Monday, October 12, 2015

Symetra Tour Championship - Who will earn LPGA Cards for 2016?

A large part of the following is taken word for word from the Symetra Tour official website. Although I don't follow this tour quite as closely as I do the LPGA tournaments, I feel the importance of this event this week warrants major attention, as LPGA tour cards for 2016 will be earned at its completion.

Symetra Tour Championship presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
LPGA International, Jones Course
Daytona Beach, Florida

The Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA, comes to Daytona Beach for the final event of this historic 2015 season. The Symetra Tour Championship presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University starts on Thursday, October 15. With nine months of competition and 22 events in the books, ten players will earn coveted LPGA Tour cards after the final round of play on Sunday. 

This is the ten players who would earn cards if the season had ended today:

1Molinaro , Giulia $68,632.0018

2Park , Annie $66,684.0010

3Lopez , Lee $60,995.0021

5Iacobelli , Daniela $60,703.0021

4Holmqvist , Dani $60,171.0019

7Hurst , Vicky $57,814.0014

6Llaneza , Alejandra $57,802.0018

8Grice , Casey $54,501.0021

9James , Augusta $53,077.0020

10Rohanna , Rachel $52,314.0020

The top 108 up-and-coming professionals from the United States and 17 countries around the globe will compete one final time for a $150,000 total tournament purse. The winner will earn $22,500 and could jump into the top 10 depending on their current standing on the money list. 

First-round play begins on Thursday, October 15 and the four round event concludes on Sunday, October 18. There will be a cut made to the top 70 and ties following second round play on Friday. This is the fifth 72-hole event of the season, which is up from just two a year ago. Play will begin at 8:00 a.m. all four days. A split tee start will be used on Thursday-Saturday and a single-tee start will be used on Sunday. 

The Jones course is a par-72 and will play 6,443 yards for the championship. 

The top 23 players are still eligible to earn a Tour card. Number 23 on the money list, Dottie Ardina, has earned $30,129 this year. The first-place check of $22,500 would increase her earnings to $52,629, which is just in front of current No. 10 Rachel Rohanna’s total of $52,314. Nobody outside the top 23 can 

mathematically earn a card at this point. 

The Volvik Race for the Card money list is tighter than it has ever been. The margin for error is so small this week that No. 11, Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu, could move into the top 10 with a 47th place finish. Further, No. 3 Lee Lopez is just $9,401 in front of Morita-WanyaoLu. For comparison, the gap between No. 3 and No. 11 heading into the Symetra Tour Championship last year was $18,694.

The incredibly interesting race to watch is between No. 11 Morita-WanyaoLu ($51,594), No. 12 Brianna Do ($51,037) and No. 13 Lindy Duncan ($50,315). All three have had stellar years and are more than capable of squeezing into the top 10. Morita-WanyaoLu won the Symetra Classic and has five top 10’s, Do just finished solo second at the IOA Golf Classic on Sunday to post a sixth top 10 and Duncan has seven top 10’s. 

Nine of the top 10 on the money list are in the field. The only player not in the field is No. 1 Giulia Molinaro, who has already locked up a Tour card. Molinaro has a prior commitment, but is expected to be at the card ceremony on Sunday. The field also includes 21 LPGA Tour members. 

There always seems to be drama on Sunday of the Symetra Tour Championship. Every year since 2007, a player outside the top 10 has jumped into the top 10 with a strong finish at the season finale. It is also interesting to note that only one player each of the last seven years has gone from outside the top 10 to inside at the finale. The 2006 season was the last time nobody from outside the top 10 earned a card at the final tournament. The last year that multiple players moved into the top 10 after the last event was 2004 when Kris Tamulis and Malinda Johnson went from 16th to ninth and 11th to fifth respectively. 

Since 1999, six players that won the final event went on to earn a card - Candy Hannemann (‘03), Malinda Johnson (‘04), Vicky Hurst (‘08), Cindy LaCrosse (‘10), Sydnee Michaels (‘11) and Daniela Iacobelli (‘12).  

WHO’S GUARANTEED TO RECEIVE AN LPGA CARD: The 2015 season has been like non-other and the Symetra Tour Championship will be as wide open as the Tour has experienced. No. 1 Giulia Molinaro and No. 2 Annie Park are the only two players mathematically guaranteed to earn a Tour card come Sunday. Therefore, there are 21 players (excluding Molinaro and Park) vying for eight spots. 

