Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic Preview & Pairings

The LPGA moves to the state of Alabama this week for the playing of the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic. This tournament was last played in 2012 when it was called the Navistar Classic.

This will be the last stop for the tour in the United States until the final tournament of the season. After a one week break, the next 7 tournaments will be played in China, Malaysia, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Mexico. The season will then conclude in Florida with the CME Championship.

Stacy Lewis at the Navistar LPGA Classic
Defending Champion Stacy Lewis

This will be tournament #24 of 32 on this year's LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  RTJ Golf Trail, Capitol Hill, Senator Course
Location:  Prattville, Alabama
Defending Champion: Stacy Lewis
Winning Score:  66-70-65-69= 270 (-18)

Final Field:  144 players
Par: 36/36 = 72
Yardage:  Not shown
Purse:  $1,300,000

My strength of field rating is 37%, making it the weakest field of the year so far.
Defending Champion Stacy Lewis will be headlining a field that will also include highly ranked players: Lexi Thompson, Christie Kerr, Lizette Salas, Angela Stanford, I.K. Kim, and Chella Choi.

Here is the final field listing.

Here are the television times:
Sep 18 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Sep 19 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Sep 20 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Sep 21 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET

Here are my  Pak Picker Picks for this for this week's tournament:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Lexi Thompson
3- Chella Choi
4- Cristie Kerr
5- Lizette Salas
6- Julieta Granada
7-Angela Stanford
8- Jenny Shin
9- Brittany Lincicome
10- M.J. Hur
11- Beatriz Recari
12- Jodi Ewart Shadoff
I finished in 5th place last week and remain in 5th place among the 19 participants currently playing.

Other Tidbits:
Chella Choi is the only LPGA player to play in all 24 tournaments so far this year.
Paula Creamer's top ten finish was her first since her win in Singapore. 

Rolex Movers of the Week:
Karrie Webb makes this week's most important move, jumping from #9 to #5. M.J. Hur leaps up from #212 to #94. Non LPGA member Hyo-Joo Kim surges up ten spots to #10. On the downside a pair of former # 1's continue their decline as Yani Tseng drops down to #65, and Ai Miyazato to #74.

Race to the CME Globe: (1 million dollars)
Stacy Lewis continues to have a huge lead with 4,033 points. She is followed by Inbee Park with 3,087 and Lydia Ko with 2,986.

Who's Hot:
Inbee Park has 5 consecutive top 10 finishes, while Suzann Pettersen has 6 in her last 7 starts.

Who's Not:
Giulia Sergas has missed 5 consecutive cuts.

Here are the leaders after round 3:
1Mi Jung Hur-15F
1Paula Reto-15F
3Kris Tamulis-11F
3Stacy Lewis-11F
5Moriya Jutanugarn-8F
5Alison Walshe-8F
7Ilhee Lee-7F
7Perrine DeLacour-7F
7Brittany Lang-7F
7Ayako Uehara-7F
7Sydnee Michaels-7F

Be sure to check back here periodically for any updates. Links to all women's tours are always available at the top of this page.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Symetra Tour Championship - Who will earn their LPGA Cards This Week?

The Symetra Tour will complete its 2014 schedule this week with the playing of the Symetra Tour Championship. The Championship starts on Thursday, September 18th and concludes on Sunday, September 21st.

Why am I writing about this today? The answer is simple. All LPGA fans should be paying close attention to this week's Symetra Tour results.

The Symetra tour, also known as "the Road to the LPGA", will be handing out 10 LPGA tour cards to the top ten money winners at the completion of play.

Those ten players will get full tour status for the 2015 LPGA season. They will be issued a category 9 playing card, meaning they will be listed immediately after the top 80 LPGA players on the 2015 LPGA Priority List. These players will be able to compete in all full field events in 2015.

There are currently 39 players that have a chance to attain that card this week. If Ashley Tait, who is currently #39 on the Symetra Tour money list, was to win this week, she would then have more money than the player currently sitting at #10. 

