Monday, January 31, 2011

Golf Channel, Here I Come!

Today in history, the Constructivist family entered the 21st century. We've had high-speed internet since we got back from Japan but now we have it with Verizon, whose triple play deal means that we also have DirectTV (with a sweet HD DVR) and a home phone (VTec, of course!), plus we went in for a Sony Blu-Ray player (connected to our new 42" plasma Panasonic with the scariest of Monster HDMI cables) to supplement our old Sony DVD-VCR player. Golf Channel, here I come!

Now, some of you may be wondering, "Constructivist, how can you afford your rock and roll lifestyle?" Well, I'm happy to report that I'm starting a serious product placement initiative here at Mostly Harmless (see above). Other than that, I don't have a clue. Anyone out there in Blogaramaville got any ideas?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 LPGA Prognostication Derby Cheat Sheets

I'm hoping the 4th time is the charm for me in the LPGA Prognostication Derby this year, but because I love good competition I'm going to offer some links and stats in this post to help out any newcomers.

If you're looking which rookies to put in your top 30, go no further than Hound Dog's post sizing up the Class of 2011 in light of how almost 10 years of rookies have done on the LPGA. Thomas Atkins crunches numbers for a much longer time period and notes key patterns. But what about the patterns in my consensus rankings over the last 3 seasons, on which scoring in the Derby is based? Let's see who's done how well recently, starting with those who have snagged at least 1 top 40 and getting more exclusive as we go on:

[Key: *=has no 2011 LPGA status]

Top 40s
Pettersen, Kerr, Tseng, Creamer, Choi, Stanford, SH Kim, Webb, IK Kim, Pressel, Hull, Hjorth, Yoo, JY Lee, Ueda, SH Lee, Lang, Matthew, Gustafson, Kung (2008, 2009, 2010)
Shin, A Miyazato, Nordqvist, Lincicome, McPherson, HY Park, Pak, A Yang, C Kim (2009, 2010)
IB Park, Inkster, M Lee (2008, 2010)
Ji, Alfredsson, Oh, Wright (2008, 2009)
M Miyazato, Lewis, Kang, Munoz, Icher, Pak, Hur, Feng (2010)
Gulbis, V Hurst, Ward (2009)
Diaz, A Park*, MH Kim, J Park, Prammanasudh, Castrale, Lu (2008)

Top 30s
Pettersen, Kerr, Tseng, Creamer, Choi, Stanford, SH Kim, Webb, IK Kim, Pressel, Hull, Hjorth, JY Lee (2008, 2009, 2010)
Shin, A Miyazato, Nordqvist, Yoo, Lincicome, McPherson, HY Park, Pak, A Yang, C Kim (2009, 2010)
IB Park, Inkster (2008, 2010)
Ji, SH Lee, Ueda, Alfredsson, Oh, Han, Kung (2008, 2009)
M Miyazato, Lewis, Kang, Munoz, Icher (2010)
Lang, Matthew, Gustafson, Wright, Gulbis, V Hurst, Ward (2009)
Jang, Stupples, Diaz, A Park*, MH Kim (2008)

Top 25s
Pettersen, Kerr, Tseng, Creamer, Choi, Stanford, SH Kim, Webb, IK Kim (2008, 2009, 2010)
Shin, A Miyazato, Pressel, Nordqvist, Yoo (2009, 2010)
IB Park, JY Lee, Hull (2008, 2010)
Ji, Hjorth, SH Lee (2008, 2009)
A Yang, Lincicome, M Miyazato, Lewis, Kang, Munoz, Icher (2010)
McPherson, Lang, Matthew, Gustafson, Wright, Ueda (2009)
Jang, Han, Stupples, Alfredsson, Kung, Diaz, Inkster, A Park* (2008)

Top 20s
Pettersen, Kerr, Tseng, Creamer, Choi, SH Kim, Stanford, Webb (2008, 2009, 2010)
Shin, A Miyazato, IK Kim, Wie, Pressel, Nordqvist (2009, 2010)
IB Park, JY Lee (2008, 2010)
Ji (2008, 2009)
A Yang, Hull, Lincicome, M Miyazato (2010)
McPherson, Lang, Matthew, Gustafson (2009)
SH Lee, Jang, Ji, Han, Stupples, Alfredsson, Kung, Diaz (2008)

Top 15s
Pettersen, Kerr, Tseng, Creamer, Choi (2008, 2009, 2010)
Shin, A Miyazato, IK Kim, SH Kim, Wie (2009, 2010)
IB Park (2008, 2010)
Stanford, Webb (2008, 2009)
Pressel, A Yang, Hull, Lincicome (2010)
Nordqvist, McPherson (2009)
SH Lee, Jang, Ji, Han, Stupples (2008)

Top 10s
Pettersen, Kerr, Tseng, Creamer (2008, 2009, 2010)
Shin, A Miyazato, Choi (2009, 2010)
Stanford (2008, 2009)
IK Kim, SH Kim, Wie (2010)
Nordqvist (2009)
SH Lee, Jang, Webb (2008)

Top 5s
Pettersen (2008, 2009, 2010)
Shin, Kerr (2009, 2010)
Tseng (2008, 2010)
Choi (2010)
A Miyazato (2009)
Creamer (2008)

As you can see, 13 players have appeared in the top 30 all 3 seasons we've been running the Derby, 9 in the top 25, 8 in the top 20, 5 in the top 15, 4 in the top 10, and only 1 in the top 5. Meanwhile, 4 players have more than 1 top 5, 8 have more than 1 top 10, 13 have more than 1 top 15, 17 have more than 1 top 20, 20 have more than 1 top 25, and 32 have more than 1 top 30.

Hope this helps! Please be sure to get your top 30s in by, shall we say, Valentine's Day?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

And the Winner of the 2010 LPGA Prognostication Derby Is....

OK, so I shamed myself into spending a late night doing some elementary-school-level number-crunching and I'm ready to announce the winner of the 2010 LPGA Prognostication Derby. Who will follow former Waggle Room scribe Mulligan Stu in 2008 and Derby founder and namer Hound Dog in 2009 as the Mostly Harmless Best LPGA Predictor in 2010?

Hold your horses, there, buckaroo. Let's review how the title is determined. First, to identify the LPGA's top 30 in 2010, I averaged the results of the 5 major ranking systems: mine, Hound Dog's, the official money list, and the Rolex Rankings and the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index as of the week I did my Best of the LPGA ranking. I'll show my work so you can see who the consensus top 40 were on the LPGA in 2010:


1. Kerr 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 = 2.2
2. Shin 5, 2, 4, 1, 3 = 3
3. Tseng 1, 4, 1, 5, 7 = 3.6
4. Choi 4, 1, 5, 4, 5 = 3.8
5. Pettersen 6, 5, 6, 3, 2 = 4.4
6. A Miyazato 2, 6, 3, 6, 8 = 5
7. IK Kim 7, 7, 7, 7, 6 = 6.8
8. SH Kim 8, 8, 8, 9, 4 = 7.4
9. Creamer 9, 10, 9, 11, 16 = 11
9. Wie 10, 9, 11, 10, 15 = 11
11. IB Park 11, 11, 10, 12, 13 = 11.4
12. Pressel 12, 13, 12, 17, 10 = 12.8
13. A Yang 13, 14, 13, 25, 11 = 15.2
14. Hull 14, 12, 14, 19, 23 = 16.4
15. Lincicome 15, 15, 15, 21, 18 = 16.8
16. Webb 17, 23, 17, 16, 14 = 17.4
17. Stanford 18, 18, 18, 20, 20 = 18.8
18. JY Lee 16, 19, 16, 38, 17 = 21.2
19. M Miyazato 19, 17, 20, 22, 29 = 21.4
20. Nordqvist 21, 24, 24, 14, 28 = 22.2
21. Yoo 20, 16, 21, 28, 48 = 26.6
22. Lewis 22, 21, 27, 37, 27 = 26.8
23. Kang 23, 22, 19, 46, 40 = 30
24. Munoz 26, 30, 28, 41, 39 = 32.8
25. Icher 25, 25, 25, 59, 32 = 33.2
26. Inkster 30, 29, 32, 50, 26 = 33.4
27. Hjorth 24, 20, 33, 23, 70 = 34
28. McPherson 28, 27, 34, 34, 49 = 34.4
29. HY Park 35, 34, 31, 43, 43 = 37.2
30. Pak 29, 32, 36, 31, 63 = 38.2

31. C Kim 27, 26, 35, 51, 54 = 38.6
32. M Lee 32, 33, 29, 74, 33 = 40.2
33. Hur 39, 31, 41, 44, 47 = 40.4
34. Matthew 37, 40, 42, 32, 59 = 42
35. Feng 31, 38, 26, 79, 37 = 42.2
36. Ueda 38, 44, 37, 45, 51 = 43
37. Lang 36, 35, 44, 48, 64 = 45.4
38. SH Lee 40, 42, 38, 72, 41 = 46.6
39. Gustafson 43, 45, 52, 33, 61 = 46.8
40. Kung 41, 36, 47, 71, 46 = 48.2

Next step is to apply the modified PakPicker formula I used the previous 2 years to Hound Dog's, rjay's, Verdant Garden's, Bill Jempty's, and my picks:

First, we get points for each of our picks who finished in the top 30 (including ties), on the following scale: 30 for 1st, 29 for 2nd, 28 for 3rd, and so on, down to 1 for 30th. Next, we get bonus points for the accuracy of our picks: 20 points for nailing a pick and a point off for every spot we're off (up to 19, to avoid turning the bonus into a penalty). The maximum number of points you can get for a single player, then, is 50 (picking as our top player the actual #1).

OK, then, so here are the results:

1. rjay 703
2. The Constructivist 694
3. Hound Dog 657
4. Verdant Garden 655
5. Bill Jempty 609

Congrats to rjay! He had the most correct top 30 picks (21 to 20 for Hound Dog, Verdant Garden, and me), but what separated him and me from the pack this year was our relative accuracy, while what separated him from me was that he got more points out of the players I didn't pick (Stacy Lewis, Mika Miyazato, and Brittany Lincicome) than I got out of the players he didn't pick (Katherine Hull and Jee Young Lee), plus he undervalued Kerr and Pettersen less than I did. If I had substituted just about any of the 5 players in my next 10 for the right players in my top 30, I would have added a MH award to my season-long PakPicker win in 2010. By the way, the scoring was very high for everyone. Bill, who finished in the cellar this time around, would have been in the top 3 with that score in the previous 2 competitions, and everyone else scored well enough to win either of them. Nice pickin', y'all!

