Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Best Off the LPGA: The JLPGA's Finest, Final 2010 Edition

6 JLPGA regulars and 2 irregulars made up almost half my nominees for the coveted Mostly Harmless Best 2010 in Women's Golf award. For irregulars Ji-Yai Shin and Ai Miyazato, the JLPGA took a back seat to their efforts to win the money-list title and Player of the Year on the LPGA, but Shin still won twice on tour. Meanwhile, JLPGA POY and money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn matched Shin and LPGA POY Ya Ni Tseng in worldwide wins with 4, all coming on the JLPGA, 1 fewer than Miyazato and Lee-Anne Pace of the LET. Other multiple JLPGA winners in 2010 included Mi-Jeong Jeon (3), Sakura Yokomine (2), Inbee Park (2), Yuri Fudoh (2), and Akane Iijima (2). So how did their seasons stack up against the rest of the JLPGA? Who made the biggest advances since the end of last season?

This functionally illiterate expert will try to answer these questions. I'll be using the year-end Rolex Rankings, the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, and the current JLPGA money list, along with the previous 2 seasons' money lists, to rank the JLPGA's finest.

We've got a new #1 on tour! But the former #1 still managed to stay ahead of a couple of JLPGA irregulars and her former top rival on tour.

1. Sun-Ju Ahn: #1 2010 money (¥145.07M), #9 GSPI (69.68) [3], #8 RR (7.25) [3], n.a. 2009 and 2008 money (not a JLPGA member). 4 golds, 2 silvers, 2 bronzes, 19 total top 10s, and the lowest scoring average among JLPGA regulars in her 27 starts show just how strong she was this season, but it was her run of 10-straight events in which she finished no worse than 5th and won 3 times that cemented her dominance in 2010.

2. Sakura Yokomine: #2 2010 money (¥101.83M), #12 GSPI (69.81) [4], #13 RR (5.46) [5], #1 2009 money (¥175.02M), #3 2008 money (¥103.19M). Last year's record-setting money winner played pretty darn well in 2010, actually improving her raw scores in the RR and GSPI and keeping her scoring average below 71 for the 3rd-straight season, but she still lost ground to irregulars Shin and Miyazato and was passed by rookies Ahn and Inbee Park in those ranking systems. With 20 top 10s in 28 starts, what held her back was her inability to regularly put herself in serious contention. She only had 2 golds, a silver, and a bronze all season, a veritable drought for a player of her talents!

3. Ji-Yai Shin: #18 2010 money (¥47.82M), #3 GSPI (68.83) [1], #1 RR (10.74) [1], #24 2009 money (¥37.40M), #24 2008 money (¥45.54M). How good was her 2010 campaign on the JLPGA? The #1 player in the Rolex Rankings finished out of the top 5 only once in her 7 starts, won twice, and got a silver and a bronze, to boot. Her scoring average of 69.67 in 2010 and 5 wins in 3 truncated seasons on tour says it all--she loves playing golf in Japan!

4. Inbee Park: #5 2010 money (¥82.04M), #13 GSPI (69.82) [5], #12 RR (6.57) [4], n.a. 2009 and 2008 money (not a JLPGA member). Her season-ending Ricoh Cup win capped off a campaign that netted her 2 golds (including that 1 major), 6 silvers, and 10 total top 10s in only 14 starts on tour. Besides her alchemical difficulties, her 2 missed cuts were the only blemishes on her rookie season. Let's see if Hee Young Park, Shanshan Feng, Meena Lee, or Soo-Yun Kang can be as successful in their 1st seasons as dual LPGA-JLPGA members in 2011 as she was in 2010.

5. Mi-Jeong Jeon: #3 2010 money (¥92.31M), #24 GSPI (70.62) [8], #16 RR (5.15) [6], #4 2009 money (¥127.29M), #6 2008 money (¥90.85M). Although she won 3 times and came in 3rd twice, this has to rank as a somewhat disappointing season for the 6th-year JLPGA member, because she got only 13 top 10s in 27 starts and saw her scoring average rise by over half a stroke from last year. Even so, it was her 5th-straight season in the top 6 on the money list, so don't feel too bad for her!

In contrast to the Korean predominance in the top 5, Japanese players make up the vast majority in the next 6.

6. Chie Arimura: #6 2010 money (¥79.25M), #22 GSPI (70.33) [7], #18 RR (4.74) [7], #3 2009 money (¥140.80M), #23 2008 money (¥47.35M). She came in 2nd to Ahn in the 1st event of 2010 and won 3 events later, but could only manage another silver and a bronze the rest of the season. Still, even though her scoring average rose almost half a stroke from last season's, she finished in the top 10 in 19 out of her 30 starts and 9 of them were top 5s. At 23 years of age, she already has 7 career JLPGA victories. Watch for her to bounce back in a big way in 2011!

7. Yukari Baba: #4 2010 money (¥90.36M), #21 GSPI (70.33) [6], #26 RR (4.00) [8], #9 2009 money (¥60.06M), #26 2008 money (¥44.14M). If 2009 was a very good year, 2010 was a career year for the 8th-year pro. She improved on her consistency from last season, missing only 1 cut in 33 starts (down from 2) and getting 15 top 10s (up from 12). But where she really improved was in putting herself in contention more often. Even though her 3rd career win proved elusive, she garnered 4 silvers and 5 bronzes. Twice in the 2nd half of the season she finished no worse than 3rd in a 3-tournament run. She moves up 7 spots from last year's ranking on her birthday today--not a bad gift the 28-year-old gave herself in 2010. Let's see whether she can keep rising in 2011.

8. Yuri Fudoh: #7 2010 money (¥69.70M), #25 GSPI (70.77) [9], #27 RR (3.79) [9], #17 2009 money (¥43.98M), #5 2008 money (¥91.86M). With 2 wins, 7 top 5s, and 10 top 10s in 24 starts, the JLPGA's only Billion Dollar Woman bounced back from probably the worst season of her career last year. But it's not a good sign that her scoring average actually went up almost a fifth of a stroke from 2009 to 2010. With even more international competition coming to her back yard next season, the JLPGA's most dominant player will have to dial up the intensity in 2011 if she wants to remain among the tour's super-elite!

9. Miki Saiki: #8 2010 money (¥69.56M), #38 GSPI (71.05) [13], #39 RR (3.09) [13], #18 2009 money (¥43.33M), #20 2008 money (¥50.84M). 2010 was the best season in this 4th-year pro's career, all because of how well she bounced back from her only missed cut of the year around its mid-way point; not only did she get her 2nd-ever win on the JLPGA, she added a silver and 8 other top 10s in her last 16 starts (out of 32 in all). Like last season, she still had 10 finishes outside the top 20 (in addition to her MC), but she still managed to return to the top 10 on the money list for the 1st time since her rookie year. Let's see if the 26-year-old can keep improving in 2011!

10. Ji-Hee Lee: #14 2010 money (¥52.88M), #34 GSPI (71.00) [10], #30 RR (3.37) [11], #6 2009 money (¥79.70M), #2 2008 money (¥119.65M). The JLPGA's #1-ranked player in 2008 slips another 2 spots lower from last year's ranking, but if it weren't for a 4-week stretch in the middle of the season when she finished 5th, 7th, 2nd, and 1st, she would have fallen much farther. Sure, she added 4 more top 10s, including a bronze, on either side of that stretch, but couldn't get another over her last 10 starts, ending up with 7 fewer than in 2009 and 13 fewer than in 2008, despite getting 28 starts in all in 2010. My guess is that the back injuries she sustained at the end of last season when Team Korea dropped her during a celebratory captain toss at the Kyoraku Cup bothered her for most if not all of this season. Here's hoping she's completely recovered for next season!

11. Akane Iijima: #9 2010 money (¥64.88M), #78 GSPI (71.96) [28], #53 RR (2.56) [17], #20 2009 money (¥42.63M), #19 2008 money (¥51.40M). It was either feast or famine for this 6th-year pro: after missing the cut in 3 of her 1st 6 starts and getting only 2 top 10s in her 1st 13, she bounced back with 2 wins and 4 other top 10s in her next 9 starts, but could manage only 5 top 20s over her last 12 starts. All in all, she had 2 golds, a silver, and 10 top 10s in 34 starts to bring her career total to 6 wins on tour, despite the fact that her scoring average went up a quarter of a stroke from last season. Let's see if the 27-year-old can play better more consistently in 2011.

The next group of JLPGA regulars, including some newcomers from the LPGA, benefitted from relatively disappointing seasons by the rest of the irregulars.

12. Saiki Fujita: #10 2010 money (¥64.50M), #73 GSPI (71.84) [26], #65 RR (2.30) [23], #34 2009 money (¥26.39M), #29 2008 money (¥31.72M). She bounced back from a terrible start to her 6th season on the JLPGA--5 missed cuts and a WD in her 1st 14 starts--with an impressive win at the Konica Minolta Cup and ended the year with 2 bronzes and 10 top 10s in 32 starts. That's why she jumped 17 spots from last year's ranking.

13. Rui Kitada: #12 2010 money (¥59.33M), #68 GSPI (71.75) [23], #66 RR (2.28) [24], #19 2009 money (¥43.00M), #28 2008 money (¥36.34M). A win, 2 bronzes, and 3 other top 5s highlighted her season, but even though she had 11 top 10s in her 34 starts, she had 14 finishes outside the top 20 and missed 3 cuts. Still, she moves up 8 spots from last year's ranking.

14. Young Kim: #15 2010 money (¥49.89M), #36 GSPI (71.04) [12], #54 RR (2.49) [18], n.a. 2009 and 2008 money (not a JLPGA member). A silver, 2 bronzes, and 3 other top 5s showed her talent, but she couldn't break through for a win in her rookie season on the JLPGA and could manage only 8 top 10s in her 28 starts. Let's see if she can improve on this solid foundation in her sophomore campaign.

15. Nikki Campbell: #13 2010 money (¥55.22M), #45 GSPI (71.37) [16], #46 RR (2.76) [15], #10 2009 money (¥50.67M), #33 2008 money (¥27.04M). 4 silvers were the highlight of her season--particularly in big-time events like the Suntory Ladies and Konica Minolta Cup--but she got only 8 top 10s in 28 starts and was passed by Ji-Hee Lee on Sunday in the NEC Karuizawa 72, her best chance for a win in 2010. Still, she improved on her winnings and scoring average from last season (her previous bests) and has finished in the top 20 on the money list in 5 of her last 6 seasons on the JLPGA.