Although No. 3 Lee Lopez (Whittier, Calif.) is not mathematically guaranteed a spot, a wild scenario would have to unfold. A clearer picture will present itself after the cut on Friday. 

PROJECTIONS FOR 11-23 ON TRYING TO EARN A CARD: Here is a look at what players 11-23 must do in order to have a chance to earn a card. The minimum finishes assume that the players in the top 10 don’t earn additional money. The projections also assume payouts for solo finishes. Keep in mind that No. 10 on the money list has currently earned $52,314. 

PROJECTIONS FOR 11-23 ON TRYING TO EARN A CARD: Here is a look at what players 11-23 must do in order to have a chance to earn a card. The minimum finishes assume that the players in the top 10 don’t earn additional money. The projections also assume payouts for solo finishes. Keep in mind that No. 10 on the money list has currently earned $52,314. 
Player Current Earnings Minimum FinishToal with Min. Finish
11. Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu$51,594 47th$52,327
12. Brianna Do$51,037 31th $52,321
13. Lindy Duncan$50,31518th$52,340
14. Jimin Kang (Withdrew Mon.)$46,612 5th$53,047
15. Maude-Aimee Leblanc $44,809  4th$52,772
16. Caroline Westrup  $44,243  3rd$54,498
17. Madeleine Sheils$43,4183rd$53,673
18. Chie Arimura $43,410 3rd $53,665
19. Samantha Richdale $40,7012nd $54,789
20. Brittany Benvenuto $39,5772nd $53,665
21. Brittany Altomare$33,518Win$56,018
22. Katie Kempter$33,094 Win$55,594
23. Dottie Ardina $30,129Win$52,629

SYMETRA TOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR STILL WIDE OPEN: The Symetra Tour Player of the Year goes to the player that earns the most money at seasons end. Since No. 1 Molinaro is not in the field, the door is open for anyone in the top 14 to overtake her with a win. No. 2 Annie Park needs to finish 18th to pass Molinaro. No. 3 Lee Lopez needs a third place finish or better to potentially pass Molinaro. 
GAELLE TRUET ROOKIE OF THE YEAR RACE: Annie Park is in the driver’s seat for the Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year award. Park won her fourth career professional start at the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic and never looked back. She won the PHC Classic in Milwaukee two weeks later and earned the hat trick by winning the Prairie Band Casino & Resort Charity Classic in mid-September.

The closest rookie to Park is Augusta James, who is ninth on the money list. She would need at least a solo second place finish to pass her. 

The last player to win Symetra Player of the Year and Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year in the same season was Mina Harigae in 2009. Harigae finished 81st on the LPGA Tour money list this season. She has six career top 10 finishes on the LPGA. In 2008, Vicky Hurst was the player of the year and the rookie of the year. Others to win both in the same year include: Song-Hee Kim (2006) and Lorena Ochoa (2002).

   (Currently 1,310 followers)                                        

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Preview & Pairings

After a three week break from tournament play, the LPGA resumes its schedule this week with the playing of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.  Shanshan Feng will be trying to defend the title she won last year when she shot a final round 63 to best Pornanong Phatlum by 3 strokes.

 This is the first of 5 tournaments on the current "Asian Swing". It is also the start of a seven week stretch (without a break) where the season will conclude with the playing of the CME Group Tour Championship.

2014 champion  Shanshan Feng

This will be tournament #25 of 31 on this year's LPGA schedule.

Here are the Key Details:

Course:  Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club
Location:  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Defending Champion: Shanshan Feng
Winning Score:  67-67-69-63 = 266 (-18)

Final Field:  75 players
Par:  35/36 = 71
Yardage:  6,246
Purse:  $2,000,000

My strength of field rating is a very respectable 70%. Forty-three of the top 50 players from the LPGA priority list (which is not used to determine the fields on the Asian Swing), and 43 of the top 50 players from the Rolex Rankings will be in attendance. Key players not teeing it up this week include: Na Yeon Choi, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome,  Brooke Henderson, M.J. Hur (currently the #1 alternate), Meena Lee, and Caroline Hedwall. LET star Melissa Reid (#78 in the Rolex Rankings) is a sponsor invitee.

Here are the pairings for the first round.

