Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The 2 Extremes of LPGA Life

It makes a weird kind of sense that the California sectional qualifier for LPGA Q-School is taking place this week opposite the Samsung World Championship. The former's at Mission Hills, site of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, while the latter's at Torrey Pines, which needed no introduction even before the '08 U.S. Open. Let's compare the fields for the LPGA's A-list and Z-list, shall we?

It's pretty easy when the Samsung offers profiles of all 20 players in this year's field, isn't it? There's not a player there who anyone paying a smidgen of attention to the LPGA the past few seasons hasn't heard of. By contrast, you really need to have been following the world of women's golf pretty closely to know anything about more than a handful of players in the CA qualifier. I'll save my top 12 and alternates in this week's PakPicker at Seoul Sisters.com for tomorrow's Samsung preview, but let's see how I do with my Mission Hills predictions:

1. Yuko Mitsuka
2. Azahara Munoz
3. Amanda Blumenherst
4. Maria Jo Uribe
5. Paola Moreno
6. Maria Hernandez
7. Beatriz Recari
8. Hannah Jun
9. Jennie Lee
10. Tamie Durdin
11. Jane Chin
12. Emma Cabrera-Bello

Alts: Kristie Smith, Sofie Andersson, Cindy LaCrosse

Yep, even with her mini-slump and jet lag to deal with this week, I expect Mitsuka to cruise through this round of Q-School. For the next 15, I expect to see Marianne Skarpnord, Iben Tinning, Carmen Alonso, Nikki Garrett, Ayaka Kaneko, Lisa Ferrero, Caroline Larsson, Libby Smith, Tiffany Joh, Mallory Blackwelder, Briana Vega, Sae Hee Son, Esther Choe, Rebecca Kim, and Pei-Ying Tsai making it to the final stage of Q-School.

Lots of these players are hedging their bets and plunking down an extra grand to enter the Florida sectional qualifier at the end of September. The only new names I'd expect to give the ones who need to play there any competition are Gwladys Nocera and Yoora Kim. I have to say I'm surprised and disappointed that Sun Ju Ahn and Hee Kyung Seo of the KLPGA and Shinobu Moromizato, Sakura Yokomine, Miho Koga, Chie Arimura, Erina Hara, Ayako Uehara, and Miki Saiki of the JLPGA didn't take the opportunity to go for LPGA membership, especially since Ahn and Saiki tried last year and Moromizato is a former member. This may well be the easiest year in the next decade to get your foot in the LPGA door. I guess the prospect of committing to the kind of split schedule that Momoko Ueda has played the last 2 seasons doesn't appeal to that many established Asian stars. That, or they don't think there will be enough LPGA events next season to make membership worth it. Their loss--and a great opportunity for everyone playing this week in Rancho Mirage!

No comments: