Friday, November 30, 2007

What is it, Onechan?

mad cow behind white puff.jpg

What's the white thing in front? What's the fuzzy blue thing in the background?

Extra credit: Is the Mostly Harmless Jinx in there somewhere?

Q-School: Every Shot Is Crunch Time

With 2 rounds to go before the LPGA Q-School field is cut to the top 70 and ties, the players are now being grouped by score. Those playing the Champions course today (they play two rounds each on each course before narrowing the field for the final round, so will play the Legends course Saturday) are in the best position to give themselves a chance to play on Sunday for the top 17 spots (exempt status for 2008) or for 18th-52nd place (non-exempt status).

So who among those I've been rooting for are stuck on the Legends course today? Kiran Matharu (+13), Nikki Garrett (+9), Beth Bauer (+9), and Paige Mackenzie (+5). Of them, only Mackenzie can still play her normal game, as the cut line could be anywhere from +2 to +7, depending on how the players who are struggling thus far handle the conditions and the pressure; Garrett and Bauer are going to have to go under par over the next 2 rounds to have a chance, and Matharu will need to go very low.

Almost in the same boat as Bauer is Super Soph Na Ri Kim (+3), who trails her classmates Nina Reis (E, T36) and Virada Nirapathpongporn (-1, T26) in the race for exempt status. All of them will have to pick up their games to finish in the top 17 this Q-School--they can't count on the people ahead of them to falter. Same goes for Amy Yang (+1, T45), Taylor Leon (E, T36), and Ya Ni Tseng and Maru Martinez (-1, T26). Na Yeon Choi and Song Hee Kim, both T14 at -2, have each had one bad round already and are unlikely to falter again. Ashleigh Simon is cruising at -4 (T5), right behind the leaders Jane Park (-9), Kelli Kuehne (-6), and Hee Young Park (-5).

So 6 of my 17 faves are leading the field, another 7 are still in the hunt, 2 can get back into it, and 3 will need to play some inspired golf today and tomorrow just to have a shot at non-exempt status. Good luck to all!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Mostly Harmless Jinx Strikes Again: Kyoraku Cup in Fukuoka (Again)

What's the biggest international team competition in women's golf? You may think the Solheim Cup (Team Europe vs. Team USA) or the Lexus Cup (Team Asia vs. Team International), but consider the annual showdown between the top Korean and Japanese golfers, formerly known as the Pinx Cup and for the past two years known as the Kyoraku Cup. Team Korea has won 4 of the last 5 matches (the other was a snow-shortened tie), so Team Japan has major motivation this time around. That said, they are incredible underdogs this year, as most of their biggest stars are not participating.

I couldn't attend the 2006 contest, held at the Fukuoka Century Club, for two reasons. First, I was giving a talk at the Kyushu American Literature Society at the same time. Second, and more important, I didn't know about the Kyoraku Cup. You start blogging and you learn things...but sometimes a few months too late. And of course this December I'll be on the wrong side of the world. Figures.

Hey, at least I'm not at Q-School.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

what superhero are YOU?

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
The Flash
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Go, Momoko, Go! I Mean, Come, Momoko, Come! I Mean...

Courtesy of Don at With Malice, here's a Japan Times piece speculating about Momoko Ueda playing the LPGA full-time in 2008. (For the wealth of information on Ueda's career, let's forgive the writer his ignorance of LPGA history, shall we? Hisako Higuchi is a good example, to be sure, but what about 1987 Player of the Year Ayako Okamoto?! Don't 17 career victories, 6 runner-ups in majors, and $2.75M in career winnings [pre-Sorenstam Era]--not to mention entry in the World Golf Hall of Fame--count for anything these days?)

I hope Ueda appreciates the opportunity to play on the LPGA without going through Q-School, considers what it would be like to be the favorite for rookie of the year in a class that could be as strong as the Super Sophs (and might well include other young but seasoned pros from other tours like KLPGA stars Na-Yeon Choi and Hee Young Park, LET sensations Nikki Garrett, Kiran Matharu, Anna Rawson, Ashleigh Simon, and Amy Yang, Ladies Asian Golf Tour star Ya Ni Tseng, and Futures Tour standout Taylor Leon), and jumps at the chance to be a historic trailblazer with Ai Miyazato for young Japanese female golfers. Ueda-san, gambare!

Monday, November 26, 2007

LPGA Q-School Week

Just like college students around the country (and their professors) are returning to classes after Thanksgiving Break, hopefuls who want to play on the most competitive tour in the world are going to the LPGA's Q-School this week. I'm rooting for Super Sophs Na Ri Kim, Virada Nirapathpongporn, and Nina Reis, KLPGA stars Na-Yeon Choi and Hee Young Park, LET sensations Nikki Garrett, Kiran Matharu, Ashleigh Simon, and Amy Yang, struggling 2007 rookies Song Hee Kim, Paige Mackenzie, Maru Martinez, and Jane Park, former NCAA and current Futures Tour standout Taylor Leon, Ladies Asian Golf Tour teenage star Ya Ni Tseng, and struggling LPGA veterans Beth Bauer and Kelli Kuehne to snag the 17 exempt cards for 2008 that are up for grabs from November 28th through December 2nd. But good luck to all!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

And yes...

...that was our 400th post. Let the celebrations begin! Release the hounds! Repeat this post in a Montgomery Burns voice! Again! Faster!

Welcome, Crooked Timberers

If you've recently come to Mostly Harmless via this Australian election update, please feel free to hang out, relax, check out the archives. For more from your guide, JP Stormcrow, you can go here or here, or just check out our "politics" tag. Which takes me back to the early days of this here experiment in interwebitudinal fun, back when this blog mattered made a difference was often funny based in Japan, before it became all LPGA and stories for kids all the time. You can tell how much things have changed here when, upon checking out our most recent slew (for us) of visitors and composing this piece, the following associations rattled through what's left of my brain: "Has Berube finally returned to golf blogging? Crooked Timber--now there's a great name for a golf blog! How can I get a joke about a mashie in a post on this? Is a mashie even made of wood? Or is that a niblick? Heh, niblick. Australian politics...hmm, I wonder if Karrie Webb reads Crooked Timber? Bet she's glad the 2007 season is over. Hey, isn't Amy Yang playing out of Australia these days? Wouldn't it be cool if she did well in Q-School? Now there's a kid with a good head on her shoulders. Ah, kids. Time to check on onechan and imoto." The end.

The Collected Adventures of Sparkychan & Gojochan (Thus Far)

Well, here it is, the first book of The Collected Adventures of Sparkychan and Gojochan (Thus Far), by Uncle Bill Benzon.

July 9: For onechan [in response to this and that]
July 10: The discussion continues
July 11: Onechan's Adventure [in response to this]
July 12: Where's Onechan? and Calling Onechan! Calling Onechan!
July 14: Help is on the way and There They Are! Yippieeee! [in response to this]
July 17: Onechan's Choice
July 19: Calling all kidz! Calling all kidz! [in response to this]
July 23: Sigh
July 28: Catch you later alligator
August 1: Where's the bunny rabbit?
August 3: Onechan Tells a Story
August 11: The Little Worm from Kansas
August 14: Twas brillig
August 16: Sparkychan & Gojochan Adventure Time Mystery Theatre
November 20: i had a dream

Without giving away too much, our intrepid pair end up in Dunkirk! Literally. The girls are still celebrating. Sparkychan is getting rides on the girls' toy baby stroller while onechan cradles Gojochan in one arm until imoto says "itai" enough to prompt me to intervene and force onechan to give Gojochan back to imoto. For more updates, see the comments on the last post in Book I. A big "arigato gozaimasu" to Uncle Bill from onechan and imoto!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

On the LPGA Hall of Fame

Doug Ferguson, who somehow still manages to keep his job covering the LPGA for AP, just came out with a bizarre piece suggesting that it's too easy to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame and that the rapid entries of Sorenstam, Webb, Pak, and Ochoa show the LPGA has a thinner talent pool in the last decade than in the late 1970s and 1980s. Apparently he missed Mulligan Stu's excellent piece at Waggle Room a few weeks ago in which he listed the PGA Hall of Famers who wouldn't have gotten in under the LPGA's points system. Well, hopefully Ferguson won't miss his latest. Even Ron Sirak, who pays fitful attention to the LPGA, understands how tough the LPGA's entrance criteria are. So I think we can easily put the "too easy entry" meme to rest, hopefully before it propagates.

