Monday, May 28, 2012

Shoprite LPGA Classic Preview & Pairings

After a brief one-week break, the LPGA resumes its schedule this week with the playing of the Shoprite LPGA Classic. This will be the second consecutive event held in the state of New Jersey. Play will not begin until Friday as this tournament is only 54 holes. The cut will take place after Saturday's round. This is the 10th of 27 tournaments on the LPGA schedule this year.

Here are some of the details:

Course:  Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club
Location: Galloway, New Jersey
Defending Champion: Brittany Lincicome
Winning Score:  72-64-66 =202 (-11)

Final Field: 144 players
Par: 37-34=71
Yardage: 6155 Yards
Purse: $1.5 Million

My strength of field rating is 65%, making it the third-strongest field of the year. The notable healthy players choosing not to participate this week are Jiyai Shin and Christel Boeljon.

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds:
Here is the television schedule:
Jun 1 - GC 12:30-2:30 PM EST
Jun 2 - GC 2:30-6:00 PM EST
Jun 3 - GC 2:00-6:00 PM EST

Rolex Ranking Mover of the Week:
Had to look long and hard for this one, but Anne-Lise Caudal who was victorious on the Ladies European Tour this past week, moved from #221 to #144 by winning the German Open. She defeated Laura Davies in a playoff.

Other Tidbits:
Karine Icher had missed the cut in four of the first 5 tournaments this year. She has now bounced back with 2 consecutive top tens.

So Yeon Ryu has played in thirteen LPGA tournaments in her career. Not only has she not missed a cut, but she has finished in the top twelve in seven of those events, as well.

UPDATE: 5/30/12 - As it turns out Jiyai Shin is also injured. She just had surgery on her hand.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yonex Ladies Overview: Shanshan Feng Defeats Yukari Baba in Playoff for 3rd Career JLPGA Win

22-year-old Shanshan Feng birdied 4 of her last 13 holes in the final round of the Yonex Ladies to blow past Ritsuko Ryu and Serena Aoki and force a playoff with Yukari Baba, which she won on the 2nd hole for her 3rd JLPGA victory in the last season and a half.

The 24-year-old Ryu, who's having the best season in her career, birdied 4 of her 1st 7 holes to get to -10 for the week, but couldn't make another birdie the rest of the way and made 3 bogeys to fall 1 shot out of the playoff, tied with 23-year-old Bo-Mee Lee (who fired the low round of the week, a 6-birdie 67, today) for 3rd.  Meanwhile, the 19-year-old Aoki, playing in only her 4th JLPGA event of her career, got it to -9 when she birdied the par-5 6th, but also went birdieless the rest of the way and made 3 bogeys in the middle of her round to end up in a tie for 5th with Teresa Lu.

With the top 3 players on the JLPGA money list taking the week off, nobody else in their lead chase pack could make a big move on them, although Sakura Yokomine did get a top 10.

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥40.05M
2. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥38.03M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ¥35.23M
4. Ritsuko Ryu ¥33.39M
5. Bo-Mee Lee ¥29.50M
6. Inbee Park ¥28.27M
7. Shanshan Feng ¥24.28M
8. Hiromi Mogi ¥23.28M
9. Sakura Yokomine ¥22.77M
10. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥21.34M
11. Chie Arimura ¥20.86M
12. Mayu Hattori ¥20.46M
13. Miki Saiki ¥20.35M
14. Kaori Ohe ¥19.61M
15. Rikako Morita ¥17.08M
16. Mihoko Iseri ¥15.46M
17. Airi Saitoh ¥15.25M
18. Ji-Yai Shin ¥13.88M
19. Soo-Yun Kang ¥13.54M
20. Ayako Uehara ¥13.47M
21. Akane Iijima ¥13.45M
22. Teresa Lu ¥11.47M
23. Yukari Baba ¥11.13M
24. Erina Hara ¥10.69M
25. Yuki Ichinose ¥9.77M
26. Erika Kikuchi ¥9.66M
27. Miki Sakai ¥9.42M
28. Yumiko Yoshida ¥9.41M
29. Yuko Fukuda ¥9.25M
30. Kumiko Kaneda ¥8.87M
31. Esther Lee ¥8.55M
32. Harukyo Nomura ¥8.04M
33. Shinobu Moromizato ¥7.95M
34. Na-Ri Lee¥7.72M
35. Rui Kitada ¥7.65M
36. Li-Ying Ye ¥7.32M
37. So-Hee Kim ¥7.26M
38. Yuri Fudoh ¥7.11M
39. Yuko Mitsuka ¥6.32M
40. Na-Ri Kim ¥6.30M
41. Young Kim¥6.08M
42. Nikki Campbell ¥6.05M
43. Da-Ye Na ¥5.89M
44. Asako Fujimoto ¥5.79M
45. Eun-Bi Jang¥5.42M
46. Megumi Kido ¥5.29M
47. Nachiyo Ohtani ¥4.61M
48. Saiki Fujita ¥4.54M
49. Satsuki Oshiro ¥4.28M
50. Hiroko Fukushima ¥4.22M

Yokomine defends her title next week at the Resort Trust Ladies.  Let's see if she can turn her season around in a week when all the dual LPGA-JLPGA members will be back on the LPGA.

