Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Surprises and Disappointments Part 2 / LPGA Priority List Reshuffle

Back in April I wrote who I thought were the biggest surprises & disappointments of the year. The LPGA had only played 8 tournaments at that point. So much has changed since then. The LPGA has now played 16 of its 32 tournaments, and I think it is time to take another look.

Biggest Surprises:


Sei Young Kim - My pick pick as biggest surprise at the halfway point of season


1- Sei Young Kim - We knew entering this year that this was going to be the best rookie crop ever. Many people wrote in their choices for rookie of the year, but this lady was rarely mentioned. All she has done this year is win twice and post 7 top tens. She appears to be able to step up her game a notch in big tournaments. 

2- Hjo Joo Kim - The reason why this lady is not my top pick as biggest surprise is that our expectations were much higher for her than for Sei Young Kim. That said, I didn't think she would be this good, this fast. In my opinion, the best rookie of 2015. If she doesn't win the Rookie of the Year Award it will be because she just doesn't play in enough tournaments. She has teed it up only 12 times this year, but has a win, 3 top fives, seven top tens, and ten top twenties. Her worst finished is a tie for 23rd. She has never missed a cut in an LPGA tournament ever. Already ranked #4 in the world, look for her to challenge for the #1 position very soon.

3- Minjee Lee - Another rookie that has already won this year. If this were any other year she would be the favorite to win the ROY award. She has amassed 2 top fives, 4 top tens, and 8 top twenties already this year. A star for many years to come.

4- Brooke Henderson - Not yet an LPGA member, this young lady can not be left off this list. Not as experienced as the 3 players above, her rise up the Rolex Rankings (currently #46) this quickly was not expected. She has played in only 7 tournaments this year, but her earnings would rank her #21 on the money list. She has earned $45,352 per start, which would rank her #9 on the LPGA. 

5- Mariajo Uribe - After a slow start to the season, Mariajo has caught fire. In her last 5 tournaments, she has 1 top five, 2 top tens, and 4 top twenties. She came onto the LPGA with very high expectations, she appears to be finally living up to them.

Honorable mentions: Alison Lee, Ha Na Jang, Sandra Gal, and Austin Ernst.

Biggest Disappointments:


We haven't seen Michelle Wie's fist pump much this year

1- Michelle Wie - Michelle Wie is coming off a year where she won a major championship, and finished #4 on the money list. Currently #58 on this year's money list, that player is no where to be found. In 2014 Michelle had 2 wins, 9 top fives, and 13 top tens. This year she has teed it up 14 times without a single top ten finish. There are some nagging injuries, but this was totally unexpected.

2- Chella Choi - Chella had been getting better every year, and a breakthrough into the winners' circle was expected very soon. Her poor play this year has come as quite a surprise. Last year she had 7 top five finishes, 9 top tens, and 20 (yes 20) top twenty finishes. This year she has teed it up 16 times with just 2 top tens, and 6 missed cuts.

3- I.K. Kim - Coming off a poor 2014 season in which she didn't play much, we figured when she played more regularly she would return to form. That has not been the case. In 11 starts this year she has just one top 10, and has missed 4 cuts. Appears to be just a shell of the player she was 2 years ago.

4- Q-Baek - The sky was the limit for this player coming into the season. Her name was mentioned with all the top rookie players. That player hasn't shown up yet. She has teed it up 14 times this year and has yet to have a top 10 finish, and has missed 4 cuts. 

5- Sakura Yokomine - Like Q-Baek above, she was though to be in the fight for ROY this year. With just 1 top ten and 5 missed cuts, she has disappointed her many followers. 

Others: Haeji Kang, Meena Lee, Christina Kim, and Eun Hee Ji.


Priority List Reshuffle:

The LPGA had its second reshuffle of its Priority List this past week. While most of the players moved up or down a few insignificant spots, there were some very significant moves also.

The Priority List is what is used to fill the required amount of spots for any given tournament. Without me getting into the categories, which is potentially confusing, here is a brief explanation. Most full field events have a field of 144 players. Usually 140 of the players come from the Priority List ranking. Two players are Monday qualifiers, and 2 more are sponsor exemptions. So to keep it simple, if your Priority Rating is #150, you have to hope that 10 players decide not to play, or you are probably not getting into the field.


We will be seeing lots more of Jacqui Concolino after the 2nd LPGA Priority List reshuffle

The following players made big jumps in this week's reshuffle:
Christel Boeljon - 116 to 94
Kelly Shon - 134 to 96
Perrine Delacour - 138 to 100

Although the jumps made by the above players look good on paper, it is not that significant, as they were playing all full field events anyway.