Now, the thinner talent pool issue even comes up among the best-informed LPGA fans, such as the 200-plus members of the Seoul Sisters discussion board. So let's take a look at career LPGA Wins/Majors among the highest earners on the LPGA who started their careers during the Sorenstam Era (for comparison, I include the totals during this time period of players whose careers began earlier, in brackets for those who are still active and in double brackets for those who are retired).

Annika Sorenstam (1994) 69/10

Karrie Webb (1996) 35/7

Se Ri Pak (1998) 24/5

Lorena Ochoa (2003) 17/1
[Juli Inkster 16/4]
[Laura Davies 15/3]
[Meg Mallon 12/1]
[[Liselotte Neumann 11/0]]

[[Dottie Pepper 10/1]]
Cristie Kerr (1997) 10/1

[Kelly Robbins 8/1]
Rachel Hetherington (1997) 8/0
[[Rosie Jones 8/0]]
Mi Hyun Kim (1999) 8/0

[Michelle McGann 7/0]
Grace Park (2000) 6/1
[Sherri Steinhauer 6/1]
[Beth Daniel 6/0]
Hee-Won Han (2001) 6/0

Suzann Pettersen (2003) 5/1
Pat Hurst (1995) 5/1
[[Betsy King 5/1]]

[[Patty Sheehan 4/2]]
[[Donna Andrews 4/1]]
[Helen Alfredsson 4/0]
Paula Creamer (2005) 4/0
Dorothy Delasin (2000) 4/0
[[Tammie Green 4/0]]
Sophie Gustafson (1998) 4/0
Lorie Kane (1996) 4/0
Wendy Ward (1996) 4/0

[Danielle Ammaccapane 3/0]
Wendy Doolan (1996) 3/0
Maria Hjorth (1998) 3/0
Emilee Klein (1995) 3/0
Candie Kung (2002) 3/0
[Barb Mucha 3/0]

Among the 5 most recent generations of LPGA stars, then, Webb, Pak, and Ochoa are the only ones besides Sorenstam herself to rack up more wins in the Sorenstam Era than already-established stars at its start like Inkster, Davies, Mallon, and Neumann. Going down the list, we then have rough equivalences between veterans and newbies, like Pepper-Kerr, Robbins-Hetherington, Jones-Kim, McGann/Steinhauer-Park, Daniel-Han, King-Hurst/Pettersen, Sheehan/Andrews-Creamer, Alfredsson-Gustafson, and Green-Kane/Ward/Delasin. And there are more newbies with 3 wins since the '94 season than veterans. So I think those who want to diss the newbies are letting nostalgia get in the way of the facts. Many of the 1980s stars did continue playing well into the Sorenstam Era, and didn't do particularly well against the three most recent additions to the Hall of Fame.

Certainly, time is on the newbies' side when it comes to building a better record during the Sorenstam Era (which may well not yet be over), but it's by no means inevitable that we'll see another Big 3 or 4 on the LPGA any time soon. While no one would be surprised if veterans Inkster, Davies, or Steinhauer returned to the winners' circle more than once in the next few years, I think you'd see a lot of shocked people if Delasin, Doolan, Kane, or Klein were to win again, and only a bit less surprise if Hetherington, Kung, or Park were to return to form. So the hopes of the non-Hall of Famers among the newbies really rest on the shoulders of Ochoa, Kerr, MH Kim, Hurst, Han, Pettersen, Creamer, Gustafson, and Hjorth--not to mention those with a pair of wins, such as Catriona Matthew, Jeong Jang, Angela Stanford, Stacy Prammanasudh, Christina Kim, Meena Lee, and Seon Hwa Lee (but of course even those without a victory yet, particularly with less than 4 years' experience on the tour, could still go on future tears). This could take awhile, though: Pettersen and SH Lee have been averaging exactly 1 win per season, Creamer just more, and Kerr, Kim, Han, and M Lee just less over the course of their careers to date. Nobody else whom I've named is close to 1 win per season.

Part of the reason for this is that as the low-level and mid-level players get better and better on the LPGA, it gets harder for the good players to distinguish themselves from the pack, even harder for very good players to rack up wins, and particularly difficult for great players to emerge. And anyone who wants to break through like Ochoa and now Pettersen have has to go through them. Thus, it's going to be a huge challenge for any of the people averaging close to a win per season thus far to consistently outdo the rest, much less outduel Sorenstam, Webb, Inkster, Davies, Steinhauer, and Hurst and outdistance their contemporaries and those from younger generations who have not yet found the winner's circle with any regularity. That's just a lot of very good and great players to beat each week; for it to happen all that often will take something truly special. But that's just what someone from that "most likely to succeed" group has to do to pass, say, Liselotte Neumann, much less have a chance to someday join Ochoa in the Hall of Fame after she qualifies for it next season.

So I would conclude that it's precisely because the talent pool on the LPGA is deeper now that it's so much harder to rack up wins as the generations of the late 1970s and early 1980s that Ferguson harkens back to did. This is no reason to change the entry criteria for the Hall of Fame, but it does call attention to how difficult it is to get into it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Fun with the Career Money List: Tracking 5 LPGA Generations

Way back when, I predicted that Lorena Ochoa would beat Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak to the $10M mark in career earnings, and lo and behold, it just happened. What I want to do this time around, though, is make more reasonable comparisons, for even though Ochoa is only 4 years younger than Pak, she joined the LPGA Tour 5 years after her, which is something like two generations in golf years, when you take into account not only inflation generally, but also the inflation of purses in the Sorenstam era (from roughly $20M in 1994 to roughly $60M in 2008).

To see how dominant Pak has been in her ten years on the LPGA, let's compare her to the top players who joined the Tour within a year of her, the Pak generation.

Se Ri Pak (1998) $9.79M (#5)
Mi Hyun Kim (1999) $7.86M (#10)
Cristie Kerr (1997) $7.83M (#11)
Rachel Hetherington (1997) $5.40M (#21)
Laura Diaz (1999) $4.10M (#29)
Sophie Gustafson (1998) $3.90M (#34)
Maria Hjorth (1998) $3.74M (#36)
Kelli Kuehne (1998) $2.12M (#76)

That's money won during the prime years of the amazing classes of 1994-1996, the Sorenstam generation:

Annika Sorenstam (1994) $20.84M (#1)
Karrie Webb (1996) $13.46M (#2)
Lorie Kane (1996) $6.64M (#14)
Pat Hurst (1995) $5.91M (#15)
Catriona Matthew (1995) $5.06M (#24)
Carin Koch (1995) $4.05M (#31)
Wendy Ward (1996) $3.93M (#33)

Now let's take a look at some standouts from the classes of 2000 to 2002, who are much more closely bunched, and so go unnamed for now:

Grace Park (2000) $5.23M (#23)
Jeong Jang (2000) $5.03M (#25)
Hee-Won Han (2001) $4.82M (#27)
Natalie Gulbis (2002) $3.38M (#42)
Gloria Park (2000) $3.11M (#49)
Candie Kung (2002) $3.07M (#50)
Angela Stanford (2001) $2.69M (#59)
Dorothy Delasin (2000) $2.53M (#62)
Jennifer Rosales (2000) $2.20M (#74)
Sarah Lee (2002) $1.76M (#94)

