Monday, February 20, 2012

HSBC Women's Champions Preview

It didn't take Yani Tseng long to remind us that she is still going to be the player to beat in 2012. Yani's remarkable approach shot on the 72nd hole sealed her 13th LPGA victory. Ai Miyazato and Jiyai Shin, who finished second and third respectively, played their best golf since the 2010 season. I think both Ai and Jiyai have put the message out there that Yani is going to have to be at her best to duplicate last year. The Constructivist, as usual, has posted an excellent recap.

With the exciting finish this week coming on the heels of last week's 6-way playoff, the LPGA season could not have gotten off to a better start. What do they have in store for us this coming weekend?

HSBC Women's Champions Preview:
The tour moves to Singapore this week, here are some details:

Course: Tanah Merah Country Club, Garden Course
Location: Singapore
Defending Champion: Karrie Webb
2011 Winning Score: 70-66-70-69=275 (-13)

Final Field: 63 players
Par: 72
Yardage: 6547 Yards
Purse: $1.4 Million

In spite of the limited field of 63 players, this is a very strong field. The only name players missing are Lexi Thompson and Caroline Hedwall. Lexi chose not to play, and as I write this, Caroline is the 3rd alternate. Strengthening the field is the return this week of So Yeon Ryu, and Melissa Reid has been given a sponsor's exemption. Korean Superstar Ji-Hee Lee, ranked number 15 in the world, will be making a very rare LPGA appearance. My strength of field is a season high 64%, up from 62% last week.

Here is the television schedule:
Feb 23 9:30-1:30 PM ET GC
Feb 24 9:30-1:30 PM ET GC
Feb 25 2:00-6:00 PM ET GC
Feb 26 1:30-6:00 PM ET GC

Once again I remind you, because of the 13-hour time difference, the telecast will not be live. If you are going to be watching, I suggest you not look at the LPGA website, as the results will already have been posted. I will hold off posting any spoilers until after the telecast. At the completion of this tournament the tour moves to the United States, so this will no longer be an issue.

Titleholder Update:
Yani Tseng, Ai Miyazato, and Jiyai Shin have now qualified.

Hard-to-believe stat of the week:
I post lots of statistics on here, but this one is truly remarkable. Yani Tseng is #1 in the Rolex Rankings with a rating of 16.63. Na Yeon Choi is #2 with a rating of 8.88. Way down the list Alison Walshe is ranked #129 with a rating of 1.15. Na Yeon Choi at #2 is closer to #129 than she is to #1.

Rolex Ranking Movers of the week:
There are no big moves among the top named players this week (although it is worth mentioning Ai Miyazato's return to the top 10 at #9), so let us look a bit further down the list:
Jenny Shin moves from #124 to #98. Lindsey Wright, winner of last week's L.E.T. tournament, moves from #141 to #104. Pornanong Phatlum moves from #101 to #90, and Amanda Blumenherst moves from #131 to #113.

Extra Stuff:
Stacy Lewis is the only player to finish in the top five in each of the first two LPGA tournaments. Yani Tseng and Jenny Shin (not Jiyai) both finished in the top 10 twice.

The struggles of Song-Hee Kim have reached a new level. After missing the cut in Australia, you would think it couldn't get any worse. It did. Kim shot 74-76-77-79=306 to finish dead last. The tournament did not have a cut.

TJ's 2012 Player of the Year Update:
1- Yani Tseng - 31.28
2- Jessica Korda - 19.20
3- Stacy Lewis - 18.25
4- Jenny Shin - 14.95
5- Jiyai Shin - 13.70
6- Ai Miyazato - 12.40
7- Amy Yang - 11.16
T8- Jimin Kang - 9.61
T8- Shanshan Feng - 9.61
T8- Amanda Blumenherst - 9.61
11- Caroline Hedwall - 9.49
T12-Brittany Lincicome - 8.64
T12-Julieta Granada - 8.64
T12-So Yeon Ryu - 8.64
T12-Hee Kyeong Seo - 8.64

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