All right, then, I'm so due for 2011! Watch out for me!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Let's Get the 2011 LPGA Prognostication Derby Started!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I still haven't found the time to score rjay's, Hound Dog's, Verdant Garden's, Bill Jempty's and my predictions from last year's LPGA Prognostication Derby, much less do the kind of elementary-school-level number-crunching on the rookie classes of 2006 through 2011 that helps me prepare my top 30 picks for this year's competition, so I'm breaking a Mostly Harmless tradition and not putting them out there today. But I can invite everyone who reads this to put together their LPGA top 30 predictions for 2011 and post them either in a comment to this post, on the thread I started at Seoul, as a fanshot or fanpost at Hound Dog LPGA, or on your own website or blog (just drop me a line at the email address in my profile to let me know you've done so). Thanks, everyone, and good luck!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

LPGA's Leading Ladies Sure Know How to Negotiate

I love what Paula Creamer is doing about the Founders Cup. As Randall Mell summarizes, she's basically questioning why RR Donnelley can't afford to either put up the entire "mock purse" of $1.3M for charity or split it between the players and charity. And, like Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, and Morgan Pressel, she's refusing to commit to the tournament until she gets some answers. Since players have until March 8th to decide, that's a long time for the title sponsor to be on the hot seat.

I think Creamer's approach is a lot smarter than Suzann Pettersen's decision not to play in Phoenix this year. Pettersen has lost whatever negotiating power she might have had by refusing to hold out the carrot of possible participation to RR Donnelley and being super-vague on camera about her reasons for going to the stick instead. Kerr, meanwhile, still has a chance to articulate what it would take to get her to play. So far, her vague concerns about process and format don't put any serious pressure on RR Donnelley to make any changes. Hopefully she's being more focused and aggressive in private.

With Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Na Yeon Choi, Juli Inkster, Angela Stanford, Christina Kim, and Brittany Lincicome, among others, already committed, it's not like the event is going to be a big bust, as Sal Johnson seems to believe. Heck, if a few big names decide to boycott the event, it just opens up spots for lower-status players on tour to put themselves in position to qualify for more real-money events. Hound Dog's analysis is still on target.

Me, I'll bet there's even time for some sort of compromise to be worked out, if not this year, then by next year. For instance, it might be worth exploring whether the tournament proceeds could continue to go to the LPGA Foundation to support LPGA-USGA Girls Golf as originally planned, but that an equally large sum of money could be equally divided among all the players in the field for them to donate to the charities of their individual choice. (Or perhaps instead RR Donnelley could make the donation directly to those charities in the players' names, if they need the tax write-off that badly.) That's still a bargain for the title sponsor, who could probably afford to go in for a real purse of the same size as the other 2 sums. Heck, RR Donnelley could make it simple and guarantee $300K to the LPGA Foundation, $300K to the players' charity choices, and $300K to a real purse the 1st year, up each sum by $100K each of the next 2 years, and still pay less to get the LPGA's top players than most other events on the schedule of a comparable field size. That would be a huge step up from what they'll be competing for on the Cactus Tour this year in the Phoenix area, that's for sure.

[Update 1 (1/29/11, 12:18 am): Add Ya Ni Tseng, Natalie Gulbis, and Kristy McPherson to the committed list. And Morgan Pressel to the list with serious reservations. Pretty cool that the tour is having each player designate a charity she's playing for and dividing $200K among the top-5 finishers to donate to theirs, as Randall Mell reports.]

Rassin' Frassin' Forecaddie (grumble grumble)

Man, here I've been working with Dean Herden on an extended e-interview for the last several weeks, starting from the fact that he's cutting back his caddying for Ji-Yai Shi to her events in the Asia-Pacific this season due to his mother's health, and I get scooped by the Forecaddie in the 21 January issue of Golfweek! Fortunately, his squib doesn't seem to have hit the intertubes quite yet. And maybe I should be blaming Verizon--being off the intertubes for almost a week myself didn't help matters any!

Anyway, let me check with Dean and see if we can get Part I of our interview on the blog soon....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Caroline Hedwall Edges 13-Year-Old for ALPG Win

Brent Kelley's recent post reminded me the ALPG's new season is getting into gear and in their 1st big tournament of 2011, the Bing Lee Samsung NSW Women's Open, Caroline Hedwall edged 13-year-old Lydia Ko when the teenager 3-putted from short range on the final hole. Note how many notables Ko beat over 54 holes!

1st/-11 Caroline Hedwall
2nd/-10 Lydia Ko (a)
3rd/-8 Stephanie Na
T4/-7 Katherine Hull, Sarah Kemp, Kristie Smith, Ryann O'Toole
9th/-5 Sarah-Jane Smith

T13/-1 Laura Davies, Jessica Shepley
T18/E Sarah Oh
T23/+2 Frances Bondad
T26/+3 Nikki Garrett
T30/+4 Nicole Hage
T42/+7 Kim Welch
T46/+8 Candace Schepperle
T59/+13 Sunny Park

MC: Cathryn Bristow

Don't forget that Sarah Oh was looking to 3-peat this past weekend, Laura Davies always seems to win in that neck of the woods this time of year, Kristie Smith was in the running for LET Rookie of the Year during the first half of last season, Stephanie Na leads this season's ALPG Order of Merit, and Katherine Hull is probably the best Australian professional golfer right now and was coming off 2 consecutive wins in lesser ALPG events. The only things that would have made Hedwall and Ko's accomplishments even more impressive is if Karrie Webb had competed--along with other LPGAers who have won or contended down there in the past like Ji-Yai Shin, Ya Ni Tseng, and Amy Yang.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pornanong Phatlum Wins Hitachi Ladies Classic on TLPGA

Pornanong Phatlum dominated the Hitachi Ladies Classic, beating the JLPGA's Miki Saiki by 8 shots. With the previous week's winner Ya Ni Tseng deciding not to play this past weekend, after all, the biggest names in the field were Taiwan's living legend Ai Yu Tu and China's Na Zhang, who had a great season a few years back on the JLPGA before injuring her back. Well, Zhang finished in 3rd and Tu finished in 4th!

Here's how the notables did in the 54-hole event:

1st/-5 Pornanong Phatlum
2nd/+3 Miki Saiki
3rd/+4 Na Zhang
4th/+6 Ai Yu Tu
T5/+7 Ji Na Lim, Porani Chutichai
T7/+8 Nontaya Srisawang
T9/+9 Russamee Gulyanamitta, Maiko Wakabayashi

T11/+10 Yun Jye Wei, Mi Rim Lee, Tiffany Tavee
T14/+11 Amy Hung, Christine Song, Izumi Narita, Titiya Plucksataporn
T19/+12 Hong Mei Yang, Yuki Sakurai
T24/+13 Teresa Lu
T29/+14 Aiko Ueno
T31/+15 Danah Bordner
T37/+17 Julie Lu
T51/+21 Kuniko Maeda
T54/+22 Libby Smith

Low American goes to Tiffany Tavee; disappointing results for Bordner and Smith. I was surprised to see Teresa Lu playing such consistently mediocre golf the last few weeks; going +32 in 162 holes in her home country is not the way she probably imagined her 2011 beginning.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ya Ni Tseng Wins at Home

Following up on my quick rundown of the results of the Taiwan LPGA's Royal Open, where Sakura Yokomine had to settle for a T10 in her 1st start of 2011, I'm happy to report that Ya Ni Tseng fared much better in her debut, winning the Taifong Ladies Open. Here's how the notables in the field ended up after 54 holes of competition last week:

1st/+2 Ya Ni Tseng
T3/+7 Nontaya Srisawang
6th/+8 Mi Rim Lee [previous week's winner]
T7/+9 Julie Lu
T9/+10 Danah Bordner, Porani Chutichai

T12/+11 Teresa Lu, Pornanong Phatlum, Ji Na Lim
T17/+12 Izumi Narita
T19/+13 Yun Jye Wei, Hong Mei Yang
T24/+15 Maiko Wakabayashi
T26/+16 Yeo-Jin Kang
28th/+17 Aiko Ueno
T29/+18 Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Ya Huei Lu
T34/+19 Na Zhang, Christine Song
T41/+22 Tiffany Tavee

That's 2 pretty good results, all things considered, for Bordner. Let's see how she does at the Hitachi Classic this week, where Tseng is looking to make it back-to-back wins!

[Update 1 (1/26/11, 1:52 am): Just came across bangkokbobby's post on Ya Ni's win!]

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

OK, Now I'm Back. So What Did I Miss?

Just got back online at home and am trying to catch up on a week of women's golf news. Here's what I found:

  • Doug Ferguson on efforts to bring the LPGA back to Hawaii
  • Randall Mell on Kristy McPherson's WD from the ANZ Ladies Masters to give herself more time to rehab from elbow surgery
  • Beth Ann Baldry, Tom Abbott, and Steve Elling on the new Monday qualifying procedure and its relation to their Lexi Thompson decision
  • Speaking of Lexi, she shows up in Hound Dog's 5th installment in his player profile series because she made his top 25 in 2010
  • Speaking of series, here's part 1 (of 6, so far, in a 10-part series) in Happy Fan's look back at 2010 via his Seoulie Awards
  • on how the priority status reshuffle will take place after the 9th and 15th events of the 2011 season
  • And, oh yeah, Natalie Gulbis may or may not be or have been dating Dustin Johnson

OK, so what did I miss?

Monday, January 17, 2011

I'm Back! Miss Me?

Hey all, the move from Dunkirk to Hamburg not only took up much more of my time than I hoped, but also involved a switch in our internet service provider. It turns out the phone line to our new home was damaged while the computer we left in the old home crashed, so we've been cut off from e-civilization far longer than I planned (which was, uh, not at all). Anyway, I'm hoping when I get back home with the last carload of our stuff the problem has been fixed and I can get back to blogging for my hundred or so regular readers! Plus, in just under 2 weeks, we'll be back in TV-land, so I might even get to watch some golf on tv on a fairly regular basis this season. Provided, of course, DirectTV doesn't drop Golf Channel. Anyone know the status of that little corporate dust-up?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Check Out Who's (Been) Playing on the Taiwan LPGA!