Now we're in a position to better appreciate Ochoa's dominance over what has to be called the Ochoa generation, the top players from the classes of 2003-2005:

Lorena Ochoa (2003) $10.43M (#4)
Paula Creamer (2005) $3.99M (#32)
Suzann Pettersen (2003) $2.76M (#55)
Christina Kim (2003) $2.46M (#66)
Stacy Prammanasudh (2003) $2.27M (#73)
Shi Hyun Ahn (2004) $1.94M (#84)
Brittany Lincicome (2005) $1.85M (#89)
Meena Lee (2005) $1.81M (#91)
Young Kim (2003) $1.79M (#92)

By contrast, the Super Soph generation is closely bunched, which suggests that the classes of 2007 and 2008 have their work cut out for them:

Julieta Granada (2006) $2.05M (#78)
Seon Hwa Lee (2006) $2.02M (#79)
Jee Young Lee (2006) $1.54M (#102)
Morgan Pressel (2006) $1.44M (#112)
Ai Miyazato (2006) $1.32M (#119)
Angela Park (2007) $.98M (#159)
Brittany Lang (2006) $.89M (#179)
Kyeong Bae (2006) $.60M (#226)
Meaghan Francella (2006) $.51M (#238)
In-Kyung Kim (2007) $.45M (#253)
Inbee Park (2007) $.38M (#266)

So there you have it: the 5 most recent generations of LPGA stars, the names of whom alone show how globalized the U.S. tour has been for the past 15 years or so. Within individual classes, you often see individual standouts like Sorenstam, Webb, Kerr, Pak, MH Kim, Han, Ochoa, Ahn, and Creamer, but fairly often you get close races, like between Hurst and Matthew in 1995 or Park and Jang in 2000 or Gulbis and Kung in 2002 or Granada and SH Lee in 2006. This chart also allows you to compare adjoining years across the generations, as well, for instance to show that Creamer is the only member of the class of 2005 still ahead of the top Super Sophs, that MH Kim of the class of 1999 is far ahead of both Park and Jang of the class of 2000, and that only Webb from the class of 1996 is ahead of Kerr of the class of 1997. It also raises interesting questions, like whether MH Kim or Kerr will be runner-up to Pak, whether Pettersen, C Kim, or Prammanasudh will be runner-up to Ochoa in the class of 2003, and whether Lincicome or M Lee will be runner-up to Creamer in the class of 2005. Of course, given the longevity of players like Juli Inkster and Laura Davies, the time it will take to tell may well be measured in decades!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I had a dream

Hey, Sparkychan, I had a strange dream last night.

You did? Tell me about it.

As I was saying

I dreamt that some old meanie attacked us and imprisoned us in a box.

Oh, that's a scary dream, Gojochan, very scary.

And then, you know what, Sparkychan?

What? Tell me tell me!

They sent the box into space. Way way way out there to no where.

That's scary, very scary. Gives me the creeping creepies.

Yeah, and we didn't have any tea in the box!

No tea! What about ice cream?

No ice cream either.

Wow, Gojochan, that is a very scary dream. No tea and ice cream. I don't know if I could live without tea and ice cream.

Yeah, but then you know what happened?


The box stopped moving . . .

Yes, yes . . .

And the top opened up . . .

And . . . .

And there was a lovely little girl who lifted us out.


And gave us a ride in her baby carriage.

Sounds like fun!

Oh, it was Sparkychan, lots of fun. And she had a little sister who was very nice as well.

Wow, two little girls to play with us. What fun. But, um, err . . . did they drink tea with us, Gojochan?

I don't know, Sparkychan. All of a sudden the dream was over and I woke up.

I wonder if those little girls were from Kansas.

I don't know Sparkychan, but they sure were strong and brave.

Super Soph Top 20: November 2007 Edition

It's time for the penultimate update to my May, June, July, August, September, and October Super Soph rankings. (I'll do the final 2007 ranking after Q-School ends in early December.) The main purpose of these rankings remains to determine who among the Rookie Class of 2006 has had the best career to date, with consistency and improvement the key criteria. Feel free to disagree in comments!

Top Super Sophs

1. Seon Hwa Lee: A nice run at the end of the season cemented her status as the top Super Soph. Will have to wait till 2008 to pass Granada for the career money lead, though, due to a disappointing Saturday at the ADT Championship.
2. Morgan Pressel: Showed some real signs of life here and there in the last two events of the season, but inconsistency remains an issue. Will come back rejuvenated and better prepared in 2008, which should make her classmates nervous, as she was the only one among the elite Super Sophs to improve her scoring average from last year to this one, even with her weak finish to the season.
3. Jee Young Lee: The best Super Soph without a win as an LPGA member on the LPGA Tour (she won as a non-member in the Korea event in 2005) should excel in 2008. It's more a question of "how many?" than "when?" when it comes to wins for this Lee.

Certified Super Sophs

4. Ai Miyazato: Clutch performance on Friday got her to the Sweet 16 in the ADT, but a late collapse Saturday shows how far she has to go to recover her form. Even though injuries made her post-HSBC schedule a nightmare, she should be back better than ever in 2008. No doubt is rooting for Louise Stahle to do well in Q-School and for Momoko Ueda to take advantage of her fully-exempt status on the LPGA in 2008.
5. Julieta Granada: Almost cracked the top 30 on the money list and had 6th-best scoring average in her class this year, despite suffering almost a season-long slump. Would still be in the $1M club for career winnings even without her ADT Championship victory last year, so starts 2008 with a good chance to make up ground on Miyazato.
6. Brittany Lang: Made it into the top 40 on the money list and still has the 4th-most career top 20s in her class, even while enduring the most disappointing 2007 of them all, so in a good position to be the next Super Soph to join the $1M club in career winnings and maybe even make up ground on those ahead of her.
7. Meaghan Francella: With 20 fewer events than Bae, only trails her by 2 in top 10s and top 20s and has pulled within $90K of her in career winnings, so when you take into account her victory over Sorenstam early in the season and qualifying for the ADT Championship late in it, I think you have to give her the nod. If she has a good start to 2008 and Lang's woes continue, will catch her.
8. Kyeong Bae: With the 3rd-best birdie rate and 5th-best scoring average in her class this year, not to mention her 7th-place standing on the career money list, she is poised to make a quantum leap in 2008.

Super Sophs in Waiting

9. Hye Jung Choi: Francella-like numbers (without the LPGA win) make her the most likely to succeed of the Super Sophs who have been flying beneath most people's radar thus far.
10. Linda Wessberg: Has the worst GIR rate but the 5th-best birdie rate among the Super Sophs, not to mention amazing top 10 and top 20 totals given the few LPGA events she has played in her career thus far. If she joins the LPGA full-time next season, look for her to move up the ranking fast, but she's also fully exempt on the LET, so should have an interesting schedule.
11. Sun Young Yoo: 2008 will tell if she can build on her ability to make cuts this year, the only thing that didn't desert her from 2006, and remain ahead of Sjodin and Lu.
12. Karin Sjodin: Broke her second-half slump with a top 20 at the Mizuno Classic and looking to surpass Wessberg as the top European in the class.
13. Teresa Lu: With the 4th-best stroke average in the class this year, along with a good ending to her season to match her good start, she's looking to break through in 2008.

Super Potential

14. Katie Futcher: Apparently happy with the number of tournaments her almost-but-not-quite-non-non-exempt status will get her into, as she's not trying for Q-School.
15. Nina Reis: It'll be interesting to see her 2008 schedule if she does as well in the LPGA's as the LET's Q-School. Looking to rebound next year from a terrible 2007 on both continents.
16. Minea Blomqvist: In same boat as Futcher, but as a winner on the LET is fully exempt there in 2008, so has something to fall back on if she continues to struggle in the States.
17. Kim Hall: Basically has had one good tournament a year, but this year's good one was good enough to get her fully exempt for 2008. Good for her.
18. Virada Nirapathpongporn: Needs a good performance in Q-School to have a chance to extend her career leads on Hall in 2008.
19. Veronica Zorzi: May be scaling back her appearances on the LPGA in 2008, as the only thing she has done well there is (barely) make cuts.
20. Na Ri Kim: Needs a good performance in Q-School to have a chance to stay ahead of Hoagland, who's likely to get a medical exemption for 2008.