The following players are safe and will receive their card no matter what happens this week:
1- Marissa Steen - $75,348
2- Min Seo Kwak - $68,552  
3- Sadena Parks - $55,232
4- Min Lee - $53,487
5- Wei-Ling Hsu - $53,004
6- Cindy Feng - $51,992

The following players are not safe:
7- Jackie Stoelting - $48,500
8- Kendall Dye - $46,032
9- Mallory Blackwelder - $39,487
10- Veronica Felibert - 39,479

The following players have the best chance to sneak in this week with a good finish:

Minimum Finish
Projected Final Earnings
11. Sara-Maude Juneau
12. Lee Lopez
9th ($3,531)
13. Lindy Duncan
9th ($3,531)
14. Brittany Altomare
5th ($6,435)
15. Demi Runas
5th ($6,435)
16. Emily Talley
4th ($7,963)
17. Nicole Vandermade
4th ($7,963)
18. Olivia Jordan-Higgins
3rd ($10,255)
19. Laura Gonzalez-Escallon
2nd ($14,088)
20. Madison Pressel
2nd ($14,088)

Players 21 through 39 must win the event ($22,500) in order to have a chance to get inside the top ten. A second place finish would not be  good enough for #21 Maude Aimee Leblanc.

Past players who have earned their LPGA cards after finishing in the Symetra Tour top 10 include Inbee Park and Gerina Piller.

Here are some key details to this week's event:

Course:  LPGA Internationl - Jones Course
Location:  Daytona Beach, Florida
Defending Champion:  Megan McChrystal
Winning Score: 68-71-68-68= 275 (-13)

Final Field:  120 players
Par:  72
Yardage:  6,389
Purse: $ 150,000

Check back here tomorrow for the preview of this week's LPGA tournament in Alabama.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

The Evian Championship Preview & Pairings

Defending Champion Suzann Pettersen

After a one week break the LPGA resumes its schedule this week with  the playing of the Evian Championship. This is the LPGA's 5th and final major championship of the year.

This will be tournament #23 of 32 to be played this year:

Here are the key details:

Course:  Evian Masters Golf Club
Location:  Evian-les-Bains, France
Defending Champion:  Suzann Pettersen
**Winning Score:  66- 69- 68 = 203 (-10)

Final Field:  120 Players
Par: 35/36=71
Yardage:  6,476
Purse:  $3,250.000

My strength of field rating is 85%, making it the 2nd strongest field of the year (only the Kraft Nabisco was stronger). Forty-seven of the top 50 players on the LPGA Priority List, and thirty-five of the top 40 players on the Rolex Rankings will be in attendance.

Including in the field will be many non LPGA members who are high up in the Rolex Rankings. They Include: Hyo Joo Kim (#20), Ha Na Jang (#22), Charley Hull (#30), In Gee Chun (#39), Sakura Yokomine (#44), Gwladys Nocera (#67), (a) Minjee Lee (#83), and Nikki Campbell (#89).

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds:

Here are the television times: (all live)
Sep 11 - GC 7:30 AM-12:30 PM ET
Sep 12 - GC 8:30 PM-11:30 PM ET
Sep 13 - GC 6:30 AM-11:30 AM ET
Sep 14 - GC 8:30 AM-12:00 PM ET
Sep 14 - NBC 12:00 PM-1:30 PM ET

Here are my Pak Picker Picks for this week's tournament:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Lydia Ko
3- Suzann Pettersen
4- Shanshan Feng
5- Karrie Webb
6- So Yeon Ryu
7- Beatriz Recari
8- Azahara Munoz
9- Lexi Thompson
10- Inbee Park
11- Chella Choi
12- Anna Nordqvist
My consistent picking the last few weeks have moved me up to #5 (22 players) in the season's standings.

** Last year's championship won by Suzann Pettersen was weather shortened to 54 holes.

Update #1 - It has now been confirmed that if either Inbee Park or Lydia Ko win this tournament, they will become #1 in the world no matter where Stacy Lewis finishes.

Update #2 - Golf Channel has changed its coverage for Friday September 12. It will now be shown between 8:30 PM and 11:30 PM.