Here are the names I recognized from last week's 54-hole Royal Open on the Taiwan LPGA:

1st/-3 Mi Rim Lee
2nd/-2 Ji Na Lim
3rd/E Julie Lu
4th/+2 Rui Yokomine
5th/+3 Izumi Narita
6th/+4 Nontaya Srisawang
T7/+5 Pornanong Phatlum, Yeo-Jin Kang
9th/+6 Tzu Chi Lin
T10/+7 Sakura Yokomine, Onnarin Sattayabanphot

T12/+8 Porani Chutichai, Teresa Lu, Danah Bordner
17th/+9 Hong Mei Yang
T18/+10 Aiko Ueno
T23/+11 Yun-Jye Wei
T25/+12 Na Zhang
T29/+13 Libby Smith
T34/+14 Ya Huei Lu

Looks like the LAGT joined the JLPGA and KLPGA in supporting this event.

Here are the 1st-round pairings for the next event, the Taifong Open, which starts on the 14th. New names that jump out at me include Ai Yu Tu, Ya Ni Tseng, Maiko Wakabayashi, Titiya Plucksataporn, Russamee Gulyanamitta, Christine Song, and Tiffany Tavee.

Looks like with the SunCoast Series and Cactus Tour schedules announced, it's time for me to put together a worldwide developmental golf tours calendar for 2011! Eh, maybe when this move is kicking my butt a little more lightly!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Paging the Asahi Shimbun

I've never had to call out an entire newspaper before, but after reading "S. Korean golfers dominate Japan, world," by Atsuo Negishi and Issei Sakakibara (courtesy of a thread at Seoul, I have to question the Asahi Shimbun's editorial judgment. The premise of the article is that the top men's and women's professional golf tours in Japan, the JGTO and JLPGA, are all of a sudden in danger because Kyung-Tae Kim and Sun-Ju Ahn, both South Koreans, each won their respective tour's money title in 2010. Oh, and because Korean women won 15 of 34 JLPGA events and 9 of 25 LPGA events in 2010. And because there are more Korean women ranked in the top 50 in the world than Japanese and Americans combined (20 vs. 19). And because Korean golfers dominated the Asian Games in 2006 and 2010. And because as the number of Koreans on the LPGA has increased, its schedule has shrunk. And because Carolyn Bivens floated an English-language requirement for LPGA membership. And because Japan's only and Asia's 1st winner of an American major is lobbying the Japanese government to increase funding to develop world-class Japanese women golfers. And because an anonymous tournament organizer implied Japanese tv viewers can't stand to see Japanese corporate types hand winner's checks to Korean winners of tournaments they sponsored. And because tv ratings went down significantly for the JLPGA's season-ending major, the Ricoh Cup. And because a Japanese tv producer envisions vague and dramatic globalization-induced changes.

Yeah, the whole thing is thinly-veiled, badly-organized, barely-thought-out editorializing--and my paraphrase actually attempted to find some coherence in the article's writing and reasoning. With its logic deficits, context gaps, and genre ambiguities, I doubt it would get better than a C- in any university-level intro to newspaper writing course (and that's after grade inflation). And yet it appeared on the English-language website of the Asahi Shimbun on January 7th!

I don't have time to do a full-blown critique--we just got back to our soon-to-be-old home from picking up the keys at the new one and are trying to push our own move up 3 days--so I'll just offer a sketch of one here.

(1) Shaky understanding of recent JLPGA history.

Consider a sentence like this: "The women's golf industry in Japan has succeeded and gained as much popularity as men's golf because female golfers became top prize winners. But this business model is becoming shaky."

What does this mean? Japanese women have been "top prize winners" on the JLPGA for its entire history, except when Ai-Yu Tu had great years and now, decades later, when Sun-Ju Ahn did. No, what kick-started the JLPGA to a new level was Ai Miyazato winning as a high schooler--and then continuing to win as a pro--on a tour that seemed utterly dominated by Yuri Fudoh. Their rivalry and all it symbolized fuelled the JLPGA's ascent and contributed to the JGTO's relative decline. Until Ai-chan left for--and struggled on--the LPGA, that is, and another high schooler won--and continued to win as a pro--on the JGTO. Ryo Ishikawa has more to do with any real or imagined shakiness of the JLPGA business model than any Korean golfer. And perhaps Mika Miyazato does, as well.

It's not like the authors are completely ignorant of this. Indeed, the sentences before the one I quoted covers virtually the same time period I discussed in the previous paragraph: "Female Japanese golfers have also been performing well and gaining in popularity since Ai Miyazato debuted as a teenager on the JLPGA Tour in 2004. In her footsteps have followed other talented young golfers such as Momoko Ueda, Miho Koga, Sakura Yokomine and Mika Miyazato." Never mind that Ai-chan's debut actually was in 2003, the real problem with the second sentence is the way it lumps Mika Miyazato, who's of an entirely different golfing generation than her sempai, into a follower of Ai-sama's footsteps. What makes Mikan distinctive is the way she didn't follow the Ai-sama path but instead chose to make her pro debut on the LPGA rather than the JLPGA. Given Mikan's big leap into the LPGA's top 20 and win and T2 in the 2 JLPGA majors she entered in 2010, she might well have provided a similar spark of a generational showdown that pushed the JLPGA to the forefront of public attention around 8 years ago had she decided to follow Ai-sama's path.

But let's face it, there's a deeper problem than lack of historical context going on here. Are the authors really claiming that the Japanese golf industry's "business model" is to hope for an extraordinarily talented Japanese teenager to come along and do nothing but wait for the next one? Where is the evidence that this really is the JLPGA's business model?

(2) Shaky use of logic and evidence.

Let me turn to a different passage that illustrates the severity and scope of these problems: "Japan is also fearing the affect [sic] that victories by South Korean golfers will have on corporate sponsors and ad revenue."

Putting aside the image of a personified Mt. Fuji appearing to one of the authors in a dream and the goddess Amaterasu appearing to the other, each with a mission to convey this urgent message on behalf of an anxious nation, as well as an error in word choice I see about 10 times a week from my own students (99% of whom grew up in English), this really is all about the affect--the feelings of Japanese television viewers and corporate executives. Here's the authors' Exhibit A:

TV viewer ratings stood at 12.4 percent when Sakura Yokomine won the last event of the 2009 JLPGA Tour, according to Video Research Ltd. But the ratings slipped to 7.6 percent when Park In-bee won the final tournament of 2010.

"When a non-Japanese golfer wins, viewers will change the channel before the corporate sponsor's presidents appear to hand out trophies," said a tournament organizer who wished to remain anonymous. "That's disappointing for corporate sponsors."

Clearly the convenient unsourced quote is meant to provide a gloss on the facts that precede it. But hold on just a second there. Rewind. Pause. Let's do a little experiment here. Read over my Ricoh Cup posts from 2009 (Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4) and 2010 (Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4). What did you notice? Perhaps something like this:

  • Ai Miyazato and Momoko Ueda in the hunt in 2009. Not playing in 2010.
  • Sakura Yokomine, Shinobu Moromizato, and Chie Arimura all vying to win the tournament and break Shiho Oyama's single-season-winnings record in the process in 2009. Sun-Ju Ahn having already clinched the money-list title the week before the Ricoh Cup in 2010, but without any hope of breaking any winnings record.
  • Good scoring in 2009. Bad scoring in 2010.
  • An exciting, wide-open shootout that came down to the final holes in 2009. A boring battle of attrition on Sunday in 2010.
Hmm, I'd say the nationality of the winner had everything to do with this year's lower ratings, wouldn't you? Me, I'd like to hear about the ratings of the final JGTO event, when Ryo Ishikawa had a tiny chance to steal the money-list title from Kyung-Tae Kim. How did they compare to the previous year's, when he and Yuta Ikeda were battling for #1 on the money-list but out of contention? There are so many more examples like this, but shooting fish in a barrel loses its luster after awhile. I mean, you can't even make sushi out of them. (3) Emphatic but ambiguous quotes. Here's what Hisako Higuchi is quoted as saying: "Japan only offers a few days of training while South Korea offers 200 days of training. There's no way we can beat the South Koreans under the current circumstances." This feels like a fragment from a longer conversation. Is she talking about the very best young Koreans, like Ji-Yai Shin, Na Yeon Choi, In-Kyung Kim, Song-Hee Kim, Inbee Park, and Sun-Ju Ahn? I wonder if each of them really received the same intensive training? Inbee Park played in the U.S. as an amateur, Song-Hee Kim got her start on the Futures Tour, and I'm not even sure if In-Kyung Kim ever played on the KLPGA, either. And who is that "we"? Certainly, none of Mika Miyazato's peer group has come close to realizing their potential as quickly as she's begun to realize hers. But let's not forget that Inbee Park and Sun-Ju Ahn have already endured slumps in their young careers and that Seon Hwa Lee, who a year and a half ago would have been near the head of anyone's list of top young Korean golfers, played so badly on the JLPGA in 2010 that she didn't even bother going back to Q-School. It's way too soon to tell how the new blood from both countries will stack up against each other, career-wise. Maybe the "we" speaks of up-and-coming Japanese youngsters, and maybe there Higuchi is trying to get across how far behind their Korean counterparts they are, but doesn't "no way" seem kind of extreme when you're talking about teenagers? OK, just one more quote, this time from "golf tournament producer" Sho Tobari (who I gather from the context is some kind of tv guy?). I can't tell if he's trying to say that Japanese professional tours need to start hosting tournaments outside Japan, allowing other tours to co-sponsor more events within Japan, accept that Japanese sponsors will start looking more to other tours, or some or all of the above:
"The next few years will be a period of dramatic change," said golf tournament producer Sho Tobari. "While the U.S. LPGA tour is reducing the number of tournaments, the European LPGA tour is aiming to expand its market size by becoming more international. Japan will be caught in that trend, too." [...] "In the short term, the golf tournament market in Japan may shrink, and the number of tournaments may decline," Tobari said. "But the golf market itself will not shrink. Corporate sponsors will have to consider ways to disseminate their message to the rest of the world and not just to the Japanese market."
Huh? What does this have to do with those darn Koreans again? Somebody help me out here! From where I sit, the JLPGA is looking like an increasingly attractive option for golfers from around the world who don't want to be part-time professionals. Some, like Mi-Jeong Jeon, who's quoted explaining why she loves competing in Japan, may even choose to make the JLPGA their only, or their primary, tour. But this is a sign of the strength of the JLPGA and its potential for future growth. What am I missing?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Best of the LPGA: Final 2010 Edition

It's hard to believe that I haven't had time to update my Best of the LPGA ranking since last August! As usual, I'll be mashing up the LPGA money list, the final Hound Dog Top 70 (which focuses exclusively on LPGA performances and results from 2010), and the current Rolex Rankings (which assigns points based on results over the last 104 weeks on the LPGA, JLPGA, KLPGA, LET, and Futures Tour) and Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (which ranks players based on relative finishes over the last 52 weeks on the LPGA, JLPGA, LET, and Futures Tour) to divide LPGA players into tiers, then using my own judgment to rank them within each tier.