For your reference--and mine--are the stats on which I'm basing the November ranking.

2007 LPGA Money List (rank), stroke average (compared to last year's), birdies per round average (compared to last year's), greens in regulation (compared to last year's): I'm going to focus on four key indicators of how well someone is playing this season--how much money they've made, how they're scoring, how many birdies they're averaging per round, and average greens in regulation per round. (I figure I can figure out how well they're hitting their irons and putting by comparing the last three figures, so I won't include putts per green in regulation here. And by comparing this year's and last's results on those same three figures, I can see who's improving and who's backsliding.) Some of the figures Hound Dog thinks are most important I'm looking at in the career stats (below), where I think they belong. These stats are all about the present and future.

1. Seon Hwa Lee, $1.10M (#5), 71.56 (+.26), 3.13 (-.33), 67.0% (-.8%)
2. Morgan Pressel, $.97M (#9), 71.34 (-.17), 3.44 (-.17), 66.9% (-4.1%)
3. Jee Young Lee, $.97M (#10), 71.62 (+.16), 3.45 (-.44), 68.4% (+.3%)
4. Ai Miyazato, $.79M (#17), 73.01 (+1.79), 2.87 (-.85), 57.4% (-10.9%)
5. Meaghan Francella, $.51M (#29), 73.09 (-.66), 2.79 (?), 64.0% (?)
6. Julieta Granada, $.41M (#33), 72.92 (+1.59), 2.60 (-.60), 61.3% (-6.7%)
7. Brittany Lang, $.35M (#39), 73.05 (+1.70), 2.77 (-1.11), 64.3% (-5.1%)
8. Kyeong Bae, $.31M (#41), 72.91 (+.58), 3.25 (+.21), 59.8% (-7.7%)
9. Hye Jung Choi, $.29M (#45), 73.08 (+.18), 2.73 (?), 61.3% (?)
10. Karin Sjodin, $.20M (#58), 73.60 (+.79), 2.75 (-.75), 62.0% (-6.1%)
11. Teresa Lu, $.18M (#63), 72.84 (-.04), 2.86 (-.05), 65.0% (-1.7%)
12. Linda Wessberg, $.17M (#65), 72.93 (-4.57), 3.10 (?), 54.1% (?)
13. Sun Young Yoo, $.13M (#75), 73.06 (+.53), 2.58 (-.38), 63.6% (-5.4%)
14. Kim Hall, $.13M (#76), 73.88 (+.14), 2.38 (-.14), 57.8% (-7.5%)
15. Minea Blomqvist, $.09M (#93), 73.96 (+.92), 2.64 (-.03), 57.2% (-3.4%)
16. Katie Futcher, $.08M (#95), 74.04 (+1.21), 2.50 (-.46), 61.1% (-6.7%)
17. Nina Reis, $.05M (#120), 73.84 (+.93), 2.77 (+/-.00), 59.5% (-6.5%)
18. Na Ri Kim, $.04M (#125), 74.15 (-2.80), 2.46 (?), 62.0% (?)
19. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $.04M (#126), 73.48 (+.04), 2.82 (+.45), 61.1% (-1.2%)
20. Ashley Hoagland, $.03M (#136), 73.78 (+.90), 2.11 (?), 57.5% (?)

Career LPGA Money List (rank), Total Events/LPGA Majors/Wins/Top 3s/Top 10s/Top 20s/Made Cuts (rate): About the only thing these stats are useful for is comparing people who entered the LPGA in the same year. Between inflation, changing purses, and length/timing of careers, it's very hard to compare and contrast winnings across generations of LPGA greats. Fortunately the Super Sophs have been at this for only two years, so the career money list is a decent stat for comparing them, even if it's a bit unfair to people who were not exempt in either or both years. What would really be great is if we had a world money list in inflation-adjusted dollars, with inflation- and exchange-adjusted other cash denominations added in (or just totalled up separately to avoid comparing dollars and yen), which included all each golfer earned as a professional on any tour. But even the guys don't have that, so that'll have to remain a dream for now. I include these other ways of seeing how the Super Sophs finished relative to their competition in the tournaments they entered because they reveal a lot about how well someone is able to compete at every level, from just making cuts to getting top 20s, top 10s, top 3s, and victories. So here's how they stand:

1. Julieta Granada, $2.05M (#78), 56/0/1/5/10/19/43 (.768)
2. Seon Hwa Lee, $2.02M (#79), 56/0/2/6/16/31/54 (.964)
3. Jee Young Lee, $1.54M (#102), 48/0/0/4/16/28/46 (.958)
4. Morgan Pressel, $1.44M (#112), 49/1/1/4/18/29/45 (.918)
5. Ai Miyazato, $1.32M (#119), 45/0/0/4/14/19/37 (.822)
6. Brittany Lang, $.89M (#179), 53/0/0/2/9/21/36 (.679)
7. Kyeong Bae, $.60M (#226), 48/0/0/2/6/10/36 (.750)
8. Meaghan Francella $.51M (#238), 28/0/1/1/4/8/19 (.679)
9. Sun Young Yoo, $.36M (#273), 49/0/0/0/2/8/36 (.735)
10. Karin Sjodin, $.32M (#287), 43/0/0/0/3/9/28 (.651)
11. Hye Jung Choi, $.30M (#298), 27/0/0/0/3/7/18 (.666)
12. Teresa Lu, $.26M (#321), 41/0/0/0/2/5/26 (.634)
13. Katie Futcher, $.20M (#351), 40/0/0/0/2/2/24 (.600)
14. Nina Reis, $.19M (#356), 44/0/0/0/2/3/26 (.591)
15. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $.19M (#361), 39/0/0/0/1/4/20 (.513)
16. Linda Wessberg, $.17M (#376), 14/0/0/0/3/4/9 (.643)
17. Kim Hall, $.16M (#381), 32/0/0/0/1/2/13 (.406)
18. Minea Blomqvist, $.16M (#383), 32/0/0/0/0/2/18 (.563)
19. Veronica Zorzi, $.09M (#450), 16/0/0/0/0/1/13 (.813)
20. Na Ri Kim, $.05M (#501), 24/0/0/0/0/1/9 (.375)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Ranking (as of 11/19/07) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of 11/18/07) and rank, International (as of the end of the 2006 season) and Non-Member LPGA Wins: This is a way of seeing how those Super Sophs who sometimes or regularly or always compete on other tours stack up over the course of their careers to date (the RR includes results over the past 104 weeks on the LPGA, LET, JLPGA, KLPGA, and Futures Tour; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on all these tours except the KLPGA).