[Update 1 (5:36 pm): Here's bangkokbobby's final-round post!]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2012 U.S. Women's Open Qualifying Results

The LPGA returns to Blackwolf Run for the U.S. Women's Open in July, 14 years after Se Ri Pak defeated Jenny Chuasiriporn in one of the most dramatic golf tournaments ever.  Here's hoping Se Ri recovers from her recent injuries quickly enough to be a factor this year!  The sectional qualifiers have been going on for 10 days now, but if you had to rely on the USGA, you'd have to be pretty adept at googling.  They have a pretty well-hidden list of qualifiers and alternates, an even better-hidden list of notables in the various qualifiers, and a much-much-better-hidden list of qualifying sites.

You can find a lot more details scattered across the web (a necessary task because Golfweek apparently stopped updating their "complete coverage" 9 days ago!).  Here are some links to stories and scores I've been able to find:

Still to come:

Cheyenne Woods will play her 1st event as a professional at Carolina Trace next week.  Let's see how she does!

[Update 1 (10:30 pm):  Oh, yeah, Seoul already has 4 pages of posts and we're still still more than a month out.  Should've gone there 1st!]

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Year 2012 "Vol 1"

Before I get to the matter at hand, let me tell you what a great time I had at the Sybase Match Play Championship. The tournament was filled with excitement, upsets, and controversy. Who would have thought that Suzann Petterson, Ai Miyazato, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Hee Kyung Seo, and Michelle Wie would all get eliminated in the first round? A big congratulations goes out to Azahara Munoz for winning her first LPGA tournament. She joins Jessica Korda as first-time winners this year.

Now to the controversy. I thought very long and hard about even mentioning this in my blog. My main purpose here is to  promote the LPGA. I try to make everyone aware of what tournaments are coming up, and give you statistics that I think are important and interesting to people following the tour. I try not to get too involved in my own personal opinions. I am going to make an exception now. I don't want to take anything away from Munoz's victory, she is an outstanding young lady who played great golf for four days, but Morgan Pressel got robbed. As some of you might know by now, the Munoz, Pressel pairing was put on the clock for slow play. Azahara is known for being the slowest player on the entire tour and was showing why again. Unfortunately both people are warned, even though only one player may be at fault.

On the 12th tee Morgan (who is faster than most players), stepped up to the tee and was ready to hit her drive. Out of nowhere came this very strong gust of wind, and she went back to her bag to change her club.

What should she do, use the wrong club? She would go on to win the hole and go 3 up with just 6 holes to play. She was then notified that she took 29 seconds too long, and the hole was awarded to Munoz. Instead of being up 3 holes, Morgan was now up only one. She was clearly upset, and went on to lose the match.

Let me tell you, slow play is a major problem on both the LPGA and PGA tours. Something has to be done about it to keep play moving and more interesting to watch. Morgan Pressel had never received a penalty for slow play in her entire career. In this case there were only four golfers playing, and no one in back of them. I am all for handing out penalties for slow players, but I don't think any discretion was used in this case. Morgan was penalized, what amounted to 2  holes, for taking 29 seconds too long. The officials held up play at least ten times that long by doing what they did. Plenty has been written about slow play in recent weeks, and I think Morgan became the scapegoat.

Now that I got that off my chest, let me get on to what I came here to write about. The LPGA has now completed the first third of the 2012 season. I would like to look at which players have made the biggest moves in the Rolex Rankings this year.

Rolex ranks the ladies based on average points per event, on a rolling 2 year calendar. For example, Yani Tseng the # 1 player in the world, has accumulated 849.91 points playing in 48 tournaments over that period, for an average 17.71 points per tournament. I have gone back to the first published rankings of the year and compared them to the rankings released today. The only requirement for my list is that a player must have been ranked in the top 100 at the start of the year, or be in the top 100 now.

The Year's Biggest Winners:

1- Sun Young Yoo - 3.06 - 5.31 = Gain of  2.25 (moved from #44 to #14)
2- Jessica Korda - 0.31 to 1.67 = Gain of 1.36 (move 314-76)
3- Azahara Munoz - 3.29 to 4.51 = Gain of 1.22 (move 40 to 19)
4- Jenny Shin - 1.07 to 2.22 = Gain of 1.15 (move 147-52)
5- Ai Miyazato - 6.60 to 7.29 = Gain of  0.69 (move from 9 to 4)
6- Lindsey Wright - 0.92 to 1.49 = Gain of  0.57 (move from 164-89)
7- Haeji Kang - 0.95 to 1.49 = Gain of  0.54 (move from 162-88)
8- Julieta Granada - 1.33 to 1.77 = Gain of  0.44 (move from 121-72)
9- Caroline Hedwall - 3.41 to 3.83 = Gain of  0.42 (move 37-24)
10- So Yeon Ryu - 4.15 to 4.56 = Gain  of 0.41 (move 27-18)
11- Lexi Thompson - 3.38 to 3.78 = Gain of 0.40 (move 39-25)
12- Vicky Hurst - 1.65 to 1.97 = Gain of  0.32 (move 91-64)
13- Natalie Gulbis - 1.34 to 1.65 = Gain of 0.31 (move 118-77)
14- Yani Tseng - 17.46 to 17.71 = Gain of 0.25 (move 1-1)
15- Candie Kung - 1.78 to 1.98 = Gain of 0.20 (move 81-63)