16. Na-Ri Kim: #11 2010 money (¥59.36M), #66 GSPI (71.73) [21], #29 RR (3.51) [10], n.a. 2009 and 2008 money (not a JLPGA member). She missed the cut in 3 of her 1st 6 starts as a rookie on the JLPGA and her best finish in her 1st 10 was only a T11, but she got her sea legs under her after that, getting 2 silvers and a bronze midway through the season and breaking through for her 1st win in its next-to-last event. All in all, she got only 6 top 10s in 33 starts, but has a lot of momentum heading into her sophomore season on the JLPGA.

17. Shinobu Moromizato: #20 2010 money (¥43.34M), #35 GSPI (71.02) [11], #34 RR (3.32) [12], #2 2009 money (¥165.26M), #12 2008 money (¥64.37M). Her silver in the opening event of the 2010 season on her home island of Okinawa seemed to augur that she'd pick up where she left off in 2009, when she was the #2 golfer on the JLPGA, but even though she went on to open the Konica Minolta Cup with a 66 and ended up with 11 top 10s in 29 starts, she never really put herself in contention the rest of the season.

18. Ai Miyazato: #48 2010 money (¥16.91M), #8 GSPI (69.67) [2], #6 RR (9.61) [2], #14 2009 money (¥46.56M), #32 2008 money (¥27.89M). Even though she finished outside the top 10 only once in her 6 JLPGA starts, it came at the worst possible time: while rival Ji-Yai Shin was winning the Mizuno Classic, Ai-sama's 2nd-round 79 dropped her to the bottom of the leaderboard. Combined with an uncharacteristically over-par 73 on a Sunday in the NEC Karuizawa 72 that dropped her from 1st to 4th and the lack of any top-3 finishes, 2010 may well be her most disappointing season on the JLPGA ever--not as bad as 2007, to be sure, but definitely the biggest let-down.

The following players had some real bright spots in 2010, but they were relatively few and far between.

19. Ayako Uehara: #16 2010 money (¥48.70M), #60 GSPI (71.59) [20], #60 RR (2.41) [19], #12 2009 money (¥47.30M), #14 2008 money (¥63.31M). Even a 2nd-round 63 in the Golf5 Ladies couldn't get this 8th-year pro her 3rd career JLPGA win, but she did have 2 silvers and 3 other top 5s in a season when she garnered 8 top 10s in 34 starts. Although she improved in winnings and scoring average from last season, I'm still waiting for a breakthrough year from her!

20. Mayu Hattori: #17 2010 money (¥48.62M), #72 GSPI (71.83) [25], #62 RR (2.39) [21], #15 2009 money (¥44.48M), #15 2008 money (¥58.72M). 6 missed cuts by this 4th-year pro in the 1st half of the season nearly overshadowed her 2nd career JLPGA win, but the 22-year-old played steadier in the 2nd half of the season and ended up with 8 top 10s in 33 starts.

21. Eun-A Lim: #22 2010 money (¥42.09M), #67 GSPI (71.75) [22], #61 RR (2.40) [20], #11 2009 money (¥47.77M), #9 2008 money (¥73.41M). She got her 3rd win on the JLPGA in her 3rd year as a member, but with only a bronze to keep it company and 7 top 10s in 30 starts offset by 4 missed cuts and a WD, she took a significant step backwards in 2010.

22. Mie Nakata: #19 2010 money (¥46.06M), #52 GSPI (72.31) [18], #77 RR (1.92) [28], #44 2009 money (¥16.52M), #31 2008 money (¥28.33M). 2 silvers--1 early and 1 late in the season--were the highlights of this veteran's 2010, but she also got a bronze and 2 other top 5s on her way to 7 top 10s in 31 starts.

23. Miho Koga: #25 2010 money (¥34.53M), #113 GSPI (72.70) [39], #67 RR (2.26) [25], #8 2009 money (¥72.11M), #1 2008 money (¥120.85M). If 2009 was a frustrating season for 2008's money-list leader and 4th-ranked player on the JLPGA, 2010 was pretty close to disastrous. Despite an early win and a silver a few events later, she got only 2 more top 10s the rest of the season (for 4 in 26 starts), missed a bunch of cuts, and had to cut her year short due to injuries that no doubt had been affecting her play for a long time. Here's hoping she's healthy in 2011!

24. Akiko Fukushima: #30 2010 money (¥30.83M), #94 GSPI (72.40) [34], #64 RR (2.37) [22], #13 2009 money (¥46.56M), #4 2008 money (¥96.50M). Her 18th season on the JLPGA was nothing to write home about, except for a 2-week mid-season stretch when she got a silver and a gold.  Time is running out on her attempt to follow Yuri Fudoh and become the 2nd-ever Billion Yen Woman on the JLPGA.

25. Hyun-Ju Shin: #24 2010 money (¥36.76M), #90 GSPI (72.21) [31], #81 RR (1.81) [30], #33 2009 money (¥26.41M), #11 2008 money (¥64.63M). She still hasn't been the same player since she got injured midway through the 2008 season. Despite notching her 5th career win in 6 seasons on the JLPGA in the middle of this season and augmenting it with a silver earlier in the year, she ended up with only 4 top 10s in 33 starts. But 5 MCs and 1 WD helped contribute to the highest scoring average of her JLPGA career. Here's hoping she's healthy in 2011!

26. Rikako Morita: #28 2010 money (¥32.63M), #129 GSPI (73.01) [44], #96 RR (1.53) [35], #27 2009 money (¥30.39M), n.a. 2008 money (not a JLPGA member). This JLPGA super soph continued to have trouble making cuts--she missed 9 in all this season--but she fired a 62 to get her 1st win on tour late in the year, got a bronze midway through it, and ended up with 5 top 10s in 34 starts.

No wins for the rest of the players in this year's ranking, but plenty of potential winners in 2011.

27. Momoko Ueda: #39 2010 money (¥21.77M), #51 GSPI (71.48) [17], #44 RR (2.84) [14], #21 2009 money (¥42.38M), #17 2008 money (¥54.62M). Injuries took their toll on her performance on both the LPGA and JLPGA this season, but she still grinded out 17 starts in Japan in 2010. Despite her tenaciousness, she garnered only 3 T4s for her efforts, and even missed 2 cuts late in the season.

28. Tamie Durdin: #35 2010 money (¥27.00M), #82 GSPI (72.01) [30], #82 RR (1.75) [31], #23 2009 money (¥37.77M), #55 2008 money (¥14.65M). This dual member had to abandon the LPGA late in the season to fight to keep her JLPGA card for 2011. She made it interesting, missing 3 cuts in a 4-event stretch, but rallied for her 2 best finishes of the year--a silver and a 4th--in her last 3 starts to go with her 3 other top 10s in the 20 JLPGA tournaments she played in 2010.

29. Hiromi Mogi: #26 2010 money (¥34.17M), #44 GSPI (71.35) [15], #85 RR (1.71) [33], #26 2009 money (¥32.35M), #18 2008 money (¥52.62M). 8 top 10s in 30 starts wasn't bad, but her best finish was a T5 and she got only 1 of them. Still, with only 2 missed cuts, her scoring average was actually her lowest in her 8 years on the JLPGA. Will she become a top-20 player again in 2011, as she was from 2004 through 2008, or will the JLPGA's young guns push her even further aside?

30. Hiromi Takesue: #21 2010 money (¥42.43M), #96 GSPI (72.42) [35], #86 RR (1.70) [34], #41 2009 money (¥17.59M), #48 2008 money (¥16.52M). She came on strong at the very end of the season, with 3 straight top 10s, an even more impressive burst than the middle of the season when she got 3 top 10s in 4 starts--including her only silver and bronze of 2010. Unfortunately, she ended the season with only 8 top 10s in 31 starts and had just as many missed cuts, which also came in bunches. Still, 2010 was her best year since her rookie season in 2003.

31. Bo-Bae Song: #29 2010 money (¥31.16M), #57 GSPI (71.55) [19], #51 RR (2.63) [16], #7 2009 money (¥72.92M), #13 2008 money (¥63.47M). A tough year for one of the best young Koreans on tour was highlighted by a bronze and 6 total top 10s in 26 starts. This was the 1st time in her 4 years on tour that she failed to make the top 20 of the money list and only the 2nd time her scoring average was over 72. 3 missed cuts late in the season sealed her fate. Let's see if she can bounce back in 2011.

32. Na-Ri Lee: #23 2010 money (¥37.13M), #74 GSPI (71.86) [27], #83 RR (1.74) [32], #29 2009 money (¥28.29M), #82 2008 money (¥6.10M). A silver and bronze in the last third of the season were the highlights of a year that saw this 22-year-old 3rd-year JLPGAer notch 6 top 10s in 34 starts.

33. Asako Fujimoto: #27 2010 money (¥33.25M), #79 GSPI (71.97) [29], #73 RR (2.04) [27], #120 2009 money (¥1.15M), n.a. 2008 money (not a JLPGA member). This 20-year-old acquitted herself well in her 1st full season on the JLPGA. She had 5 top 10s in 33 starts, including a silver in her 7th event of the season. Her last 2 top 10s came in a mid-season stretch where she also missed 3 of her 4 cuts of the year, which shows she has pretty good bounce-back abilities. While she wasn't a world-beater like some of her fellow JLPGA rookies, she still did better than some of the LPGAers who tried their luck on the JLPGA in 2010.

34. Ji-Woo Lee: #31 2010 money (¥30.60M), #102 GSPI (72.51) [38], #108 RR (1.33) [38], #31 2009 money (¥27.04M), #22 2008 money (¥47.63M). She missed a lot of cuts at the start and end of the season, but managed to snag a silver and 5 other top 10s in 31 starts.

35. Maiko Wakabayashi: #32 2010 money (¥28.00M), #98 GSPI (72.46) [37], #114 RR (1.22) [42], #30 2009 money (¥28.16M), #21 2008 money (¥50.06M). She got a bronze and 4 other top 10s in her last 15 starts of 2010, but her 1st 15 didn't provide all that much to write home about. Let's see if the 22-year-old can put together a complete season in her 4th full year on tour.