That "girl gang dominating the LPGA" I talked about in August just keeps growing. But to determine who its leader of the pack is requires more than looking at numbers of top 5s or average rankings across the 4 systems. Nope, distinguishing between such fantastic seasons takes a little extra effort and judgment.

1. Ya Ni Tseng: #4 money ($1.57M), #1 HD, #5 RR (9.75), #7 GSPI (69.45). With 3 golds (including 2 majors, the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Women's British Open), a silver, 2 bronzes, 7 top 5s, and 8 top 10s (including 3 in majors) in 19 starts, her claim to #1 has to be based on the magnitude of her victories and her hanging on to win the LPGA's 2010 Player of the Year award. Were it not for her win in NW Arkansas and runner-up finish in Japan, we would have been talking about how disappointing her play was after winning the WBO (she had a missed cut, 2 top 50s, and 2 top 30s in the LPGA's stretch run). But because the rest of the girl gang didn't take advantage of her late-season inconsistency, I'm making her the Mostly Harmless leader of the pack on the LPGA in 2010.
2. Ai Miyazato: #6 money ($1.46M), #3 HD, #6 RR (9.47), #8 GSPI (69.67). She won her 1st 2 starts, 3 of her 1st 5, 4 of her 1st 9, and 5 of her 1st 14, but she couldn't add more in her last 7. With those 5 wins, 1 bronze, 6 total top 5s (including at the LPGA Championship), and 9 top 10s (2 in majors, the 2nd at the WBO) in 21 starts, her case for greatness is, like Tseng, based on her peak performances in 2010. What kept her season from being extraordinary were uncharacteristically big numbers in high-stakes events: a 76 in the 3rd round of the Kia Classic that dashed her hopes for 3 straight wins to start the season and delayed her 1st victory on American soil, a 2nd-round 77 in the KNC the next week that caused her to miss the cut, 76s in the opening rounds of the LPGA Championship and WBO that forced her to play catch-up, and, down the home stretch, a 76 in the 1st round of the Malaysia event, a 2nd-round 79 at home in Japan, and an opening 80 in the LPGA Tour Championship. Bottom line: she needed to do something special at the end of the season to outdo Tseng's 2 majors, but she just couldn't do it. Still, even though everyone else fighting for dominance in the LPGA's girl gang had much more consistent seasons than she did, nobody could come close to her ability to seal the deal when in contention in 2010.
3. Cristie Kerr: #3 money ($1.60M), #2 HD, #2 RR (10.14), #1 GSPI (68.65). Hands down, she had the most consistently excellent 2010 of anyone on the LPGA. With 2 golds (including a dominating win at the LPGA Championship), 2 silvers, 2 bronzes, 11 top 5s (including 3 in majors), and 13 top 10s in 21 starts, she was firing on all cylinders in every part of her game, as Hound Dog noted back in December. His profile underscores just how impressive her season was. It's gotta be heartbreaking to play that well and still come in 2nd in the Player of the Year race and 2nd in the race for the Vare Trophy--more than anyone else in this girl gang, she could have used those Hall of Fame points. Coming in 3rd in these rankings will no doubt be a minor disappointment by comparison.
4. Na Yeon Choi: #1 money ($1.87M), #5 HD, #4 RR (10.00), #5 GSPI (68.93). How does a player win the money-list title and Vare Trophy and still end up only 4th in these rankings? Well, despite 2 golds, 4 silvers, 2 bronzes, 12 top 5s (2 in majors), and 15 top 10s in 23 starts, despite becoming the 2nd Korean ever (after Ji-Yai Shin) to sit atop the money list at the end of the season, and despite finishing no worse than T16 in her last 13 starts (her only other finish outside the top 10 in that run was a T11!), she couldn't break through for as big wins as the players I ranked ahead of her.
5. Ji-Yai Shin: #2 money ($1.78M), #4 HD, #1 RR (10.60), #3 GSPI (68.83). Her 2 golds, 1 silver, 4 bronzes, 12 top 5s (including 3 in majors), and 14 top 10s in 18 starts are even more impressive when you consider that she missed the State Farm because she needed an emergency appendectomy, yet played even better after coming back from it in record time. Not only was she the 1st to take the #1 spot in the Rolex Rankings from Lorena Ochoa, she held onto it longer than Miyazato and Kerr and still has it heading into the 2011 season. As good as her 1st 2 seasons were on the LPGA, though, I expect her next to be even better.
6. Suzann Pettersen: #5 money ($1.56M), #6 HD, #3 RR (10.12), #2 GSPI (68.71). 6 silvers (including 2 in majors), 1 bronze, 11 top 5s, and 12 top 10s in 19 starts were all unfortunately overshadowed by her big fat goose egg in wins.
7. In-Kyung Kim: #7 money ($1.21M), #7 HD, #7 RR (7.86), #6 GSPI (69.34). With a gold, a silver, 2 bronzes, 8 top 5s (3 in majors), and 12 top 10s in 21 starts, she had the 2nd-best stretch run of the girl gang (behind Choi). Just like when she won in Dubai in 2009, she saved her best for last in 2010 with a win at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational--and donation of all her winnings that week. Can the LET's 2010 Rookie of the Year become the LPGA's 2011 Player of the Year? She's certainly got the all-around game to do it.
8. Song-Hee Kim: #8 money ($1.21M), #8 HD, #9 RR (6.98), #4 GSPI (68.92). With 2 silvers, 3 bronzes, 6 top 5s (2 in majors), and 15 top 10s in 22 starts, she nevertheless fell to the back of the pack in the girl gang during the season's stretch run with 2 bad Sundays early in the Asian swing when she had great chances to nail down her 1st LPGA victory.

Right behind the contenders for leader of the pack of the LPGA's girl gang is a large lead chase pack with top 10s in at most 2 of the 4 systems and/or top 20s in at least 3 of them.

9. Paula Creamer: #10 money ($883.9K), #9 HD, #11 RR (6.80), #16 GSPI (70.11). Yeah, she had only 2 top 5s and 4 top 10s in 14 starts, but when you consider that she won the U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont not long after thumb surgery and that she played the entire season in serious pain, you've gotta cut her some serious slack.
10. Michelle Wie: #9 money ($888.0K), #11 HD, #10 RR (6.83), #15 GSPI (70.02). She was fighting a bad back off and on all season, so it's pretty impressive that this part-time pro earned a gold, a silver, a bronze, 4 top 5s, and 5 top 10s in 19 starts.
11. Inbee Park: #11 money ($825.5K), #10 HD, #12 RR (6.51), #13 GSPI (69.82). The #4 player on the JLPGA in 2010 just couldn't break through on the LPGA, but she got a silver, a bronze, 3 top 5s, and 11 top 10s (including in all 4 majors) in 19 starts and moved up 41 spots from last year's ranking. She's heading into 2011 fresh off a win at the JLPGA's season-ending major, the Ricoh Cup, her 2nd win on that tour, so I wonder what she'll do for an encore. If she can continue to improve her ballstriking and get her putting back to where it was in 2008 and 2009, she could have breakout years on both the LPGA and JLPGA in 2011!
12. Morgan Pressel: #13 money ($767.4K), #12 HD, #17 RR (4.93), #10 GSPI (69.75). She had 7 top 10s (2 of them in majors) in 23 starts, but the only time she really put herself in contention she couldn't beat Shin down the stretch at Evian. Still, as Hound Dog points out, she was one of the most accurate drivers on tour and 3rd in total putting behind Miyazato and Choi, so if she can improve her approach shots, watch out for her in 2011.
13. Amy Yang: #14 money ($765.9K), #13 HD, #25 RR (3.98), #11 GSPI (69.79). Last June, I predicted that Yang was due to win any given week; well, if it weren't for a shaky weekend at the LPGA Tour Championship combined with clutch play by Maria Hjorth in the final round, my prediction would have come true. As it was, that silver was Yang's 5th top 5 of 2010 (2 of them came in majors) and her 6th top 10 in 22 starts.
14. Katherine Hull: #12 money ($793.4K), #14 HD, #19 RR (4.58), #23 GSPI (70.42). She broke through for her 1st LPGA win by going 68-67-67-67 at the Navistar, a fitting follow-up to her near-miss at the WBO. And even though she had only 1 other top 5 and 2 other top 10s in 23 starts in 2010, she had plenty of top 20s and 30s, despite driving and putting worse than she did last season. Imagine what the top Aussie on tour could do in 2011 if she improved in those areas....
15. Brittany Lincicome: #15 money ($663.8K), #15 HD, #21 RR (4.42), #18 GSPI (70.25). 2 silvers (both in Alabama), 3 top 5s, and 6 top 10s (including 1 at the WBO) in 23 starts may not sound that impressive compared to the girl gang she's chasing, but 2010 did more to convince me that she's for real than any other season of hers on tour. The reason? A bunch of top 20s and 30s to go with only 1 missed cut shows me she's becoming more of a grinder. If she can improve her focus even further in 2011 and finally rid herself of that "onebadrounditis" tendency of hers, she could have an epic season.
16. Jee Young Lee: #19 money ($589.8K), #16 HD, #38 RR (3.20), #17 GSPI (70.22). A silver, a bronze, 3 top 5s, and 8 top 10s in 20 starts, including a run of 6 top 20s to close out the season, vaulted her up the rankings in a big way. I'd have more confidence that she was back to where she was in her 1st 3 seasons were it not for 3 things: 1st, a steady decline in driving distance since her rookie season in 2006 without any significant increase in accuracy; 2nd, largely disappointing play in majors; and 3rd, her decision to call it a year after the Hana Bank Championship in Korea. Given her history of finishing seasons strong, I'd say this decision cost her a chance to take Comeback Player of the Year away from Inbee Park. I don't know if it's worse whether she got hurt or not, but either way I'm holding my breath for her a bit in 2011.
17. Karrie Webb: #23 money ($479.9K), #17 HD, #16 RR (5.08), #14 GSPI (69.87). Even though she improved her driving distance in the last third of the year, 2010 was her only season (going back to 2004, at least) in which she averaged under 255 yards off the tee. I know her putting is the main reason why the Hall of Famer could manage only 3 top 5s and 6 top 10s in 19 starts, but I'm wondering if a slightly shorter and less accurate driver than in her best recent seasons was preventing her from attacking courses in 2010 the way she likes to.
18. Angela Stanford: #18 money ($596.8K), #18 HD, #20 RR (4.47), #20 GSPI (70.29). A silver at the Sybase and 7 top 10s in 22 starts wouldn't be a bad year for most players, but when neither a final-round 64 at the State Farm nor a 63 at the Ochoa Invitational could put her in contention, you know something's up with her game. I agree with Hound Dog that it's her iron play.

