, and I definitely wish she hadn't chunked her little wedge approach on the par-5 17th.  But, hey, at least she put together a better finish over those last three holes than the bogey-double-bogey end to Friday's round that in retrospect really cost her the tournament.  More important, her solo 2nd was the best finish of her short LPGA career, moving her up to #33 on the money list, to a (distant) #2 in the Rookie of the Year race behind Hee Kyung Seo and ahead of Ryann O'Toole, and to #5 on the points list for the 2013 Solheim Cup.  Joh's birdie run helped her steal low rookie honors from the ever-steady Jenny Shin, whose putter finally caught up on Sunday with her amazing ball-striking all tournament (Shin ended up hitting 62 of 72 greens on the Senator course, 1 fewer than Thompson, and making only 3 bogeys all week, 2 fewer than Thompson), and from Jennifer Johnson, whose commitment to donate half of her winnings to the Wounded Warriors project won her even more respect than her -8 total for the week.  And best of all, it means she gets to travel to Asia in October and November and maybe get used to challenging the "big guns" she confessed to feeling intimidated by after the Wegmans LPGA Championship in June. 

OK, enough about the player who came in 2nd by 5 shots to the player everyone--from Hound Dog to Karen Crouse, Beth Ann Baldry to Randall MellGeoff Shackelford to the SI guysStephanie Wei to Emily Kay, Armchair Golfer to Jeff Skinner--can't stop talking about.  And why should we?  Lexi Thompson made history at the Navistar and there's every reason to expect her to continue doing so.  Sure, she got a little lucky that so many top golfers skipped the event, Ya Ni Tseng played badly, Suzann Pettersen played hurt, Stacy Lewis couldn't get along with her putter, Cristie Kerr missed the cut, and the rest of those who did make it seemed to be playing Chutes and Ladders rather than elite golf, but the bottom line is that Thompson put it all together in a week nobody else could.  Does this mean she would dominate the LPGA were Mike Whan to decide after the Solheim Cup to allow her to start her rookie season in 2012 at age 17 (as he so obviously should)?  I think not.  Before golfoblogorama crowns her Rookie of the Year more than a year in advance, it's worth pointing out that the KLPGA's So Yeon Ryu, who won a much more pressure-packed event on a much more difficult course and who has loads more experience with the ups and downs of professional golf, has already made it known that she'll be a member of the Class of '12, that Sydnee Michaels could well be the Ryann O'Toole of that class, and that there are plenty of great golfers who will be playing the 2nd stage at the end of September who should join them and who don't plan on getting beaten by Thompson by 10 or more shots (as she did in the 1st stage) every tournament they enter.  What's more, for every Paula Creamer and Ji-Yai Shin and Ya Ni Tseng who take off quickly as rookies, there are many more (like '11ers Jennifer Song and Jessica Korda, '10ers Amanda Blumenherst and Mina Harigae, '09ers Stacy Lewis, Mika Miyazato, and Vicky Hurst, and '08ers Amy Yang, Momoko Ueda, Hee Young Park, and Shanshan Feng--just to name a few) who are taking the long way to greatness.  Heck, even Lorena and Annika's rookie seasons weren't all that incredible.

As for toppling the Tseng Dynasty, which I speculated on only a day ago, only time will tell.  Now is the time to appreciate what a fantastic week Lexi put together, enjoy the spirit of excellence, competitiveness, and camaraderie she embodied, and look forward to the Solheim Cup!

[Update 1 (11:49 pm):  Wow, not only does bangkokbobby appear to be on the same writing schedule as me, he even came up with the same idea for his title as I did for mine!  Clearly a great minds moment!]

[Update 2 (9/20/11, 9:59 am):  Here's Ruthless Mike's overview of and take on the membership question.]

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lexi Thompson Becomes the Youngest Player to Win on the LPGA Tour

Much is going to be written about what took place this weekend at the Navistar Classic. This is one that will be talked about for years to come. At the tender age of 16, Lexi Thompson has become the youngest player to win a tournament in LPGA history. She did it in a big way, winning by 5 strokes over LPGA rookie Tiffany Joh!

I will leave the recap to The Contructivist, who I am sure is working on that now.
I just want to add that my wife and I (see above picture with Lexi) have known Lexi for a number of years, and she is such a wonderful person to be around. She always makes herself available to all her fans. It is for moments like this that we love the LPGA. Watching both Lexi and Tiffany, I think we got a glimpse this weekend of two future members of the 2013 Solheim cup team.