The Year's Biggest Losers:

1- Suzann Pettersen - 10.12 to 7.42 = Loss of 2.70 (move 2 to 3)
2- Cristie Kerr - 9.74 - 7.07 = Loss of 2.67 (move 4-5)
3- Paula Creamer - 7.97 to 5.39 = Loss of 2.58 (move from 5-13)
4- Song-Hee Kim - 4.00 to 2.25 = Loss of 1.75 (move 30 to 51)
5- Michelle Wie - 5.08 - 3.41 = Loss of 1.67 (move 17-31)
6- Na Yeon Choi - 9.78 to 8.34 = Loss of 1.44 (move 3 to 2)
7- Maria Hjorth - 5.08 to 3.41 = Loss of 1.24 (move from 22-30)
8- Jiyai Shin - 7.45 to 6.22 = Loss of 1.23 (move 7-9)
9- Yuri Fudoh - 4.34 to 3.15 = Loss of 1.19 ( move 25-39)
10- Sun Ju Ahn - 7.83 to 6.67 = Loss of 1.16 (move 6-7)
11- Brittany Lincicome - 6.57 to 5.42 = Loss of 1.15 (move 11-12)
12- Yukari Baba - 4.29 to 3.16 = Loss of 1.13 (move 26-38)
13- Mika Miyazato - 4.37 to 3.29 = Loss of 1.08 (move 24-36)
14- Sakura Yokomine - 4.83 to 3.85 = Loss of 0.98 (move 20-23)
15- Inbee Park - 4.57 to 3.64 = Loss of 0.93 (move 23-27)

This certainly looks like a breakout year for Yoo, Ryu, and Munoz.

On the other side of the coin, some of Yani Tseng's biggest challengers, Pettersen, kerr, Choi, Jiyai Shin, Creamer, and Lincicome, are all going in the wrong direction. I will review this again after the 18th tournament of the year, and again at the completion of the season.

Other Tidbits:
  • With their top-5 finish at the Sybase Match Play Championship, Stacy Lewis and So Yeon Ryu, join Yani Tseng as the only players that have done that 5 times.
  • This was the final year of the 3 year Sybase Match Play contract. Let us all hope that it will be renewed.

Titleholders Update:
Candie Kung, Morgan Pressel, and Vicky Hurst are the latest to qualify. Suzann Pettersen remains the highest ranked player not yet to qualify.

Rolex Ranking Mover of the Week:
Azahara Munoz, winner of the Sybase Match Play Championship, moves from #27 to #18.

Quick Thoughts on the Sybase Match Play Championship

Wow, so much to respond to from last week's Sybase Match Play Championship--and so little time.  Work hasn't slowed down even though I've gotten my grades in, plus I've got all kinds of non-bloggy writing planned for the summer.  Solution?  A few bullet points!

  • Day 1: "Any given round," indeed!  So happy for Mina Harigae and Mariajo Uribe for their big wins (even though Mariajo's was at the expense of my favorite golfer).  Pretty impressed by how they and Jodi Ewart, Jennifer Johnson, Ryann O'Toole, Jenny Shin, and Jessica Korda took out some of the biggest names in women's golf.  Seemed like the only youngster who had a good chance to win but didn't was Mika Miyazato, but it took some real heroics from Natalie Gulbis to take her down.  Looks like her game is coming around for the summer.  Favorite match: Julieta Granada beats Brittany Lang in the showdown between the slump-prone '06ers.
  • Day 2: And the big names continue to fall!  Ji-Yai Shin started rocketing her putts under pressure from fellow '09er Anna Nordqvist.  Cristie Kerr absolutely handed a win to Vicky Hurst.  Tseng and Choi the only super-elite players left, but Stacy Lewis, So Yeon Ryu, Sun Young Yoo, Azahara Munoz, Amy Yang, and Morgan Pressel looking good.  Guess jet lag got to Inbee Park in her match against Morgan.  Biggest surprises in the sweet 16:  Karine Icher, Vicky Hurst, and Julieta Granada
  • Day 3 morning: Maybe match play favors relatively experienced but either up-and-coming or on-the-comeback-trail players who have something to prove and don't mind playing 6 rounds in 4 days to do it?  How else to explain Candie Kung taking down Ya Ni Tseng, Morgan Pressel eliminating Na Yeon Choi, Vicky Hurst advancing past Angela Stanford, and Julieta Granada beating Karine Icher?  Among the relatively expected winners, probably Stacy Lewis's defeat of fellow KNC champion Sun Young Yoo was the toughest and So Yeon Ryu's defeat of Katherine Hull the easiest.
  • Day 3 afternoon: Simply great match-ups!  Pressel over Nordqvist and Munoz over Lewis was straight out of the Solheim Cup.  Hurst over Ryu was a shocker, while Kung's experience and drive proved too much for Granada.
  • Day 4 morning:  It's "ironic" (in an Alanis kinda way) that slow play in the European Tour's match-play event lead to me missing the Pressel-Munoz slow-play controversy.  The way I see it, the rules officials had to enforce the rule, even if Pressel was particularly unlucky to be the one to take the penalty (especially given that she was the faster player of the 2 and one of the fastest on tour).  I'm sure it was pretty equally shocking to both players, but Munoz was the one who didn't let it affect her putting over the last 6 holes.  Morgan kept her composure well when it came to her demeanor and willingness to be interviewed soon after losing a match that had seemed to be going her way, but it certainly affected her golf more than it did Munoz's.  Kung's victory over Hurst was completely overshadowed.
  • Day 4 afternoon: I don't know how Munoz and Pressel did it, but they both won their afternoon matches.  Again, Munoz's putter was her best club, as she made pressure putt after pressure putt, keeping the pressure squarely on Kung's shoulders.  In the end, she did it for her grandmother and came through with her 1st LPGA victory.  Impressive!
For much more, see Mike's posts over at Ruthless Golf!  I'm hoping to get back in the bloggy swing of things later this week, but given that I've got to get my actual swing in the swing of things in time for the Buffalo District qualifier for the NYSGA's Men's Amateur in T-minus 10 days, that may remain just a hope....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open Overview: Ji-Hee Lee Becomes 1st 2-Time JLPGA Winner in 2012