Here are the television times:
GC Thursday Oct. 8 12:00-2:00 p.m. ET(Tape)
GC Friday Oct. 9  5:30 - 8:00 a.m. ET (Tape)
GC Saturday Oct 10, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. ET (Tape)
GC Sunday Oct 11. 12:00 - 3:30 p.m. ET (Tape)

Here are my Pak Picker picks for this week's tournament.
1- Shanshan Feng
2- Inbee Park
3- Lydia Ko
4- So Yeon Ryu
5- Stacy Lewis
6- Hyo Joo Kim
7- Sei Young Kim
8- Lexi Thompson
9- Amy Yang
10- Ha Na Jang
11- Ilhee Lee
12- Chella Choi
I am currently in 2nd place (one point out of the lead), among the 21 current participants.
I correctly picked the winner and the exact score  (14 1/2 to 13 1/2) of the Solheim Cup. Unfortunately, that was not part of the above contest.

Also, the Symetra Tour will be in action this week. There are just 2 tournaments left on that tour's schedule. These last 2 tournaments take on added significance as the top 10 players from the money list will get full time LPGA playing cards for the 2016 season.  You can find a great preview of this tournament here. 

Be sure to check back here daily for any LPGA news or updates.They will be posted here at the bottom of this blog.  Links to all Women's Tour scoreboards can be found at the top of this page.

Here are the final results:

1Jessica Korda-18F
2Lydia Ko-14F
2Shanshan Feng-14F
2Stacy Lewis-14F
5Yani Tseng-13F
6Ha-Na Jang-12F
7Anna Nordqvist-11F
7Mika Miyazato-11F
7Xi Yu Lin-11F
10Haru Nomura-10F
10In-Kyung Kim-10F
12Ryann O'Toole-9F
12Amy Yang-9F
14Caroline Masson-8F
15Eun-Hee Ji-7F
15Alison Lee-7F
15Inbee Park-7F

   (Currently 1,308 followers)                                        

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stats & Facts - Volume 26 / Asian Swing News

With the LPGA nearing the end of its longest break of the year, it's a good time to take a look at the key player statistics after the first 24 tournaments of the year. Only 7 tournaments remain on the 2015 schedule, so the race for the major awards is really heating up.

It looks like Inbee Park & Lydia Ko will be fighting it out for all the major awards

Rolex Player of the Year: (Winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
1- Inbee Park - 243 points
2- Lydia Ko - 224
3- Sei Young Kim - 122
4- Stacy Lewis - 113
5- Lexi Thompson - 104
This appears to be a 2 player race, with Inbee & Lydia going down to the wire.

Vare Trophy: (Winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
1- Inbee Park - 69.442 strokes per round
2- Lydia Ko - 69.534
3- Stacy Lewis - 69.725
4- Hyo Joo Kim - 69.986
5- Lexi Thompson - 70.096
This race is still up for grabs. The top three are very close, but don't count anyone out yet.

Official Money:
1- Inbee Park - $2,316,422
2- Lydia Ko - $2,190,922
3- Stacy Lewis - $1,538,431
4- Sei Young Kim - $1,375,797
5- Lexi Thompson - 1,307,893
It looks Like Inbee and Lydia will go down to the wire again.

Race to the CME Globe (1 million dollars)
1- Lydia Ko - 3,893 points
2- Inbee Park - 3,832
3- Stacy Lewis - 2,773
4- Sei Young Kim - 2,563
5- Lexi Thompson - 2,181
Don't let the fact that Inbee & Lydia are way ahead fool you. These points are reset before that final big tournament, making those big leads much smaller. Stacy was way ahead last year and did not win.

Before I go any further, I want to say the above races are the most important of all the stats I have compiled. It shows which players are truly having the best seasons.
It clearly shows the following:
1- Inbee Park and Lydia Ko are far and away having the best seasons on the LPGA tour.
2- Stacy Lewis, in spite of not winning, is staying close enough where a big finish could put her in contention for an award or two.
3- Hyo Joo Kim & Sei Young Kim, in their rookie seasons, have quickly put their names up there with the very best players on tour.
4- Lexi Thompson has quietly blossomed into the superstar she was advertised to be. She is one of just 4 players (Inbee, Lydia, and Stacy are the others), who are listed in all of the above races. She is now the number four ranked player in the world.