It's not like the players just outside the girl gang's lead chase pack are doing badly--after all, they have at most 2 top 20s and/or at least 3 top 30s--but they'll have to get it going if they want to go up a level in 2011!

19. Mika Miyazato: #17 money ($608.9K), #20 HD, #22 RR (4.36), #29 GSPI (70.90). Noting her decision to return to Florida rather than home to Okinawa as she did after the '09 European swing, I wrote last August, "I'm looking for her to come back to action refreshed and ready to keep moving up the rankings." Well, she finished the 2010 season with 8-straight top 25s, including 2 bronzes and a T5 at the Mizuno Classic--a nice follow-up to her 1st professional victory at the Japan Women's Open and prelude to her T2 finish in the Ricoh Cup, both on the JLPGA. All in all, she had 5 top 10s in her last 11 LPGA starts (out of 23 in all), so if she picks up where she left off at the start of the 2011 season, she may well justify Jason Sobel's confidence in her. Me, I'd like to see her keep improving her iron play, just as she did after her rookie season in 2009, before I go predicting a breakout season for her.
20. Sun Young Yoo: #16 money ($655.8K), #21 HD, #28 RR (3.52), #48 GSPI (71.43). She never really matched her 3 great weeks early in the season--T10 at the Bell Micro, a great win (her 1st) at the Sybase, and a T11 at the State Farm--but she did finish relatively strong with a T16 at the Navistar (she likes Alabama almost as much as Lincicome does, apparaently!), a T12 at the Sime Darby, and a T8 in the Hana Bank Championship. With her key stats down a little from her 2 previous seasons, there's plenty of room for the Class of '06's late bloomer to keep improving. But thanks to her impressive match play victory, she's up from #32 in '08 and #22 in '09. Is she the most underrated player on tour or is she close to peaking?
21. Anna Nordqvist: #24 money ($442.1K), #24 HD, #14 RR (5.12), #28 GSPI (70.84). A T10 at the KNC, a silver at the State Farm (despite going 66-69-65-67!!), and no finishes worse than T33 in her 1st 9 starts seemed to indicate that her awesome rookie season was no fluke, but problems with driving accuracy limited her to only 2 other top 10s and 4 top 20s the rest of the year over her 21 starts. Not exactly a sophomore jinx, but I'm curious to see if she can get back on a more elite track in 2011.
22. Stacy Lewis: #21 money ($566.4K), #27 HD, #37 RR (3.23), #27 GSPI (70.78). A silver at Tres Marias, a bronze at the Mizuno (making her sponsor happy!), a T7 at the Ochoa Invitational (she likes Mexico!), and a T9 in NW Arkansas (go Razorbacks!) were the highlights of her season (not in that order, of course), but it's the fact that she nabbed 12 top 20s in 24 starts, never finished outside the top 40 when she made the cut, and radically improved her key performance stats from her rookie season in '09 that lead me to believe she's ready for a quantum leap in '11.
23. Jimin Kang: #22 money ($500.4K), #19 HD, #46 RR (2.73), #40 GSPI (71.09). For awhile, it looked like her T7 at the LPGA in Rochester, where she has some family ties, would be the highlight of her season, but then she caught fire on the Asian swing, winning in Malaysia and finishing T8 in Japan. Those 3 weeks accounted for roughly 70% of her winnings in her 21 starts in 2010, so it's hard to say she had a really great year, even if she did move up 51 spots from last year's ranking. But if she can improve her approach shots and putting for next season, she's got a chance to move up this list in 2011.
24. Maria Hjorth: #20 money ($568.9K), #33 HD, #23 RR (4.29), #70 GSPI (71.78). Her 1st full year back since having a baby was quite the roller coaster, with a lot of missed cuts in the middle of the season bookended by a pair of top 10s at its start and a bronze in Malaysia and a gold in the LPGA Tour Championship at its end. Given how bad her putting stats were for the season, my guess is that her flat stick got hot those 4 weeks but was otherwise almost completely untrustworthy in her other 18 starts. Despite all that, she somehow she managed to stay at this position in my ranking for the 3rd-straight season!

A large number of players surged at the end of the season to snag at most 2 top 30s and/or at least 3 top 40s:

25. Karine Icher: #25 money ($437.0K), #25 HD, #59 RR (2.41), #32 GSPI (70.94). A pair of bronzes late in the season brought her total to 5 top 10s in 22 starts and moved her up 45 spots from last year's ranking. The next step for her is to start playing better in majors.
26. Azahara Munoz: #30 money ($402.5K), #28 HD, #41 RR (2.92), #39 GSPI (71.05). Don't get me wrong, the 2010 Rookie of the Year had a fine season, but she's probably been the least impressive winner of the award since Shi Hyun Ahn in 2004. 1 top 5 and 3 top 10s in 21 starts aren't all that great, but she did get 11 top 20s, finished worse than T31 only once when she made the cut, and did it all without being pushed much by her fellow rookies. If she can improve her key performance stats in 2011, you'll see much better results from the player who won the 1st professional event she entered (on the LET in 2009).
27. Christina Kim: #26 money ($436.0K), #35 HD, #51 RR (2.60), #54 GSPI (71.51). She only got 4 top 10s in 24 starts, but 2 of them came in the majors that followed her silver at the Farr. Even though she couldn't find that kind of magic with her putter the rest of the season, she did move up 13 spots from last year's ranking. And 2011 is a Solheim Cup year!
28. Kristy McPherson: #27 money ($418.2K), #34 HD, #34 RR (3.27), #49 GSPI (71.44). A silver in Canada, another top 5, and 4 top 10s in 22 starts doesn't add up to a great season, but given that she was dealing with injuries for at least the 2nd half of it, it's not all that bad, either. If she can get healthy and improve her iron play and putting in 2011, watch out for her!
29. Se Ri Pak: #32 money ($368.8K), #36 HD, #31 RR (3.30), #63 GSPI (71.70). After notching her 25th career win in a playoff at the Bell Micro, the Hall of Famer suffered from injuries and burnout, but she came back toward the end of the season with another top 5 and her 3rd top 10 in 15 starts. Here's hoping she plays a fuller schedule in 2011.
30. Juli Inkster: #29 money ($403.0K), #32 HD, #50 RR (2.66), #26 GSPI (70.77). A silver in Malaysia shows that despite getting only 3 top 10s in 21 starts, the Hall of Famer is never that far away from winning again on the LPGA.
31. Shanshan Feng: #38 money ($281.3K), #26 HD, #79 RR (1.85), #37 GSPI (71.55). She didn't place as well as she played in 2010, with only 1 top 5 and 4 top 10s in 17 starts despite impressive performance stats, but she carried over her good play at the end of the LPGA season to JLPGA Q-School, where she finished 2nd behind Hee Young Park (who made up 5 shots on her over the last 5 holes). Let's see how well she handles dual membership in 2011.
32. Meena Lee: #33 money ($357.1K), #29 HD, #74 RR (1.98), #33 GSPI (70.97). Another golfer who didn't place as well as she played, with only 1 top 5 and 2 top 10s in 23 starts, she did miss only 2 cuts and enjoyed plenty of solid finishes.
33. Vicky Hurst: #28 money ($409.7K), #51 HD, #57 RR (2.44), #86 GSPI (72.16). A silver at the Hana Bank Championship, a T7 at the HSBC Women's Champions, and a T11 at the Evian Masters show what this Futures Tour standout is capable of, but she didn't have too many other bright spots among her 24 starts in 2010. I'm thinking she's due for a quantum leap in her 3rd year on tour.
34. Amy Hung: #48 money ($216.3K), #39 HD, #97 RR (1.46), #30 GSPI (70.92). The #2 Taiwanese player on the LPGA in 2010 had 9 top-25 finishes in 20 starts, but when your best finish of the year is a T15 at the CVS, there's plenty of room for improvement, as her key performance stats suggest.