Ji-Hee Lee became the JLPGA's 1st 2-time winner of 2012 today at the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open and she did it in style, birdieing 6 of her last 10 holes to secure a 3-shot victory over a charging Rikako Morita, who birdied 7 of her last 13 holes, and leave 4 shots behind her her fellow Korean veteran on tour Mi-Jeong Jeon, who had to settle for a bogey-free 68 that included an eagle on the 382-yard 14th.  For both Morita and Jeon, it was too little, too late, to deny Lee her 17th career JLPGA win.  Even though they broke 70 all 3 rounds, they couldn't match Lee's 68-65-67 weeklong birdie barrage.  It was the same story for defending champion Harukyo Nomura, who was stuck at E after 36 holes but jumped into the top 6 after firing the low round of the week, a bogey-free 64, today.

As for the rest of the big names in the field to make the cut, it's not like they played badly.  Ritsuko Ryu had another top 5 but finished 7 shots behind Lee, Sun-Ju Ahn and Miki Saiki tied Nomura for 6th at -8 (8 off the pace), Chie Arimura was another shot back in a tie for 9th with Mayu Hattori, Erina Hara, and amateur sensation Mamiko Higa, Maiko Wakabayashi snagged a top 15, and Momoko Ueda a top 20.  At least they didn't have to withdraw like Shinobu Moromizato (ribs), Akane Iijima (right wrist), and Ah-Reum Hwang (right wrist), or sit out Sunday like Teresa Lu and Ayako Uehara (+5) and Kumiko Kaneda and Esther Lee (+4).  But, still, they lost a lot of ground to Lee on the JLPGA money list:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥40.05M
2. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥38.03M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ¥35.23M
4. Ritsuko Ryu ¥29.49M
5. Inbee Park ¥28.27M
6. Bo-Mee Lee ¥25.60M
7. Hiromi Mogi ¥22.31M
8. Sakura Yokomine ¥21.12M
9. Mayu Hattori ¥20.46M
10. Miki Saiki ¥20.35M
11. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥20.18M
12. Chie Arimura ¥20.12M
13. Kaori Ohe ¥19.26M
14. Rikako Morita ¥17.08M
15. Airi Saitoh ¥15.02M
16. Mihoko Iseri ¥14.30M
17. Ji-Yai Shin ¥13.88M
18. Soo-Yun Kang ¥13.54M
19. Shanshan Feng ¥13.48M
20. Ayako Uehara ¥13.47M
21. Akane Iijima ¥13.45M
22. Erina Hara ¥10.69M
23. Yuki Ichinose ¥9.52M
24. Yumiko Yoshida ¥9.41M
25. Erika Kikuchi ¥9.10M
26. Miki Sakai ¥8.93M
27. Yuko Fukuda ¥8.89M
28. Kumiko Kaneda ¥8.87M
29. Teresa Lu ¥8.77M
30. Esther Lee ¥8.07M
31. Harukyo Nomura ¥8.04M
32. Shinobu Moromizato ¥7.95M
33. Na-Ri Lee¥7.72M
34. Li-Ying Ye ¥7.32M
35. Rui Kitada ¥6.91M
36. So-Hee Kim ¥6.52M
37. Yuri Fudoh ¥6.37M
38. Yuko Mitsuka ¥6.32M
39. Young Kim¥6.08M
40. Da-Ye Na ¥5.89M
41. Yukari Baba ¥5.85M
42. Na-Ri Kim ¥5.81M
43. Eun-Bi Jang¥5.42M
44. Asako Fujimoto ¥5.23M
45. Megumi Kido ¥4.86M
46. Nachiyo Ohtani ¥4.61M
47. Hiroko Fukushima ¥4.22M
48. Bo-Bae Song ¥4.20M
49. Saiki Fujita ¥4.10M
50. Yuko Saitoh ¥4.04M