Most Top Five Finishes:
1- Inbee Park - 10
2- Lydia Ko - 9
3- Stacy Lewis - 7
3- So Yeon Ryu - 7
5- Sei Young Kim - 6

Most Top Tens:
1- Inbee Park - 13
2- Lydia Ko - 12
3- Stacy Lewis - 11
4- Lexi Thompson - 10
4- Shanshan Feng - 10

Most Top Twenty Finishes:
1- Inbee Park - 18
2- Stacy Lewis - 17
3- Hyo Joo Kim - 15
4- Sei Young Kim - 14
4- Lydia Ko - 14
6- Lexi Thompson - 13
6- So Yeon Ryu - 13

Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award:
1- Sei Young Kim - 1200 points
2- Hyo Joo Kim - 1102
3- Minjee Lee - 936
4- Ha Na Jang - 694
5- Alison Lee - 693
The best rookie crop ever? This one appears to be a 2 player race, but don't count Minjee out yet.

Solheim Cup Points:
1- Lexi Thompson - 58
2- Kris Tamulis - 40
3-Alison Lee - 32
4- Stacy Lewis - 28
5- Morgan Pressel - 22
6- Austin Ernst - 20
7- Sydnee Michaels - 18
8- Jaye Marie Green - 16
It's early. But they all count.

Most Wins By Country:
1- South Korea - 12
2- United States - 4
3- New Zealand - 4
4- Four tied with - 1

Other Tidbits:

There are no more full field events remaining on the LPGA schedule. All of the remaining 7 events have limited fields. Here are the field numbers for all the remaining events:

1- Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia - Field 75, From LPGA list 63, 12 sponsor exemptions.
2- LPGA KEB Hana Bank - Field 78, 58 LPGA, 12 KLPGA, 7 sponsor exemptions.
3- Fubon LPGA Taiwan - Field 81, 61 LPGA, 15 Taiwan LPGA, 4 sponsor exemptions.
4- Blue Bay LPGA - Field 81, LPGA 61, 15 China LPGA, 4 sponsor exemptions
5- Toto Japan Classic - Field 78, LPGA 43, Japan LPGA 35, no sponsor exemptions.
6- Lorena Ochoa Invitational - Field 36, LPGA 31, 5 sponsor exemptions
7- CME Group Tour Championship - Field 72, LPGA 72.
On all 5 tournaments of the Asian swing, LPGA players qualify by their placement on this year's money list, not the priority list that was used for all the previous tournaments.

All money earned by players that got into the field as a sponsor exemption (on all Asian swing tournaments), will not count as official money, and therefore will not help in any way in retaining their playing cards for 2016.

The following players have been given sponsor exemptions into next week's Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia:
1- Aditi Ashok (a)
2- Anil Baker
3- Nur Durriyah Damian (a)
4- Christina Kim
5- Michelle Koh
6- Cindy Lee Pridgen
7- Ryann O'Toole
8- Melissa Reid
9- Paula Reto
10- Jennifer Rosales
11- Kelly Tan
12- Cheyenne Woods

The following players have been given sponsor exemptions for the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, that will be played two weeks from now.
1- Hee Yun Chong
2- Yu-Sang Hou
3- Mi Jung (MJ) Hur
4- Juli Inkster
5- Han Sol Ji
6- Ai Miyazato
7- Min Lee

   (Currently 1,306 followers)                                        

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Year - Part 2

With the LPGA taking a 2 week break I would like to take this opportunity to take a look at the players that have taken the biggest leaps, and the biggest falls in the Rolex Rankings in 2015. I last did this when the season was 1/3 over. Now we have completed over 75% of the schedule, and things have changed dramatically.

The Rolex Rankings system awards points to players based on an accumulated 104-week "rolling" period, with the points awarded in the most recent 13-week period carrying a stronger value. A player is then ranked according to her average points per tournament, as determined by dividing her total number of points by the number of eligible tournaments played during the 104-week period. A minimum divisor (35) is also used. I have gone back to the first Rolex Rankings of the year and compared them to the current rankings. The only requirements for my list are: A player must have been ranked in the top 100 at the start of the year, or be in the top 100 now. 

