Monday, March 17, 2014

LPGA International Crown Watch: T-Minus Two Weeks Until Team Selection

The pressure on those trying to make one of the 8 teams in the LPGA's International Crown is intensifying with only 2 weeks of golf left to move up (or down) the Rolex Rankings.  In a nutshell, you have to be in the top 4 in the last Rolex Rankings in March to make your country's team.  

Following up on last week's post, here are the teams with some more or less intense competition for their last spot(s), with each contender's rank and points from last week and this week listed in parentheses after her name.  Players whose positions changed have their names underlined.

As you'll see, even a win by Yuki Ichinose on the JLPGA didn't move her all that closer to the #4 spot on Team Japan.  By the same token, a bad finish in the same tournament by Onnarin Sattayabanphot didn't cost her the #4 position in the race for Team Thailand.  But a weak week by Ji-Yai Shin did drop her from the 5th to 6th position in the intense race to make Team Korea.  The only other movement this week was Lindsey Wright passing Stacy Keating for the #4 spot on Team Australia.

With both the JLPGA and LPGA teeing it up this coming week, there's a lot at stake for those competing for the last spots on most every one of the following teams (except Team Sweden).

Team Korea
Inbee Park (#1, 10.28--> #1, 10.24)
So Yeon Ryu (#5, 6.05--> #5, 6.04)
Na Yeon Choi (#9, 4.85--> #9, 4.83)
In-Kyung Kim (#12, 3.96--> #12, 3.96)
Ha Na Jang (#13, 3.90--> #13, 3.85)
Amy Yang (#18, 3.41--> #17, 3.41)
Ji-Yai Shin (#17, 3.48--> #18, 3.40)
Hee Young Park (#19, 3.39--> #19, 3.39)
Chella Choi (#23, 3.07--> #23, 3.07)

Team USA
Stacy Lewis (#3, 8.25--> #3, 8.23)
Paula Creamer (#8, 5.16--> #8, 5.19)
Lexi Thompson (#10, 4.46--> #10, 4.48)
Cristie Kerr (#14, 3.80--> #14, 3.80)
Angela Stanford (#16, 3.57--> #16, 3.58)
Lizette Salas (#20, 3.20--> #20, 3.21)
Jessica Korda (#27, 2.86--> #27, 2.83)
Morgan Pressel (#36, 2.40--> #35, 2.41)

Team Japan
Mika Miyazato (#25, 2.91--> #25, 2.88)
Ai Miyazato (#28, 2.69--> #28, 2.65)
Sakura Yokomine (#37, 2.31--> #37, 2.29)
Rikako Morita (#39, 2.27--> #40, 2.24)
Mamiko Higa (#47, 2.04--> #47, 2.01)
Shiho Oyama (#48, 2.00--> #49, 1.97)
Miki Saiki (#49, 1.99--> #51, 1.93)
Yumiko Yoshida (#53, 1.83--> #53, 1.81)
Yuki Ichinose (#81, 1.17--> #68, 1.46)
Chie Arimura (#78, 1.26--> #80, 1.22)

Team Thailand
Pornanong Phatlum (#33, 2.54--> #32, 2.55)
Ariya Jutanugarn (#34, 2.56--> #33, 2.53)
Moriya Jutanugarn (#79, 1.22--> #81, 1.20)
Onnarin Sattayabanphot (#93, 1.04--> #95, 1.04)
Thidapa Suwannapura (#100, 1.01--> #100, 1.00)
Nontaya Srisawang (#176, .58--> #174, .57)

Team Sweden
Anna Nordqvist (#15, 3.75--> #15, 3.76)
Caroline Hedwall (#22, 3.09--> #22, 3.10)
Pernilla Lindberg (#109, .92--> #114, .90)
Mikaela Parmlid (#154, .67--> #160, .64)
Camilla Lennarth (#194, .52--> #179, .56)
Linda Wessberg (#209, .47--> #212, .45)
Karin Sjodin (#230, .41--> #245, .36)

Team Australia
Karrie Webb (#6, 5.88--> #6, 5.92)
Katherine Kirk (#111, .94--> #110, .93)
Minjee Lee (#112, .91--> #112, .91)
Lindsey Wright (#131, .78--> #132, .77)
Stacey Keating (#129, .80--> #135, .76)
Rebecca Artis (#147, .72--> #147, .71)
Sarah Jane Smith (#151, .69--> #154, .68)
Nikki Campbell (#186, .55--> #177, .57)


Colin N.Z said...