On deck is the Yonex Ladies, which Hiromi Mogi won last year.  The field is packed, with Yuri Fudoh, Sakura Yokomine, Shiho Oyama, and Bo-Mee Lee returning to action, along with--if the current list is to be believed--Shanshan Feng!  With Jeon and Ji-Hee Lee sitting this one out, it's a great opportunity for Ahn to extend her money-list lead on them.  Let's see if she can take advantage and join Lee as a 2-time winner on tour this year....

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sybase Match Play Championship Preview & Pairings

After a two-week break, the LPGA tour resumes this week with the playing of the Sybase Match Play Championship. This is the only tournament of the year that is not decided by stroke play. This is a single-elimination tournament: lose once and you are out. The only change this year is that the players are not picking from a hat to determine their opponents. The players will be seeded according to their Rolex Ranking at the start of the event. Here are some of the major details:

Course: Hamilton Farms Golf Club
Location: Gladstone, New Jersey
Defending Champion: Suzann Pettersen

Final Field: 64 players
Par: 36/36=72
Yardage: 6553
Purse: $1.5 million

Don't let the limited field fool you; this a very strong field. Forty-four of the top fifty ladies on the LPGA priority list will be teeing it up.

Here is the television schedule:

May 17 - GC 6:30-8:30 PM EST
May 18 - GC 6:30-8:30 PM EST
May 19 - GC 3:00-6:00 PM EST
May 20 - GC 4:00-6:00 PM EST

Here are the first-round matches (thank you Kevin "IceCat" for working the numbers):
#1 Yani Tseng vs #64 Jeong Jang (Rolex #312)

#2 Na Yeon Choi vs #63 Grace Park (Rolex #225)

#3 Suzann Pettersen vs #62 Jodi Ewart (Rolex #210)

#4 Ai Miyazato vs #61 Mariajo Uribe (Rolex #166)

#5 Cristie Kerr vs #60 Belen Mozo (Rolex #149)

#6 Stacy Lewis (Rolex #7) vs #59 Pat Hurst (Rolex #143)

#7 Jiyai Shin (Rolex #9) vs #58 Jennifer Song (Rolex #136)

#8 Paula Creamer (Rolex #11) vs #57 Jennifer Johnson (Rolex #133)

#9 Brittany Lincicome (Rolex #12) vs #56 Ryann O'Toole (Rolex #132)

#10 Amy Yang (Rolex #13) vs #55 Amy Hung (Rolex #130)

#11 Sun Young Yoo (Rolex #14) vs #54 Amanda Blumenherst [Rolex #128]

#12 Angela Stanford (Rolex #15) vs #53 Wendy Ward (Rolex #127)

#13 So Yeon Ryu [Rolex #18] vs #52 Karin Sjodin (Rolex #107)

#14 Karrie Webb (Rolex #19) vs #51 Tiffany Joh (Rolex #106)

#15 Morgan Pressel (Rolex #20) vs #50 Mindy Kim (Rolex #104)

#16 Catriona Matthew (Rolex #21) vs #49 Candie Kung (Rolex #102)

#17 Caroline Hedwall (Rolex #22) vs #48 Haeji Kang (Rolex #89)

#18 Inbee Park (Rolex #25) vs #47 Hee Won Han [Rolex #88]

#19 Azahara Muñoz (Rolex #27) vs #46 Lindsey Wright (Rolex #85)

#20 Michelle Wie (Rolex #29) vs #45 Mina Harigae (Rolex #83)

#21 Maria Hjorth (Rolex #31) vs #44 Eun Hee Ji (Rolex #82)

#22 Hee Kyung Seo (Rolex #33) vs #43 Jessica Korda (Rolex #80)

#23 Mika Miyazato (Rolex #34) vs #42 Natalie Gulbis (Rolex #79)

#24 Brittany Lang (Rolex #36) vs #41 Julieta Granada [Rolex #78]

#25 Hee Young Park (Rolex #37) vs #40 Karine Icher (Rolex #76)

#26 Anna Nordqvist [Rolex #38] vs #39 Beatriz Recari (Rolex #75)

#27 Sandra Gal (Rolex #40) vs #38 Pornanong Phatlum (Rolex #74)

#28 Meena Lee (Rolex #42) vs #37 Vicky Hurst (Rolex #72)

#29 Song Hee Kim (Rolex #50) vs #36 Katherine Hull (Rolex #67)

#30 Sophie Gustafson (Rolex #51) vs #35 Karen Stupples (Rolex #65)

#31 Jenny Shin (Rolex #53) vs #34 Jimin Kang (Rolex #64)

#32 Chella Choi (Rolex #60) vs #33 Katie Futcher (Rolex #62)
    Rolex Movers of the Week:

    Inbee Park, winner of the Fundokin Ladies Open on the JLPGA tour, moves from #32 to #25.