Brooke Henderson is  currently the Rolex Rankings biggest mover of 2015

The Year's Biggest Gainers:

1- Brooke Henderson - 0.51 to 4.48 = Gain of 3.97 (Moved from # 223 to #16)
2- Minjee Lee - 1.45 to 4.89 = Gain of 3.44 (Move 78 -13)
3- Alison Lee - 0.09 to 3.43 = Gain of 3.34 (Move 482 - 27)
4- Lydia Ko - 9.66 to 12.68 = Gain of 3.02 (Move 2 - 2)
5- Sei Young Kim - 2.46 to 5.35 = Gain of 2.89 (Move 39 - 10)
6- Amy Yang - 3.32 to 5.49 = Gain of 2.17 (Move 23 - 9)
7- Inbee Park - 10.61 to 12.76 = Gain of 2.15 (Move 1 - 1)
8- In Gee Chun - 3.49 to 5.34 = Gain of 1.85 (Move 19-11)
9- Morgan Pressel - 2.16 to 3.79 = Gain of 1.63 (Move 52 - 22)
10- Jin-Young Ko - 2.42 to 3.90 = Gain of 1.48 (Move 41 - 21)
11- Lexi Thompson - 5.31 to 6.68 = Gain of 1.37 (Move 10 - 4)
12- Nicole Larson - 0.41 to 1.59 = Gain of 1.18 (Move 249 - 72)
13- Brittany Lincicome - 3.63 to 4.80 = Gain of 1.17 (Move 18- 14)
14- Maria McBride - 0.06 to 1.22 = Gain of 1.16 (Move 528 - 98)
14- Bo-Me Lee - 2.60 to 3.76 = Gain of 1.16 (Move 36 - 24)
16- Candie Kung - 0.76 to 1.78 = Gain of 1.02 (Move 154 - 62)
16- Sung-Hyan Park - 0.67 to 1.69 = Gain of 1.02 (Move 169 - 66)
18- Teresa Lu - 2.70 to 3.69 = Gain of 0.99 (Move 33-25)
19- Mika Miyazato - 1.37 to 2.29 = Gain of 0.92 (Move 82 - 45)
20- Austin Ernst - 1.51 to 2.25 = Gain of 0.74 (Move 75 to 47)
20- Mi Hyang Lee - 2.03 to 2.74 = Gain of 0.74 (Move 56 - 31)

Michelle Wie has been the Rolex Rankings biggest decliner in 2015

The Year's Biggest Decliners:

1- Michelle Wie - 6.30 to 3.91 = Loss of 2.39 (Moved from #6 to #20)
2- Q Baek - 4.90 to 2.77 = Loss of 2.13 (Move 11-32)
3- Karrie Webb - 5.56 to 3.77 = Loss of 1.79 (Move 9 - 23)
4- Suzann Pettersen - 6.85 to 5.53 = Loss of 1.32 (Move 4 to 8)
5- Paula Creamer - 3.47 to 2.24 = Loss of 1.23 (Move 20 - 50)
6- Se Ri Pak - 1.95 to 0.83 = Loss of 1.12 (Move 59 - 146)
7- Jessica Korda - 3.30 to 2.25 = Loss of 1.05 (Move 24 to 48)
8- Caroline Hedwall - 2.03 to 1.01 = Loss of 1.02 (Move 55 to 120)
9- Meena Lee - 2.16 to 1.24 = Loss of 0.92 (Move 51 - 96)
10- Catriona Matthew - 2.83 to 1.92 = Loss of 0.91 (Move 28 - 56)
11- Yoon-Kyung Heo - 2.71 to 1.81 = Loss of 0.90 (Move 32 - 61)
12- Sun Ju Ahn - 3.97 to 3.10 = Loss of 0.87 (Move 15 - 29)
13- Angela Stanford - 3.37 to 2.55 = Loss of 0.82 (Move of 22 - 36)
13- Jodi Ewart Shadoff - 1.53 to 0.71 = Loss of 0.82 (Move 74 to 175)
15- Beatriz Recari - 1.86 to 1.05 = Loss of 0.81 (Move 62 - 114)
16- Jennifer Johnson - 1.58 to 0.82 = Loss of 0.76 (Move 71 to 149)
17- Shanshan Feng - 6.84 to 6.12 = Loss of 0.72 (Move 5 - 6)
18- Haeji Kang - 1.34 to 0.63 = Loss of 0.71 (Move 84 to 195)
19- Na-Ri Lee - 1.65 to 1.04 = Loss of 0.61 (Move 68 to 116)
20- Hee Young Park - 2.24 to 1.64 = Loss of 0.60 (Move 49 to 68)

I will revisit this one more time at the end of this season.