Thanks for the update Bruce. Stacey Keating found out how damaging it can be if you don't at least make the cut. Lindsay Wright will be trying not to do the same this week. I'll be watching the Cristie Angela battle while hoping Lexi and Stacy improve on their last starts.

diane said...

I go out of my way to avoid nationalism — I find it one of humanity’s most offensive traits. However… I’d like to see Angela Stanford pass Cristie Kerr because I think she’s got the better game right now.

The lack of national depth is amazing in Sweden and Australia so I’m wondering why there isn’t a Scandinavian team that would include Suzann Pettersen and an ANZ team with Lydia Ko.

Two countries have an outsized presence in women’s golf, the rest can’t field a competitive team. I think region rather than country would make a more competitive tournament. I hope after the first couple of iterations the organizers see the deck is stacked in favor of Team South Korea and Team USA, then find a way to make it more interesting.

Colin N.Z said...

World #7 Shanshan Feng also will not be there so as it stands World #2 #4 #7 or 3 out of the top 10 will be missing. They said there could be changes in the future. I sill can't see why the Solheim Cup can't have 3 teams adding an Asia/Pacific team. With match play you will see some unexpected results but I have to say South Korea will be a hot favourite to win. It's in the interest of the LPGA to have as many nationalities represented as that brings in more global interest along with more sponsorship possibilities.

The Constructivist said...

You all know what my ideas are for international competition in women's golf, but I have to admit I like this format and want to give it a chance. Yes, it's too bad that England or France couldn't out-Rolex-Rank Sweden, as those teams would be deeper, and it would be a much better competition if the lower-ranking teams could recruit one player from a neighboring country (Australia could take Lydia; Sweden could take Pettersen; Taiwan could take Feng). (This provision would have prevented Team USA from grabbing Lorena, back in the day, which wouldn't be fair and just make the rich richer.)

But given that this is set up as a national competition in advance of the Olympics, I think 4-player teams are better than the 2-person format we saw in South Africa and now have at Mission Hills for the LET and don't present as high a bar to entry as the Solheim Cup. Over time, as more countries develop deeper talent pools, perhaps the number of teams allowed in could expand, too. If a country like Thailand can field such a strong team, there's hope for places like Norway, where Marianne Skarpnord and Caroline Martens could develop into players who could complement Pettersen....

I hope that in response, the Solheim Cup does turn to a 3-region set up (Americas; Europe; Asia/Pacific), with an off-year playoff between the 2 losing teams for the right to face the defending champion for the Cup.

Just read a story on the origins of March Madness. When Princeton almost beat Georgetown in prime time, it set the stage for the monster we have now. A lot of smaller schools and conferences have a chance. Maybe that's the template for the growth of women's professional golf....

Colin N.Z said...

Well put Bruce. I imagine for the IC the 5th ranked player will be entitled to be a reserve up till tournament time in case of a WD for some reason. A lot can happen between March 31st and July 24th. I doubt we will see the same top 4 RR players by then also.

The Constructivist said...

I'm thinking the end of March RR will determine the alternate list for each team. Some countries may need to go further down it than others, for whatever reason....

Anonymous said...

Can we talk about how premature the cutoff for selecting the teams was?! Why did the LPGA do this MONTHS ahead of time. The countries that would be included right now would be different than the list currently included. Why wouldn't they make the cutoff a few weeks before the event?
Also, why wouldn't they make Great Britain one of the countries? Even if it wasn't England & Scotland, even England would be in right now on it's own if the countries were selected today. What a shame.

The Constructivist said...

I get the feeling a lot of decisions were made to heighten the drama. So you get the race for which teams will qualify, then you get the race for which players will make each team, then you get to put their games under a microscope leading up to the event. Without captains and captain's picks, they need to find some other way of generating media and fan attention in advance of the event.

But also players need to set their schedules with some lead time, so practicalities played some part in it. You wouldn't want to have the teams/individuals set the week before and then have to go way down the alternate list to fill out the field.

That said, there's room for debate how much lead time players need. I get how end of one season/right before next season's 1st major on LPGA works. What's a better way of doing it?