1. Morgan Pressel, 5.48 (#12), 70.65 (#12), 0
2. Jee Young Lee, 5.14 (#14), 70.34 (#6), 2
3. Ai Miyazato, 4.70 (#17), 72.26 (#50), 14
4. Seon Hwa Lee, 4.63 (#19), 70.57 (#11), 3
5. Julieta Granada, 2.98 (#42), 72.95 (#79), 0
6. Meaghan Francella, 2.22 (#51), 72.49 (#57), 0
7. Brittany Lang, 2.17 (#54), 73.20 (#87), 0
8. Linda Wessberg, 1.80 (#70), 72.22 (#45), 5
9. Kyeong Bae, 1.43 (#84), 72.51 (#60), 3
10. Hye Jung Choi, 1.30 (#96), 72.91 (#76), 0
11. Karin Sjodin, 1.06 (#120), 73.31 (#97), 1
12. Teresa Lu, .99 (#128), 73.27 (#94), 0
13. Sun Young Yoo, .90 (#139), 72.53 (#61), 0
14. Veronica Zorzi, .88 (#144), 73.83 (#145), 2
15. Minea Blomqvist, .77 (#162), 73.86 (#147), 5
16. Kim Hall, .73 (#171), 74.28 (#183), 0
17. Nina Reis, .55 (#216), 74.06 (#165), 5
18. Virada Nirapathpongporn, .50 (#230), 74.12 (#170), 0
19. Katie Futcher, .47 (#238), 74.00 (#159), 0
20. Na Ri Kim, .19 (#374), 74.75 (#222), 0

Monday, November 19, 2007

Take Your Blog to the Course V: ADT Championship Edition

This is it. The last individual event of the 2007 season on the LPGA. 32 cut to 16 cut to 8 playing the final 18 holes for one million dollars. Reality tv at its best. Who among those who qualified will still be playing on Saturday? On Sunday? Will Ochoa, Pettersen, and Creamer extend their lead on their closest competitors? Will Mi Hyun Kim, Jeong Jang, Seon Hwa Lee, Jee Young Lee, and Angela Park close the gap? Will Annika Sorenstam, Maria Hjorth, and Catriona Matthew challenge Pettersen for the title of top European LPGAer in 2008? Will Cristie Kerr, Se Ri Pak, Morgan Pressel, Karrie Webb, Ai Miyazato, and Brittany Lincicome find their games in time? Or will a relative dark horse pull a Julieta Granada this year?

As with our previous take your blog to the course events, I'll post here most any link or submission I receive at the[underscore]constructivist18[at]yahoo[dot]com between November 12 and November 19. The purpose remains to encourage those who don't normally blog or LPGA blog to give it a shot, as well as highlight the work of regular LPGA golf writers and bloggers. So start submitting!

November 19
In which Bill Jempty empties his reporter's notebook, Hound Dog offers his final reflections and ranks the LPGA's top 30 for the last time this year, and I play tournament organizer.

November 18
In which Bill covers the final round of the ADT Championship at Outside the Beltway, Hound Dog surveys the round and gives the key play-by-play, and Mulligan Stu looks back on Karrie Webb's weird season.

November 17
In which Bill covers the third round at Outside the Beltway, Hound Dog surveys the round and gives the key play-by-play, and I identify the eggs that must be broken to make a Sunday omelette.

November 16
In which Bill covers the second round at Outside the Beltway, Hound Dog offers his own overview, I survey the carnage that goes into making a Sweet 16, and Mulligan Stu compares Annika's only winless seasons--her first and latest.

November 15
In which Bill covers the first round at Outside the Beltway (the highlight for me is his piece on co-leader Christina Kim) and Hound Dog offers his own overview.

November 14
In which Bill really begins to hit his stride, Hound Dog muses on some of the gaps Bill went into more detail on in the 2008 LPGA schedule, and Mulligan Stu adds his two cents on the schedule and the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge.

November 13
In which Bill Jempty of The Florida Masochist begins his coverage of the ADT as a journalist from Outside the Beltway. He'll be there all week, so we should actually see some good reporting this year. Let's see if he can beat out the Palm Beach Post. His first post sets the table, in what strikes me in a less interesting way than Hound Dog's tournament preview, but more interesting than Kori Ellis's over at Green Posse.

November 12
In which I praise women's golf and extol the ADT Championship.

ADT Championship: Don't Change a Thing!

Hound Dog and Bill Jempty (a.k.a. The Florida Masochist) have been having a spirited discussion on the 7th and 17th holes at Trump International--the killer par 3s of the 2007 ADT Championship, both of which played much tougher in 2007 than in 2006 (you only start to see doubles or worse there among those who didn't make it to Sunday play). Not having seen any holes of the tournament, either this year or last, I can't say for sure who's right. All I can say is we'd better be able to afford cable TV in 2008!

They do raise an interesting issue, though. How much quirk is too much? Only a few golfers can be said to have mastered the ADT's odd, pressure-packed format: Lorena Ochoa, of course, but also Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis. Gulbis, in particular, is an interesting case: if the Saturday scoring rules had been reversed in the past two years, she wouldn't have made the final 8 either time. Yet she's certainly handled the final-round pressure better than the only other two players to make it to both Sundays under this format, Karrie Webb and Mi Hyun Kim. For everyone else, dealing with 2 cuts and (this year) 2 more rounds when you're starting from scratch than usual has proven to be a difficult psychological adjustment, although Ai Miyazato, Cristie Kerr, Juli Inkster, and Morgan Pressel seem to be handling it fairly well (with 2 consecutive finishes in the Sweet 16 or better). When you compare this roster with those who have done well at the HSBC women's world match play event (regrettably on hiatus in the 2008 schedule), I think you'll conclude that this format is less quirky.

That's partly because the ADT has a 32-player rather than 64-player field. But it's mostly because a player's initial fate is decided over the first 36 holes (or more) of the ADT rather than the first 18 (or less) of the HSBC. Of course, in match play the worst thing that can happen (besides getting yourself DQed) is losing a hole, so if you have more than one big number at the ADT you are under a lot more pressure to play catch-up (which can lead to more bogeys or worse if the risks you take while doing so don't pay off)--so there's plenty of volatility on a course with as much water as the Trump International has. Which raises another question: why was the scoring so much higher this year than last, especially in the final round?

Hound Dog argues it's mostly 7 and 17, but I think differences in the weather and the pressure play a bigger role. I'm guessing about the weather, but I'm pretty sure that Ochoa going out in 31 and being one of the few players to avoid a disaster on the 7th put a lot of pressure on everyone else to go for broke. Under those circumstances, only Gulbis, Creamer, and Kerr (although birdieing 3 of her last 5 was too little too late for her) saw any results to speak of. Last year, Granada was leading at -3 through 10, but everyone in the field except Paula Creamer had a legitimate chance to catch her over the last 8 holes, so they could play closer to their normal games.

So I like the tournament format and course set-up for this year and don't see any reason to change either. I know some were arguing Granada should get an automatic bid as past champion, but what makes this event distinct right now is that the only way in is to earn it; setting aside a spot for anyone for any reason takes away from that uniqueness. As a season-ending tournament, anything that happened in the previous season is irrelevant.

In fact, the only change I'd support among the ones I've read about is to offer performance-based bonuses. If there were a small prize to the player(s) who shoot(s) the low round of the day in each of the first three rounds--say $20K--the best someone who doesn't get the $1M could walk away with would be $160K. If you raise that bonus to the order of $50K, you run the risk of the second-place finisher on Sunday making the same as someone who played great on Thursday or Friday but terrible on Saturday, or less than the same person who saved her disaster round for Sunday. Now, if we're going to be giving bonuses for low rounds, we should also give them for low totals. So if we award another $20K to the player(s) with the low total score after the end of Friday's and Saturday's play, then the most any non-Sunday-winner could make would rise to $200K. So that's $100K in additional prize money to give people incentive to excel on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, not just endure.

Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing.

Happy Nov 19th, Onechan!

Why happy November 19th? Why not? Say "hi" to imoto for me.

Aren't the red leaves pretty?

spots of color.jpg

Saturday, November 17, 2007

ADT Championship: Everybody Hurts

Yeah, everyone not playing for that $1M first-prize tomorrow is hurting, but who's hurting the worst?

  • struggling Super Soph Morgan Pressel, who shot the low round of the tournament Friday but rattled off 3 bogeys over four holes mid-way through the back after spending most of the day at -1?
  • slumping Super Soph Ai Miyazato, who got it to -3 through 12 but made 3 bogeys and a double over her last 6 holes?
  • Solheim Cup star Juli Inkster, who was -4 through 12 but made 2 bogeys and a double to finish 1 shot out of a playoff for the last two spots in Sunday's field?
  • Solheim Cup newbie Nicole Castrale, who was -3 through 10 but +2 down the stretch, including a bogey on 18 that dropped her into the playoff--and bogeyed it again to miss out on Sunday play?
  • Solheim Cup veteran Sophie Gustafson, who was -4 through 16 holes, but fell into a playoff after doubling 17 and bogeying 18--and out of Sunday's field, thanks to another disaster on 17?