36. Ah-Reum Hwang: #33 2010 money (¥27.96M), #92 GSPI (72.36) [32], #110 RR (1.31) [39], #22 2009 money (¥40.09M), #44 2008 money (¥18.28M). The 23-year-old got an early silver but followed it up with only 2 other top 10s in her 28 starts.

Look for the following players to make some serious comebacks in 2011.

Yuko Mitsuka: #50 2010 money (¥15.65M), #5 2009 money (¥89.79M), #7 2008 money (¥83.56M). She got an early silver and 2 other top 10s pretty soon after it, but after walking off the course during a major to protest a slow-play penalty and sitting out almost half the season, she just wasn't the same player on her return. She missed the cut or WDed in 10 of her 22 starts in 2010. Here's hoping she comes back with a better attitude and a better game in her 5th year on tour.

Shiho Oyama: #57 2010 money (¥11.58M), #146 2009 money (¥.57M), #8 2008 money (¥75.04M). Dual membership on the LPGA and injuries cut her 2009 JLPGA campaign sadly short, and she couldn't come back from elbow surgery until late this season. She got 3 top 10s in 10 starts, but couldn't crack the top 50 on the money list and had to go back to Q-School, where she placed 5th. If she's healthy in 2011, watch out for her!

Teresa Lu: #58 2010 money (¥11.11M). In her 13 JLPGA starts in her 1st year of dual membership, she got a bronze and 2 other top 10s, but missed 5 cuts and only placed 33rd in Q-School, which means that the 23-year-old might not get into every JLPGA event she would want to in 2011.

Erina Hara: #82 2010 money (¥5.23M), #25 2009 money (¥35.26M), #10 2008 money (¥65.87M). She only made 11 cuts in 32 starts with a best finish of T15, so she was also back in Q-School, where she finished 18th and will basically have full playing privileges in her 5th year on tour. Let's see if the 23-year-old can bounce back!

Yuki Ichinose: #44 2010 money (¥19.10M), #39 2009 money (¥19.21M), #49 2008 money (¥15.92M). The 22-year-old came on strong in the last third of the season with 4 top 10s to keep her card via the money list for the 3rd-straight season. Let's see if she can do more than that in 2011!

Ritsuko Ryu: #37 2010 money (¥22.21M), #100 2009 money (¥2.58M), #69 2008 money (¥9.75M). This was the 1st season the 23-year-old 4th-year pro kept her card via the money list. She got a bronze and a 6th-place finish midway through the season, but didn't too much of note otherwise. Let's see if she can kick-start her career in 2011.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the New and Improved JLPGA Web Site

The LPGA of Japan's web site has been upgraded for the new year, so it's about time I updated my March 2008 guide to it. While the JLPGA has made it easier to link to key pages (they no longer hide the URLs of most pages), they still don't make it easy for those like me who are fluent only in English.

That said, I really like the site redesign. The navigation tabs in the green bar at the top of the page take you, from left to right, back to the home page, to the news page, to the tournaments page (with a useful drop-down menu that includes the schedule and money list, among other links), to the players page (not so useful, as you have to search in it--see below for a way around this), to a page that lists information about a "pro test" (basically a mandatory players' meeting), to a page about their 4-stage Q-School, to an instructional page, to a juniors page, and to an "about the JLPGA" page (with another useful drop-down menu). When you're in any of the tournament pages, you also get a great left-margin navbar with quick links about the JLPGA and its majors, the Step-Up Tour, and the Legends Tour, as well as ways of tracking how Japanese female golfers are playing on other tours.

But in case you don't have google translate on your toolbar, don't know much hiragana, katakana, or kanji, or don't like hunting around a site that's not in English, here are links to the most useful pages on the site.

Schedule: This is the most important link, as it lists winners of events played and defending champions of ones as-yet-unplayed, links to tournament sites, and, most important, links to the JLPGA tournament page for each event that is being or has been played (where the round-by-round results [試合結果], pairings [ペアリング], and press releases [トピックス] can be found). If you're interested in previous years' schedules and results going back to 1967, just use the drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the page.

Q-School: This link condenses all the information that had been scattered across several pages on the old site design, but removes the English translations that used to be on it. So my October 2009 overview is still relevant, even if its links no longer work.

Stats: The Official Money List is the first link on the page, followed by scoring average, greens in regulation rate, putting average, par rate, eagle ranking, and birdie rate. The Career Money List page gives better information than most career money lists--it tells you, for instance, how many events the golfer has played in, not just how much money they have made, but like all career money lists I've ever seen, it fails to list the player's rookie year, which would allow you to compare classes and generations without doing a bunch of extra work.

Keep in mind that a click on a player's name on most of the stats pages will take you to her profile page, which has been reorganized: the 1st tab on the left in the middle of her page is her basic profile (this is the default setting when you 1st come to the profile page), the 2nd is her results from the current (or most recent) season, the 3rd is a career overview (consisting of wins/best finishes and season-by-season winnings and scoring averages as a JLPGA member), and the last is a form for sending a message to the player.

I'll link to the top players' profiles pages when I finish my ranking of the JLPGA's finest as of the end of the 2010 season--hopefully tomorrow.

[Update 1 (12/30/10, 7:50 pm): Ah, here it is!]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Was the "Mistake" at LPGA Q-School?

In yesterday's post on the surprising expansion of Category #20 on the 2011 LPGA Priority Status List, I never referred to the unofficial admission by the LPGA's Jane Geddes that the LPGA made a mistake at Q-School, because it was such a vague statement. But I think I've figured out what the mistake was: there shouldn't have been a playoff to determine who would be the 39th and 40th-place players at Q-School. According to the 2010 Priority Status List, in Category #20, "ties [are to be] broken on the basis of the lowest most recent round in the final Qualifying Tournament." By that standard, Meredith Duncan's 73 and Jennifer Gleason's 74 should have put them in Category #20. But Gleason and Harukyo Nomura won the playoff and rather than kick Nomura out to make room for Duncan, the LPGA clearly decided to allow both in.

So why was Ayaka Kaneko let in, as well, much less everyone at T44? The only thing I can think of now is that with Aree Song, Pernilla Lindberg, and Jimin Jeong moving from Category #15 (for those who finished between #101 and #125 on the money list) to Category #11 via Q-School, Rachel Hetherington (#107) and Iben Tinning (#115) retiring, Gloria Park (#111) and Ilmi Chung (#114) going to the KLPGA full-time next season, Tamie Durdin (#112) most likely returning to the JLPGA full-time, and Mikaela Parmlid (#122) likely spending virtually all of next season on the LET (where she got full membership via their Q-School), it was easier to bend the rules on Category #20 rather than let players who finished outside the top 125 move ahead of those who outplayed them in Q-School.

All it would take is ignoring a key parenthetical clause in its language: "the next ten (10) players after the ten (10) players eligible under the Nos. 21-30 Category (regardless of whether they have a priority higher than that category)...." After all, with Alison Walshe (#106), Paola Moreno (#117), Libby Smith (#119), and Beth Bader (#125) already in Category #15, not counting them in Category #16 (or, in Walshe's and Bader's case, Category #20) would mean that the players at T44 would be among the 10 golfers following the last of those actually on the priority list in Category #16.

If I'm right, Stephanie Kim and Allison Fouch should appear in Category #16 on the 2011 priority status list. By this logic, Becky Brewerton (75 in the final round of Q-School, 2 shots better than the nearest competitor at +9 with her) should have been the only other player from the T44 spot moved up to Category #20 with Kaneko. But, given the small Category #15 for 2011, why be so exclusive?

Yeah, I know, this reconstruction of the LPGA's thinking sounds kinda seat-of-the-pants and against both the letter and spirit of the 2010 priority status list. But, hey, for all I know, well before Q-School began the LPGA revised its 2011 priority status list criteria in order to open up more opportunities for players via Q-School when those who finished ahead of them actually got status via a higher-level priority category. If so, I'd love to see that language! I think it makes more sense to do things that way: once a player appears on the priority status list, her name is erased from any lower-level category or categories it might otherwise have appeared in, thus opening up a spot in that category (or those categories); however, those who finished outside the top 125 on the money list can gain membership only via Q-School (in Category #16 or #20 if they couldn't play their way into Category #11), not by leapfrogging half those who get LPGA cards from Q-School by getting sucked into Category #15.

Heck, I like that way of thinking so much, I wouldn't mind if they changed the 2011 priority status list criteria and language retroactively. Just so long as they are proactive when it comes to rethinking membership and other matters for the 2012 season!

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the New Members of the Class of 2011

I've only just now become aware of Ryan Ballengee's and Emily Kay's reporting that weeks after the close of their Q-School, the LPGA offered "membership in category 20 on the 2011 LPGA Priority List" to Ayaka Kaneko, Meredith Duncan, Tanya Dergal, Becky Brewerton, Jennifer Johnson, Junko Nakada, Jaclyn Sweeney, Lisa Ferrero and Sarah Brown. So add Brewerton, Sweeney, Johnson, Brown, Kaneko, and Nakada to the LPGA's Class of 2011. The question everyone's wondering about is, "why?"

In case you haven't been following my Q-School blogging, I'll remind you that Sweeney got full LET membership just over a week ago, along with Caroline Hedwall (LPGA Category #20) and Belen Mozo (LPGA Category #11). So why did Sweeney, along with everyone who finished T39 and T44 in the LPGA's Q-School (except Beth Bader, who already had better status due to her finish at #125 on the 2010 LPGA money list), all of a sudden and belatedly get offered a practically worthless card for 2011?

I can't help but see this as an attempt to keep the LPGA an attractive alternative to the JLPGA and LET for players looking to break through in their pro careers. We might see Brewerton and Sweeney play on the LPGA a few times when they would otherwise have played an exclusive LET schedule next season. And now 3 young Japanese golfers who have followed the path Mika Miyazato blazed in starting her pro career outside Japan have LPGA cards to show for their boldness. Yes, practically speaking, all of them will be on the Futures Tour next season (Kaneko for the 2nd time), but symbolically, this is the LPGA saying that their doors are open to international and American (Sweeney, Johnson, and Brown) youngsters. Still, I'm wondering if the practical reason why the LPGA opened its doors a little wider is that some players from the top 40 in Q-School declined to accept LPGA membership for 2011.