    Christel Boeljon, winner of the Turkish Airlines Open on the LET tour, moves from #51 to #46.

    Fundokin Ladies Overview: Inbee Park Roars Back for 4th Career JLPGA Victory

    With 10 holes to play in the Fundokin Ladies, Inbee Park trailed fellow dual LPGA-JLPGA member Shanshan Feng by 2 shots, thanks to her bogey on the 440-yard 8th hole right on the heels of Feng's birdie.  But Park roared back with 3 birdies in her last 10 holes of bogey-free golf that gave her a 2-shot victory over Feng and brought her total number of JLPGA wins to 4 in the last 3 seasons. 

    The JLPGA's top regulars accounted well for themselves, as well, with Mi-Jeong Jeon firing a bogey-free 65 to leap into a tie for 3rd and money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn finishing another shot back in solo 5th, but the struggles of Japan's top native golfers continued.  Momoko Ueda just made the top 35, Miki Saiki finished barely out of the top 30, Sakura Yokomine barely squeaked into the top 20, Chie Arimura finished inside the top 15, and Ayako Uehara couldn't get into the top 10. 

    As a result, the top of the JLPGA money list is dominated by Korean golfers, with Park moving into 3rd behind Ahn and Jeon and Bo-Mee Lee rounding out the top 5.  The only dual LPGA-JLPGA member to stay in Japan this week for the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open will be Ueda.  Let's see if she can turn her season around!

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    Stats & Facts - "Volume 8"

    The LPGA will be idle this coming week, the second of a two-week break. The tour will resume the following weekend in New Jersey with the playing of the Sybase Match Play Championship. This will mark the start of a very important stretch. The Ladies will play six tournaments in an eight-week period that will include two major championships. I think most will agree that the first eight tournaments of this year have certainly brought us many exciting finishes. We have seen 3 playoffs, 3 Yani Tseng victories, and 3 American winners. With 19 tournaments still to be played, I am looking forward to what could be the most exciting year in a very long time.

    I would like to use this break to focus on some of the key statistics of this 2012 season.

    Rolex Player of the Year Standings: (winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
    1. Yani Tseng -  118 points
    2. Sun Young Yoo - 79
    3. Ai Miyazato - 65
    4. Stacy Lewis - 63
    5. So Yeon Ryu - 33
    6. Hee Kyeong Seo - 31
    7. Three players tied with - 30
    Vare Trophy Standings: (winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
    1. Yani Tseng - 69.54 (strokes per round)
    2. Ai Miyazato - 69.75
    3. Na Yeon Choi - 70.54
    4. Jiyai Shin - 70.68
    5. Shanshan Feng - 70.83
    6. Stacy Lewis - 70.83
    7. Se Ri Pak - 70.85
    8. So Yeon Ryu - 71.11
    Rolex Rookie of the Year Standings:
    1. So Yeon Ryu - 353 points
    2. Lexi Thompson - 222
    3. Lizette Salas - 48
    4. Mo Martin 46
    5. Sydnee Michaels - 44
    6. Cydney Clanton - 42
    7. Numa Gulyanamitta - 34
    Solheim Cup Points:
    1. Stacy Lewis - 212 points
    2. Angela Stanford - 137
    3. Brittany Lincicome - 130
    4. Cristie Kerr - 117
    5. Paula Creamer - 87
    6. Brittany Lang - 79
    7. Katie Futcher - 71
    8. Michelle Wie - 53
    9. Morgan Pressel - 51
    10. Natalie Gulbis - 47
    Most consecutive tournaments without a missed cut:
    1. Karrie Webb - 32
    2. Paula Creamer - 27
    3. Jiyai Shin - 25
    4. Yani Tseng - 23
    5. Azahara Munoz - 23
    Most consecutive missed cuts : ( must have an active priority ranking)
    1. Izzy Beisiegel - 20
    2. Michelle Ellis - 13
    3. Nicole Hage, Meridith Duncan, Tanya Dergal - 8
    Other Tidbits: 
    • The LPGA announced this week that the 2017 United States Open will be held at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. It also announced the 2013 Canadian Open will be held at the Royal Mayfair in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
    • The Sybase Match Play Championship will go about picking their matchups very differently than they have in previous years. Instead of picking from a hat, all players will be seeded by their standings in next week's Rolex Rankings. The #1 seed will play #64, #2 will play #63 and so on. Everyone get your charts ready, as this will be done just like the NCAA does "March Madness."
    Red Hot:
    • Azahara Munoz has finished 12th, 15th, 2nd, and 4th in her last four tournaments.
    • Natalie Gulbis has two top-ten finishes in her last three events.
    Ice Cold:
    • Mindy Kim has failed to make the cut in her last four tournaments.
    • Kristy McPherson has missed her last four cuts.
    • Amy Hung has already missed five cuts this year.