The following players made the most important gains, and should now be playing in most full field events:
Jacqui Concolino - 153 to 103
Jee Young Lee - 155 to 145
Jing Yan - 154 to 147

The following players are not guaranteed to play all full field events, but have a much better chance than before the reshuffle:
Becky Morgan - 158 to 150
Chie Arimura - 166 to 151
Cydney Clanton - 160 to 153
Victoria Elizabeth - 165 to 155

The following players got hurt the most and will be seeing less playing time, or no playing time at all:
Seon Hwa Lee - 130 to 162
Julie Yang - 152 to 159
Sue Kim - 148 to 154

The following players lost their medical exemptions and are no longer on the LPGA Priority List:
Vicky Hurst
Christine Song

Other Tidbits:
Inbee Park had her cut streak ended at 27.

Rolex Movers of the Week:
Na Yeon Choi jumps up from #20 to #13, while Anna Nordqvist rises from #9 to #7.

Race to the CME Globe:    (1 million dollars)
Inbee Park continues to lead with 2,671 points. She is followed by Lydia Ko with 2,234, and Sei Young Kim with 2,112.

Who's Hot:
It seems like every golfer from South Korea. They now have won 9 tournaments this year. No other country's players have more than 2.

Who's Not:
Earlier in the season I would have never thought I would be writing this. Ariya Jutanugarn has missed 6 consecutive cuts.

Hard to Believe Stat of the Week:
The last 3 tournaments have resulted in missed cuts by Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko, and Inbee Park.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Preview & Pairings

After a one week break, the LPGA resumes its schedule this week with the playing of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G.

Many of you may remember last year's exciting finish when Stacy Lewis birdied the 18th hole to defeat Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr, and Angela Stanford by one stroke. It was Stacy's third win of the season, and her last victory on the LPGA tour.

Stacy Lewis will be trying to defend her title in Arkansas
This will be tournament #16 of 32 tournaments on the LPGA schedule. It is a 54 hole event. This will mark the completion of the first half of the LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Pinnacle Country Club
Location:  Rogers, Arkansas
Defending Champion:  Stacy Lewis
Winning Score: 70-66-65 = 201 (-12)
Note: 12 under par has been the exact winning score in each of the past 4 seasons.

Final Field:  144 players
Par:  36/35 = 71
Yardage:  6,386
Purse: $2,000,000

My strength of field rating is a very solid 81% (the same as it was last year), making it the 5th strongest field this year. Forty-six of the top 50 players from the LPGA priority list, and 21 of the top 25 players from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. Players skipping this week's event include: Shanshan Feng, Hyo Joo Kim, Ha Na Jang, and Charley Hull.

Here are the pairings for round 1:

Here are the television times:
GC June 26 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
GC June 27 3:00-6:00 p.m.
GC June 28 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Here are my Pak Picker Picks for this week's tournament:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Inbee Park
3- Suzann Pettersen
4- Sei Young Kim
5- Lydia Ko
6- Anna Nordqvist
7- Morgan Pressel
8- So Yeon Ryu
9- Lexi Thompson
10- Mirim Lee
11- Cristie Kerr
12- Minjee Lee
My excellent picking the last few weeks have currently moved me into first place in the standings among the 21 participants.

Other Tidbits:
The LPGA will have their second and final priority list reshuffle after the conclusion of this tournament.

On Other Tours:

Symetra Tour - Brooke Henderson won the Four Winds Invitational by 3 strokes over four players. Current LPGA member Victoria Elizabeth finished one stroke further back.

KLPGA - Sung Hyun Park won Kia Motors Korean Women's Open. This was the first major championship on the KLPGA schedule. It was Park's maiden victory on the KLPGA tour. Defending champion Hyo Joo Kim finished in 9th place, six strokes back.

LET - Christel Boeljon delighted the Dutch galleries becoming only the 2nd home winner in the history of the Deloitte Ladies Open. Boeljon won it wire to wire and finished 4 strokes better than runner up Ursula Wikstrom.

JLPGA - Jiyai Shin won the Nichirei Ladies Open. It was her 2nd JLPGA win of the year.


Be sure to check back here daily for any updates. They will be posted here, at the end of this blog.
Links to all live scoreboards appear at the top of this page. 

Update #1 - Sun Young Yoo and Sophie Popov have been taken off the field list and replaced with Chie Arimura and Jennifer Kirby.