Well, at least we know who the two happiest people in the LPGA are tonight: Mi Hyun Kim, whose birdie on 18 in the playoff erased her +4 finish over her final 5 holes, and Christina Kim, who birdied 17 in regulation and 18 in the playoff to make up ground on and then pass everyone else who faltered down the stretch.

Friday, November 16, 2007

ADT Championship 2007: Another One Bites the Dust

Well, one thing is clear about the format of the ADT Championship: it puts a different kind of pressure on the 32 qualifiers than any other tournament in the season. My evidence? The amazing number of huge numbers from some of the best women's golfers in the world. Admittedly, the course itself has a good number of holes that invite disaster, but how else than pressure do you account for the range of ways the following players found to avoid declining the invitation?

  • Reilley Rankin being -3 through 11 holes on Thursday, taking a 10 on the par-5 12th, and never recovering;
  • Solheim Cup stalwart Stacy Prammanasudh making 5 doubles over two days on the back 9;
  • fellow Solheim Cupper Laura Diaz battling her way back to E for the first 20 holes of the tournament, and even after bogeys on the 5th and 7th holes Friday remaining in the thick of things, but suffering a double and 2 triples on the way to a 44 on the back;
  • Jee Young Lee also falling prey to two triples, on the 9th on Thursday (capping off a +6 run over the final 3 holes on the front) and the 10th the next day (just when she had fought her way back into sight of the projected cut line);
  • Maria Hjorth, one of the hottest golfers in the world over the last several months, going +7 over her final 6 holes on Thursday and then on Friday breaking a 3-hole birdie run on 15, 16, and 17, which had gotten her in sight of a playoff for the 16th spot, with a bogey on the 18th hole;
  • the injured Se Ri Pak fighting back into sight of the projected cut line at +3 with three holes to play and finishing with two doubles (to match her back-to-back doubles that closed out Thursday's round);
  • Laura Davies also getting within range of a playoff for the 16th spot in Saturday's field, but finishing +3 over those same final 3 holes;
  • Jeong Jang getting to -2 through 12 Thursday, then going +5 over her final 6 holes (thanks to a pair of doubles), then fighting her way back to E for the tournament through 10 Friday, but going +4 over her next 3 holes to finish a shot out of the playoff for the 16th spot.

Several of those who will be playing Saturday dodged bullets along the way, including:

  • Lorena Ochoa put two balls in the water on the 17th Thursday, which turned a possible 66 into a 70, but still cruised her way to a T4 finish at -4;
  • Paula Creamer gave back every stroke under par of her opening 68 over the first 8 holes Friday, but fought back with 3 consecutive birdies and finished T6 at -3;
  • Karrie Webb was +6 over her final 6 holes Thursday (thanks to a triple and a double), found herself at +6 through her first 22 holes, then made 4 birdies over her last 14 holes, including one on the 18th, to finish in 14th place at +2, one shot out a playoff for the 16th spot.

And then there was the playoff trio at +3, playing for the last two spots:

  • Annika Sorenstam hit three balls in the water Thursday, fought her way back to -1 on the tournament through the first 6 holes Friday, took a quad on the par-3 7th, then could only manage matching pairs of birdies and bogeys the rest of a way;
  • Ai Miyazato, who battled her way back to +1 for the tournament following her second consecutive 34, but doubled the 10th;
  • Natalie Gulbis, who was cruising around E for most of both days until doubling the 16th and bogeying the 17th.

I never would have thought Sorenstam would be the odd woman out, but that's golf for you. With the scores cleared for Saturday's round, literally anything can happen. I'd love to see the 3 remaining Super Sophs play well tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

2001 Redux: A Toy Odyssey

Episode One: I gotta’ go

Kid's Advisory: The following story shows a plush toy taking a poop. No actual poop is depicted in the story. However, it is advised that anyone over 21 be accompanied by a child when reading this story.

late afternoon glow.jpg

It was a bright day in Citytown on Planet X. All of a sudden the Red Phone began to ring.

red phone ring.jpg

“Ringghhhh! Ringghhhh!” it went. It was ever so loud.

“Ringghhhh! Ringghhhh! Ringghhh!” Jumper wanted to answer it. But she couldn’t. Jumper was taking a poop and, you know, business is business.

jumpsan in bathroom.jpg

“Oh dear! Oh dear!” though Jumper, “What am I going to do. I can’t answer the phone while I’m pooping, not until I’m done.”

jumpsan from below.jpg

“Ringghhhh! Ringghhhh!” went the phone. At last Jumper was done pooping. But she still couldn’t answer the phone. Because Mommy had taught her, “Always wash your hands after you’ve pooped.”

jumpsan wash.jpg

And the faucet was so hard to turn. The phone kept ringing, “Ringghhhh! Ringghhhh! Ring Ring Ring!” it went. “Gotta wash my hands, gotta wash my hands,” thought Jumper.

At last Jumper was done washing her hands.

And the phone stopped ringing. “Oh no!, she thought, I missed the phone call!”

Meanwhile her friend King Kong was out playing in the jumgle.

kong swing.jpg

He heard the phone ringing, ever so softly in the distance. “Ringghhhh! Ringghhhh!” it went. “Citytown is in trouble,” thought Kong, “I gotta’ to Jumper's house and find out what’s wrong.” So Kong starting swinging through the jungle.

swing time.jpg

As he got closer and closer to Jumper’s house, the phone got louder and louder – “Ringgh! Ringgh!”

He finally got to the phone. "Where's Jumper?" He thought. "Maybe she's out and can't get to the phone." It was still ringing. “Ringghhhh! Ringghhhh! Ring Ring Ring!” it went. Kong picked up the phone:

“This is Kong answering Jumper’s Red Phone, how may I help you?”

“This is Mayor Grumpy Grumble of Citytown. Tell Jumpsan that there’s a mysterious green box up in space over Citytown.”

“Will do,” said Kong. “Don’t worry, Jumpsan and I will investigate.”

“I’m so glad you were able to get to the phone in time,” said Jumper. “I was worried about missing a call on the Red Phone.”

“No problemo,” said Kong. “That’s what friends are for.”

“What was it about?” asked Jump.

“A mysterious green box has appeared in space over Citytown.”

“A mysterious green box?”

“That’s what the mayor said. I think we’d better investigate.”

“Right,” said Jump. “But let’s have some hot chocolate and cookies first.”

“Right,” said Kong. “We can talk about it and plan plans and scheme schemes.”

hot chocolate and cookies.jpg

And so the two friends planned plans and schemed schemes while enjoying some delicious hot chocolate and cookies. Yum!

Meanwhile, the green box was up in space, hovering over Citytown. What is it? What's it doing? Is it good? Is it bad? Or is it just green, and blue and red and yellow and white too?

green box.jpg

Monday, November 12, 2007

How Much Better Is Women's Golf Than Men's?

Sure, Phil Mickelson was one of the 10 top 20 male golfers in the world to compete in the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai this weekend and the only one to win, but let's see how many among the top 50 in the world will play at the HSBC Women's Champions event premiering in late February 2008, shall we?

And, by the way, how many male golfers have gotten a 35-hour TV marathon to celebrate their entry into the Hall of Fame? Guess Tiger will be telling his people he wants the "Se Ri" treatment once he's qualified....