A huge number of players have at most 2 top 40s and/or at least 3 top 50s:

35. Hee Young Park: #34 money ($327.5K), #31 HD, #43 RR (2.83), #43 GSPI (71.35). The medalist at JLPGA Q-School had 6 top 10s in 22 LPGA starts, with her best, a T4, coming at the State Farm on the strength of a Sunday 63. There's no doubt The Rocket's got game, but she needs to improve her putting to make the kind of quantum leap in 2011 that Inbee Park made in 2010.
36. Brittany Lang: #35 money ($297.2K), #44 HD, #48 RR (2.70), #64 GSPI (71.71). A T5 at Oakmont and a T10 at the KNC were about the only highlights of a deeply disappointing 2010 campaign during which her driver gave her trouble for most of her 22 starts.
37. Catriona Matthew: #40 money ($264.7K), #42 HD, #32 RR (3.29), #59 GSPI (71.58). Motherhood weighed heavily on the '09 WBO champion, as she started strong with a T6 at the Kia and a T5 at the Sybase, but couldn't break into the top 20 again after getting her 5th in her 7th start at the ShopRite. During that 11-event drought, she missed the cut 4 times in a 6-tournament run that included the U.S. Women's Open and WBO.
38. Momoko Ueda: #44 money ($238.2K), #37 HD, #45 RR (2.80), #51 GSPI (71.48). A nagging knee injury didn't stop the former JLPGA money-list title-holder from grinding out 17 starts on both the JLPGA and LPGA in 2010, but it kept the quality of her play far below her expectations all season. At #27 on the JLPGA with only 3 top 5s, she could only manage 2 top 10s on the LPGA, with a T9 at the WBO (even with a final-round 74) her most impressive finish.
39. M.J. Hur: #31 money ($370.4K), #41 HD, #44 RR (2.80), #47 GSPI (71.43). Her runner-up to Ai Miyazato at the ShopRite (despite going 67-64-68!!) was the highlight of her season, but her 5 top 20s in 24 starts were just enough to keep her within 2 spots of where she ended last season's ranking. Her ballstriking remains her Achilles heel, however.
40. Seon Hwa Lee: #42 money ($253.9K), #38 HD, #72 RR (2.03), #41 GSPI (71.16). She got 5 top 25s in her 1st 7 starts, but then missed 2 cuts in a row for the 1st time in her LPGA career; from then on, she really struggled with her game, but she got a T5 in NW Arkansas and top 20s in 2 of her last 4 starts, so maybe, just maybe, the former top gun among the LPGA's young guns can put her worst professional season behind her and come back strong in 2011.
41. Candie Kung: #36 money ($288.5K), #47 HD, #71 RR (2.03), #46 GSPI (71.38). A bronze at the Kia Classic got her season off on the right foot, but she didn't come close to playing that well again in 2010 until she closed out the year with 3 top 20s in her last 5 starts (out of 23 in all).
42. Beatriz Recari: #39 money ($265.5K), #43 HD, #55 RR (2.45), #127 GSPI (73.00). The rookie was struggling to keep her card for most of the season, missing cuts like they were going out of style, but a win at the CVS and top 10s at the Sime Darby and LPGA Tour Championship showed that her 2 earlier top 10s were no flukes.
43. Sophie Gustafson: #45 money ($231.7K), #52 HD, #33 RR (3.27), #61 GSPI (71.65). It's hard to believe the LET's leading money-winner in 2009 could manage only 1 top 10 in 21 starts on the LPGA in 2010, but that's why she ended her 5-year run of top 30 finishes on the tour's money list and dropped 25 spots from last year's ranking.
44. Jeong Jang: #41 money ($262.6K), #40 HD, #92 RR (1.59), #42 GSPI (71.25). She played well in June and July and finished in the top 25 in 3 of 4 majors, but her comeback from wrist surgery got dreailed in the llast third of the season and she could only get 1 top 10 in 17 starts.
45. Gwladys Nocera: #37 money ($285.1K), #62 HD, #88 RR (1.67), #123 GSPI (72.94). A silver to fellow rookie and LETer Recari at the CVS was the highlight of her season, but she got 1 other top 10 and 7 top 25s in 22 starts and was among the best off the tee on the LPGA in 2010. Look for her to get her sea legs under her in 2011.
46. Shi Hyun Ahn: #61 money ($153.2K), #50 HD, #105 RR (1.36), #31 GSPI (70.93). She got 3 top 20s in 15 starts mostly because her iron play was sub-par.

There's a smaller group with at most 2 top 50s and/or at least 3 top 60s:

47. Hee-Won Han: #43 money ($250.7K), #49 HD, #76 RR (1.92), #69 GSPI (71.66).
48. Karen Stupples: #46 money ($221.8K), #48 HD, #90 RR (1.59), #53 GSPI (71.49).
49. Stacy Prammanasudh: #47 money ($219.3K), #46 HD, #99 RR (1.43), #55 GSPI (71.54).
50. Na On Min: #55 money ($172.9K), #45 HD, #135 RR (1.04), #58 GSPI (71.57).
51. Laura Davies: #79 money ($88.2K), #60 HD, #49 RR (2.67), #65 GSPI (71.71).
52. Wendy Ward: #49 money ($213.6K), n.r. HD, #93 RR (1.53), #100 GSPI (72.49).

There's a large group with at most 2 top 60s and/or at least 3 top 70s:

53. Eun-Hee Ji: #57 money ($168.1K), #57 HD, #70 RR (2.06), #62 GSPI (71.69).
54. Heather Bowie Young: #62 money ($143.0K), #59 HD, #124 RR (1.11), #56 GSPI (71.55).
55. Kyeong Bae: #50 money ($204.7K), #63 HD, #84 RR (1.70), #76 GSPI (71.88).
56. Natalie Gulbis: #52 money ($178.0K), #58 HD, #98 RR (1.45), #88 GSPI (72.17).
57. Alena Sharp: #56 money ($172.6K), #59 HD, #128 RR (1.08), #83 GSPI (72.04).
58. Lindsey Wright: #60 money ($155.3K), #68 HD, #64 RR (2.33), #84 GSPI (72.11).
59. Amanda Blumenherst: #51 money ($178.2K), #66 HD, #91 RR (1.59), #99 GSPI (72.48).
60. Meaghan Francella: #58 money ($168.0K), #65 HD, #111 RR (1.26), #117 GSPI (72.79).
61. Haeji Kang: #59 money ($156.0K), #69 HD, #120 RR (1.15), #103 GSPI (72.52).
62. Sarah Jane Smith: #66 money ($106.5K), #54 HD, #150 RR (.93), #87 GSPI (72.17).
63. Pat Hurst: #54 money ($174.5K), n.r. HD, #102 RR (1.39), #101 GSPI (72.50).

And here are the players with at most 2 top 70s and/or at least 3 top 80s:

64. Teresa Lu: #64 money ($120.7K), #61 HD, #100 RR (1.40), #93 GSPI (72.39).
65. Katie Futcher: #63 money ($122.0K), #67 HD, #146 RR (.95), #105 GSPI (72.54).
66. Mina Harigae: #77 money ($90.2K), #64 HD, #173 RR (.79), #85 GSPI (72.15).
67. Karin Sjodin: #76 money ($91.3K), #70 HD, #178 RR (.77), #116 GSPI (72.76).
68. Michele Redman: #65 money ($119.2K), n.r. HD, #96 RR (1.50), #107 GSPI (71.60).
69. Sandra Gal: #67 money ($106.4K), n.r. HD, #126 RR (1.11), #126 GSPI (73.00).
70. Sherri Steinhauer: #69 money ($101.0K), n.r. HD, #199 RR (.69), #80 GSPI (71.99).
71. Mariajo Uribe: #70 money ($101.0K), n.r. HD, #175 RR (.78), #106 GSPI (72.60).
72. Laura Diaz: #68 money ($105.2K), n.r. HD, #163 RR (.84), #140 GSPI (73.19).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why the LPGA Should Move the Morelia Event to San Antonio

By now, most of my regular readers have probably heard that the LPGA is considering cancelling or postponing the Tres Marias event in the 3rd week of April due to ongoing drug cartel violence in Morelia. But I have another idea. Why not move it to San Antonio? After all, Lorena Ochoa has been working hard to bring an LPGA event to San Antonio. With her "step away" from competitive golf looking more and more definitive and the only reason the Tres Marias event was able to stay on life support even when she was playing full-time was how excited Mexican fans were about seeing her play, the rationale for the LPGA to have 2 events in Mexico is looking murkier and murkier. Furthermore, the Futures Tour will be in town the following week, which would cut on travel expenses for lower-tier players and perhaps help the LPGA with infrastructural issues.

I know there is a very short time frame to make this happen, but there are other reasons for making the sacrifices necessary to ensure it does. If the LPGA were to cancel or postpone their 6th event of the 2011 season, then the early-season advantage swings even further in the direction of those LPGAers who can stay sharp on other major professional women's tours and who have the standing to get into the 3 early limited field events in Thailand, Singapore, and New Jersey. Since so much rides on the 1st priority status reshuffle of the season--getting into the top 40 on the money list early in the season can be a significant bump in a lower-runger's status for the rest of it, and even moving high into the post-Category 14 priority status list can change your season--it's vitally important to somewhat level the playing field that the LPGA add a Texas stop to its early-season full-field starts in Arizona, California, and Alabama. Otherwise, the reshuffle is likely to take place after the ShopRite--in other words, just in time to be almost perfectly meaningless for everyone who doesn't break into the top 40 on the money list, as it's limited-field events from after the State Farm the following week in early June all the way through to the 2nd half of August.

If this can't be done and the Tres Marias event has to be moved back to later in the season or called off completely for 2011, at the very least the LPGA should strongly consider making its 1st reshuffle take place right after the Avnet rather than the Sybase. The potential bump in highly-ranked players' position on the money list after that limited-field match-play event would make it even more difficult for lower rungers to make it into the top 40 on the money list. I'm heartened that someone at the LPGA office has already anticipated this possibility, as the 2011 priority status list only states that the re-ordering is "TBD." But I'd be even happier if Mike Whan and crew could continue to develop their lemonade-production abilities by bringing the Tres Marias stop to San Antonio.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Reflections on the 2011 LPGA Schedule

I was primed to join in the tail end of the feeding frenzy over the (partially botched) timing of the release of the 2011 LPGA schedule, but now that I've seen it and had a little while to think about what's in it and when, I have to admit that there's more to like about it than I expected to find. Sure, it's probable that the paucity of early official announcements by tournament organizers and glut of leaks about the likely shape of the schedule were an exercise in expectation-lowering, but what they also did was make me more attuned to the more subtle changes from last year's schedule.

Overviews by Beth Ann Baldry, Ryan Ballengee, Emily Kay, Stephanie Wei, Jeff Shain, and Steve DiMeglio cover the major changes well: the addition of new tournaments in Phoenix, Taiwan, and China; the switch from the LPGA Championship to the Titleholders format; and the compressing of the schedule to avoid the many long gaps in the 2010 season. Since so many people have already begun debating the "play for charity" model in Phoenix, I'll address that first, but what I really want to focus on here are some of the benefits of schedule compression.