Interpretation and speculation aside, I also put in an email inquiry to Mike Scanlan and Heather Daly-Donofrio in the LPGA office. They're on vacation right now, but I'll let you know when I hear back from them.

[Update 1 (12/28/10, 12:33 pm): I think I figured out what happened, how, and why. Would be nice to get some confirmation.]

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dear Santa: All We Want for QSMS Is...

...for you to cure Daisuke Takahashi's whiplash in time for the World Championships!

We know this comes a little late and you're really busy this time of year, but onechan and imoto have been really good, The Constructivist really likes Terry Pratchett's Hogfather and has done anime QSMS postings the past few years, and the FullMetal Archivist is Dai-chan's biggest fan, so please consider this request from a blended Buddhist-Jewish family just this one time.


The Constructivist, the Full Metal Archivist, onechan, and imoto

p.s.: This isn't just for us, but also for the 2010 Japanese National Champion, Takahiko Kozuka, who accidentally smashed into Dai-chan on the way down from a jump during a warm-up session at the Grand Prix Finals. He really shouldn't go down in history as the guy who ruined Dai-chan's maybe last chance to win the Grand Prix Finals and probably only chance to repeat as World Champion, right?

p.p.s.: Santa, please please please don't let whiplash end the career of a skater who came back from what's usually a career-ending knee injury for skaters faster and better than anyone thought possible! He wasn't even 100% at the Olympics and got the 1st medal ever by a Japanese male figure skater. And he wasn't much healthier when he got the 1st gold at Worlds by a Japanese male figure skater. Obviously he's a quick healer and super-tough, so can't you just speed the healing process up for him just a bit?

p.p.p.s.: Santa, if he could skate like this hurt--and move from 6th to 3rd in nationals--imagine how he could skate at 100%!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Beatriz Recari Has a Lot of Online Fans is running a poll on the Best Breakthrough Victory of 2010, including players who won for the 1st time ever this season along with those who got their 1st wins in several years. After briefly considering Se Ri Pak and Hee Kyung Seo, I voted for Sun Young Yoo, who marched through the Sybase Match Play Championship, dispatching some of the best players in the world in the process. So who had the most votes as of a couple of hours ago? Beatriz Recari, of course, by a wide margin. Go figure!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recommended Reading: Hound Dog, Larry Bohannan, Jason Sobel, bangkokbobby, and Gerard Gallagher on the Best of the LPGA

We're still a few weeks away from my announcement of the 2010 Mostly Harmless Player of the Year, but that isn't stopping a host of writers from commenting on the Golf Writers Association of America choosing Ya Ni Tseng as their POY in women's golf. Hound Dog is profiling the top 30 players in his season-ending rankings, Larry Bohannan is backing up Jason Sobel's case for Tseng, bangkokbobby is responding to Bohannan, and Gerard Gallagher calls it for Ai Miyazato. Who's your pick?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Recommended Reading: Happy Fan and bangkokbobby on the KLPGA's 2011 Opener

That's not a typo in my title: the 2011 KLPGA season opened in China this past weekend. Hye Youn Kim, who finished in the top 5 on the 2010 money list, held off So Yeon Ryu and Ha Neul Kim for her 3rd career KLPGA victory. Tough final days for He Yong Choi, Il Hee Lee, and Jung Min Lee dropped them out of contention, but rookie Ha Na Jang shot up the leaderboard with a 69 that left her 2 shots off the lead at T4.

You can follow the action (belatedly) over at Seoul, courtesy of Happy Fan, and at bangkokbobby's Fairways and Forehands.

Plus, you can check out the CLPGA leaderboard yourself. I was curious to see how new JLPGAers Shanshan Feng (T22), Tao-Li Yang (T16), and Ji-Na Lim (T37) did and pleased to see that the CLPGA's English pages were so easy to read and navigate. If only the KLPGA and JLPGA made things so easy for non-native speakers/readers!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

LET Q-School Dominated by Caroline Hedwall

Caroline Hedwall closed with a fantastic 65 in LET Q-School today to secure medalist honors at -15 after beating runner-up Jaclyn Sweeney by 9 shots and Belen Mozo by 11. Mikaela Parmlid and Sara Brown got top 10s, Nontaya Srisawang and Clare Queen top 20s, and Garrett Phillip secured full status on the LET despite shooting a 77 (she ended up T25 and was the 29th qualifier, so she managed to avoid the sudden-death playoff for the final spot). Carly Booth missed full status by a couple of shots and Johanna Lundberg and Kiran Matharu by a few, but they did make the top 50 and will get into a good number of events in 2011. One final note, from the LET web site: "Klara Spilkova from the Czech Republic, who turned 16 on the first day of the tournament, finished in a tie for ninth place and will decide over the Christmas holiday whether or not she will turn professional." Very interesting!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

LET Q-School Update: Golf Is Cruel

A quick look at the leaderboard at LET Q-School with 4 of 5 rounds complete shows Caroline Hedwall leading Jaclyn Sweeney by 3, Belen Mozo and Nontaya Srisawang hanging around well off the leaders with Sara Brown and Garrett Phillips not far behind, and Scottish teenagers Carly Booth and Clare Queen making the top 50 who play for full status tomorrow. But La Manga wasn't so kind to the LPGA's Louise Friberg (done in by an 81 and 77 her last 2 rounds), the LET's Maria Verchenova, Chile's Nicole Perrot, Australia's Sunny Park, or Ireland's Danielle McVeigh, all of whom failed to gain any kind of status on the LET for 2011. With the cut at +16, all I can say is--ouch!

[Update 1 (10:42 pm): Fortunately, Louise Friberg still has full status on the LPGA and will get into a few LET events in 2011, as well. Leave it to her to find the silver lining so quickly!]

Friday, December 17, 2010

Where Should the LPGA Go from Here? (or, There's Much More to the LPGA's Future Than Lexi Thompson)

Nearly one year into Michael Whan's tenure as LPGA Commissioner, it's far too soon to tell if his strategies for the tour will bear fruit, much less attempt to anticipate what we'll look back on as his legacy. But I've already spotted one trend that to my mind trumps media apathy, tv trouble, and even sponsor shakiness: the JLPGA's relative attractiveness for mid-level, near-elite, and elite LPGAers and signs that the LPGA may no longer be the tour of choice for the majority of the top golfers on other tours. On the one hand, it may just be that many of the LPGA's Asian players have decided to follow the European model for dual membership. But if "Golf's Global Tour" can't attract and keep the best female golfers on the planet, everyone on tour suffers.

On the bright side, there's something the LPGA can do about this troubling trend almost immediately. And there are longer-term strategies they can pursue, as well. Let's break it down.


First, I'd revise the LPGA's priority status list--which establishes criteria for membership on tour--as follows:

  • Reduce Category #1 from the top 80 on the previous season's money list to the top 70.
  • Change Category #7 so that any non-member who wins--amateur or pro, older or younger than 18--is eligible for full membership immediately or in the following season. [Updated 12/25/10 in light of comments.]
  • Expand Category #8 from the top 40 on the current season's money list to the top 50--as calculated after every 6 events rather than using the current 7-event interval.
  • Expand Category #9 from the top 5 on the previous season's Futures Tour money list to the top 10.
  • Change Category #10 from non-members who would have made the top 80 on the previous season's money list via their maximum 6 sponsor exemptions into domestic full-field non-major events into non-members who would have made the top 70 on the previous season's money list in their maximum 4 sponsor exemptions into domestic full-field non-major events and maximum 2 sponsor exemptions into international limited-field non-major events.  Any non-member who qualifies via this category is waived from having to meet the LPGA's minimum age requirement for membership.
  • Expand Category #11 to #71 to #90 on the previous season's money list and the top 30 players from the previous season's Q-School using the same shuffling system as already exists, except that the last 10 qualifiers from the Final Qualifying Tournament are listed after the top 20 have been shuffled in.
  • Adjust Categories #15 (from #101 to #125 to #91 to #120 on the previous season's money list), #16 (from #21 to #30 to #31 to #40 from the previous season's Final Qualifying Tournament), #17 (from #6 to #10 to #11 to #15 on the previous season's Futures Tour money list), and #20 accordingly (from #31 to #40 to #41 to #50 from the previous season's Final Qualifying Tournament).
Why?  Well, it just so happened that in 2010 those who made 6 figures finished in the top 70 on the money list, but the real reason for my 1st 2 proposed changes is to make it more challenging to retain your LPGA card based on your play in the previous season.  Even if you have strong priority status at the start of the season, you're going to have to be able to beat anyone playing well from formerly weaker positions on the priority status list who's leaped into Category #8.  But if you can't even finish in the top 95 on the money list and have to go to Q-School to get in via Category #11 that year or focus on the Futures Tour to get in via Category #9 the following year, then so be it.  Same goes for non-members trying for Category #10--you have to qualify for the equivalent of Category #1 based on your play in a limited (but more flexible) pallette of tournaments than members.  If you can't prove you're a world-beater that way, then suck it up and go to Futures Tour Q-School--or the JLPGA's, KLPGA's, or LET's--or try for the LPGA's Q-School.  If you're not yet ready or not yet old enough to do that, don't turn pro until you are.

And yes, that last comment is directed at Lexi Thompson's ridiculous proposal to be allowed 12 sponsor exemptions in the 2011 season and Ryan Ballengee's equally ridiculous call for Thompson to be granted full membership on tour via Commissioner fiat.  It's not that I'm against Lexi playing her way onto tour via my revised revisions to Category #7 and Category #10--or qualifying for Q-School via the paths I call for paving in the next section.  It's that I want to develop a system whereby a world-class phenom can seek out LPGA membership without needing special treatment.  And one whereby players who aren't hacking it on the LPGA are forced to play their way back in or develop their games elsewhere until they are ready to compete on the world's toughest women's tour.