   (Currently 1,303 followers)                                        

Monday, September 21, 2015

Suzann Pettersen Apologizes for Solheim Cup Actions

It was an incredible weekend of women's golf. A huge congratulations goes out to Team USA for winning the 2015 Solheim Cup.

The USA takes back the Solheim Cup

 They did it in spectacular fashion, coming back after being down 10-6 after the first 2 days. It was the biggest comeback in Solheim Cup history.

The victory now gives the USA a 9 to 5 victory advantage in Solheim Team play.

American Alison Lee was also left in tears as the situation at the 14th Solheim Cup got the better of her in Germany
Alison Lee, after the completion of her Sunday morning fourball match.

A picture is worth a thousand words

By now everyone has either seen, heard, or read about the Pettersen - Alison Lee incident. I am sure most have formed their opinions over what took place on the 17th green on Sunday morning. I want to say that I am overjoyed that this incident did not have any effect on the final outcome. As an American, of course I was rooting for my team to pull out the victory, but if it wasn't to be, I was hoping team Europe won by a margin bigger than 1 point.

I have been doing this blog for a number of years now and I try to report interesting statistics about how the LPGA players are performing. Most of the time those statistics are positive, sometimes they are not. I always keep it to the golf and not about the players' personality. For the first time I am going to break that rule.

Golf, it has been said, is a gentlemen's game. It is a sport where the integrity of the game is supposed to be the most important thing. It has been played by such class acts as Arnold Palmer, Nancy Lopez, and Se Ri Pak (just to name a few). I am afraid that Suzann Pettersen will never be thought of in that company. Was Suzann within the rules for doing what she did? Yes she was. Should she have done it? Of course not. It was just another selfish act that has become the norm when following her. Here are just a few examples:

1- A few year's back commissioner Michael Whan announced a tournament (the Founders Cup), that would not have a purse. It was strictly a charitable event. Not everyone showed up to play for free, but most did. Almost all players from the USA, Asia, and Europe teed it up. It was for a good cause. Suzann was among the few who did not attend. It was certainly within her right. She could have quietly stayed away. Instead she was very vocal about not playing for free. The Founders Cup is now one of the biggest events on the LPGA schedule and includes a large purse. Of course Suzann plays it now every year.

2- During the Sybase match play championship, players were asked not to leave if they were eliminated in round one. The LPGA had something going on the next day (I don't remember what). Natalie Gulbis and Suzann were the only players to leave. Natalie's grandparent died. Suzann just took off.

3- It is etiquette in golf that when you putt out, you wait for the player(s) your paired with to finish the hole before moving on. Suzann just takes off and is at the next tee. She did it repeatedly yesterday in her match with Angela Stanford. She has no respect whatsoever for her playing companions.

These are just a few examples. I am sure that some of my readers will have more.

Laura Davies said the following:
“I am disgusted. I know she is angry and justifying everything, but she has let herself down and she has certainly let her team down. I am so glad I am not on that team this time.”

Two-time major champion Zach Johnson tweeted: “What happened on the 17th green is a disgrace to the sport.”

In a way I am glad that this happened Sunday where it could be seen by everyone. People now will see, what myself, other avid fans that follow the game, the press, and the other players on the LPGA already know.

In summing up, I would like to say that the 2015 Solheim Cup was a huge success for women's golf. We all got to see some incredible golf.  It was very exciting TV, and we were on the edge of our seats right to the very end. Julie Inkster should be very proud of what her team accomplished. It will be remembered for a long long time. I will remember for a very long time how players such as Sandra Gal, Melissa Reid, and Caroline Masson lost with class and dignity. I hope that is what my readers will most remember about this tournament also.

UPDATE: The following apology was written by Suzann via social media this morning:

I've never felt more gutted and truly sad about what went down Sunday on the 17th at the Solheim Cup.  I am so sorry for not thinking about the bigger picture in the heat of the battle and competition. I was trying my hardest for my team and put the single match and the point that could be earned ahead of sportsmanship and the game of golf itself! I feel like I let my team down and I am sorry. To the U.S. team, you guys have a great leader in Juli , who I've always looked up to and respect so much. Knowing I need to make things "right," I had a face to face chat with her before leaving Germany this morning to tell her in person how I really feel about all of this. I wanted her also to know that I am sorry. I hope in time the U.S. team will forgive me and know that I have learned a valuable lesson about what is truly important in this great game of golf which has given me so much in my life. To the fans of golf who watched the competition on TV, I am sorry for the way I carried myself. I can be so much better and being an ambassador for this great game means a lot to me. The Solheim Cup has been a huge part of my career. I wish I could change Sunday for many reasons. Unfortunately I can't.  This week I want to push forward toward another opportunity to earn the Solheim Cup back for Europe in the right way. And I want to work hard to earn back your belief in me as someone who plays hard, plays fair and plays the great game of golf the right way.