Congratulations Lexi, on a job well done!

Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic Sunday: Mayu Hattori Holds Off Kumiko Kaneda for 3rd Career JLPGA Victory

Alas, after Shiho Oyama got to -9 for the week at the Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic with a birdie on the 371-yard par-4 2nd hole, the 2nd-round leader's comeback effort went into a tailspin, due to 5 bogeys and no birdies in her next 12 holes.  Playing partner Mayu Hattori was the beneficiary of Oyama's collapse, as she weathered a charge by Kumiko Kaneda.  Kaneda caught Hattori on the 7th hole at -8 with her 4th birdie of the day but she faltered on the back, offsetting her 3 birdies with 3 bogeys in a 6-hole stretch in which Hattori steadily climbed to -9 on the par-3 11th and -10 on the par-5 15th.  Hattori preserved that 2-stroke margin by matching Kaneda par for par over the last 3 holes.  It was the 3rd career JLPGA victory for the 23-year-old 5th-year pro.

Soo-Yun Kang and Sakura Yokomine made identical eagle-par-par-birdie finishes to stay ahead of Li-Ying Ye and Ayako Uehara, who made 5 birdies over their last 8 and 11 holes, respectively, but none of them put any real pressure on Hattori, who was the only player in the field to break 70 all 3 rounds. 

Here's how the leaderboard looked when all was said and done:

1st/-10 Mayu Hattori (69-68-69)
2nd/-8 Kumiko Kaneda (70-70-68)
T3/-7 Soo-Yun Kang (69-72-68), Sakura Yokomine (72-68-69)
T5/-6 Li-Ying Ye (71-72-67), Ayako Uehara (72-69-69)
7th/-5 Kaori Aoyama (68-72-71)
T8/-4 Ji-Hee Lee (74-71-67), Maiko Wakabayashi (71-74-67), Nikki Campbell (72-72-68), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (71-72-69), Hyun-Ju Shin (69-73-70), Chie Arimura (67-74-71), Yuko Fukuda (68-71-73), Shiho Oyama (69-67-76)

T16/-3 Akane Iijima (72-70-71), Ritsuko Ryu (72-69-72), Sun-Ju Ahn (71-70-72), Mi-Jeong Jeon (71-70-72), Asako Fujimoto (69-72-72), Miki Saiki (72-68-73)
T23/-2 Na-Ri Kim (71-73-70), Megumi Kido (68-74-72), Hiromi Mogi (71-70-73)
T26/-1 Teresa Lu (73-73-69), Yumiko Yoshida (71-73-71), Yun-Jye Wei (68-74-73), Hee Young Park (71-70-74)
T31/E Esther Lee (74-73-69), So-Hee Kim (73-74-69), Saiki Fujita (72-74-70), Eun-A Lim (70-72-74), Ji-Na Lim (69-73-74)
T38/+1 Tamie Durdin (72-72-73)
T40/+2 Erina Hara (75-70-74), Shinobu Moromizato (72-72-74)
43rd/+3 Yuki Ichinose (73-73-73)
T44/+4 Erika Kikuchi (75-69-76), Mika Takushima (74-70-76)

Sun-Ju Ahn's surprisingly mediocre week allowed Sakura Yokomine to close the gap on her in the race to the top of the JLPGA money list, but Hattori and Soo-Yun Kang were the big movers of the week, up 9 spots to #7, and Kaneda followed them by moving up 7 spots to squeak into the top 10:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥72.55M
2. Sakura Yokomine ¥67.58M
3. Chie Arimura ¥63.61M
4. Miki Saiki ¥60.50M
5. Ji-Hee Lee ¥58.77M
6. Yuri Fudoh ¥41.57M
7. Mayu Hattori ¥39.43M
8. Ritsuko Ryu ¥36.98M
9. Hiromi Mogi ¥32.33M
10. Kumiko Kaneda ¥32.01M
11. Shanshan Feng ¥31.82M
12. Ayako Uehara ¥31.17M
13. Rui Kitada ¥29.76M
14. Yuko Mitsuka ¥28.70M
15. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥28.55M
16. Junko Omote ¥25.91M
17. Bo-Bae Song ¥25.81M
18. Na-Ri Kim ¥24.84M
19. Li-Ying Ye ¥24.74M
20. Inbee Park ¥24.33M
21. Rikako Morita ¥24.24M
22. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥22.37M
23. Yukari Baba ¥22.06M
24. Saiki Fujita ¥21.41M
25. Asako Fujimoto ¥21.08M
26. Akiko Fukushima ¥19.83M
27. Eun-Bi Jang ¥19.77M
28. Soo-Yun Kang ¥18.96M
29. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥17.26M
30. Eun-A Lim ¥16.92M
31. Teresa Lu ¥16.77M
32. Bo-Mee Lee ¥16.34M
33. Ji-Woo Lee ¥16.21M
34. Shinobu Moromizato ¥15.95M
35. Esther Lee ¥15.50M
36. Kaori Aoyama ¥14.82M
37. Momoko Ueda ¥14.79M
38. Na-Ri Lee ¥14.08M
39. Nikki Campbell ¥14.03M
40. Shiho Oyama ¥13.96M
41. So-Hee Kim ¥13.81M
42. Young Kim ¥13.66M
43. Yumiko Yoshida ¥12.99M
44. Akane Iijima ¥12.71M
45. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥12.11M
46. Miho Koga ¥11.95M
47. Ji-Yai Shin ¥11.91M
48. Megumi Kido ¥11.10M
49. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥10.43M
50. Mie Nakata ¥10.25M

With her weak Sunday, Hee Young Park only moved up to #84 on the money list (with just under 2.9 million yen in winnings this year), while Ai Miyazato fell to #93.  They'll be joined next week at the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open by Inbee Park, Shanshan Feng, and non-member Mika Miyazato, along with the usual dual LPGA-JLPGA members who have been playing regularly on the JLPGA--Momoko Ueda, Teresa Lu, Shiho Oyama--as well as ex-LPGAers Young Kim, Soo-Yun Kang, and Na-Ri Kim (basically everyone but Onnarin Sattayabanphot and the injured Ji-Yai Shin).  However, perhaps because they had committed to the now-defunct Imperial Springs LPGA event in China the following week, some of these players aren't on the field list for the Japan Women's Open, the JLPGA's 3rd and biggest major.  Eun-Hee Ji will be visiting, but there's no sign of the Parks or of Shanshan Feng right now.  I wonder if the JGA, which runs this event, will entertain late entries given the unusual circumstances?  Somehow I doubt it....

Navistar Classic Saturday: Joh Goes Low, But Thompson Rules

Tiffany Joh dropped a 9-birdie 65 on the field on moving day at the Navistar Classic to move to -8 for the week, but that bogey-double-bogey finish at the end of Friday's round looms even larger than before as 16-year-old Lexi Thompson continued to outshine most of the best players in the world of women's golf by going out in 31 to get to -15 and grinding out a closing 36 that despite a walkoff bogey (only her 3rd of the week) extended her lead to 5 heading into the final round.

Thompson withstood eagles from her playing partners Becky Morgan (on the 1st hole) and Stacy Lewis (on the 9th), making 4 birdies in a row to close out the front as Morgan fell off the pace with a pair of bogeys, then kept the pressure on the field on the back as she bombed drive after drive, hit green after green, made par after par (including a couple of pressure saves), and even sank another birdie putt to get to -16 for awhile.  Surprisingly, Lewis, who had been having troubles sinking makeable birdie putts over her 1st 11 holes, was the one to crack, as she 5-putted the 12th for a double.  By the time all 3 players ended moving day with bogeys, Thompson had extended her 2-shot lead after 36 holes over Morgan to 7 and Lewis to 8 through 54.  Even Meena Lee, the only other player to join her at double digits under par, left a lot of birdie putts out there during her 4-birdie bogey-free run over her 1st 13 holes, then pressed over her final 5 holes, making 2 bogeys and a birdie to settle for a 69 that brought her to -10.  Karen Stupples was one of the few players in the field to make a run at Thompson on the back, but even her bogey-free 32 only cut the deficit to 7 shots.

If those playing well this week fell that far off the pace, what of those just playing solidly?  Thompson has a 10-shot lead on the likes of Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, Amanda Blumenherst, and Rookie of the Year leader Hee Kyung Seo, an 11-shot lead on Inbee Park, Maria Hjorth, Se Ri Pak, and world #2 Suzann Pettersen, and a 12-shot lead on Morgan Pressel, Amy Yang, Sandra Gal, and Hee-Won Han.  And those struggling?  World #1 Ya Ni Tseng is 15 down, defending champion Katherine Hull 13, Na Yeon Choi 14, Michelle Wie 17, and Sophie Gustafson 19.  Thompson has missed only 4 greens in regulation all week, which means that her bad stretches have merely stalled her assault on par temporarily, while the rest of the field's have often set them back sharply.  Even Jenny Shin, the model of consistency this week who's made only 2 bogeys in 54 holes, has hit 4 fewer greens than Thompson and made 13 fewer birdies.  She's 11 back.