Tournament Entry

So far, by encouraging more turnover, my proposals would make it easier for the best younger players to get into the LPGA.  But that alone won't do the trick.  To make sure the LPGA keeps attracting the world's finest female golfers, the LPGA has to offer more paths into its own Q-School.  Here are a few proposals that would help the tour accomplish just that:
  • Allow not only those who finished #11 to #20 on the current season's Futures Tour money list direct entry into the LPGA's Final Qualifying Tournament, but also anyone who finished on the top 5 in the previous season's money lists on the JLPGA, KLPGA, and LET or who is in the top 5 on their current money lists as of 2 weeks before the start of the Final Qualifying Tournament.
  • Offer anyone who finishes in the top 10 in the U.S. Women's Open or the Women's British Open direct entry into the LPGA's Final Qualifying Tournament.
  • Offer anyone who finishes in the top 5 in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA Championship, the HSBC Women's Champions, or the Evian Masters direct entry into the LPGA's Final Qualifying Tournament.
  • Players who get into the Final Qualifying Tournament via any of these routes and who finish in its top 30 would be waived from the LPGA's minimum age requirement.
These changes would put the LPGA's Q-School closer to the JLPGA's, which features exemptions into several of its stages to encourage players from other tour's to try for JLPGA membership.  It would also give the LPGA a mechanism for allowing young phenoms to prove their performances against top fields weren't just flukes and play their way onto the LPGA via Q-School.  To make sure that top players from other tours get the same opportunities as young Americans who can secure sponsor exemptions into majors and high-status events, I'd offer 1 additional proposal:
  • Change entry criteria for the majors the LPGA controls and lobby those who control other majors to extend invitations to anyone in the top 50 of the Rolex Rankings as of 2 weeks before the start of the major into it, provided she has not already qualified by some other criterion.
Finally, I'd come up with a way to make the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship feel more like a big-time event.  I like the old ADT's process of qualifying via finishing high in a 1st-half or 2nd-half or overall money-list performance, for the ways it encourages players with dual membership to make the LPGA their primary tour, but I also like the idea that Whan floated about giving the top 3 finishers from each event (who haven't already qualified via a previous top 3) automatic entry into it, as well.  Why not combine the 2 ideas?


One nice benefit of releasing the LPGA schedule weeks after the JLPGA and LET have announced theirs is that the LPGA leadership still has a little time left to do the following things:
  • Make sure its Final Qualifying Tournament doesn't conflict with other Q-Schools and major season-ending events on other tours.
  • Do some last-minute negotiating with sponsors whose events conflict with majors and high-status events on other tours.
Although I can envision that every once in a while doing this down the road this might involve some scrambling for LPGA events whose dates have already been set, I think it could be justified on the grounds of increasing the likelihood that the LPGA field would be the strongest possible.  The need for scrambling could be reduced by more coordination between the top women's tours to increase co-sponsorships and avoid scheduling conflicts for their dual members.  This would take longer to accomplish, but I believe they're key to the future of women's professional golf:
  • Aim for 2 co-sponsored events--1 early-season and 1 mid-to-late season--with each of the major women's tours:  JLPGA, KLPGA, LET, and CLPGA.
  • Offer discounts to smaller-market/smaller-population venues in the United States to shore up the spring through summer segment of the schedule, with a focus on places that have been spurned by the PGA Tour or Champions Tour recently.
  • Put the entire weight of the LPGA behind Lorena Ochoa's attempt to get an event started in San Antonio (preferably at Oak Hills) and Annika Sorenstam one in Orlando.  Get Michelle Wie and Kimberly Kim doing for Hawaii what Ya Ni Tseng just accomplished for Taiwan.
  • Schedule off-weeks to coincide with majors and high-status events on other tours that dual members might want to compete in.
Why not offer to co-sponsor the ANZ Ladies Masters with the ALPG/LET, the LPGA's Thailand event with the JLPGA (thereby expanding it into a Mizuno Classic-sized event), help the KLPGA create a season-opening event for their tour co-sponsored with the LPGA (on the scale of the Hana Bank Championship), and (eventually) do the same for the CLPGA?  A 5-event Asian swing to start the season (including, of course, the HSBC Women's Champions as its climax) wouldn't be a problem if the Kia Classic and Kraft Nabisco Championship were moved back a few weeks to make room for it and for a full-field event in Hawaii to bridge East Asia and the West Coast.  Given that nobody would sign up to play the entire Asian swing, there'd be some opportunities for hungrier players lower on the priority list to get some starts and fill out their schedules by seeking ways into the LET's and/or JLPGA's February and March events before the Hawaiian event.

If the LPGA were to work with the JLPGA, KLPGA, LET, and CLPGA in this way across the entire schedule (here are my ideas for the late summer and fall), each tour would have room to expand domestically, each tour's top players would have motivation to maintain dual memberships, and there'd be more opportunities for mid- and lower-level players who were willing to play their way onto the LPGA from other tours.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2011 LET Schedule Announced

The LET has released details on its 2011 schedule. No time to comment on it now, but when I do get the time I'll put up a rough draft of the 2011 worldwide women's professional golf schedule, based on what we know from the JLPGA and LET, what we can gather on the LPGA schedule, and what we can guess about the KLPGA schedule.

Check Out Who's Playing in LET Q-School!

No time to post on individual rounds at LET Q-School, but take a gander at the 1st-round results for who's trying for dual LPGA-LET membership. Here's a quick list:

Belen Mozo
Caroline Hedwall
Louise Friberg
Sara Brown

And check out who's going exclusively for the LET who's either had LPGA status in the past or tried for it this year:

Carly Booth
Johanna Lundberg
Danielle McVeigh
Mikaela Parmlid
Garrett Phillips
Nontaya Srisawang
Jaclyn Sweeney

As you can see, the LET isn't as much of a draw for new dual memberships as the JLPGA, but that's mostly because the top European players already had dual memberships to begin with and usually have no trouble at all finishing high enough up the LET money list in the few events they play over there each year to maintain them virtually indefinitely. In a sense, what's happened in recent years is that a good number of mid-level and near-elite Asian players have decided to follow the European model--just as Ai Miyazato and Ji-Yai Shin have been doing before them. Whether this trend continues and intensifies depends in part what the LPGA schedule looks like in coming years....

Much more on this when LET Q-School is complete--and my grading and our move is!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Recommended Reading: bangkokbobby on JLPGA Schedule, Sirak, Mell, and Hound Dog on LPGA Schedule

Kudos to bangkokbobby for being the 1st blogger to post about the JLPGA's announcement of its 2011 schedule. I'll have more to say about it when I'm done grading, but compare how well the JLPGA has been able to weather the Japanese economy's relative stagnation in the post-Bubble era (basically the last 20 years and counting, despite a few bright spots here and there) with how hard the LPGA's been hit by the U.S. economy's Great Recession, as documented in posts by Ron Sirak, Randall Mell, and Hound Dog. There's a lot to say about this phenomenon, but I'll leave you with this: one of the most important bottom lines for any professional golf tour should be how many players can make a living playing exclusively on it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ava's Gonna Be a Big Sister!

I want to add my congratulations to bangkokbobby's at the news from Ava, Annika, and Mike that their "family will be a foursome by early summer"!

Did the LPGA or JLPGA Do Better by Its Q-School?

When you look at the recent results from Final Qualifying Tournaments for entry into the LPGA and JLPGA, which tour do you think is getting a stronger group of players? Let's break it down!

Aree Song (LPGA) vs. Hee Young Park (JLPGA)

I have to give the nod to the JLPGA medalist here, as Song is making a comeback from the depths of health and injury problems that have jeopardized her career the last 6 years, while Park is a proven KLPGA star who made a strong transition to the LPGA and is getting better and better each year.

Jessica Korda (LPGA) vs. Shanshan Feng (JLPGA)

Again, I have to give the nod to the JLPGA, at least in terms of who's likely to make an immediate impact on tour. Feng has shown flashes of brilliance as the 1st Chinese golfer on the LPGA and has already played through a sophomore slump, while Korda is yet another teenager who's going to have to adjust to the rigors of professional life on the big stage and attempt to hold her own against similarly-talented but more-experienced competition. Certainly in America the media will pay more attention to Korda, but in China and Japan, Feng will get a lot of attention every time she decides to tee it up on the JLPGA.

Jimin Jeong, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Pornanong Phatlum, Reilley Rankin, and Mollie Fankhauser (LPGA) vs. Kaori Ohe, Shiho Oyama, Erina Hara, Mika Takushima, and Kumiko Kaneda (JLPGA)

This one is tough to call; Rankin isn't even close to former JLPGA money-list leader Oyama's stature, but Ohe, Hara, Takushima, and Kaneda are all coming off serious slumps, while Jeong, Schreefel, Phatlum, and Fankhauser just didn't get enough LPGA starts this past season. All in all, I'd say that probably the slight advantage the LPGA has among the younger players is more than offset by the huge JLPGA advantage in Oyama.

Danah Ford Bordner (LPGA) vs. Satsuki Oshiro (JLPGA)

I'm going to give the nod to the LPGA here, as Bordner seems to have turned a corner in her career while Oshiro is much younger and less experienced than she is.

Jeehae Lee, Angela Oh, Nicole Hage, and Pernilla Lindberg (LPGA) vs. Nachiyo Ohtani, Chie Sakai, Natsu Nagai, and Tomomi Hirose (JLPGA)

I'm going to give this group of returning players to the LPGA the nod over their counterparts returning to the JLPGA, mostly on the strength of Lindberg's breakout potential and the relative youth of the LPGAers.

Belen Mozo, Kimberly Kim, and Christel Boeljon (LPGA) vs. Meena Lee, Bo-Mee Lee, and He Yong Choi (JLPGA)

2 top KLPGAers vs. 2 top Europeans is very tough to call; maybe I'd give a slight advantage to the Euros, as Choi hasn't been playing all that great lately and Mozo seems like a potentially huge talent. But Meena Lee is a proven quantity while Kimberly Kim has loads of potential but hasn't shown she can handle the toughest competition. Let's call this one a draw.

Dori Carter, Stephanie Sherlock, Jennie Lee, and Sara Brown (LPGA) vs. Ji-Na Lim, Cai Ying, Soo-Yun Kang, and Onnarin Sattayabanphot (JLPGA)

Given that the JLPGA's newbies all come with a lot more experience on tougher tours than the LPGA's rooks, I'd have to give the nod to the JLPGA right now.

Jin Young Pak and Paola Moreno (LPGA) vs. Jae-Hee Bae and Ya-Huei Lu (JLPGA)

Again, the returning JLPGAers are likely to do better on their tour than the returning LPGAers are on theirs, although in the long run I think Moreno may end up being the most productive of anyone in this foursome.

