Wednesday, July 23, 2014

International Crown Preview / Priority List Reshuffle

I am posting this a bit later than usual this week as I just drove back home from the Marathon Classic. It was another incredible tournament as Lydia Ko won for the second time this season. So Yeon Ryu had a chance to force a playoff on the final hole but missed a  6 foot putt. It certainly seems that every tournament has had that kind of finish this year. Very few tournaments have been decided before the 72nd hole.

This week the LPGA takes a break from its official tournament schedule, for the playing of the International Crown. This is a biennial event that will take place in even numbered years, as opposed to the Solheim Cup's odd  numbered years. It is a global  matchplay competition  that will feature 8 countries battling for the rights to be called "The World's Best Golf Nation."

Here are the key details:

Course:  Caves Valley Golf Club
Location:  Owings Mills, Maryland
Defending Champion:  This is the first time this event is taking place
Winning Score:  N/A

Final Field:  32 players
Par:  35/36 = 71 
Yardage:  6,628
Purse:  $1,600,000

The final field of eight countries was determined by the combined Rolex World Rankings of the top four players from each country as of the Rolex World Rankings published at the conclusion of the 2013 CME Group Titleholders event on Sunday, November 24, 2013. (Countries must have had a minimum of four ranked players to be eligible.) The final field of 32 players was determined on Monday, March 31, 2014 according to the Rolex World Rankings at the conclusion of the Kia Classic.

The competition will take place over four days. It will feature three days of four-ball competition and one day of singles matches on Sunday. Five of the eight countries will advance to the Sunday singles matches based on the outcome of the four-ball matches contested Thursday – Saturday.

Points will be awarded per match based on the following - two for a win; one for a tie and zero for a loss. All points from the four-ball matches will carry over to Sunday and the total cumulative points for the four days of competition will be used to determine the overall champion.

Each country will play two four-ball matches against each of the other three countries in their bracket.

At the conclusion of the three days of four-ball competition the two teams with the most points from each pool and one wild-card team will advance to Sunday Singles. In the event of a tie between teams tied for first or tied for second in each pool, the following tie-breaker will be used:

1. Total points accumulated in head-to-head matchups between the tied teams
2. Total number of matches won in all six four-ball matches
3. Highest seeded team entering competition

At the conclusion of the three days of four-ball matches, any country in third place or tied for third place in their respective pool will compete in a sudden-death, wild-card playoff to determine the final team to advance to Sunday's singles matches.

Once the wild-card competing countries have been determined, each country will select two players to compete in a sudden death, four-ball playoff to determine the wild-card winner.

After the wild-card playoff, countries will be re-seeded #1 through 5 based on total points earned in the four-ball matches.  In the event of a tie during the re-seed, the following tie-breaker will be used:
1. Total points accumulated in all six four-ball matches
2. Total points earned in head to head matchup (if they were in the same pool)
3. Total number of matches won in all six four-ball matches
4. Highest seeded team entering competition.

Each country will play one singles match against every other country

At the conclusion of the 10 Sunday singles matches, the country with the highest point total from the four days of competition will be “Crowned” the best golf nation in the world!

In the event of a tie after the Sunday singles matches, each country will select one player who will compete in a sudden-death playoff to determine the champion.

For more on this event see the Constructivist over at Mostly Harmless.

Priority List Reshuffle:
The second of two LPGA Priority List reshuffles were done today.
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.

The following players made the most important gains, and should now be playing in all full field events:
Lee-Anne Pace - 152 to 93
Laura Davies - 143 to 97
Yueer Cindy Feng - 165 to 103

The following players are not guaranteed to play all full field events, but have a much better chance than before the reshuffle:
Anya Alverez - 168 to 155
Louise Friberg - 173 to 154
Katie Harris - 178 to 156
Joanna Klatten - 157 to 147
Kris Tamulis - 159 - 148

The following players got hurt the most and most likely will be seeing less playing time:
Jenny Suh - 100 to 149
Ashleigh Simon - 102 to 141
Stacey Keating - 145 to 150
Lori Kane - 146 to 153
Megan McCrystal - 147 to 151
Nicole Jeray - 148 to 159
Julia Boland - 150 to 157
Veronica Felibert - 151 to 158
Emma Jandel - 154 to 162
Dana Holmqvist - 155 to 165
Birdie Kim - 156 to 167

Other Tidbits:
Azahara Munoz, whose clubs were lost by her airline, missed the cut for the first time in 26 events.

Ai Miyazato's top 20 finish at the Marathon Classic was her first in her last 19 tournaments.