Randall Mell is dead right that anything can happen tomorrow--just look at Juli Inkster's hole-in-one on the 13th that sparked a bogey-free 32 as well as 4 birdies in a row and a 68 from her playing partner Pat Hurst for further evidence of that--but he's also dead right to start speculating about what happens if Thompson wins later today.  After all, nobody is as locked in on the pace of the Senator's greens as Thompson--sure, Meena Lee has taken 11 fewer putts than her over 54 holes, but she's also hit 11 fewer greens--and it's probably too much to expect Stupples to replicate her famous Women's British Open start or Joh to back up her 65 with a low-60s round or Morgan to put together a career round.  In fact, I put the odds of Thompson winning by more than she did over a much weaker field at the 1st stage of LPGA Q-School much higher than a disaster of epic proportions.  I don't know that bangkokbobby would go that far, but when someone who knows the LPGA as well as he does expects Thompson to win, who am I to argue?

I also agree with Mell that it makes the most sense for Thompson to parlay a win into membership starting next season.  Yes, she'd move into the top 50 on the money list with a win and hence would be eligible for the fall Asian swing, but she'd still be over $300K behind Seo on the money list and hundreds of points behind her on the ROY race with only 6 events left on the schedule.  In Category 7 on the 2012 priority status list with a non-member win this week and a no-brainer age-waiver from Commissioner Whan, Thompson would be able to get into any event she wanted to next season and be in a much better position to put her name in the record books yet again by taking Rookie of the Year.  Sure, there's something to be said for striking while the iron is hot, but there's even more to be said for enjoying the last months of her childhood away from the media spotlight and then getting ready to try to topple the Tseng Dynasty.

[Update 1 (2:56 am):  Nice chance for Haru Nomura and Stephanie Kim to play with Ya Ni Tseng today.  Too bad for them they're starting on the back!]

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic Friday and Saturday: Can Shiho Oyama Keep It Going?

With a 1-shot lead on Mayu Hattori and a 3-shot lead on Yuko Fukuda heading into the final round of the Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic, Shiho Oyama has put herself in position to engineer a career comeback that may be even bigger than Yuko Mitsuka's last week on the JLPGA. 

Oyama collected 11 JLPGA victories between 2003 and 2008, dethroned Billion Yen Woman Yuri Fudoh in 2006 (interrupting her streak of 6-straight money-list titles), and became an LPGA member in 2009 on the strength of a December '08 Q-School performance in which only Stacy Lewis, Amy Yang, and Anna Grzebien finished ahead of her and she beat the likes of Michelle Wie, Mika Miyazato, Anna Nordqvist, Melissa Reid, Miki Saiki, and Sun-Ju Ahn (who WDed due to injury).  But ever since then Oyama's been plagued by elbow injuries so severe she needed surgery last summer, so she's focused her return to competitive golf almost exclusively on the JLPGA as she's been struggling to get back to full strength and get her game into shape.  Her results in the 26 starts she's made on tour since coming back from surgery have been about what you'd expect:  1 top 5, 6 top 10s, and 10 top 20s to go with 2 missed cuts (including last week).  At #41 on the money list in 2011, she needs a strong fall to secure her card for 2012.  A win this week would jumpstart her comeback big-time.

It was a 5-birdie flurry in her last 8 holes on moving day that vaulted Oyama ahead of Hattori (who birdied 3 of her last 4), not to mention the rest of the field, including Chie Arimura, whose bogey-free 67 in her 1st  competitive round since she had to rest her wrists for 2 weeks made her the 1st-round co-leader with Tomomi Hirose.  However, with 16 players within 5 shots of the lead--including Sakura Yokomine, Miki Saiki, and Kumiko Kaneda at -4 and Arimura, Ahn, Hee Young Park, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Soo-Yun Kang, and the red-hot Ritsuko Ryu at -3--Oyama's going to have to keep making birdies in bunches to hold onto her lead.