Tiffany Joh (LPGA) vs. Miki Uehara (JLPGA)

Even if Miki-chan is JLPGA young gun Ayako's little sister, T-Joh had a much more decorated amateur career than the Okinawan and has been dealing with the rigors of professional life longer. Clear advantage for the LPGA here.

Jean Reynolds, Nannette Hill, and Nicole Jeray (LPGA) vs. Teresa Lu, Tao-Li Yang, and Lindsey Wright (JLPGA)

Among those with partial status on their respective tours, the JLPGA holds a clear advantage.

Breaking it down this way, the JLPGA holds a 6-3-1 advantage over the LPGA. Of course, it's not at all clear how many times those with dual LPGA-JLPGA membership will compete in Japan next season, much less who will take off like Inbee Park or flop like Seon Hwa Lee did this year. For that matter, it's just as unknown how many LPGA starts the LET's Christel Boeljon will choose to make or whether she'll even do as well in 2011 as Beatriz Recari and Gwladys Nocera did in 2010 (not all that earth-shattering). What is pretty obvious is that the JLPGA's transplants from the KLPGA and irregulars from the LPGA have a great chance for Rookie of the Year and could have a big impact on the money-list race, whereas the 2 most polished players in the LPGA's Class of 2011--the KLPGA's Hee Kyung Seo and Futures Tour's Jennifer Song--didn't even go through Q-School. In the long run, Korda, Kim, and Joh could well be top 30 players on the LPGA, but they have a lot of growing pains to go through yet.

So the JLPGA did better by its Q-School than the LPGA did. While this is partly a function of the LPGA already being a much stronger tour than the JLPGA and therefore much more challenging for its Q-School grads than the JLPGA, it's certainly not encouraging for the LPGA that they are attracting fewer top players from other tours than in the past. Seo and Boeljon match up well against Lee and Choi, and the JLPGA may end up being a stepping-stone for the latter into the LPGA someday, but right now it's pretty clear the JLPGA continues to catch up to the LPGA, talent-wise.

[Update 1 (2:56 pm): Here's the list of the 22 players from 9 countries comprising the LPGA's rookie Class of 2011.]

Monday, December 13, 2010

The LPGA's Top Rivalries: Generation Gaps, December 2010 Edition

Now that the 2010 season is complete, it's time to reexamine how the LPGA's last 6 generations stack up. Check out the career money list and wins/majors totals for the top players in the generations that span the Sorenstam Era (1994-2008) and the overlapping Ochoa Era (2003-2009).

[Note: [square brackets] indicate the player has retired from professional golf; {squiggle brackets} indicate the player is no longer an LPGA member but still playing on another tour; *=includes non-member win; **=includes 3 non-member wins.]

1994-1996: The Sorenstam Generation

[1. Annika Sorenstam (1994) $22.57M (#1), 72/10]
2. Karrie Webb (1996) $15.76M (#2), 36*/7
3. Lorie Kane (1996) $6.78M (#16), 4/0
4. Pat Hurst (1995) $6.71M (#17), 6/1
5. Catriona Matthew (1995) $6.24M (#20), 3/1
6. Wendy Ward (1996) $4.70M (#37), 4/0
{7. Carin Koch (1995) $4.43M (#40), 2/0}

The race between Kane, Hurst, and Matthew continues to tighten up. Koch is living in Sweden and playing exclusively on the LET, so unless she does well in future Women's British Opens and Evian Masters--or moves back to the States--she will fall further behind her peers from here on out.

1997-1999: The Pak Generation

1. Cristie Kerr (1997) $12.06M (#5), 14/2
2. Se Ri Pak (1998) $10.97M (#6), 25/5
3. Mi Hyun Kim (1999) $8.46M (#10), 8/0
[4. Rachel Hetherington (1997) $5.73M (#25), 8/0]
5. Sophie Gustafson (1998) $5.56M (#28), 5/0
6. Maria Hjorth (1998) $5.33M (#32), 4/0
7. Laura Diaz (1999) $5.09M (#34), 2/0
8. Karen Stupples (1999) $3.43M (#54), 2/1

Even though Kerr's passed Pak on the career money list, she'll have to join her in the Hall of Fame to have her name on the generation, too. With Hetherington retired, the Gustafson-Hjorth-Diaz race takes on added urgency.

2000-2002: Seoul Sisters

1. Jeong Jang (2000) $6.44M (#18), 2/1
2. Hee-Won Han (2001) $6.34M (#19), 6/0
3. Angela Stanford (2001) $5.50M (#30), 4/0
4. Grace Park (2000) $5.36M (#31), 6/1
5. Candie Kung (2002) $4.78M (#35), 4/0
6. Natalie Gulbis (2002) $4.15M (#42), 1/0
{7. Gloria Park (2000) $3.28M (#61), 2/0}

Jang continues to hold off Han, while Stanford has passed Grace Park and Kung is closing on her. The "other Park" is KLPGA-bound in 2011.

2003-2005: The Ochoa Generation

[1. Lorena Ochoa (2003) $14.86M (#3), 27/2]
2. Paula Creamer (2005) $7.85M (#12), 9/1
3. Suzann Pettersen (2003) $6.86M (#14), 6/1
4. Christina Kim (2003) $3.91M (#45), 2/0
5. Brittany Lincicome (2005) $3.28M (#62), 3/1
6. Stacy Prammanasudh (2003) $3.18M (#64), 2/0
7. Meena Lee (2005) $3.10M (#66), 2/0
8. Katherine Hull (2004) $2.87M (#73), 2/0
9. Shi Hyun Ahn (2004) $2.60M (#80), 1*/0
{10. Young Kim (2003) $2.36M (#88), 1/0}
11. Lindsey Wright (2004) $2.13M (#98), 0/0

With Lorena looking less and less likely to ever come back to the LPGA, the only real question is how close Creamer and Pettersen can come to matching her career. The race between the 3 mid-level Americans and between the 2 Australians and 3 Koreans below them will be of interest, as well, but Young Kim will need to rejoin the LPGA to participate in it.

2006-2008: Young Guns

1. Ai Miyazato (2006), $4.71M (#36), 6/0
2. Ya Ni Tseng (2008), $4.62M (#38), 5/3
3. Na Yeon Choi (2008), $4.31M (#41), 3/0
4. Seon Hwa Lee (2006), $3.92M (#44), 4/0
5. In-Kyung Kim (2007), $3.68M (#47), 3/0
6. Morgan Pressel (2006), $3.55M (#53), 2/1
7. Song-Hee Kim (2007), $3.30M (#58), 0/0
8. Jee Young Lee (2006), $3.29M (#60), 1*/0
9. Inbee Park (2007), $2.62M (#79), 1/1
10. Brittany Lang (2006), $2.49M (#84), 0/0
11. Sun Young Yoo (2006), $2.32M (#91), 1/0
12. Eun-Hee Ji (2007), $2.27M (#94), 2/1
13. Julieta Granada (2006), $2.26M (#95), 1/0
14. Angela Park (2007), $2.12M (#99), 0/0
15. Kristy McPherson (2007), $1.72M (#117), 0/0
16. Ji Young Oh (2007), $1.49M (#126), 2/0
17. Hee Young Park (2008), $1.47M (#130), 0/0
18. Kyeong Bae (2006), $1.29M (#147), 0/0
19. Amy Yang (2008), $1.13M (#165), 0/0
20. Teresa Lu (2006), $1.13M (#166), 0/0
21. Meaghan Francella (2006), $1.09M (#171), 1/0
22. Momoko Ueda (2008), $1.07M (#172), 1*/0
23. Jane Park (2007), $.97M (#192), 0/0
24. Shanshan Feng (2008), $.88M (#210), 0/0

Looks to me like the Young Guns have come of age--and take it from me, they're just beginning to hit their stride!

2009-2011: New Blood

1. Ji-Yai Shin (2009), $3.59M (#52), 8**/1*
2. Michelle Wie (2009), $1.81M (#113), 2/0
3. Anna Nordqvist (2009), $1.31M (#142), 2/1
4. Mika Miyazato (2009), $.93M (#207), 0/0
5. Stacy Lewis (2009), $.86M (#211), 0/0
6. M.J. Hur (2009), $.82M (#217), 1/0
7. Vicky Hurst (2009), $.72M (#235), 0/0
8. Azahara Munoz (2010), #.40M (#299), 0/0
9. Haeji Kang (2009), $.30M (#335), 0/0
10. Gwladys Nocera (2010), $.29M (#342), 0/0
11. Beatriz Recari (2010), $.27M (#356), 1/0
12. Chella Choi (2009), $.20M (#396), 0/0
13. Amanda Blumenherst (2010), $.18M (#413), 0/0
14. Mindy Kim (2009), $.16M ($425), 0/0
15. Shiho Oyama (2009), $.13M (#455), 0/0
16. Mariajo Uribe (2010), $.10M (#480), 0/0

Obviously with this generation, it's really too soon to tell who's going to have a great LPGA career. I can't wait to see who among the newbies in the Class of '11 makes this list by this time next year. And whether Pernilla Lindberg, Pornanong Phatlum, Dewi Claire Schreefel, and Jeehae Lee from earlier classes in this generation will be able to take advantage of their full status on tour next season via Q-School--as well as Mina Harigae, who didn't need to go to it, and Paola Moreno, who got partial status out of it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

LPGA Q-School Sunday: Aree Song Medals, Libby Smith and Shasta Averyhardt Plunge, Sarah Brown Self-Destructs

Lisa Mickey, Brent Kelley, Beth Ann Baldry, bangkokbobby, and The Squire cover the bases on the final round of LPGA Q-School--the cold, windy, wet conditions, those who gutted out solid rounds, and those who couldn't--so I'll give you the rundown on how the leaders and notables did before making a few comments of my own:

(Note: L=Legends, C=Champions, [a]=amateur)
Category 11
1st/-6 Aree Song (67L-72C-71L-71C-73C)
2nd/-4 Jessica Korda [a] (72L-72C-66L-69C-77C)
3rd/-3 Jimin Jeong (69C-69L-73C-75L-71C)
T4/-2 Danah Ford Bordner (72C-76L-72C-70L-68C), Dewi Claire Schreefel (70L-74C-71L-69C-74C), Pornanong Phatlum (72L-66C-76L-70C-74C), Reilley Rankin (67L-73C-73L-70C-75C)
T8/-1 Jeehae Lee (71C-72L-74C-70L-72C), Belen Mozo (68L-72C-72L-73C-74C)
T10/E Angela Oh (70L-74C-70L-72C-74C), Nicole Hage (71C-73L-69C-72L-75C)
T12/+1 Pernilla Lindberg (68C-77L-68C-76L-72C), Dori Carter (71C-74L-70C-71L-75C)
T14/+2 Kimberly Kim (71C-78L-70C-73L-70C), Stephanie Sherlock (74L-74C-74L-68C-72C), Mollie Fankhauser (70L-71C-75L-73C-73C), Jennie Lee (77L-73C-70L-68C-74C), Christel Boeljon (71C-76L-71C-70L-74C), Sara Brown (72L-73C-72L-71C-74C), Jin Young Pak (72C-71L-69C-71L-79C)

Category 16
21st/+3 Paola Moreno (72L-74C-72L-69C-78C)
T22/+4 Alison Whitaker (72C-78L-72C-71L-71C), Tiffany Joh (73C-75L-71C-74L-71C), Jean Reynolds (73C-76L-71C-72L-72C), Nannette Hill (73L-72C-73L-70C-76C), Jenny Suh (74L-71C-71L-70C-78C), Nicole Jeray (70L-74C-72L-70C-78C), Shasta Averyhardt (70C-71L-77C-67L-79C), Libby Smith (67C-69L-73C-73L-82C)
T30/+5 Jessica Shepley (74L-79C-72L-66C-74C)

Category 20
T30/+5 Stephanie Kim (73L-74C-71L-69C-78C), Allison Fouch (71L-72C-74L-71C-77C)
T33/+6 Jodi Ewart (79C-73L-69C-72L-73C), Alison Walshe (71C-78L-72C-71L-74C), Angela Buzminski (70C-77L-74C-70L-75C), Amelia Lewis (72C-73L-74C-72L-75C), Adrienne White (71L-76C-70L-73C-76C),
38th/+7 Caroline Hedwall (71C-73L-74C-72L-77C)
T39/+8 Jennifer Gleason (76L-72C-76L-70C-74C), Harukyo Nomura [a] (76L-69C-74L-73C-76C)

No Status (unless #101-#125 on 2010 LPGA money list)
T39/+8 Ayaka Kaneko (69C-78L-70C-73L-78C), Meredith Duncan (75L-73C-78L-69C-73C), Beth Bader (74L-75C-73L-70C-76C)
T44/+9 Becky Brewerton (76L-76C-73L-69C-75C), Jennifer Johnson (71L-74C-76L-71C-77C), Junko Nakada (73L-73C-73L-73C-77C), Jaclyn Sweeney (75L-71C-75L-70C-78C), Lisa Ferrero (74L-70C-76L-70C-79C), Sarah Brown (73C-70L-73C-70L-83C)
T52/+10 Mo Martin (74L-73C-74L-78C-73C), Samantha Richdale (77L-72C-75L-72C-74C), Jane Rah (74C-74L-72C-73L-77C)
T55/+11 Leah Wigger (75L-70C-77L-74C-75C), Lisa Strom (76C-77L-73C-69L-76C)
T59/+12 Young-A Yang (71L-78C-73L-73C-77C), Kim Welch (77L-73C-71L-73C-78C)
62nd/+13 Christi Cano (71L-76C-78L-70C-78C)
T63/+14 Sydnee Michaels (74L-76C-75L-72C-77C), Katie Kempter (72C-72L-74C-78L-78C)
T66/+15 Yukari Nishiyama (75L-76C-76L-70C-78C), Sophia Sheridan (71C-78L-73C-75L-78C), Elisa Serramia (74C-74L-68C-78L-81C)
T71/+17 Hannah Jun (74L-74C-77L-71C-81C)

Huge win for Aree Song, who's coming back from the brink (brought on by stress, health problems, and injuries), and may now be rethinking her previous plans to focus on the KLPGA next season. But really, everyone else who's been on the LPGA and held it together under trying conditions this week did fantastic. With only 5 scores under par and 1 under 70 (a great 68 by Danah Ford Bordner), today was all about survival. While it was gut-wrenching to watch Libby Smith and Sarah Brown plummet down the leaderboard today, and painful to see Tiffany Joh's best round of the week and Shasta Averyhardt's worst each come up 2 shots too short, I have no doubt they'll bounce back from today's disappointments.

So who's in the LPGA's Class of 2011? The KLPGA's Hee Kyung Seo headlines the class, as she already has an LPGA title (the Kia Classic, to be precise) under her belt. Jennifer Song, Jenny Shin, Ryann O'Toole, and Tiffany Joh advanced from the Futures Tour top 10 (with Joh moving from Category 17 to Category 16, which may get her into a couple more tournaments in 2011). From Q-School, Jessica Korda, Christel Boeljon, Belen Mozo, and Kimberly Kim headline the new rookies with full status, while Dori Carter continued her fine play from the 2nd half of the Futures Tour season, Danah Ford Bordner picked up where she left off in Syracuse, Stephanie Sherlock realized the promise of her amateur career in Canada and at the University of Denver, Jennie Lee bounced back after a tough transition from a great amateur and collegiate career at Duke into professional life over the past season and a half, and Big Breaker Sara Brown squeaked in. Joining Joh with partial status next season in the Class of 2011 are Australia's (and Duke's) Alison Whitaker, Virginia's (and the University of Alabama's) Jenny Suh, and Flint, Michigan's (and Jackson State's) Shasta Averyhardt, the 1st African-American member of the LPGA (and only the 4th ever) since 2001. Rounding out the rookie class in Category 20 (which basically means "better luck on other tours!") are Caroline Hedwall (one of the medalists at the LET's pre-qualifying tournament, so she'll be heading across the pond to try to secure an LET card for next season that's worth more than her LPGA card), Japanese amateur Harukyo Nomura (who at least can say she beat Meredith Duncan, Beth Bader, and Ayaka Kaneko in the playoff for the last spot), England's (and the University of New Mexico's) Jodi Ewart, Orlando's (and Wake Forest's) own Stephanie Kim, and Jacksonville's Amelia Lewis. More on their chances next season later!

On the downside, it was more Q-School disappointment for the LET's Becky Brewerton, who can't seem to buy an LPGA card. Heralded younger pros Jennifer Johnson, Jaclyn Sweeney, Sydnee Michaels, Jane Rah, Samantha Richdale, and Hannah Jun will have to spend some (more) time on the Futures Tour (along with other youngsters who missed the cut yesterday like Esther Choe, Mallory Blackwelder, and Lucy Nunn). Whether they'll be joined by LPGAers Meredith Duncan, Beth Bader, Lisa Strom, and Christi Cano remains to be seen, but I have no doubt that Leah Wigger, Mo Martin, Lisa Ferrero, Sarah Brown, Katie Kempter, and Ayaka Kaneko (along with Briana Vega and Whitney Wade) will be back on the FT next season.

So congrats to the graduates of 2010 LPGA Q-School!

[Update 1 (12/13/10, 7:58 am): Here's Hound Dog's concise overview.]

Saturday, December 11, 2010

LPGA Q-School Saturday: Korda Leads, Averyhardt and Shepley Make Big Moves

Just as I predicted, Jessica Korda and Aree Song battled for the lead on the easier Champions course all during the 4th round of LPGA Q-School today, with Korda prevailing by 2 shots when Song finished +2 over her final 6 holes. While Korda carded a 69 and Song a 71, the biggest moves of the day were made by Jessica Shepley and Shasta Averyhardt. Whereas Shepley's bogey-free 66 on the Champions course improved on her previous score there by 13 shots and beat Averyhardt by 1, the African-American hopeful fired a 67 on the tougher Legends course, improving by 10 shots from her disastrous 3rd day on the Champions course. Moreover, she moved from T25 to T8, while Shepley got to T33 after starting the day at T69. Others who made nice moves in the right direction away from the cut line included Becky Brewerton, Meredith Duncan, and Lisa Strom. But Ashleigh Simon and Mallory Blackwelder were perhaps the best-known among the notables who ended up on the wrong side of the cut line.

Here's how the leaders and notables stand as they enter tomorrow's final, along with those who are done for the week:

(Note: L=Legends, C=Champions, [a]=amateur)
1st/-9 Jessica Korda [a] (72L-72C-66L-69C)
2nd/-7 Aree Song (67L-72C-71L-71C)
3rd/-6 Libby Smith (67C-69L-73C-73L)
T4/-5 Reilley Rankin (67L-73C-73L-70C), Jin Young Pak (72C-71L-69C-71L),
T6/-4 Dewi Claire Schreefel (70L-74C-71L-69C), Pornanong Phatlum (72L-66C-76L-70C)
T8/-3 Shasta Averyhardt (70C-71L-77C-67L), Nicole Hage (71C-73L-69C-72L), Belen Mozo (68L-72C-72L-73C)
T11/-2 Paola Moreno (72L-74C-72L-69C), Jenny Suh (74L-71C-71L-70C), Nicole Jeray (70L-74C-72L-70C), Sarah Brown (73C-70L-73C-70L), Dori Carter (71C-74L-70C-71L), Angela Oh (70L-74C-70L-72C), Jimin Jeong (69C-69L-73C-75L)
T18/-1 Stephanie Kim (73L-74C-71L-69C), Jeehae Lee (71C-72L-74C-70L)
T20/E Jennie Lee (77L-73C-70L-68C), Christel Boeljon (71C-76L-71C-70L), Nannette Hill (73L-72C-73L-70C), Sara Brown (72L-73C-72L-71C), Allison Fouch (71L-72C-74L-71C)

T25/+1 Mollie Fankhauser (70L-71C-75L-73C), Pernilla Lindberg (68C-77L-68C-76L)
T27/+2 Lisa Ferrero (74L-70C-76L-70C), Caroline Hedwall (71C-73L-74C-72L), Ayaka Kaneko (69C-78L-70C-73L), Adrienne White (71L-76C-70L-73C)
T33/+3 Angela Buzminski (70C-77L-74C-70L), Jaclyn Sweeney (75L-71C-75L-70C), Jessica Shepley (74L-79C-72L-66C), Amelia Lewis (72C-73L-74C-72L)
T37/+4 Beth Bader (74L-75C-73L-70C), Alison Walshe (71C-78L-72C-71L), Jennifer Johnson (71L-74C-76L-71C), Jean Reynolds (73C-76L-71C-72L), Kimberly Kim (71C-78L-70C-73L), Junko Nakada (73L-73C-73L-73C), Harukyo Nomura [a] (76L-69C-74L-73C)