    Sunday, May 6, 2012

    Salonpas Cup Sunday: Sun-Ju Ahn Beats Morgan Pressel and Inbee Park in Playoff

    For 43 holes, Morgan Pressel was making the Salonpas Cup look as easy as she did when she won the JLPGA's 1st major of 2010.  Standing on the 8th tee, she was -12 and bogey-free in the weather-shortened event and things were looking up for her, as her playing partners were running into trouble on the front.  The golfer-formerly-known-as-The Final Round Queen, Ji-Yai Shin, had gifted her with a 2-shot swing, thanks to a double bogey on the 392-yard par-4 7th, to fall 4 shots behind Pressel, while 17-time JLPGA winner Mi-Jeong Jeon was +1 over her 1st 7 holes to also fall 4 back.  Sure, fellow LPGAer Inbee Park put together a sizzling bogey-free 32 from several groups ahead of them to join them at -8 and defending champion Sun-Ju Ahn had gotten within 2 shots of Pressel from the group ahead of theirs with a birdie on the 8th.  But it seemed like Pressel was cruising.

    Then, much like the SHIELD flying fortress as the mind-controlled Hawkeye's strike force started its attack in the Avengers movie, Pressel started losing altitude fast.  She bogeyed the 173-yard par-3 8th.  She bogeyed the 391-yard par-4 11th.  She bogeyed the 512-yard par-5 12th.  She bogeyed the 401-yard par-4 14th.  Meanwhile, Ahn, the JLPGA's money-list leader for the past 2 seasons, was going through some turbulence of her own, with bogeys on the long par 4s 9 and 14.  Pressel and Ahn left the door wide open for Park, and for a while it looked like she was going to bust through it and never look back.  The 3-time JLPGA winner looking for her 2nd major on tour birdied the 188-yard par-3 13th and the 163-yard par-3 15th to get to -6 on the day and -10 for the week.  But then she, too, stumbled badly down the stretch, with back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th.  When she parred the 408-yard 18th to become leader in the clubhouse at -8, it looked like anything could happen.  Pressel and Ahn were starting to make pars again, Ahn's playing partner Shanshan Feng had climbed to -8 after making 4 birdies and 3 bogeys in her 1st 10 holes and was hanging steady in a tie for the lead, and even Pressel's playing partner Shin wasn't out of it at -6, despite her bogeys on 11 and 14.  Heck, until Park stumbled through the finish line with a surprisingly disappointing 68, it looked as if Mika Miyazato's early-morning 69 that brought her to -5 for the week might be good enough to put her into the mix!

    To make a long story short, Feng bogeyed 16 and Ahn bogeyed 17 to fall to -7.  Pressel and Shin kept making pars on their heels.  When Ahn made an amazing walkoff birdie on 18 to join Park at -8, it was up to Pressel to beat them, join them, or leave the playoff to them.  She closed with her 4th straight par, but Ahn made quick work of both LPGA major winners with a 6-foot birdie putt on the 1st playoff hole.  With her 2nd Salonpas Cup title in a row, Ahn now has 9 JLPGA career victories and is back on top the 2012 money list.  Funny how 1 win, the result of back-to-back birdies, can erase what had been a lackluster start to the season for a player of Ahn's caliber.

    As for the other big names in the field, this was a very disappointing weekend.  KLPGA star Bo-Mee Lee, who's focusing her efforts on the JLPGA this year, went 72-73 to finish 4 out of the playoff, Ai Miyazato went 73-73 to miss the playoff by 5 shots, displaced money-list leader Ritsuko Ryu went 71-76 to finish 8 back, Sakura Yokomine went 72-75 to fall 9 behind, last week's winner Chie Arimura went 74-79 to end up 11 off the pace, and KLPGAer Ha-Neul Kim went 75-79 to finish next-to-last among those who made the cut (just ahead of the #2 player on the JLPGA career money list, Akiko Fukushima).  Even amateur sensation Moriya Jutanugarn had trouble on Sunday, barely hanging onto a tie for low amateur despite finishing with a 74.  At least they made it to the weekend:  Michelle Wie, Momoko Ueda, Teresa Lu, Harukyo Nomura, Bo-Bae Song, and Nikki Campbell all missed the cut, while Soo-Yun Kang had to withdraw, even though she opened with a solid 70.

    So here's how the money list looks after the end of the JLPGA's 1st major:

    1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥33.60M
    2. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥27.93M
    3. Ritsuko Ryu ¥24.99M
    4. Bo-Mee Lee ¥22.60M
    5. Hiromi Mogi ¥21.29M
    6. Ji-Hee Lee ¥20.75M
    7. Sakura Yokomine ¥20.39M
    8. Kaori Ohe ¥18.82M
    9. Mayu Hattori ¥17.70M
    10. Chie Arimura ¥17.61M
    11. Miki Saiki ¥17.31M
    12. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥17.29M
    13. Airi Saitoh ¥15.02M
    14. Ji-Yai Shin ¥13.88M
    15. Inbee Park ¥13.87M
    16. Soo-Yun Kang ¥13.54M
    17. Akane Iijima ¥13.45M
    18. Ayako Uehara ¥12.10M
    19. Rikako Morita ¥10.53M
    20. Yuki Ichinose ¥9.02M
    21. Rikako Morita ¥8.40M
    22. Kumiko Kaneda ¥8.37M
    23. Esther Lee ¥8.06M
    24. Shinobu Moromizato ¥7.95M
    25. Erika Kikuchi ¥7.91M
    26. Yuko Fukuda ¥7.80M
    27. Miki Sakai ¥7.71M
    28. Teresa Lu ¥7.65M
    29. Na-Ri Lee¥7.02M
    30. Shanshan Feng ¥6.44M
    31. Yuko Mitsuka ¥6.32M
    32. Li-Ying Ye ¥6.32M
    33. Erina Hara ¥6.31M
    34. So-Hee Kim ¥6.18M
    35. Yuri Fudoh ¥6.07M
    36. Rui Kitada ¥5.72M
    37. Young Kim¥5.64M
    38. Eun-Bi Jang¥5.42M
    39. Da-Ye Na ¥5.16M
    40. Yumiko Yoshida ¥5.06M
    41. Yukari Baba ¥4.75M
    42. Harukyo Nomura ¥4.70M
    43. Na-Ri Kim ¥4.69M
    44. Saiki Fujita ¥4.10M
    45. Nikki Campbell ¥3.95M

    Shiho Oyama rejoins the tour next week at the Fundokin Ladies.  The only dual LPGA-JLPGA members to stay in Japan will be Shanshan Feng and Momoko Ueda (#89 on the money list).

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    Salonpas Cup Friday and Saturday: Morgan Pressel Takes 2-Shot Lead on Ji-Yai Shin into Final Round

    After the 1st round of the JLPGA's 1st major of 2012 got washed out, Ibaraki Golf Club's West course was ripe for the taking when the Salonpas Cup started for real on Friday. Of the 23 players who broke 70 that day, Morgan Pressel and Ji-Yai Shin were the best of the best, firing matching bogey-free 65s to take a 1-shot lead on Chie Arimura and Mi-Jeong Jeon and a 2-shot lead on a large group of golfers that included Ai Miyazato, Sun-Ju Ahn, and Inbee Park.  Today, Pressel extended her bogey-free run to 36 holes (and counting) and opened up a 2-shot lead on Shin and a 3-shot lead on Jeon and Ahn. 

    Can Pressel win here as easily as she did in 2010?  Well, with leads on the likes of Shanshan Feng of 4 shots, Ji-Hee Lee and Bo-Mee Lee of 6, Miyazato, Arimura, and Park of 7, Moriya Jutanugarn of 8, and Sakura Yokomine, Yuri Fudoh, and Mika Miyazato of 9, it's not like there are all that many big-name golfers within easy striking distance of her.  She certainly won't have to worry about Michelle Wie, Momoko Ueda, Teresa Lu, Harukyo Nomura, Bo-Bae Song, or Nikki Campbell--they all missed the cut.  So it's looking like the top 5 golfers right now have the best shot of nailing down their 1st win of the new season (except for Feng, who was medallist at the LET's team event back in the 1st week of March!). 

    Will Pressel make it 2 out of the last 3 Salonpas Cup titles?  Will Ahn make it 2 in a row?  Will Shin remember where she left her Final Round Queen crown?  Or will the elite veteran Jeon make a name for herself against some of the best golfers in the world?  Stay tuned!

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    LPGA Priority List Changes for May 2012

    As some of you might know, the LPGA reshuffles its priority list, which establishes members' access to regular full-field events, after the 8th and 15th tournaments of the year. The Mobile Bay Classic was tournament number eight, so a reshuffle was done this morning.

    Most full-field events have a field of 144 players, so if your priority list number is higher than that you have to rely on some of the ladies with better rankings to skip the event in order to qualify.

    Most of the current changes were minor, with gains or losses of just 2 or 3 places, which aren't worth mentioning.

    Jessica Korda, who won the Australian open, made the biggest move when compared to the January list. She went up from #112 to #84. Karin Sjodin's fine play enabled her to move from #114 to #87. Next biggest move was by Jodi Ewart who moved from #101 to #88.

    The following ladies made the most important moves, as they have now entered the top #144, virtually putting them in all full-field events, at least until the next reshuffle:

    Jennifer Rosales #149 to #136
    Jennifer Gleason #160 to# 143
    Veronica Felibert #150 to #144
    Jacqui Concolino #155 to #145

    With the good comes the bad. On the downside, Nicole Castrale's medical exemption expired and she took the biggest fall, dropping from #52 to #115.

    Here is a list of the ladies who dropped out of the top 144, and will now have a tougher time getting starts:

    Ashli Bunch #137 to #147
    Amelia Lewis #139 to #148
    Yoo Keong Kim #140 to #149
    Samantha Richdale #143 to #150
    Jenny Suh #145 to #151
    Nicole Hage #146 to #152
    Louise Stahle #147 to #153
    Jeehae Lee #148 to #154