Take a look at who'll be pursuing her tomorrow:

1st/-8 Shiho Oyama (69-67)
2nd/-7 Mayu Hattori (69-68)
3rd/-5 Yuko Fukuda (68-71)
T4/-4 Sakura Yokomine (72-68), Miki Saiki (72-68), Kumiko Kaneda (70-70), Kaori Aoyama (68-72)
T8/-3 Ayako Uehara (72-69), Ritsuko Ryu (72-69), Sun-Ju Ahn (71-70), Mi-Jeong Jeon (71-70), Hee Young Park (71-70), Hiromi Mogi (71-70), Soo-Yun Kang (69-72), Asako Fujimoto (69-72), Chie Arimura (67-74)

T17/-2 Akane Iijima (72-70), Eun-A Lim (70-72), Hyun-Ju Shin (69-73), Ji-Na Lim (69-73), Yun-Jye Wei (68-74), Megumi Kido (68-74)
T24/-1 Li-Ying Ye (71-72), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (71-72)
T26/E Erika Kikuchi (75-69), Erina Hara (75-70), Mika Takushima (74-70), Shinobu Moromizato (72-72), Nikki Campbell (72-72), Tamie Durdin (72-72), Na-Ri Kim (71-73), Yumiko Yoshida (71-73)
T38/+1 Ji-Hee Lee (74-71), Maiko Wakabayashi (71-74)
T42/+2 Teresa Lu (73-73), Yuki Ichinose (73-73), Saiki Fujita (72-74)
T46/+3 Esther Lee (74-73), So-Hee Kim (73-74)

MC:  Jae-Hee Bae (76-72), Young Kim (75-73), Miki Uehara (73-75), Rui Kitada (75-74), Pei-Ying Tsai (75-74), Momoko Ueda (71-78), Junko Omote (71-78), Miki Sakai (78-72), Ji-Woo Lee (76-75), Aiko Ueno (76-75), Rikako Morita (75-76), Ah-Reum Hwang (74-78), Lala Anai (74-78), Na-Ri Lee (78-75), Mie Nakata (76-79), Tao-Li Yang (76-81), Akiko Fukushima (78-80)

Although Momoko Ueda has 4 top 10s in 10 JLPGA starts this year, this week marks her 4th missed cut of 2011, to go with 2 toward the end of last season, and she's gone winless on tour since 2009 when she posted her 8th win in a 3-season span.  Here's hoping she pulls out of her own slump soon.  At #35 on the money list, she's safely within the top 50, but her recent results since returning to the JLPGA full-time for the 2nd half of the season haven't been encouraging:  MC-T25-MC.  Still, Mitsuka and hopefully Oyama can teach her a thing or two about turning things around on a dime.

Navistar Classic Thursday and Friday: Lexi Thompson Gets to Double Digits Under Par, Takes 2-Shot Lead into Weekend

It took Lexi Thompson only 26 holes to get to -10 in the Navistar Classic, so in one sense she's given the rest of the field new life by going only E over her last 10 holes.  But even so, the 16-year-old has avoided the disastrous holes or stretches of golf that have torpedoed some of the best women golfers on the planet already this week (Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim, Sun Young Yoo, Christina Kim, and Ryann O'Toole all missed the cut).  Thompson has a 2-shot lead on Stacy Lewis and Becky Morgan and a 3-shot lead on Meena Lee (whose Friday 64 eclipsed Jennifer Johnson 's Thursday 65 for low round of the week) heading into the weekend, so all in all I'd say she's in great position for someone who's had a very uneven year to date (as Ruthless Mike points out), with great play in Alabama for 3 rounds at the Avnet in the spring and a dominating performance over a strong field in the 1st stage of Q-School in the middle of the summer, but otherwise bad or indifferent play on both the LPGA and LET. 

Still, given how the Senator course seems vulnerable to impressive runs, it's clear Thompson has to find the accelerator again, and soon.  Consider a few of the best ones:  Johnson was -7 over her last 10 holes on Thursday, Ya Ni Tseng was -6 over her 1st 16, Pat Hurst birdied 5 holes in a row to start the back and reach -6 through her 1st 14 holes on Thursday, Samantha Richdale played her last 15 holes bogey-free and -5 on Thursday, Gwladys Nocera made 6 birdies in her 1st 16 holes Friday on her way to a bogey-free 66, Amanda Blumenherst birdied 4 of her 1st 6 holes as she made the turn Thursday to get to -5 through her 1st 15 holes of bogey-free golf, Suzann Pettersen was -4 in her 1st 12 holes of bogey-free golf Thursday, Giulia Sergas made 6 birdies in her 1st 15 holes of bogey-free golf yesterday and came back after a hiccup to save her 66, Paula Creamer has played her last 10 holes bogey-free and -5, Hee Kyung Seo birdied 4 of her last 6 holes on the back yesterday on her way to a bogey-free 67, Alison Walshe got off to a hot start Thursday with 4 birdies in her 1st 7 holes and kept it going for a great 67, Brittany Lang did the same yesterday and ended up with a 68, Se Ri Pak has played her last 12 holes bogey-free and -5 to match Lang's 18- and 36-hole totals, Karen Stupples made 3 birdies in a row early on the front and tacked on another on the 11th on her way to her own bogey-free 68 yesterday....  The list goes on and on and the only question is, who will be next? 

But by the same token it's just as easy for things to go bad quickly on the Senator.  Tseng finished Thursday's round bogey-bogey and doubled the 11th, her 2nd hole yesterday, and when she could play her last 16 holes only in E, she fell 8 shots off the pace.  Hurst went from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll as she finished Thursday's round and started Friday's, going +5 in those 10 holes of birdieless golf, but she did bounce back by playing her last 12 holes bogey-free and -2 to pull back within 7 shots of the lead.  Lang opened the week with a birdieless 39 on the front, which is the main reason she's 5 behind Thompson with 36 to go.  The further down the leaderboard you go the wilder the roller-coaster rides get.  Song-Hee Kim, who was cruising along at -2 Thursday through her 1st 12 holes, made 4 bogeys to close out her round and needed 4 birdies between the 8th and 14th yesterday to fight her way back to -2.  Maria Hjorth, who won in Alabama already this year, open this week with a triple and was +4 through her 1st 8 holes of birdieless golf; even though she bounced back by going -5 over her next 12 holes of bogey-free golf, she fell back with 2 bogeys and a double in her next 6 holes before fighting back to -1 at the halfway point with 4 birdies and no bogeys in her past 10 holes.  And Tiffany Joh was only 5 back until she finished bogey-double-bogey yesterday.

In a nutshell, hardly anyone's played as consistently well as Jenny Shin, who's had bogey-free runs of 18 holes on Thursday and 17 (and counting) on Friday, but even she can find room for improvement, as she's hit 32 of 36 greens but has made only 5 birdies and is 6 behind Thompson.  Last week's runner-up Amy Yang is one of them:  she went on a 19-hole bogey-free run to start the tournament and is currently on one of 16 holes, but she, too, is 6 back.  On a course like this, it doesn't seem like slow and steady will win this race.

How about the Race for the Top 50?  A few days ago, I surveyed the top candidates for entry into the all Asian swing:
Right now, with 1 event to go, Jimin Kang is sitting pretty at #50 with almost $123K in winnings to her name.  She's over $8K up on the struggling Katherine Hull, who is seeking to find her game in time to defend her title.  #52 Momoko Ueda is teeing it up in Japan this week, so there are great opportunities for #53 Mi Hyun Kim ($106.6K), #54 Pornanong Phatlum ($106.2K), #55 Mina Harigae ($103.8K), #56 Cindy LaCrosse ($102.3K), #57 Tiffany Joh ($101.4K), and #58 Amanda Blumenherst ($99.4K) to at least move up the limited-field events' alternate lists over the next several months in this season and next.
With only Mi Hyun Kim and Cindy LaCrosse missing the cut and Jimin Kang stuck at E, this race has some potential for drama.  Phatlum looked like she was in trouble after an opening 78, but she bounced back with a 68 yesterday to make the cut on the number.  Joh's Friday collapse brought her back to -1, while Harigae birdied 3 of her last 6 holes to move to -2.  Hull is doing her best to defend her title and at -4 is 1 behind Blumenherst.

So while all eyes will be on Lexi and Stacy, I'd expect a lot of fireworks from a lot of different golfers today.  It's worth keeping in mind that of everyone within 5 shots of the lead, only Stacy Lewis has played consistently well for virtually all of 2011. Except for Brittany Lang, who's been playing well since the Women's British Open, nobody else can really be said to even have been on a roll lately. That leads me to believe we're likely to see a lot of the people who have been having good 2011s make some serious moves up the leaderboard on the weekend.  Hello, Ya Ni?  Pink Panther attack?  Only time will tell!