Oh, and that Fed Ex Cup thing on the PGA that everyone was mocking and only grudgingly conceded that it got Tiger going-head-to-head against his closest competitors at the end of the season more often than in previous years? Well, try the LPGA's ADT Championship on for size. This coming Sunday, the 8 players who have survived the multiple cuts will be competing for the $1M prize based on their final-round scores alone. Yup, you read it right: 18 holes with a million dollars at stake. Now do you see why Mostly Harmless wants you to take your blog to the course? Last chance in 2007....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Creamer Takes Tournament of Champions by Storm for Second Win of Season

Paula Creamer lapped the field at the Tournament of Champions, cementing her status as the #3 women's golfer in the world. Creamer's first bogey in 62 holes--which broke Lorena Ochoa's earlier bogey-free streak of 53 holes--on her final hole of the tournament kept her from tying or breaking Ochoa's -21 total from last year, but she still finished 8 shots ahead of Birdie Kim (-12) and 10 shots ahead of Annika Sorenstam, Natalie Gulbis, and Pat Hurst, the only other players to reach double digits under par in the field. Whether Creamer could surpass Ochoa's record-setting score was really the only question mark all day, since the only people who could beat her 68 on Sunday--Jimin Kang and Catriona Matthew (65), Christina Kim (66), and Hee-Won Han (67)--started the day light-years behind her. Perhaps 2008 will be The Year of the Creamer!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

How Low Can Paula Creamer Go at the TOC?

Let's see, Paula Creamer has made 14 birdies and no bogeys in her last 25 holes, stands at -12 after two rounds of the Tournament of Champions, and is talking like she needs to do just as well on the weekend to win. So just how low can she go?

Given the stumbles of some of her nearest competitors on Friday--not only Meg Mallon's 82, but also 76s by Jimin Kang and Mi Hyun Kim, 74s by Seon Hwa Lee, Hee-Won Han, and Natalie Gulbis, and 73s by Se Ri Pak and Liselotte Neumann, not to mention the number of double bogeys and worse the Robert Trent Jones course has elicited over two rounds--a lead of 5 on Jin Joo Hong and 6 on Annika Sorenstam and Pat Hurst can disappear in a day. Bring in a lurking Suzann Pettersen (-4), who would be -6 but for a penalty invoked when her ball moved on the putting green near the woods ([Update 1: Thanks, Verdant Garden!]) and only a lone TV camera caught it, and Lorena Ochoa (-1), who made up a 5-shot deficit on Lee and Gulbis today, and you can see why Creamer is going to try to push the envelope on moving day later this morning. After all, Meaghan Francella improved by 12 shots from her previous round, Morgan Pressel by 10, and Christina Kim by 8, so there's still no reason to count anyone in the top 20 out of the tournament, especially given the quality of the field. With the weather predicted to be sunny, warm, and calm over the weekend, and players getting used to the course, there's no reason to expect scores to remain as high as they have been for the majority of the field.

[Update 2: Well, after Saturday's round, Creamer's bogey-free 68 allowed her to maintain a 6-shot lead on Hurst (-10), extend her lead on Hong to 7, and move 8 ahead of Birdie Kim (66), Pettersen (68), and Sorenstam (70). Lee, Gulbis, Nicole Castrale, and Pressel fired 67s, but besides Kim no one else relatively close to the lead closed the distance between themselves and Creamer (although if Pressel continues this pattern of improving on her opening 82, a 20-shot improvement tomorrow would get her to -15 for the tournament and in contention if Creamer stumbles). So, sure, this tournament is Creamer's to lose, and she hasn't made a bogey in her last 45 holes, but to get a sense of the scoring volatility that characterizes this course, check out my friend Moira Dunn's Saturday scorecard--4-under over her first four holes, thanks to an eagle on the par-5 4th, then a terrible stretch in the middle, then 4 consecutive closing birdies for a 69. So anything can still happen, as the Honda Thailand's Sunday attests.

By the way, Moira's playing with Se Ri Pak on Sunday, so might get some TV time if both are playing well. But if anyone's going to seriously challenge Creamer, look for the Seon Hwa Lee-Natalie Gulbis and Suzann Pettersen-Annika Sorenstam pairings. Somehow I don't see Hurst, Kim, or Hong making moves on the back tomorrow--just a feeling--although we might hear some noise from Ochoa at -5. Anyway, we'll be in Erie, PA, tomorrow afternoon, eating Japanese food with my former faculty mentor from Seinan Gakuin University and our families, so once again I'll miss a Sunday finish on network TV. (What else is new this season?) Look for spyder's updates in the comments if you happen to have access to the web but not a TV tomorrow....]

Friday, November 9, 2007

Shameless Plug: It's a Blast

just friends tothemax.jpg

Sparkychan: Hey, kids, be sure to see 2001 Redux: A Toy Odyssey, it's a blast!

Gojojan: Yeah, it stars our good friends, Kongsan and Jumpsan. They're cool!

Sparkychan: And it's got neat special effects.

Gojochan: And a shocking opening scene, so be sure to warn your parents so they're not too upset.

Sparkychan: After all, everybody poops, no? Even movie stars and super-heroes.

Gojochan: You weren't supposed to tell them, Sparky.

Sparkychan: I know, but it ... just ... you know ... slipped out. I'm sorry.

Gojochan: Oh, that's OK. I'm kinda' glad you said it. Let's go have some tea.

Sparkychan: Yes. And ice cream, too.

Coming to a theatre near you – 2001 Redux: A Toy Odyssey

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Creamer Shoots 29 on Back at Tournament of Champions

Not long after saying that Lorena Ochoa and Suzann Pettersen were far ahead of her, Paula Creamer finds herself 7 shots ahead of the former and 2 ahead of the latter at the Tournament of Champions, thanks to closing with 7 straight birdies in her round on Thursday. Still, the tournament is anything but hers. Meg Mallon matched her 67, Mi Hyun Kim, Seon Hwa Lee, Natalie Gulbis, and Pat Hurst matched Pettersen's 69, Se Ri Pak (70), Hee-Won Han (71), and Annika Sorenstam (71) are lurking, and you can never count Ochoa or Inkster out. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Christina Kim (77), Moira Dunn (78), Meaghan Francella (80), or Morgan Pressel (82). Lucky for Francella that a win from Mallon, Hurst, Julieta Granada, or Joo Mi Kim would qualify them on second-half winnings, so she still would retain the last spot in the ADT Championship (assuming, that is, Catriona Matthew takes advantage of her 9-shot lead on her) even were such a miracle to happen.

Pigeon & Shadow

pigeon & shadow.jpg

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Red Green and Vines

red green and vines.jpg

Rarer Than a Hole in One

Check out Momoko Ueda's double eagle on the 7th at the Mizuno Classic this past Sunday (that's a 2 on a par 5 for you non-golfers):

It's in the first 10 seconds, but if you stay for the post-interview sequence at the end, you'll see a very emotional hug from Ai-chan congratulating Momoko on her win. Worth the wait. (And in the middle you can make like the girls and clap with the crowd during the interview.)

p.s.--for more on Ueda, check out her web site. Onechan said, "She's like Paula Creamer!" upon seeing the site. One guess why.

p.p.s.--the youtube clip was found by JLPGA star Mi-Jeong Jeon and posted on the Seoul Sisters discussion board--yet another reason to check it out regularly.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Trees for Tuesday

solo dancer.jpg

Good to See the Mostly Harmless Jinx Retains Its Sense of Humor

So one of the images I showed during my brown bag luncheon talk on my Fulbright year yesterday was the view from my office on the one day snow stuck all winter in Fukuoka (for all of a half-hour). It will come to no surprise to regular readers of Mostly Harmless, then, that we woke up this morning to our first snow of the year in Dunkirk and Fredonia. Or that it just started snowing here again as I type this, after having stopped for a couple of hours. That is all.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Take Your Blog to the Course IV: The Asian Swing

Even though the Asian Swing won't be on tv in the U.S., it's a much more significant part of the LPGA season than the PGA's fall finish. Most of the best LPGAers are playing in the limited-field events in Korea, Thailand, and Japan the next three weeks, where they'll be facing off against the top golfers in Asia. Can Suzann Pettersen close the money gap between her and Lorena Ochoa enough in the next month to have a chance to steal the money title from her by winning the $1M prize at the ADT Championship? Can other top women golfers join Ochoa and Pettersen as multiple winners this year on the LPGA Tour, or will Super Sophs Jee Young Lee and Ai Miyazato join the ranks of the 2007 Rolex First-Time Winners? If KLPGA stars like Ji-Yai Shin, Eun-Hee Ji, or Sun Ju Ahn or JLPGA stars like Momoko Ueda, Sakura Yokomine, or Shinobu Moromizato win one of these events, will they join the LPGA in 2008?