Rolex Rankings Mover of the Week:
Lee-Anne Pace made the most important move by an LPGA player this week, jumping from #55 to #48.

Race to the CME Globe: (one million dollars)
Stacy Lewis keeps her commanding lead with 3,721 points. She is followed by Michelle Wie with 2,588, and Lydia Ko with 2,481.

Who's Hot:
So Yeon Ryu has finished in the top ten in four of her last five starts.
Julieta Granata has 3 consecutive top ten finishes, and eight straight top 25's.

Who's Not:
Sun Young Yoo has only made one cut in her last six starts.

Be sure to check back here for updates throughout the week. Links to the live scoreboards are always available here at the top of this page.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Marathon Classic Preview & Pairings

Congratulations goes out to Mo Martin for winning the 2014 Ricoh British Open . It seems like a different American player wins each week, but this one was totally unexpected. It was the first victory for the 31 year old Martin. Ironically, it comes after just recently switching from using an anchored putter.

This week the LPGA moves back to the United States and the state of Ohio, for the playing of the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-1.

Beatriz Recari holds up 2013 Marathon Classic Trophy

This will be tournament #18 of 32 on this year's LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Highland Meadows Golf Club
Location:  Sylvania, Ohio
Defending Champion:  Beatriz Recari
Winning Score:  69-65-67-66 = 267 (-17)

Final Field:  144 players
Par:  34/37 = 71
Yardage:  6,512
Purse:  $1,400,000

My strength of field rating is 56%, making it the third weakest field of the year. Twenty-three of the top 40 players on the LPGA Priority List, and 11 of the top 20 players from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. Some of the top players missing this week include: Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, I.K. Kim, Hee Young Park, Karrie Webb, Lizette Salas, Amy Yang, Anna Nordqvist, Jessica Korda, Sandra Gal, Se Ri Pak, Yani Tseng, and Natalie Gulbis.

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds:

Here are the television times:
Jul 17 - GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET
Jul 18 - GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET
Jul 19 - GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET
Jul 20 - GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET

Here are my picks for this week's tournament:
1- Michelle Wie
2- Lydia Ko
3- Stacy Lewis
4- Lexi Thompson
5- So Yeon Ryu
6- Paula Creamer
7- Chella Choi
8- Angela Stanford
9- Gerina Piller
10-  Jenny Shin
11-  Na Yeon Choi
12-  Cristie Kerr
I currently remain in 5th place this year among the 21 contestants.

Other Tidbits:
Michelle Wie had her cut streak stopped at 22, while Karrie Webb's was halted at 20.
Ai Miyazato could not finish higher than 45th, extending her major championship appearances without a victory to 40.
Charley Hull's 12th place finish increased her earnings  in LPGA events to $187,869. That would rank her #37 on the LPGA money list. She has played in just 6 LPGA tournaments.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Mo Martin leaps from #99 to #26, while Charley Hull breaks into the top 30 at #30. On the downside, Yani Tseng drops out of the top 50, dropping from #48 to #52.

Race to the CME Globe:
Stacy Lewis has a huge lead with 3,675 points, followed by Michelle Wie with 2,588, and Lydia Ko with 1,981.

Who's Hot:
Almost all the American players. Seven American players have won 11 tournaments this year. No other country has more than one winner.

Who's Not:
I.K. Kim has not finished better than 30th in her last 6 starts, with two missed cuts.

My wife and I have arrived in Ohio and will be in attendance this week. Be sure to check back here for any updates.

Live scoreboards to all women's tours are always available at the top of this page.

Here are the final results:

1Lydia Ko-15F
2So Yeon Ryu-14F
3Cristie Kerr-12F
4Kelly Tan-11F
4Katherine Kirk-11F
4Lee-Anne Pace-11F
7Pernilla Lindberg-10F
7Julieta Granada-10F
7Lindsey Wright-10F
7Kris Tamulis-10F
7Mo Martin-10F

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mo Martin Wins Ricoh British Open

In one of the most unlikely results in British Open History, Mo Martin has won the 2014 Ricoh British Open!

2014 British Open winner Mo Martin

Martin eagled the 18th hole to tie for the lead, and then had to wait over an hour for the other contenders to complete their rounds.

Inbee Park, Shanshan Feng and Suzann Pettersen all failed to take advantage of the fact that 3 of the last 4 holes were par fives, and all crumbled under the pressure.

The win was the first on the LPGA tour for the 31 year old Martin. U.S. players have now won 11 of the 17 tournaments that have been played this year, and all 3 major championships.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ricoh Women's British Open Preview & Pairings

After a one week break the LPGA moves to Lancashire, U.K., for the playing of the Ricoh Women's British Open.