Hopefully the above statement was heartfelt, and was not posted because of pressure put on her by her sponsors (Nike for one). We are never to old to learn from our mistakes, and hopefully Suzann will learn from hers. Time will tell.

   (Currently 1,304 followers)                                        

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Solheim Cup Preview - United States Gets Revenge?

The LPGA takes a break from its normal tournament schedule for the playing of the 2015 Solheim Cup.

The Solheim Cup is a biennial golf tournament for professional women golfers contested by players from the United States and Europe. It is named after the Norwegian-American golf club manufacturer Karsten Solheim, who was a driving force behind its creation.

The inaugural cup was held in 1990, and the event was staged in even numbered years until 2002, alternating years with the Ryder Cup (the equivalent men's event between the USA & Europe). Because of the attacks of September 11th 2001, forcing the postponement of the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup was switched to odd numbered years in 2003.

Qualifying for Entry:  (USA)
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- Two 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.

Qualifying for Entry:  (Europe)
1- A player must finish in the top 4 on the LET  Solheim points list.
2- The top 4 players from the Rolex Rankings that have not already qualified.
3- Four captain's picks.

The event is played over three days. Since 2002, they play 28 matches - eight foursomes, eight four balls, and twelve singles matches.

Of the previous 13 matches, the USA has won eight, and Europe has won five. That does not tell the whole story though, as Europe has won the last 2 meetings, including an 18-10 shellacking in 2013.

Team Europe celebrates after their 2013 victory

The captains this year will be Juli Inkster for the United States, and Karen Koch for Europe.
For the Americans, revenge will be the motivating factor. With 11 of the 12 players returning from the 2013 beating they took at the hands of the Europeans, it will not be hard for captain Juli Inkster to use that as a way of motivating her team.

The USA last won the cup in 2009

Here are the key details:

Course:  St. Leon-Rot Golf Club
Location:  St. Leon-Rot, Germany
Defending Champion:  Europe
Winning Score:  18-10

Final Field:  24 players
Par: 72
Yardage:  6,535
Purse:  This one is for pride!

Here are the teams:  (Solheim records in parenthesis)

Team USA:
Stacy Lewis (2-5-1)
Lexi Thompson (1-2-0)
Cristie Kerr (12-14-4)
Michelle Wie (6-5-1)
Brittany Lincicome (5-7-2)
Morgan Pressel (8-5-2)
Angela Stanford (3-11-3)
Gerina Piller (0-2-1)
**Alison Lee (Rookie)
Lizette Salas (0-1-2)
Brittany Lang (5-4-2)
Paula Creamer (12-6-5)
     Totals (54-62-23)

** - Is the only rookie on either team.

Team Europe:
Suzann Pettersen (14-9-6)
Gwladys Nocera (5-3-2)
Charley Hull (2-1-0)
Melissa Reid (1-3-0)
Anna Nordqvist (6-5-0)
Azahara Munoz (4-3-1)
Sandra Gal (0-2-1)
Carlotta Ciganda (3-0-0)
Catriona Matthew (12-9-8)
Karine Icher (3-3-1)
Caroline Masson (2-1-1)
Caroline Hedwall (5-0-0)
     Totals (57-39-20)

Everything here points to a European victory.
1- They come in with 2 consecutive cup victories.
2- They have the home course advantage.
3- The European players have a 59.3 winning %, as compared to the American's 46.6%.

My Prediction:
USA defeats Europe in a nail biter 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.

Other Tidbits:
With her victory at the Evian Masters, Lydia Ko has now won as many tournaments (4) as all of the American players combined in 2015.

Lydia Ko now becomes the youngest player to win a major championship.

Michelle Wie's 16th place finish at the Evian Championship, was  only her third top 20 finish of 2015.

Ai Miyazato is now 0-42 in major championship competition. She also has failed to register a top 10 finish in her last 57 LPGA events.

