Monday, October 15, 2012

LPGA Hana Bank Championship Preview

Congratulations goes out to Inbee Park for winning the Sime Darby Malaysia Championship. It was Inbee's second win this year on the LPGA tour, and she has moved into second place in the Player of the Year race. Stacy Lewis still holds a 40-point lead, but with 5 tournaments still to be played it is not over yet.

The tour moves to South Korea this week for the playing of the LPGA Hana Bank Championship. It is stop number two on the current four-stop Asian swing. Stops in Taiwan and Japan will follow.

This is tournament 23 of 27 this year. Here are the key details:

Course:  Sky 72 Golf Club Ocean Course
Where:  Incheon, South Korea
Defending Champion:  Yani Tseng
Winning Score:  65-70-67 = 202 (-14)

Final Field:  69 players
Par:  36/36=72
Yardage:  6,364 yards
Purse:  $1,200,000

Here are the first-round pairings.
My strength of field rating is 64% which is a pretty strong field. It will include many KLPGA stars who usually don't tee it up in LPGA events but are highly ranked in the Rolex Rankings. On the other hand, many LPGA stars have chosen to skip the event this week. Those not competing this week include Paula Creamer, Karrie Webb, Mika Miyazato, Sophie Gustafson, Momoko Ueda, Candie Kung, and Natalie Gulbis. Some other players that are playing very well, including Sydnee Michaels and Lizette Salas, didn't get into this limited field.  This is a 54-hole event.

Here are the television times:
Oct 19 - GC 7:30 PM-9:30 PM EST
Oct 20 - GC 7:30 PM-9:30 PM EST
Oct 21 - GC 7:30 PM-9:30 PM EST

Once again, because of the 12-hour time difference, this will be shown on tape delay. At least it is being broadcast a few hours earlier this week.

Other Tidbits:
Inbee Park has now finished in the top ten in 10 consecutive tournaments.

It is no surprise that So Yeon Ryu and Lexi Thompson are the top two rookies this season. They were established winners and huge stars before their rookie season even started. So much attention has been given to them, that two other fine rookie seasons are almost going unnoticed. Lizette Salas, who got her card by earning it at qualifying school, had her best finish this week when she tied for 9th at the Sime Darby Championship. She has five top-25 finishes this year. Sydnee Michaels, who finished 19th this week, now has eight top-30 finishes this year and five top-25 finishes in her last 7 starts. Sydnee was Rookie of the Year last year on the Symetra Tour. These two ladies are both true rookies and should be recognized for the excellent season that they are having.

Titleholders Update:
Lizette Salas, Momoko Ueda, and Mina Harigae are the latest to qualify.

Rolex Movers of the week:
Paula Creamer moves from #13 to #11 and Karrie Webb moves from #19 to #15.

Who is hot:
Paula Creamer has finished 2nd, 3rd, and 6th in her last 3 tournaments.

Who's not:
Neither Michelle Wie nor Sophie Gustafson have a top-ten finish this year.


pearshapedhuman said...

It seems the top Korean golfers are content to play in Korea or Japan, unless they win an LPGA event. Seo and Ryu have been great additions to the LPGA. It will be interesting to see if we can snatch another Korean star this week.

Of course, while visiting the KLPGA, both Se Ri Pak and So Yeon Ryu won their events. LPGA golfers are tough to beat.

Jim C said...

Wie doea have a top 10 (8 at the Safeway).

Kang would have qualified under my modification of the system. Under my system a player who qualifies without winning and then wins requalifies and represents the tournament she wins, allowing players behind her to move up for the earilier tournament. Since both Ai and Jiyai later won, Kang would have been able to move up to the last qualifying spot for the Honda. Mostly I advocate this so more tournaments will be represented by winners--but I think the Kang situation would be a side benefit.