1Hyo Joo Kim-11F
2Karrie Webb-10F
3Ha-Na Jang-9F
3Mi Jung Hur-9F
5Na Yeon Choi-8F
6Suzann Pettersen-7F
7Paula Creamer-6F
8Brittany Lincicome-4F
8Lydia Ko-4F
10Shanshan Feng-2F
10Moriya Jutanugarn-2F
10Lexi Thompson-2F
10Inbee Park-2F
10Anna Nordqvist-2F
10Mariajo Uribe-2F
Links to all women's tour scoreboards are always available at the top of this page. 
Be sure to check back here daily for tournament updates and results.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Rating the Rookies 2014 - Part 2

Four months have passed since I last did a report card on this year's rookies. 

I would like to change this up a bit this time, by strictly rating these girls on their chances of retaining LPGA cards for the 2015 season. Any successes or failures on other tours are not considered here. My only concern here is, are they safe for the upcoming season, or will they have to go back to qualifying school?

For those of you who might need some information on how the LPGA "Priority List" works, here is a brief explanation: 

If you finish in the top 80 on the 2014 money list, that will be your priority rating for 2015. In other words, if a player finishes #45 on the money list this year, she will be #45 on the priority list next year. That also means she will be eligible for all tournaments, since even limited fields have more than 45 players. It starts to get  real tricky after that as the top 10 players on the Symetra tour money list earn playing cards and are given the next ten spots on the Priority List. Players who finish 81-100 on the LPGA money list are then added, followed by the top 20 finishes from qualifying school. All of these players should still get into most tournaments in 2014.

If you finish 101-125 on the 2014 money list you are then added to the priority list. Unfortunately, although you get to keep your playing card, you will not get into all full field tournaments. In fact some of these players will choose to go back to qualifying school to try to improve their priority rating, or even choose to play on another tour. If you finish 126 or worse you lose your playing privileges.

The above is a general explanation, as trying to list all the categories on the priority list is too time-consuming and potentially confusing. The official LPGA website explains it in more detail. 

Very Secure:

1- Lydia Ko - Lydia has already won twice this year, and has 9 top tens. Saying that her card is secure is certainly an understatement. She is in a class by herself. Ranked #3 in the world, she has the Rookie of the Year Award all sewn up.

2- Mirim Lee - Also a winner on the LPGA tour this year, Mirim also has 2 other top ten finishes. She has made 12 of 16 cuts this year and is currently #23 on the money list. She is 2nd to Ko in the ROY race. 

3- Line Vedel - This former LET player is having a big year. Besides making 12 of 17 cuts, she has 3 top 5 finishes. Running 3rd in the ROY race, she is currently #34 on the money list and climbing fast.

4- Kim Kaufman - Probably the biggest surprise on this entire list based on expectations. Kim earned her card in Q-School this past year, but because she didn't finish very high had a very poor LPGA Priority Rating. She didn't get to play the first eight tournaments of the year so she played the Symetra Tour. When she finally got her chance, she sure opened our eyes with a 4th place finish in Texas. She proved that wasn't a fluke finishing 5th last week in Canada. She is #50 on the LPGA money list in spite of making only 12 starts. Very tall, listed at 6 feet, she looks like she is here to stay.

Looking Very Good:

1- Xi Yu Lin - When I did my original draft of this list a few days ago, she was not anywhere near this high. She changed all that this past weekend finishing 9th in Portland. That top 10 finish moved her all the way up to #71 on the money list and removed any doubt about her being around next year. She has made 10 of 15 cuts and is #4 in the ROY race.

2- Amy Anderson - Amy came onto the LPGA Tour this year with big expectations because of her 20 college victories. She has had a very up and down year. Her highlight so far is a 7th place finish in Hawaii. She has made 7 of 17 cuts this year, and is currently #82 on the money list. With her card for next year pretty much sewn up, look for her to become more consistent as she gains experience.

3- Kelly Tan - Kelly has quietly put together a very successful rookie season. She opened some eyes with her 4th place finish in Ohio. Unlike Kaufman above, she still has to show us she can do it again. Currently #85 on the money list, she appears to have done enough to be here next year.