As with our previous take your blog to the course events, I'll post here most any link or submission I receive at the[underscore]constructivist18[at]yahoo[dot]com between October 18 and November 5. The purpose remains to encourage those who don't normally blog or LPGA blog to give it a shot, as well as highlight the work of regular LPGA golf writers and bloggers. So start submitting!

November 4
In which Hound Dog explains why he left me to hold the fort this weekend (and surveys the final round of the Mizuno Classic), Mulligan Stu covers the Laura Davies angle in two ways, Bill Jempty and Don comment on Momoko Ueda's win, and I celebrate it.

November 3
In which Round 2 of the Mizuno Classic sparks metaphysical questions from Bill Benzon and me.

November 2
In which Don at With Malice and I survey the first round of the Mizuno Classic.

November 1
In which Don previews the Mizuno Classic from Japan.

October 31
In which Hound Dog previews the Mizuno Classic and I rank the Super Sophs.

October 30
In which I preview the Mizuno Classic and look ahead to the ADT Championship.

October 29
In which I point the way to the official site for the Mizuno Classic.

October 28
In which Hound Dog describes just how close Pettersen's 5th win of the season turned out to be, Mulligan Stu reminds us why we shouldn't be too disappointed for Laura Davies, and I thank the golf gods for small favors.

October 27
In which Hound Dog continues to hold down the fort.

October 26
In which Hound Dog holds down the fort.

October 25
In which I make what turns out to be a prescient prediction and Hound Dog surveys the first round of the Honda LPGA Thailand.

October 24
In which Hound Dog previews the Honda Thailand event and Bill Benzon shows what the players are in search of.

October 23
In which Hound Dog explains his player ranking system for new readers and I roll out my own.

October 22
In which I try and fail to get the taste of the Mostly Harmless jinx out of my mouth and the smell off my clothes. Hound Dog has a better way. Two.

October 21
In which the Mostly Harmless jinx shows me who is boss and Hound Dog comments on the cancellation of the third round.

October 20
In which I note an irony and try to confuse the Mostly Harmless jinx, while Hound Dog gives a second-round overview.

October 19
In which a player I had lost hope in gives me cause for optimism, Hound Dog gives a first-round overview, and Don compares the fortunes of the JPGA and the JLPGA.

October 18
In which I call for a certain blogging MoWietoWieum, Hound Dog previews the Shin-Ochoa showdown in Korea, and Bill Benzon shows why it can't be said of Mostly Harmless that it don't mean a thing.

Coming Attractions

Kong, Jumper, and the Green Pavilion:


Have they heard about the rescue of Gojochan and Sparkychan? Do they know about the League of Pretty Good Amazons, aka the LPGA? Do Coco and Yaya have the Right Stuff to join the LPGA? What's the Green Pavilion?

So many mysteries.

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Yes! Momoko Ueda Wins Mizuno Classic

With all due respect to Laura Davies, who I'm sure will earn her way into the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame soon, with condolences to Ai Miyazato, Julieta Granada, and Kyeong Bae (finishing 5 shots behind the slumping Karrie Webb can't feel good), and with congratulations to Hye Jung Choi on her top 10 and Karin Sjodin on her top 20 (her final-round 66 put her a shot behind fellow Super Soph Brittany Lang), I must say that I am overjoyed that Momoko Ueda won the Mizuno Classic! And what a way to win. Making a double eagle on the 7th propelled her to a 31 on the front, keeping her ahead of Reilley Rankin and Maria Hjorth, who both fired off 32s (Hjorth started off by eagling the first). Then as all three cooled off on the back, Ueda held them off and prevented anyone else from even thinking about chasing her down.

Ueda's win is great for the JLPGA, most of whose top-ranked stars actually had a disappointing tournament. Not only does it give the Japanese players some bragging rights heading into December's showdown with the South Koreans in the Kyoraku Cup (although in the Seoul Sisters' defense it took a monsoon and high winds to ice Pettersen's 36-hole win in Korea two weeks ago), it also and more importantly raises the strong possibility that Ueda will join Ai-chan on the LPGA in 2008. I'd cross my fingers, but fear doing so will activate the Mostly Harmless jinx.

With their disappointing but not disastrous finishes in Japan, Sophie Gustafson and Rachel Hetherington passed Annika Sorenstam in the race to qualify for the ADT Championship. It doesn't really matter whether new mom Catriona Matthew outearns Sorenstam by the $42K she needs in the Tournament of Champions next week to steal the final second-half qualifying spot from her, or earns her way in by being one of the top two people on the official money list not otherwise qualified for the tournament. Both are in either way. Looks like Meaghan Francella can breathe easy--the odds that Granada will win the TOC and pass her in earnings on the season are about as remote as...uh, her winning the ADT last year. Gulp--good thing Francella's also in the TOC field. [Update 12:15 pm: Thanks to eagle-eyed Bill from The Floria Masochist, I just figured out that Rankin's finish vaulted her ahead of Sorenstam, Gustafson, and Hetherington on the second-half points list. So there's a good chance Sorenstam will knock out Gustafson or Hetherington at the TOC, and Francella and Matthew will get in on the year-long money list. I think. Update 11/5/07, 11:34 am: OK, the new stats are out at, and it looks like Hetherington's going to be the odd woman out after the TOC. Although Joo Mi Kim and/or Granada could still pass Gustafson with a miracle like Rankin's. I think.] If Francella does badly in the TOC but still makes the ADT, she has In-Kyung Kim's disappointing weekend in Japan to thank--Kim was in contention after the first round, but faded to T24 and failed to put pressure on Francella to play catch-up on the money list next week. Speaking of rookies, Angela Park will need a great finish at the ADT to join the $1M club. If Ai-chan can't get her game in enough shape to win it, I want to see Park walk away with the victory.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

how many? and what?

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Speaking of Metaphysics

Is this evidence that the golf gods exist and can be merciful? Or the fact that there are now 8 people with a great chance of denying Laura Davies 1 of the 2 wins she needs to earn her way into the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame tomorrow at the Mizuno Classic (not to mention another 11 who could easily chase the leaders down) further evidence (as if more were needed) that said golf gods can be cruel and capricious?

Some Metaphysics for Saturday

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Family Friday

Elephant family:

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Machine family:

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Too Painful to Comment On

Just about everyone on the JLPGA and LPGA (along with, it seems, their sisters, cousins, nieces, aunts, and grandmothers) beat Ai Miyazato in the first round of the Mizuno Classic. That is all.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

SI Sucks

As I recently wrote to Generalissimo and Supreme Commander of the WAAGNFNP, Michael Berube, I don't particularly follow sports, but I used to enjoy leafing through back issues of Sports Illustrated whenever I visited my parents (my father had been a charter subscriber to the magazine). I always found lots of engaging well-written stuff. Now I'm reading that SI has gone down the tubes.

& Herr Doktor Professor Seven-Star Generalissimo Berube told me he unsubscribed three years ago.

Is there anything left? Is it really time for the GNF? In the words of our waterboard-lovin' Head Cheerleader-in-Chief, "Bring it on!"

The Decorator Touch

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