I missed Beth Ann Baldry's preview of the Founders event in Phoenix because we finally closed on our home sale/purchase on Monday and have been furiously preparing ever since for our move from Dunkirk to Hamburg a couple of Saturdays away, so it came as a big surprise to me when I 1st saw it on the schedule. Geoff Shackelford has come out strongly against its "play for free" model while Mike Southern seems more intrigued by it, but for me the bottom line is if it helped bring the LPGA back to Phoenix and can generate some buzz for the tour's '11 U.S. premiere while still attracting a strong field, I'm willing to give it a chance.

As for the likely strength of field of this and other events, I'm pretty confident the LPGA took some good steps in the right direction on this front for this year's schedule. While the schedule itself is nowhere close to my ideal--in a nutshell, having the LPGA circumnavigate the glove via a pair of eastward runs each season, one in the winter and the spring from an expanded Asian/Pacific swing (including Australia and Hawaii) to North America, the other in the summer and fall from the European swing and an earlier Asian swing to Hawaii and back to North America for the run-up to the season finale--it has plenty of incentives for the top players in the world to keep making the LPGA their primary tour.

Consider the winter and spring: any LPGAer with LET or JLPGA membership (or, like Ji-Yai Shin and Ai Miyazato, both) can put together a pretty full schedule, simply by adding in events on the other tour to complement their LPGA starts. But the paucity of LPGA events raises the question: why should someone with JLPGA or LET membership make the LPGA her primary tour in the early part of the season? Putting aside the fact that for Shin and Miyazato there are virtually no required off-weeks all season (except for the Solheim Cup), everyone with dual LPGA-JLPGA membership could decide not to leave the Asia-Pacific region except for a brief 3-event West Coast run in March and not return to the States until the ShopRite in early June. They could go even further, in fact, and only add in the LPGA majors, Asian swing events, and a few other convenient big-money events to what's essentially a JLPGA-based schedule. Why play for free in Phoenix in March when they could start the year with the 1st 2 LPGA events in February and the 1st 3 JLPGA events in March for a nice 5-event run with minimal travel to kick off the season?

Well, for one thing, given how few events there are on the LPGA in the 1st place, what they'd be doing by skipping the chance for LPGA money-list advancement and greater world-ranking points in Phoenix would be hurting their chances to end the season atop the LPGA money list and Rolex Rankings. You can bet that Na Yeon Choi, Ya Ni Tseng, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Song-Hee Kim, Morgan Pressel, Amy Yang, Mika Miyazato, Angela Stanford, Jee Young Lee, Stacy Lewis, and maybe even Michelle Wie (among others from 2010's top 30 on the money list who are exclusively LPGA members) will be aiming to maximize their LPGA starts in 2011. And even those with dual LPGA-LET membership--like Suzann Pettersen, In-Kyung Kim, Anna Nordqvist, Christina Kim, and Azahara Munoz--won't have any temptation to forsake the LPGA for the LET, given that the LET's spring is even scantier than the LPGA's. No, for them, it's a 4-event run in February, half on the LET and half on the LPGA, to start their seasons, then they're stuck with the rest of the on-again, off-again LPGA spring schedule. Why would they create a 3-week gap in their schedules by skipping Phoenix, particularly when they have a 3-week gap right after the Kraft Nabisco Championship? Nope, elite LPGA members and LPGA-LET members will be playing a full winter and spring schedule, with a possible skip in Tres Marias or Mobile. But all of them have to be aware that it was the fact that Na Yeon Choi played 23 LPGA events versus Ji-Yai Shin's 19 that allowed her to come out on top of the 2010 money list. And if LPGA-JLPGA members Shin, Miyazato, Inbee Park, Momoko Ueda, Hee Young Park, Shanshan Feng, Shiho Oyama, Meena Lee, and others have any designs on being there in 2011, they'll be in Phoenix.

Same goes for the new China event, which Beth Ann Baldry feared would face a diminished field, coming as it does right after the Evian Masters and Women's British Open. But with a week off before and after that 3-week run, and with its $2M purse nothing to sneeze at, why would you give your top competitors a break by skipping it? Baldry also questioned the skip week at the end of October that comes between the Taiwan and Japan events, wondering whether that would diminish the Mizuno field. Perhaps, but what it avoids is the top Japanese golfers having to play 5 weeks in a row--or having to skip an LPGA event to avoid doing so. Given that they're not eligible for the Solheim Cup, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will play the most prestigious tournament on the JLPGA schedule, the Japan Women's Open, the week after it. If it was weather concerns that kept some of them out of the traditionally late October Korean event, perhaps moving it up to early October the week after the JWO to start the LPGA's Asian swing will make it less likely they'll skip it. But I'm thinking that what will draw them to play all 4 of those weeks in a row is the fact that everyone who participated in the Solheim Cup and other top players without JLPGA membership will definitely be playing Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Putting aside the fact that the JLPGA schedule was announced before the LPGA's and the Mizuno was set in stone for the 1st week of November in 2011, the fall Asian swing is getting full enough that building in a skip week is something all the LPGAers who participate in it might benefit from. Plus it puts pressure on the JLPGA to up the Mizuno's purse, which has been losing ground lately to other JLPGA and LPGA events, or face the prospect of further defections down the road by LPGAers.

What this brief survey of how the compressed 2nd half of the LPGA's season puts pressure on players aiming for the top of the tour to make it their top priority suggests is that the LPGA figured out how to make some lemonade out of lemons in 2011. Personally, I would like to see some more schedule shuffling for 2012 and beyond: specifically, moving the Walmart, Navistar, and Safeway events to the late spring to fill out the schedule between the KNC and Wegmans LPGA Championship, moving the Canadian Women's Open to follow the U.S. Women's Open and precede what would become a 2nd half of the season that moved from Europe to Asia to Hawaii to Guadalajara to San Antonio (Lorena's desired event) to Orlando twice (Annika's desired event and the Titleholders). But given the position the LPGA is in, the 2011 schedule could have been a lot worse. And the reordering of it takes the LPGA a few more steps in the right direction. Not bad!

[Update 1 (4:46 pm): Hound Dog points out that the outlook for 2011 is a big improvement on where we were at when 1st looking at the 2010 schedule.]

[Update 2 (4:48 pm): Randall Mell and Ryan Ballengee discuss the possible postponement or worse of the Tres Marias event.]

[Update 3 (5:00 pm): Reading Randall Mell's take on the Phoenix Founders Cup event, it occurred to me that the LPGA is asking current pros to make a commitment to the future of the tour. If the "donations" from the players can help the LPGA-USGA Girls' Golf Program (which traces its origins to Phoenix, by the way) grow the game and get more girls playing (and following) golf, we may see more Morgan Pressels and Vicky Hursts down the road on the LPGA. It'll be interesting to see which players commit to honoring the LPGA's founders and developing an American pipeline to the LPGA this year and in the future.]

[Update 4 (5:05 pm): Here's Ron Sirak's take on the Founders Cup.]

[Update 5 (1/8/10, 2:22 am): Hound Dog makes a strong case why the Founders Cup isn't a stupid idea. I'm convinced. How about you?]

[Update 6 (2:54 am): Here are my thoughts on why the Tres Marias event should be moved to San Antonio, pronto.]

[Update 7 (3:05 am): I should note that I haven't yet seen the Golf Channel release of the LPGA schedule. That's why I'm excited to check out the links bangkokbobby found!]

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011 Worldwide Women's Professional Golf Schedule: LPGA, JLPGA, LET

Now that the LPGA schedule has been officially released, here's what I know about the worldwide women's professional golf calendar in 2011 for the LPGA, JLPGA, and LET. For now, I'm keeping the KLPGA's 2010 information as is from last year's post, even though all I really know so far are the results of their 1st 2011 tournament, which like the men's European Tour's took place in 2010. I'll post an updated version of this list when I find out what exactly the KLPGA's and CLPGA's 2011 schedules look like.

Note: A [D] following a player's name indicates that she is the defending champion of an event that has not yet been played.


17-19: Hyundai China Ladies Open (KLPGA/CLPGA) HYE YOUN KIM


3-6: HANDA Women's Australian Open (LET) YA NI TSENG [D]

10-13: ANZ RACV Ladies Masters (LET) KARRIE WEBB [D]

17-20: Honda PTT LPGA Thailand (LPGA) AI MIYAZATO [D]; Pegasus New Zealand Women's Open (LET) LAURA DAVIES [D]

24-27: HSBC Women's Champions (LPGA) AI MIYAZATO [D]

MARCH 2011

4-6: Daikin Orchid Ladies Open (JLPGA) SUN JU AHN [D]

11-13: Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup (JLPGA) YUN JYE WEI [D]

18-20: RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup (LPGA) [new event]; T Points Ladies Open (JLPGA) RUI KITADA [D]

24-27: Kia Classic (LPGA) HEE KYUNG SEO [D]

31-4/3: Kraft Nabisco Championship (LPGA major) YA NI TSENG [D]; Lalla Meryem Cup (LET) ANJA MONKE [D]

APRIL 2011

1-3: Yamaha Ladies Open (JLPGA) MIHO KOGA [D]

7-9: Kim Young Joo Golf Ladies Open (KLPGA) BO MEE LEE [D]
8-10: Studio Alice Ladies Open (JLPGA) CHIE ARIMURA [D]

14-16: Lotte Mart Ladies Open J Golf Series (KLPGA) BO BAE KIM [D]
15-17: Nishijin Ladies Classic (JLPGA) INBEE PARK [D]

21-24: Tres Marias Championship (LPGA) AI MIYAZATO [D] [postponed until at least next year due to drug cartel violence]
22-24: Fujisankei Ladies Classic (JLPGA) MAYU HATTORI [D]

28-5/1: Avnet LPGA Classic (LPGA) SE RI PAK [D]
29-5/1: Cyber Agent Ladies Cup (JLPGA) JI-YAI SHIN [D]

MAY 2011

5-7: Rush & Cash Charity Classic (KLPGA) HYE YOUN KIM [D]
5-8: Salonpas Cup (JLPGA major) MORGAN PRESSEL [D]; Turkish Ladies Open (LET) MELISSA REID [D]

13-15: Fundokin Ladies (JLPGA) SAKURA YOKOMINE [D]; Taeyoung Cup Korean Women's Open (KLPGA major) SOO JIN YANG [D]

19-22: Sybase Match Play Championship (LPGA) SUN YOUNG YOO [D]; Doosan Match Play Championship (KLPGA) JUNG MIN LEE [D]; Unicredit Ladies German Open (LET) LAURA DAVIES [D]
20-22: Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open (JLPGA) YURI FUDOH [D]