4 & 5- Yueer Cindy Feng and Jackie Stoelting - Feng has played just 4 tournaments this year and Jackie just 1. It doesn't matter as they will gain full status on the LPGA tour next year because of the their stellar play on the Symetra Tour. Feng is currently 4th on the money list on that tour, and Jackie is 6th. 

On the Borderline:

1- Joanna Klatten - She drives the ball as far as any player on tour. Like Kim Kaufman, she had a poor LPGA Priority Rating at the start of the year and didn't get to play until the tenth tournament. She has played well making 7 of 11 cuts and finishing in the top 25 three times. She is currently hanging on to the #99 position on the money list. Hopefully she will retain her card and not go back to Q-School, but it is just a matter of time before she is here permanently. 

2- Jaye Marie Green - If the season ended today she would retain her card. Unfortunately for her, it doesn't, and she may have to make one more cut. Jaye has made 9 of 19 cuts this year and is #100 on the money list. Jaye has actually contended in a few tournaments this year only to fall down with poor final rounds. It was also unfortunate for her that one of her best finishes this year did not count on the money list because she was a sponsor exemption in a tournament with no cut on foreign soil. If that money had counted, she would be listed above some of the others I have already listed. Still very young and not as experienced as some on this list, she is seen by many as a future star. 

3-  Jennifer Kirby - Jennifer is on the outside looking in at this point because she is #109 on the money list. She has made 9 of 17 cuts but has failed to finish higher than 36th. Unlike Jaye Marie, she has lots of work to do and very little time to do it.

4- Paula Reto - It looked like she had no chance at all to retain her card coming into this past weekend. That changed quite a bit when she finished 9th in Portland giving her some hope. Unfortunately she had made only 5 of 16 cuts up until then. She moved up this week to #105 on the money list, meaning she has to have another good finish or it's back to Q-School in December. 

5- Lindy Duncan - Lindy has played just one tournament this year and missed the cut. She is currently #11 on the Symetra Tour money list, and is just one spot away from gaining full time status on the LPGA Tour. 

Not Looking Good:

1- Guilia Molinaro - Her second place finish on the Symetra Tour money list last year led to high expectations. She has not yet been able to live up to them. She has made just 7 of 19 cuts and has not finished higher than 23rd. Her current position of #114 on the money list means she needs a top ten finish fast.

2- Stacey Keating - Stacey has made just 3 of 14 cuts this year. She does have a 19th place finish giving her a very small glimmer of hope. Currently #126 on the money list, she also needs a top ten finish fast.

3- Erica Popson - She has made just 5 of 18 cuts this year and her best finish is 44th. Her #133 position on the money list puts her in the same position as the two players above her.

4- Emma Jandel - It has been a very tough season for Emma. Her best finish in 12 starts is 48th. Making just 4 cuts this year has put her in a position where she might need a top 5 finish in Alabama (probably her last opportunity), to retain her card.

Looking Dismal:

The following rookies have little or no chance of retaining their LPGA playing cards for the 2015 season. Qualifying School is definitely in their future. (In alphabetical order)

1- Brittany Altomare - Has not played an LPGA event this year
2- Anya Alvarez - Has made just 2 of 12 cuts
3- Dottie Ardina - Has not made a cut in her 4 opportunities
4- Megan Grehan - Has made just 2 of 17 cuts
5- Dani Holmqvist - Has failed to make the cut in all of her 7 opportunities
6- Natalie Sheary - Has not made a cut in 5 starts
7- Marta Silva - Has missed the cut in both of her opportunities
8- Kristie Smith - Played only once and failed to make the cut.
9- Caroline Westrup - Eight opportunities and 8 missed cuts

Other Tidbits:
Jenny Shin missed the cut this past weekend for the first time in her last 20 starts.
Moriya Jutanugarn, last year's Rookie of the Year, finally broke through with a 19th place finish. It was her first top 20 finish in 21 starts this year.
Austin Ernst became the 8th American player to win a tournament this year. The Americans now have a total of 12 victories this year. South Korea is next in line with 3 players totaling 4 wins.

Rolex Movers of the week:
Line Vedel jumps up from #72 to #64, while Austin Ernst catapults from the #145 position all the way to #74.