Rolex Movers of the Week:
 Lexi Thompson surges from #7 to #4. Mi Hyang Lee jumps from #43 to #33, and Ilhee Lee leaps from #50 to #36.

Race to the CME Globe:  (1 million dollars)
Lydia Ko takes over the top spot with 3,893 points, followed by Inbee Park (3,832) and Stacy Lewis (2,773)

Who's Hot:
Lexi Thompson's 2nd place finish at Evian was her 10th top 10 of the year.) Only the big 3 (Lydia, Inbee, Stacy) have more.

How consistent has Inbee Park been this year? She has played in 20 LPGA tournaments, and has 18 top 20 finishes. Stacy Lewis has 17 of 21.

Who's Not:
Paula Creamer, who came into this year never missing the cut twice in a row, has missed her last four.

Jessica Korda has missed the cut in 6 of her last 8 tournaments.

   (Currently 1,305 followers)                                    

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Evian Championship Preview & Pairings

After a week off the LPGA is back in action this week with the playing of the Evian Championship.

Hyo Joo Kim will be trying to defend her Evian Championship title 

Hyo Joo Kim will be attempting to defend the title she won last year as a non LPGA player. Hyo Joo birdied the final hole and came out on top by one shot over Karrie Webb, who bogeyed that very same hole.

Inbee Park will be attempting to win her third major championship of the year and 8th of her career. She has already won the KMPG Women's PGA Championship and the Ricoh Women's British Open. Brittany Lincicome (Ana Inspiration) and non LPGA member In Gee Chun (U.S. Women's Open), have each won a major this year.

An Inbee Park win would give her the 2 points she needs to reach the required 27 points needed for the Hall of Fame. A minimum of 10 years played on the LPGA tour is required to be inducted in the LPGA Hall of Fame. Inbee is in her 9th year.

This will be tournament #24 of 31 on the 2015 LPGA schedule. It is also the fifth and final major of the year.

Here are the Key Details:

Course:  Evian Resort Golf Club
Location:  Evian-les-Bains, France
Defending Champion:  Hyo Joo Kim
Winning Score:  61-72-72-68 = 273 (-11)

Final Field: 120 players
Par:  35/36 = 71
Yardage:  6,453
Purse:  $3,250,000

My strength of field rating is a very solid 77%, although I have it ranked as the weakest of the 5 major championships this year. All the big names will be here with the exception of Na Yeon Choi. The lack of field depth (when compared to the other 4 majors) with just 120 players, and the lack of major players from other tours accounts for my lower rating. In Gee Chun (U.S. Open winner) and In Young Ko (2nd place finish at the Ricoh British Open), are the only big name non LPGA members in attendance. Nicole  Broch Larson, who just won Helsingborg Open on the LET Tour, will now be added to the field.

Here are the pairings for the first round:

Here are the television times:
GC   Thurs. Sept.10  5:00 a.m.- 8:00 a.m. ET
GC   Thurs. Sept.10  9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET
GC   Friday Sept.11  5:00 a.m.- 8:00 ap.m. ET
GC   Friday Sept.11  9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET
GC   Sat.     Sept.12  6:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. ET
GC   Sun.    Sept.13  8:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. ET
NBC Sun.    Sept.13  12:30 - 2:00 pm. ET

Here are my Pak Picker Picks for this week's tournament:
1- Lexi Thompson
2- Lydia Ko
3- So Yeon Ryu
4- Brooke Henderson
5- Inbee Park
6- Stacy Lewis
7- Hyo Joo Kim
8- Shanshan Feng
9- Suzann Pettersen
10- Ha Na Janh
11- Sei Young Kim
12- Brittany Lincicome
I am currently in first place among the 22 participants.

Be sure to check back here daily for any updates. They will be posted here, at the end of this blog.

Here are the final results:

1Lydia Ko-16F
2Lexi Thompson-10F
3Shanshan Feng-8F
4Ilhee Lee-7F
4Mi Hyang Lee-7F
6Alison Lee-6F
6Lee-Anne Pace-6F
8Inbee Park-5F
8Eun-Hee Ji-5F
8Amy Yang-5F
11Candie Kung-4F
11Sei Young Kim-4F
11Minjee Lee-4F
11Nicole Larsen-4F
11Morgan Pressel-4F
16Stacy Lewis-3F
16In-Kyung Kim-3F
16Michelle Wie-3F
16Jennifer Song-3F

   (Currently 1,292 followers)