26-29: Ladies Slovak Open (LET) MARIA HERNANDEZ [D]
27-29: Yonex Ladies (JLPGA) MI-JEONG JEON [D]

JUNE 2011

3-5: ShopRite LPGA Classic (LPGA) AI MIYAZATO [D]; Resort Trust Ladies Open (JLPGA) YOSHIMI KODA [D]; Woori Financial Ladies Championship (KLPGA) HYUN JOO LEE [D]; ABN AMRO Ladies Open (LET) FLORENTYNA PARKER [D]

9-11: S-OIL Champions Invitational (KLPGA) RAN HONG [D]
9-12: LPGA State Farm Classic (LPGA) CRISTIE KERR [D]; Suntory Ladies Open (JLPGA) AKANE IIJIMA [D]

16-19: Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open (LET) LEE-ANNE PACE [D]
17-19: Nichirei PGM Ladies (JLPGA) MI-JEONG JEON [D]

23-26: Wegmans LPGA Championship (LPGA major) CRISTIE KERR [D]
24-26: Ladies Open of Portugal (LET) KAREN LUNN [D]

JULY 2011

1-3: Nichi-Iko Ladies/JMA Engineering Women's Open (JLPGA) HYUN-JU SHIN [D]; Finnair Ladies Masters (LET) LEE-ANNE PACE [D]

7-10: U.S. Women's Open (LPGA major) PAULA CREAMER [D]
TBC: Open de Volcans (LET) [new event]

15-17: Stanley Ladies (JLPGA) SUN-JU AHN [D]
TBC: Tenerife Ladies Open (LET) TRISH JOHNSON [D]

21-24: Evian Masters (LPGA limited-field event/LET major) JI-YAI SHIN [D]

28-31: Ricoh Women's British Open (LPGA/LET major) YA NI TSENG [D]
30-8/1: SBS Tour Hidden Valley Ladies Open (KLPGA) SHIN AE AHN [D]


4-6: Lyle & Scott Ladies Open (KLPGA) YOON JI CHO [D]
4-7: Imperial Springs LPGA (LPGA) [new event]
5-7: Meiji Chocolate Cup (JLPGA) YURI FUDOH [D]; AIB Ladies Irish Open (LET) SOPHIE GUSTAFSON [D]

12-14: NEC Karuizawa 72 Ladies (JLPGA) JI-HEE LEE [D], High1 Resort Cup SBS Charity Ladies Open (KLPGA) SHIN AE AHN [D]

18-20: Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open (LET) VIRGINIE LAGOUTTE-CLEMENT [D]
19-21: Safeway Classic (LPGA) AI MIYAZATO [D], CAT Ladies (JLPGA) AKIKO FUKUSHIMA [D]
19-22: Nefs Masterpiece (KLPGA) YOUNG-AE HAM [D]

25-28: CN Canadian Women's Open (LPGA) MICHELLE WIE [D]
26-28: Nitori Ladies Cup (JLPGA) NOBUKO KIZAWA [D]; LIG Ladies Open (KLPGA) HEE KYUNG BAE [D]
potential: S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe (LET) LEE-ANNE PACE [D]


2-4: Golf5 Ladies (JLPGA) AKANE IIJIMA [D]; Hyundai/Seoul Economic Daily Ladies Open (KLPGA) JEONG EUN LEE 5 [D]; UNIQA Ladies Golf Open (LET) LAURA DAVIES [D]

8-11: Konica Minolta Cup (JLPGA major) SAIKI FUJITA [D]; Prague Golf Masters (LET) [new event]
9-11: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship (LPGA) YA NI TSENG [D]; Daewoo Securities Ladies Open (KLPGA) BO MEE LEE [D]

15-18: Navistar LPGA Classic (LPGA) KATHERINE HULL [D]; KLPGA Championship (KLPGA major) JI-YAI SHIN [D], Open de Espana Femenino (LET) LAURA DAVIES [D]
16-18: Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic (JLPGA) MI-JEONG JEON [D]

23-25: Solheim Cup (LPGA/LET team competition); Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open (JLPGA) EUN-A LIM [D]

29-10/2: Japan Women's Open (JLPGA major) MIKA MIYAZATO [D]; Open de France Feminin (LET) TRISH JOHNSON [D]


6-9: LPGA Hana Bank Championship (LPGA/KLPGA) NA YEON CHOI [D]
7-9: Sankyo Ladies Open (JLPGA) SUN-JU AHN [D]; Himart Ladies Open J Golf Series (KLPGA) SOO JIN YANG [D]

14-16: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia (LPGA) JIMIN KANG [D]; Fujitsu Ladies (JLPGA) SUN-JU AHN [D]
14-17: Hite Cup Championship (KLPGA major) SOO HWA JANG [D]

20-23: LPGA Taiwan Championship (LPGA) [new event]
21-23: Masters GC Ladies (JLPGA) SAKURA YOKOMINE [D]
21-24: KB Star Tour Grand Final (KLPGA major) BO MEE LEE [D]
TBC: Sanya Ladies Open (LET) LEE-ANNE PACE [D]

28-30: Hisako Higuchi Morisaga Weider Ladies (JLPGA) RIKAKO MORITA [D]
29-31: Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open (LET) LEE-ANNE PACE [D]


4-6: Mizuno Classic (LPGA/JLPGA) JI-YAI SHIN [D]; KLPGA-LET Daishin Securities-Tomato Tour Korean Ladies Masters (KLPGA/LET) HYUN-JI KIM [D]

10-13: Lorena Ochoa Invitational (LPGA) IN-KYUNG KIM [D]
11-13: Ito-En Ladies (JLPGA) MIKI SAIKI [D]
TBC: Hero Honda Women's Indian Open (LET) LAURA DAVIES [D]

17-20: Titleholders (LPGA) MARIA HJORTH [D]
18-20: Daio Paper ElleAir Ladies (JLPGA) NA-RI KIM [D], ADT CAPS Championship (KLPGA) AE RI PYUN [D]

24-27: Ricoh Cup (JLPGA major) INBEE PARK [D]


3-4: Pinx Cup (KLPGA/JLPGA team competition) [cancelled 2010]

14-17: Omega Dubai Ladies Masters (LET) IBEN TINNING [D]


I'll add in information about the various tours' Q-Schools when I find it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Recommended Reading: Listmania, Golf/Fantasy Edition

Mixing my interests in golf and fantasy today, I'll point you toward Stephanie Wei's and Ryan Ballengee's takes on the LPGA schedule to be released tomorrow, Hound Dog's take on the 2011 LPGA priority status list, and a complete listing of my students' response essays from ENGL 299: Fantasy Fiction.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien!

Just noticed that J.R.R. Tolkien would have turned eleventy-nine today. In honor of his birthday, I'll pass along a link to a song one of my students composed and performed based on lyrics from The Hobbit and remind everyone that there's plenty of interesting Tolkien-related blogging from my students up at sf@SF!

Too bad The Hobbit movie didn't get finished or released in time for us to discuss it in class, but here's a trailer:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Figure Skaters Have More Fun

Check out this Japanese game show with Daisuke Takahashi, Mao Asada, Miki Ando, Takahiko Kozuka, and Nobunari Oda in a heated table tennis match against a couple of comedians (who have never won in this annual competition with different athletes)....

Looks like fun!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Japan 2011 Stylewatch: Soshoku Kei, Otomen, Gyaru-o, Chara-o, Sholita

Continuing a Mostly Harmless tradition of Japanese stylewatching for the New Year (Gackt, ikemen, and Jero in 2008, Hikaru Utada in 2009, Star Blazers in 2010), for 2011 I asked the Full Metal Archivist what Japanese trends might go viral this year. Her first idea was changing styles of masculinity, a kind of turn toward the feminine among younger Japanese men, which is interesting in itself but also in the reactions it has sparked at home and abroad. Not that this is all that new for 2011--from the moment I first set foot on a plane to Japan, I realized that my usual cues for reading male sexuality were not all that useful among Japanese men--but what is different is the media attention in the past couple of years devoted to tracking what is being framed as a generational shift in Japanese masculinity.

First, some quick definitions:

Soshoku Kei: This is the now-classic "herbivore/vegetarian" generational tag that started making the rounds in 2009. It resulted in a Japanese movie last year, which was part of a larger dialogue that even Newsweek picked up on, portraying soshoku-kei danshi (which they translated literally as "grass-eating men") as a symptom of Japan's economic malaise: "Toyota's fall from grace caps a 20-year economic malaise that is infecting the popular culture, manifesting itself in a preference for staying home, avoiding risk, and removing oneself from the hierarchical system." Heck, even a Carnegie Council writer put his 2 cents in!

To see for yourself what everyone's talking about, check out this clip from Cool Japan:

Compare CNN International's brief overview from mid-2009:

Otomen: OK, to understand what an otomen is, you 1st need to review the definition of an ikemen. So if an ikemen is a teen idol or male hottie, then an otomen is one with a hidden girlish side. For a drama that has about the same relationship to this social category as Douglas Coupland's Generation X has to the eponymous American generation, head on over to and watch the 12-episode J-drama Otomen. Me, I'm wondering if the 1st big musical number from Tangled (you know, the one set in the Snuggly Bunny), which imoto and onechan were brave enough to see in the theater last week (1st time evah in the U.S. for both!), is a parody of this Japanese phenomenon.

Gyaru-o, Chara-o, Sholita: I may be wrong, but I think of these as different styles of being an otomen, with the first being a kind of a male bimbo, the second more of a bad boy type, and the third projecting a kind of boyish "moe" vibe. Let's start with the last, for the super-cute character "Honey" from the anime Ouran High School Host Club is the perfect example. Skipping to the first, Patrick Macias provides two recent examples of how big an influence Ernest Hemingway's posthumous The Garden of Eden has had on female and male hostess/host culture in Japan. It's a little harder to find good examples of the sexier, wilder chara-o look, and Daisuke Takahashi doesn't usually sport it, but this image is what the Full Metal Archivist settled on after a while.

So there you have it. Maybe now you can understand what the Full Metal Archivist means when she sums me up as a "soshoku-kei shoujo manga otomen with no domestic skill." Yay! Happy New year, everyone!