This will be the third major championship of five to be played this year.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis won last year at St. Andrews.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis will not only be trying to defend her title, but will also be trying to win for the fourth time in her last eight starts.

This will be tournament # 17 of 32 on the 2014 LPGA schedule, and will mark the beginning of the second half of the season.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Royal Birkdale Golf Club
Location:  Southport, Lancashire, U.K.
Defending Champion:  Stacy Lewis
Winning Score:  67-72-69-72 = 280 (-8)

Final Field: 144 players
Par:  36/36 = 72
Yardage:  Not noted
Purse:  $3,000,000

My strength of field rating is a very strong 83%, making it the 4th strongest field of the year.  Forty-five of the top 50 players on the LPGA Priority List, and 28 of the top 30 from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. The most notable players not teeing it up this week include: Jennifer Johnson, Moriya Jutanugarn, Katherine Kirk, Natalie Gulbis, and Juli Inkster.

The field is also filled with non LPGA members who are very highly ranked in the Rolex Rankings. They Include: Sun-Ju Ahn (#21), Jiyai Shin (#31), Charley Hull (#32), Ariya Jutanugarn (#42), Rikako Morita (#45), Shiho Oyama (#59), Misuzi Narita (#62), Mamiko Higa (#65), Miki Saiki (#70), Minjee Lee (#71), and Stephanie Meadow (#81).

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds:

Here are the television times:
Jul 10 - ESPN 9:00 AM-12:00 PM ET
Jul 11 - ESPN 9:00 AM-12:00 PM ET
Jul 12 - ESPN 8:00 AM-12:00 PM ET
Jul 13 - ESPN 8:00 AM-12:00 PM ET

Here are my picks for this week's tournament:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Michelle Wie
3- Suzann Pettersen
4- Na Yeon Choi
5- Karrie Webb
6- Catriona Matthew
7- Paula Creamer
8- Inbee Park
9- Lexi Thompson
10- Cristie Kerr
11- Jiyai Shin
12- Charley Hull
My accurate picking at the Walmart Championship was good enough for 2nd place. It moved me up from #7 to #5 amongst the 20 participants in the Pak Picker standings for the year.

Other Tidbits:
 In a remarkable showing of consistency, Stacy Lewis has four wins, seven second place finishes, twelve top fives, and 23 top tens in her last 25 starts. 

Michelle Wie has played 54 rounds of golf this year and has not shot a round higher than 73.

Stephanie Meadow continues her remarkable rise in the Rolex Rankings. Stephanie, who just turned pro a couple of weeks ago, finished 3rd at the U.S. Open, vaulting her from #601 to #95. She followed that up by finishing 3rd this past week on the L.E.T. tour. She now jumps up from #95 to #81.

Be sure to check back here daily for any updates. Live scoreboards to all women's tours are always available from the link on top of this page.

Here are the leaders after round 3:
1Inbee Park-4-4F727268-212
T2Suzann Pettersen-3-4F727368-213
T2Shanshan Feng-3-3F737169-213
T2Sun Ju Ahn-3-1F756771-213
T5Amelia Lewis-2-1F727171-214
T5Julieta Granada-2EF727072-214
T7Charley Hull-1-6F737666-215
T7Stacy Lewis-1-2F717470-215
T7Eun-Hee Ji-1-1F747071-215
T7Amy Yang-1EF717272-215
T7So Yeon Ryu-1+2F717074-215
T7Mo Martin-1+5F696977-215
T7Beatriz Recari-1+2F746774-215

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Surprises & Disappointments 2014 - Part 2

Back in April I wrote who I thought were the biggest  surprises & disappointments of the year. The LPGA had only played 7 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:

1- Michelle Wie - She started to play better the second half of last season, but not too many people saw this coming. With the possible exception of Stacy Lewis, Wie has become the most consistent player on the LPGA tour. Michelle Wie started the year as the #61 ranked player in the world, and is now #6. She finished last season #41 on the money list, and she is #2 this year. She has teed it up 14 times this year and has had 2 wins (one a major championship), 6 top 5's, 10 top tens, and 13 top 20's. Her worst finish this year is a tie for 23rd place.

2- Anna Nordqvist - Anna came onto the LPGA in 2010 and won twice that year, with one of those wins being a major championship. She did not win again the next 3 years. Coming into the 2014 season we didn't have very high expectations. Anna has turned it all around this year winning twice, and her consistency has her currently #5 on this year's money list.

