Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hana Bank Championship Preview, Predictions, Pairings

It's deja vu all over again as the LPGA's finest return to chilly Korea to take another key step toward deciding who will win the season-long races for the money-list title, Player of the Year, Vare Trophy, and top spot in the Rolex Rankings. That's right, it's time for the Hana Bank Championship, where the top golfers from the KLPGA will try to prevent a 3rd consecutive victory by the visiting LPGAers at the Sky 72 Golf Club and the most recent champions Suzann Pettersen, Candie Kung, and Na Yeon Choi will try as hard as Jin Joo Hong, Shi Hyun Ahn, and Jee Young Lee before them--whose non-member wins in Korea got them LPGA membership--to become the 1st-ever repeat winner of this event.

The Ocean Course (also known as The Champion--Candie Kung Course!) is not so different from the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club from last week's Malaysia event: lots of water in play puts good judgment on strategy and club selection, trust in your swing, solid ball-striking, accuracy, and guts at a premium. So who in this packed field will excel this week? Seoul's KLPGA stats, Hound Dog's Hot 20 and tournament preview, and's preview and pre-tournament notes and interviews (and Jennifer Song's vlog!) are all worth checking out. But the key factor to keep in mind is that the cold weather and longer par 3s and par 4s may shift the advantage this week from the precision players to the straight shooters. So here are my entries in this week's PakPicker:

1. Kerr
2. Choi Na Yeon
3. Shin
4. Kim Song-Hee
5. Creamer
6. Hull
7. Pettersen
8. Pressel
9. Miyazato Mika
10. Seo Hee Kyung
11. Park Inbee
12. Lee Bo Mee

Alts: Lee Jee Young, Yoo, Lewis

I dislike the tournament organizers' decision to segregate (for the most part) KLPGA and LPGA regulars in the 1st-round pairings. What's the point of a co-sponsored event if the players only mix in 2 of the 3 competitive rounds? Still, I have to admit there are some pretty good groupings that result. Here are my faves:

1st tee, 10:29 AM
Na Yeon Choi
Paula Creamer
Morgan Pressel

1st tee, 10:40 AM
Ji-Yai Shin
Cristie Kerr
Michelle Wie

1st tee, 9:56 AM
Song-Hee Kim
Maria Hjorth
Mika Miyazato

1st tee, 10:18 AM
Brittany Lincicome
In-Kyung Kim
Suzann Pettersen

1st tee, 9:45 AM
Jeong Jang
Stacy Lewis
Hee-Won Han

1st tee, 10:07 AM
Juli Inkster
Katherine Hull
Hee Young Park

10th tee, 9:45 AM
Eun-Hee Ji
Inbee Park
M.J. Hur

1st tee, 8:50 AM
Shi Hyun Ahn
Teresa Lu
Momoko Ueda

10th tee, 10:18 AM
Sun Young Yoo
Jee Young Lee
Amy Yang

1st tee, 8:39 AM
Mirim Lee
Bo-Mee Lee
Hee Kyung Seo

10th tee, 8:39 AM
Hyun-Hee Moon
Jennifer Song
Jung-Min Lee

With Ai Miyazato sitting this one out (in preparation for her stretch run of 5 tournaments in 5 weeks with 3 massive trans-Pacific flights mixed in for fun), this week is a great opportunity for the new #1 in the world of women's golf to consolidate her position in the Rolex Rankings and put herself in the lead or in serious contention for every season-end award the LPGA gives out. Kerr needs a great performance, as Choi and Shin are playing the entire Asian swing and Miyazato and Ya Ni Tseng spring back into action in the Mizuno Classic, which she's skipping. Let's see if she comes through!

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