[Update 1 (9:39 am):  By the way, if you want to track the races for the top 80, 100, and 125 on the money list, Hound Dog has an excellent rundown of where things stood after the Walmart.]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Louise Friberg Retiring from Tournament Golf

If you're a regular reader of Louise Friberg's blog, you already know that the Navistar Classic will be the last tournament she plans to compete in as a pro.  If you're not, you've been missing out on her awesome running commentary on the ups and downs of being a professional golfer (and "book-nerd") over the years since she broke onto the LPGA and won in her rookie season.  Given how many downs there have been in competition the last few years, I'm glad to hear that she'll be pursuing the "teaching, coaching and fitness side of golf."  It's great that she still loves the game, even as she's giving up the sport.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

T-Joh on a Roll

Now that Tiffany Joh's actually making some money as a pro golfer, she's making the smart investment and putting some of her winnings into her music and videos. "She Beats It" caught Golf Channel's eye:

but I sincerely doubt they'll dare air "Grip It":

Oh, T-Joh's also been taking Korean lessons from her good friend Jeehae Lee:

Take that, Bubba, Hunter, Ben, and Rickie!

Navistar Classic Preview, Predictions, Pairings

The LPGA hits the RTJ Golf Trail once again for the Navistar Classic, where Katherine Hull will try to defend her title and 2007 champion Maria Hjorth will try to make it 2-for-2 in Alabama in 2011.  They'll face stiff competition from the LPGA's super-elite, however, as Amy Yang will be looking to avenge last week's playoff loss, 20 of the 24 Solheim Cuppers will be fine-tuning their games and seeking to build some momentum for next week in Ireland, and Ya Ni Tseng will be striving to win her 2nd event in a row and maybe break the tournament record of 63 at The Senator course that she shares with Hjorth, Lindsey Wright, Amy Hung, Stacy Prammanasudh, and Mika Miyazato.

As Tony Jesselli and Hound Dog have already noted, Miyazato is one of the good number of top golfers not in the field this week, whether from injury (Ji-Yai Shin), a return to Japan (Ai Miyazato, Momoko Ueda, Hee Young Park, Shanshan Feng), an early departure for Killeen Castle (Catriona Matthew, Anna Nordqvist), or some other reason (Karrie Webb, Wright, Kyeong Bae).  Despite their absence, the field still includes 13 of the top 15 players on tour.  And between Hound Dog's Hot 20, Ward Clayton's Stats and Stuff, and's tournament preview and pre-tournament notes and interviews, there's plenty for fans to chew over.  As for me, I'll be paying close attention to the race for the top 50, which will determine who will get to play in this fall's Asian swing--and next winter/spring's.  Here's who I think will best combine length and accuracy off the tee, precision approach shots to the Senator's big greens, and hot putting this week:

1. Tseng
2. Yang
3. Lewis, Stacy
4. Kerr
5. Choi Na Yeon
6. Pettersen
7. Creamer
8. Lincicome
9. Stanford
10. Hjorth
11. Lang
12. Gustafson

Alts: Park Inbee; Nomura; Joh

Here's a baker's dozen of my favorite pairings for the 1st 2 rounds:

10th tee, 11:50 am: Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi
10th tee, 12:34 pm: In-Kyung Kim, Stacy Lewis, Azahara Munoz
1st tee, 8:40 am: Ya Ni Tseng, Morgan Pressel, Sandra Gal
10th tee, 12:23 pm: Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Sophie Gustafson
1st tee, 8:51 am: Angela Stanford, Michelle Wie, Juli Inkster
1st tee, 8:18 am: Maria Hjorth, Brittany Lang, Hee-Won Han
10th tee, 8:40 am: Beatriz Recari, Tiffany Joh, Pornanong Phatlum
1st tee, 8:07 am: Ryann O'Toole, Vicky Hurst, Amanda Blumenherst
1st tee, 7:56 am: Jane Park, Belen Mozo, Lexi Thompson
10th tee, 8:07 am: Se Ri Pak, Katherine Hull, Lorie Kane
1st tee, 12:34 pm: Mi Hyun Kim, Jimin Kang, Stacy Prammanasudh
10th tee, 1:18 pm: Jee Young Lee, Harukyo Nomura, Taylor Leon
1st tee, 12:12 pm: Hee Kyung Seo, Mindy Kim, Dewi Claire Schreefel

I'll be rooting for NYer Moira Dunn (1st tee, 1:18 pm), rookie Jennifer Song (1st tee, 7:34 am), and struggling UCLAers Mariajo Uribe (10th tee, 7:34 am) and Charlotte Mayorkas (10th tee, 7:56 am) to take advantage of their last shot (and for Mayorkas, the 1st, as well) on the LPGA this year (unless they do well enough to qualify for the Titleholders).  But I'll be most curious to see who will step up and challenge Tseng this week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

As the World Turns V

Here's the latest edition of my long-delayed (but probably not long-awaited) series in which I look at developments around the world of women's golf.

Things Are Tough All Over Files. It's probably just the tip of the iceberg, but consider the injury news that has come out already in September:  Ji-Yai Shin will be out all month (at least) with a back injury that sounds pretty severe; Chie Arimura has missed the last 2 JLPGA events due to a wrist injury; Suzann Pettersen's knees are bothering her in the run-up to the Solheim Cup.  And now I've just seen reports that the LPGA has been forced to cancel its Imperial Springs LPGA event in China, which they had moved from early August to late September to accommodate tournament organizers.  It's unclear from the stories I've read whether this was due to the Chinese government squashing the event or the organizers' ineptitude, but whatever the reason, this adds up to one big ouch for women's golf.  At least Arimura is on the field list for this week's Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic.  Let's hope she's not rushing her return.

You Can't Stop Globalization Files.  As I noted way back in March, the JLPGA restructured its Q-School in part to help turn the tour into a platform for developing Japanese golfers in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics.  But when you look at the leaderboards of the 3 sites that hosted its 1st stage, you'll see they were dominated by Chinese golfers.  On the other side of the Pacific, due to an unexpected flood of entries, the LPGA recently announced it will expand the field at the 2nd stage of their Q-School in late September from 216 to 240 golfers.  And the 16 September entry deadline is still days away....

Down to the Wire Files.  With Hee Young Park joining current or former LPGA members Shinobu Moromizato, Teresa Lu, Young Kim, Soo-Yun Kang, Na-Ri Kim, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, and Tamie Durdin on the the JLPGA this week alongside Japanese dual LPGA-JLPGA members Momoko Ueda and Shiho Oyama, the fight for membership in 2012 on the JLPGA is on just as surely as the LPGA's is.  Sure, at #8 on the JLPGA money list, Shanshan Feng is guaranteed to keep her card, which requires a top-50 finish at the end of the season and entry into at least 7 events in 2011.  So are #18 Inbee Park and #20 Na-Ri Kim.  But Lu is stuck at #31, Ueda #35, Kang #37, Young Kim #38, Oyama #41, Shin #45, Durdin #54, Sattayabanphot #63, Ai Miyazato #91, and Hee Young Park #92.  The good news is these players are probably only 1 top 5 and a couple of top 10s away from securing their cards or at least getting into the mix of players trying to avoid having to go to Q-School, but Ai-sama and the Rocket will need to be sure to play in enough JLPGA events to have their winnings count. 

As for the LPGA, Hound Dog is doing a great job of tracking attempts by struggling LPGAers to break into the top 80, top 100, and top 125 of their money list.  Look for another post on this quest for the card from him in advance of this week's Navistar Classic.  But I'd also point out that given all the limited-field events on the LPGA calendar, the only way to guarantee yourself anything close to a full schedule in any given year is to get into the top 50 in time for the fall and following winter/spring's Asian swings.  Right now, with 1 event to go, Jimin Kang is sitting pretty at #50 with almost $123K in winnings to her name.  She's over $8K up on the struggling Katherine Hull, who is seeking to find her game in time to defend her title.  #52 Momoko Ueda is teeing it up in Japan this week, so there are great opportunities for #53 Mi Hyun Kim ($106.6K), #54 Pornanong Phatlum ($106.2K), #55 Mina Harigae ($103.8K), #56 Cindy LaCrosse ($102.3K), #57 Tiffany Joh ($101.4K), and #58 Amanda Blumenherst ($99.4K) to at least move up the limited-field events' alternate lists over the next several months in this season and next.  Me, I'm curious to see if #95 Harukyo Nomura ($43.5K) can bounce back from her disastrous finish at Pinnacle Country Club last Sunday, where as Hound Dog points out, she went +6 over her final 5 holes.  Nomura's won on the the Futures Tour and JLPGA already this year, but she can find herself without a major home tour if she fails to stay in the top 100 on the LPGA money list and bombs out in LPGA Q-School.  So the pressure is definitely on these players this week!