T45/+5 Jodi Ewart (79C-73L-69C-72L), Jane Rah (74C-74L-72C-73L), Tiffany Joh (73C-75L-71C-74L)
T49/+6 Becky Brewerton (76L-76C-73L-69C), Kim Welch (77L-73C-71L-73C), Elisa Serramia (74C-74L-68C-78L)
T54/+7 Lisa Strom (76C-77L-73C-69L), Meredith Duncan (75L-73C-78L-69C), Christi Cano (71L-76C-78L-70C), Young-A Yang (71L-78C-73L-73C)
T61/+8 Hannah Jun (74L-74C-77L-71C), Samantha Richdale (77L-72C-75L-72C), Leah Wigger (75L-70C-77L-74C), Katie Kempter (72C-72L-74C-78L)
T68/+9 Yukari Nishiyama (75L-76C-76L-70C), Sydnee Michaels (74L-76C-75L-72C), Sophia Sheridan (71C-78L-73C-75L), Mo Martin (74L-73C-74L-78C)

MC: Danielle Downey (77L-73C-80L-70C), Ashleigh Simon (70C-82L-73C-74L), Cathryn Bristow (73C-72L-75C-78L), Mallory Blackwelder (73L-75C-78L-76C), Lucy Nunn (75C-77L-78C-73L), Whitney Wade (80L-77C-72L-74C), Ryann O'Toole (76L-75C-80L-74C), Dorothy Delasin (76C-79L-78C-73L), Michelle Ellis (73L-78C-75L-80C), Esther Choe (73C-83L-77C-74L), Song Yi Choi (77L-78C-76L-76C), Briana Vega (78C-78L-79C-75L), Miriam Nagl (82C-77L-76C-79L), Shayna Miyajima (73C-84L-78C-79L), Danielle McVeigh [a] (77C-81L-78C-79L), Kelli Kuehne (83C-86L-82C-74L)

Omega Ladies Dubai Saturday: Iben Tinning Goes Out in Style; Lee-Anne Pace Keeps Money-List Title, In-Kyung Kim Keeps Rookie of the Year

LET veteran Iben Tinning's 4 birdies were enough to hold off Anna Nordqvist and Melissa Reid today at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, giving her the victory in what looks to be her final tournament as a professional golfer. Lower down the leaderboard, money-list leader Lee-Anne Pace played terribly but stuck close enough to Laura Davies to ensure she'd retain the 2010 title, while In-Kyung Kim outplayed Maria Hernandez down the stretch to keep the Rookie of the Year title. Inky's 68 wasn't good enough to keep her clear of Michelle Wie, who tied her for the week with a great 67 (the low round of the day), or catch Christina Kim, who got a top 5 with her 69 and cracked the 100K-euro barrier in the process (as did Nordqvist). Also finishing well was Julieta Granada, who moved up to 56th on the money list with her top-10 finish. And Alexi Thompson hung in there for a top 25 in her 1st LET event.

Here's how the notables ended their years:

1st/-11 Iben Tinning (70-69-69-69)
2nd/-9 Anna Nordqvist (70-68-71-70)
3rd/-8 Melissa Reid (70-70-68-72)
T4/-6 Florentyna Parker (67-75-72-68), Christina Kim (73-68-72-69)
T6/-5 Michelle Wie (71-72-73-67), In-Kyung Kim (69-75-71-68)
8th/-4 Lydia Hall (70-67-72-75)
9th/-3 Julieta Granada (69-74-72-70)
T10/-2 Gwladys Nocera (73-69-73-71), Marianne Skarpnord (69-71-74-72), Louise Stahle (73-72-68-73)

14th/-1 Caroline Masson (75-69-71-72)
T15/E Maria Hernandez (70-72-72-74)
T19/+1 Linda Wessberg (74-72-74-69), Laura Davies (75-73-71-70)
T22/+2 Carin Koch (73-74-73-70), Alexi Thompson (73-74-72-71), Bo-Mi Suh (69-73-76-72), Emma Cabrera-Bello (71-73-72-74), Carling Coffing (70-71-75-74)
T29/+3 Tania Elosegui (71-75-73-72), Maria Verchenova (68-72-78-73)
T31/+4 Carlota Ciganda [a] (73-71-78-70), Frances Bondad (78-70-71-73)
T35/+5 Kristie Smith (74-74-72-73)
T39/+7 Lorie Kane (72-73-76-74)
T41/+8 Veronica Zorzi (70-77-75-74), Anne-Lise Caudal (70-76-75-75)
T45/+9 Virginie Lagoutte-Clement (74-75-77-71), Sophie Giquel (73-72-75-77)
T52/+11 Rebecca Hudson (71-78-78-72), Anja Monke (74-73-79-73), Lee-Anne Pace (73-72-74-80)

Let's see if Ashleigh Simon and Becky Brewerton can make a run at LPGA Q-School today and survive the 72-hole cut to play in the final round tomorrow. They remained in the top 20 on the LET money list despite skipping Dubai, but almost certainly need to break 70 today (and tomorrow) to have a hope of getting LPGA cards worth anything next season.

[Update 1 (10:32 am): Here's bangkokbobby's overview, with photos!]

[Update 2 (10:33 am): The Squire has a photo of a different sort of Carling Coffing over at Golf Babes!]

[Update 3 (10:36 am): And here's Brent Kelley.]

LPGA Q-School Friday: Jessica Korda Moves into Contention with 66

Lisa Mickey, Hound Dog, and Ryan Ballengee focus on the leaders and notables near the 72-hole cut line after 3 rounds of LPGA Q-School. What they don't emphasize enough is how Jessica Korda's bogey-free 66 was even more impressive because it came on the tougher Legends course. I wouldn't be surprised to see her or Aree Song (who also went under par on the Legends course yesterday) in the lead at the end of play today, given their increased odds of going low on the Champions course.

As everyone teed off this morning, here's where the notables stood:

(Note: L=Legends, C=Champions, [a]=amateur)
1st/-7 Libby Smith (67C-69L-73C)
T2/-6 Jessica Korda [a] (72L-72C-66L), Aree Song (67L-72C-71L)
4th/-5 Jimin Jeong (69C-69L-73C)
T5/-4 Jin Young Pak (72C-71L-69C), Belen Mozo (68L-72C-72L)
T7/-3 Pernilla Lindberg (68C-77L-68C), Nicole Hage (71C-73L-69C), Reilley Rankin (67L-73C-73L)
T10/-2 Angela Oh (70L-74C-70L), Pornanong Phatlum (72L-66C-76L)
T12/-1 Dori Carter (71C-74L-70C), Dewi Claire Schreefel (70L-74C-71L)
T14/E Elisa Serramia (74C-74L-68C), Jenny Suh (74L-71C-71L), Nicole Jeray (70L-74C-72L), Sarah Brown (73C-70L-73C), Mollie Fankhauser (70L-71C-75L)
T19/+1 Ayaka Kaneko (69C-78L-70C), Adrienne White (71L-76C-70L), Sara Brown (72L-73C-72L), Paola Moreno (72L-74C-72L), Allison Fouch (71L-72C-74L), Jeehae Lee (71C-72L-74C)

T25/+2 Christel Boeljon (71C-76L-71C), Nannette Hill (73L-72C-73L), Katie Kempter (72C-72L-74C), Caroline Hedwall (71C-73L-74C), Shasta Averyhardt (70C-71L-77C)
T31/+3 Kimberly Kim (71C-78L-70C), Tiffany Joh (73C-75L-71C), Junko Nakada (73L-73C-73L), Harukyo Nomura [a] (76L-69C-74L), Amelia Lewis (72C-73L-74C)
T37/+4 Jennie Lee (77L-73C-70L), Jean Reynolds (73C-76L-71C), Jane Rah (74C-74L-72C), Cathryn Bristow (73C-72L-75C), Lisa Ferrero (74L-70C-76L)

T44/+5 Jodi Ewart (79C-73L-69C), Kim Welch (77L-73C-71L), Alison Walshe (71C-78L-72C), Mo Martin (74L-73C-74L), Angela Buzminski (70C-77L-74C), Jaclyn Sweeney (75L-71C-75L), Jennifer Johnson (71L-74C-76L)
T53/+6 Beth Bader (74L-75C-73L), Young-A Yang (71L-78C-73L), Sophia Sheridan (71C-78L-73C), Leah Wigger (75L-70C-77L)
T63/+8 Samantha Richdale (77L-72C-75L)
T69/+9 Jessica Shepley (74L-79C-72L), Becky Brewerton (76L-76C-73L), Ashleigh Simon (70C-82L-73C), Sydnee Michaels (74L-76C-75L), Hannah Jun (74L-74C-77L), Christi Cano (71L-76C-78L)

T76/+10 Lisa Strom (76C-77L-73C), Michelle Ellis (73L-78C-75L), Meredith Duncan (75L-73C-78L), Mallory Blackwelder (73L-75C-78L)
T82/+11 Yukari Nishiyama (75L-76C-76L)
T88/+13 Whitney Wade (80L-77C-72L)
T94/+14 Lucy Nunn (75C-77L-78C), Danielle Downey (77L-73C-80L)
T100/+15 Song Yi Choi (77L-78C-76L), Ryann O'Toole (76L-75C-80L)
T108/+17 Esther Choe (73C-83L-77C), Dorothy Delasin (76C-79L-78C)
T112/+19 Miriam Nagl (82C-77L-76C), Shayna Miyajima (73C-84L-78C), Briana Vega (78C-78L-79C)
T115/+20 Danielle McVeigh [a] (77C-81L-78C)
118th/+35 Kelli Kuehne (83C-86L-82C)

It'll take some Korda-esque rounds on the Legends course today to keep alive many players' hopes of getting their 2011 LPGA cards, while others will be looking to do what Pornanong Phatlum did on Thursday on the Champions course. Stay tuned!