3- Karrie Webb - After a huge comeback year in 2012 when she won twice, Karrie slipped just a bit last year. Taking into account that she will be turning 40 this year, there was every reason to think that her numbers would decline some more. Well, that certainly hasn't happened! Karrie has won twice already this season. Currently #7 on this year's money list, this Hall of Famer is not slowing down.

4- Lydia Ko - Sure I know she had already won a couple of LPGA tournaments before this year. I also know that everyone expected her to have a big rookie season this year. So why is she a surprise? She is a surprise because with all the hype she still had to go out and do it. And do it she has. She has gotten that first win as an LPGA member under her belt, along with 6 top 5 finishes, and seven top tens. Currently #3 on this year's money list, she is having a rookie season for the ages.

5- Jennie Shin - Talk about flying under the radar, most fans still don't know who she is. Although Jennie is still looking for that first victory, she has a top 5, 4 top tens, and 8 top 20 finishes this year. Her improvement has been dramatic. Jennie finished #45 on the money list in 2013, and is currently #16. Look for that first victory to come along soon.

6- Gerina Piller - Somewhat of a late bloomer at 29 years old, Gerina just keeps getting better every year. A real bomber, she is #1 in driving distance this year. Gerina finished #68 on the money list in 2011, #48 in 2012, #26 in 2013, and is currently #23 this year. I look for that trend to continue.

Honorable mentions: Chella Choi, Azahara Munoz.

Biggest Disappointments:

1- Ai Miyazato - There are players having worse seasons than Ai, but none of them are as disappointing based on our expectations. Maybe like Yani Tseng, I will have to lower my expectations next year, but for now I am still waiting for her to turn it around. The numbers don't seem to make sense. She has missed 3 straight cuts. She has gone 28 tournaments without a top ten. Worse yet, 17 tournaments without a top 20.
This former #1 player has now dropped to #53 in the world. Her decline started last season when she dropped to #26 on the money list, this year she is currently #85.

2- Mika Miyazato - Things are not good if your name is Miyazato this year. Mika has actually been worse than Ai. She has missed the cut in 4 of her last 7 starts. She has not finished in the top twenty all year. In 2012 Mika finished #11 on the money list, this year she is #88.

3- I.K. Kim - In some ways this is more puzzling then the top two. I.K. came into this season as one of the best players in the world, and we haven't seen anything resembling that player. She has one 13th place finish this year, but other than that she has finished 30th or worse in all the others. I.K. finished #7 on last year's money list. You can currently find her residing at the #60 spot.

4- Beatriz Recari - What is going on here? Beatriz won twice last year and finished #8 on the money list. This year she has missed 6 cuts, doesn't have a top 20 finish, and is currently #98 on the money list.

5- Moriya Jutanugarn - Last year's rookie the year, has not shown up at all this year. Moriya has played in all 16 events this year and her best finish is 27th. Currently #75 on the money list, it's time to wake up or she might be fighting to get into events next year.

6- Vicky Hurst - I only rank her this low because my expectations weren't as high as the players above her, but Vicky might be having the worst season of any LPGA player. She has only made 1 cut this year in 12 attempts and ranks #157 on the money list. Once such a promising young player, she will now have a hard time retaining her playing card.

7- Sun Young Yoo - With just 1 top 20 finish in 13 starts she has not contended this year. Just 2 years ago she finished 17th on the money list. This year she currently #57.

Dishonorable mentions: Ihlee Lee, Carlotta Ciganda, Irene Coe.

Other Tidbits:
Lexi Thompson missed the cut this past week for only the 2nd time in her last 21 starts.

The LPGA has now hit the halfway point of the season with only 5 players that played all 16 tournaments.
They are: Hee Young Park, Chella Choi, Mo Martin, Moriya Jutanugarn, and Caroline Masson.

Chella Choi and Na Yeon Choi have only 6 top tens between them, but have finished 11th to 20th sixteen times.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Stacy Lewis remains #1, but now has a very large lead that would suggest she may be staying there for quite some time. Lydia Ko passes Inbee Park and moves up to the #2 spot.

Race to the CME Globe:  (1 million dollars)
Stacy Lewis has a huge lead with 3,524 points. She is followed by Michelle Wie with 2,588, and Lydia Ko with 1,928.

Who's Hot:
So Yeon Ryu has done everything but win. She has finished in the top ten in 5 of her last 6 starts.
Meena Lee has four consecutive top 15 finishes.

Who's Not:
Mindy Kim has missed the cut in her last 10 starts.