Race to the CME Globe: (1 Million Dollars)
Stacy Lewis continues to have a huge lead with 3,964 points. She is followed by Inbee Park with 2,993 and Lydia Ko with 2,800.

Who's Hot:
Eun-Hee Ji has very quietly amassed 4 top tens and 7 top 20 finishes this year.

Who's Not:
Giulia Sergas has missed the cut in her last 4 tournaments.
Mika Miyazato has failed to register a top 20 finish this entire season.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Portland Classic Preview & Pairings

Let me start this week by congratulating So Yeon Ryu for her victory at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open. Her score of -23 was 2 strokes better than runner up Na Yeon Choi.

The LPGA moves to the state of Oregon this week for the playing of the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions.
Defending Champion Suzann Pettersen

This will be tournament #22 of  32 on the LPGA schedule this year.

Here are the Key Details:

Course:  Columbia Edgewater Country Club
Location:  Portland, Oregon
Defending Champion:  Suzann Pettersen
Winning Score:  68-63-70-67 = 268 (-20)

Final Field:  144 players
Par:  36/36 = 72
Yardage:  6,465
Purse:  $1,300,000

My strength of  field rating is 56%, making it the fourth weakest field of the year. Fourteen of the top 25 players from the LPGA Priority List, and 7 of the top 20 players from the Rolex Rankings will be in action. Players not teeing it up this week include: Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson, Paula Creamer, Karrie Webb, Cristie Kerr, Amy Yang, Jessica Korda, Pornanong Phatlum, Azahara Munoz, Brittany Lincicome, and the injured Michelle Wie. Charley Hull has received a sponsor exemption and Ariya Jutanugarn was a Monday qualifier.

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds.

Here are the television times:
Aug 28 - GC 6:30 PM-9:30 PM ET
Aug 29 - GC 7:00 PM-9:30 PM ET
Aug 30 - GC 7:00 PM-9:30 PM ET
Aug 31 - GC 7:00 PM-9:00 PM ET

Here are my picks for this week's tournament:
1- Suzann Pettersen
2- Anna Nordqvist
3- So Yeon Ryu
4- Shanshan Feng
5- Na Yeon Choi
6- Chella Choi
7- Jenny Shin
8- Charley Hull
9- Julieta Granada
10- Lizette Salas
11- Meena Lee
12- Carlotta Ciganda

Other Tidbits:
Ai Miyazato has now gone 38 consecutive tournaments without a top ten finish.
Kim Kaufman's score of -15, was the lowest of her young career. Her 5th place finish was the second only to her 4th place finish at the North Texas Shootout earlier this year.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
So Yeon Ryu jumps up from #9 to #5, while Na Yeon Choi Leaps from #20 to 15. Outside the top 100, Danielle Kang vaults from #138 to #106, and Kim Kaufman soars from #200 to #124. On the downside Ariya Jutanugarn drops four more spots to #54. Paula Creamer drops out of the top 15 for the first time in many years. She drops 3 spots to #16.

Race to the CME Globe:
Stacy Lewis continues to have a very large lead with 3,964 points. She is followed by Inbee Park with 2,993 and Lydia Ko with 2,800.

Who's Hot:
Inbee Park has four consecutive top 4 finishes. Suzann Pettersen has finished in the top seven in five consecutive tournaments.

Who's Not::
Moriya Jutanugarn has played in 20 tournaments this year. Her best finish was a tie for 27th.
Ryann O'Toole has missed 8 consecutive cuts.

Here are the final results: (Austin Ernst wins playoff)

1x-Austin Ernst-14F
2In-Kyung Kim-14F
3Chella Choi-12F
3So Yeon Ryu-12F
5Karine Icher-11F
5Na Yeon Choi-11F
5Line Vedel Hansen-11F
5Eun-Hee Ji-11F
9Paula Reto-10F
9Ilhee Lee-10F
9Lizette Salas-10F
9Laura Diaz-10F
9Mariajo Uribe-10F
9Xi Yu Lin-10F
9Mi Jung Hur-10F

Be sure to check back daily for any updates. Links to live scoreboards to all ladies' events are always available at the top of this page.

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