Here are the final standings:

1Na Yeon Choi-15F
2Mika Miyazato-13F
3Azahara Munoz-12F
3Stacy Lewis-12F
3Anna Nordqvist-12F
6Lydia Ko-11F
6Paula Creamer-11F
6Minjee Lee-11F
9Cristie Kerr-10F
9Mariajo Uribe-10F
9Marina Alex-10F
9Amy Yang-10F
13Min Seo Kwak-9F
13Paula Reto-9F
13Austin Ernst-9F
For full scoreboard see link on top of page.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Brooke Henderson Gets Symetra Tour Card After Winning Four Winds Invitational

Brooke Henderson can now play the remainder of the season as a Symetra Tour member after winning the Four Winds Invitational this past weekend.

Immediately following her victory, the 17 year old Canadian petitioned the LPGA for a waiver of its rule requiring tour members to be at least 18 years of age. LPGA commissioner Michael Whan immediately granted the request.

Brooke Henderson holds up her trophy for winning the Four Winds Invitational

Henderson is trying to gain LPGA membership for 2016 without having to go to Q-School this winter.
This will give her 2 additional ways to achieve that goal. She can accomplish this by:

1- Winning an LPGA event
2- Finishing with the equivalent or better of the 40th place player on the 2015 money list at season's end. She would currently rank #20 on the LPGA money list.
3- Finish in the top 10 of the Symetra Tour money list. Her $22,500 check she received this week will not count. Only earnings going forward. There are still 12 events left on the Symetra Tour schedule.
4- Win 3 Symetra tour events.

Henderson is planning on playing in this week's Symetra Tour's Island Resort Championship, in Harris Michigan.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stats & Facts - Volume 24

With the LPGA taking the week off, it is a good time to take a look at some of the key player statistics after the first 15 tournaments of the year.


Inbee Park has already won 3 times in 2015


Rolex Player of the Year: (winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
1- Inbee Park - 154 points
2- Sei Young Kim - 111 points
3- Lydia Ko - 102
4- Brittany Lincicome - 81
5- Stacy Lewis  - 69

Vare Trophy: (Winner receives Hall of Fame point)
1- Inbee Park - 69.451 strokes per round
2- Hoo Joo Kim - 69.723
3- Stacy Lewis - 69.878
4- Lydia Ko - 69.913
5- Sei Young Kim - 70.125
5- Anna Nordqvist - 70.098

Race to the CME Globe: (1 million dollars)
1- Inbee Park - 2,671
2- Lydia Ko - 2,134
3- Sei Young Kim - 2,057
4- Stacy Lewis - 1,707
5- Anna Nordqvist 1,392

Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year:
1- Sei Young Kim - 886 points
2- Hyo Joo Kim - 794
3- Minjee Lee - 551
4- Ha Na Jang - 418
5- Ariya Jutanugarn - 348

Most Consecutive Tournaments Without a Missed Cut:
1- Shanshan Feng - 48
2- So Yeon Ryu - 27
2- Inbee Park - 27
4- Anna Nordqvist - 26
5- Hyo Joo Kim - 22

Most Victories:
1- Inbee Park - 3
2- Sei Young Kim - 2
2 -Lydia Ko - 2
4- 8 players tied with - 1

Most Top Five Finishes:
1- Inbee Park - 7
2- Lydia Ko - 5
2- Sei Young Kim - 5
4- Stacy Lewis - 4
4- Morgan Pressel - 4

Most Top Ten Finishes:
1- Inbee Park - 8
2- Stacy Lewis - 7
2- Sei Young Kim - 7
2- Hyo Joo Kim - 7
2- Sanshan Feng - 7
2- Lydia Ko - 7

Most Wins By Country:
1- South Korea - 8
2- United States - 2
2- New Zealand - 2
4- 3 tied with 1

Other Tidbits:
There will be golf in Toledo, Ohio for at least the next 4 years. The Marathon Classic contract has been extended 3 more years through 2018.

Lydia Ko missed the cut at the KPMG Women's LPGA Championship. It was her first missed cut of her career, and stopped her streak at 53. Shanshsn Feng now has the longest current streak at 48.

Brooke Henderson's 5th place finish this past week earned her an additional $132,725.. That brings her total for the year to $317,470. To obtain her LPGA card, and avoid having to go to Q-School, she would have to finish the year with earnings that would be 40th or better on the 2015 LPGA money list. She currently would be #20. Last year the 40th place player made $447,648. She has made this money while only teeing it up 7 times this year. She has used 5 of her 6 sponsor exemptions, and has Monday qualified 2 other times. I think we will probably be seeing her trying to qualify on Mondays quite often in the future. 

The Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA, heads to South Bend, Indiana this week for the 4th annual Four Winds Invitational. One of the strongest fields of the year will compete as the entire top 10 on the Volvic Race for the Card money list are scheduled to play, along with Brooke Henderson.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the week:
Inbee Park took over the number one spot, replacing Lydia Ko. Sei Young Kim jumps up from #15 to #11.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Solheim Cup Update - Players Fighting For Remaining Spots

While the LPGA is taking a one week break, I think this is a good time to take a look at the United States players who are fighting for spots on the 2015 Solheim Cup team.




Qualifications For Entry:
1- A player must finish in the top 8 on the Solheim Cup points list.
2- The top 2 players in the Rolex Rankings that have not already qualified.
3- There will be 2 captain's picks.

Points are accumulated the following way:
(From the first event after the previous Solheim Cup match in 2013 through the end of the 2014 season)
Winner - 40 points, 2nd - 20 points, 3rd - 18 points, 4th - 17 points, all the way down to 20th - 2 points.
(The 2015 season tournaments, leading up to the Solheim match)
Winner - 60 points, 2nd - 30 points, 3rd - 28.5 points, 4th - 27 points, 5th - 25.5 points, all the way down to a 20th place finish worth 3 points.
The reason for the increased points for the last part of the term is to give an advantage to the players who are hot going into the match. 
Points are doubled for major championships.


Here are the top 8 Solheim Cup point leaders as of today:
1- Stacy Lewis - 897
2- Lexi Thompson - 600.5
3- Michelle Wie - 430.5
4- Cristie Kerr - 409.5
5- Brittany Lincicome - 409
6- Morgan Pressel - 329.5
7- Angela Stanford - 305.5
8- Gerina Piller - 288.5
The above 8 players would make the team on points if it was held today. It is worth noting that all of the above players were on the 2013 team.

9- Jessica Korda - 259
10- Paula Creamer - 253.5
11- Lizette Salas - 228.5
12- Brittany Lang - 204
13- Mo Martin - 173
14- Austin Ernst - 161.5
15- Christina Kim - 132
The above 7 players would fail to qualify via the points system.

Here are the highest Rolex Ranked players, that wouldn't have already qualified:
Jessica Korda - #25 in current Rolex Rankings
Paula Creamer - #33
The above 2 players would make the team via the Rolex Rankings.
It is also worth noting that both of these players were also on the 2013 team.

Lizette Salas - #35
Mo Martin - #40
Brittany Lang #48
Alison Lee - #57
Christina Kim - #60
Austin Ernst #64
The above 6 players would fail to qualify via the Rolex Rankings.

Once again it is interesting to point out that all 10 players that would qualify as of today, were on the 2013 team. Brittany Lang and Lizette Salas, the other 2 members of the 2013 team, do not qualify at this point.

It then comes down to the 2 captain's picks. Assuming Paula Creamer holds on to her spot (she would be an obvious captain's pick, because of her past history in the event if she doesn't), who does Captain Juli Inkster pick?

Mo Martin - British Open Champion, keeps it in the fairway but doesn't have much length.

Christina Kim - Do her antics actually help or hurt the team?

Brittany Lang - Longtime Solheim team member with moderate success.

Lizette Salas - Member of 2013 team, but like most of these choices, hasn't played well this year.

Austin Ernst - Shows flashes of what she is capable of, but has not shown she can play well consistently. 

Alison Lee - Rising Star

Or will it be someone who might come from way back in the pack, like Kim Kaufman or Jennifer Johnson?

With the United States team losing the last 2 cups (getting trounced last year), I think a couple of new players are needed. There is still time for someone to make a run, but my picks at this point would be Alison Lee and Mo Martin. Mo has shown that she can handle big time pressure, and rookie Alison Lee is the brightest young American star. 

Stay tuned as this will heat up during the coming weeks.



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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pre Tournament Photos From KPMG Women's PGA Championship

As many of you may know, I have driven up to Harrison, NY., for the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. 

This is the second of five major championships on the LPGA schedule this year.

The course is spacious and beautiful. The weather forecast looks terrific.

I have said it many times, and I will say it again, "These girls are better than you can imagine, and oh so friendly." If you are in the area, take the time to stop by. If you haven't experienced an LPGA tournament you are in for a treat. Try it once and I guarantee you will want to come back again.

Here are some videos and photos taken during the practice rounds:


video
Hee Young Park on the practice tee


video
Se Ri Pak on the practice tee


video
Alison Lee getting in some practice on the greens


video
Brooke Henderson sharpens up her short game


Pernilla Lindberg talks with a reporter


Alison Lee

Cheyenne Woods

LPGA Chief Communications Officer, Kraig Kann, with Stacy Lewis

The Clubhouse

Golf Channel broadcaster Kelly Tilghman was spotted on the practice green.

Brooke Henderson shows us that big smile



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