Monday, April 29, 2013

Kingsmill Championship Preview

Before I get to this week's tournament, let me say once again if you missed last week's event , you missed another thriller. Congratulations goes out to Inbee Park for winning the North Texas LPGA Shootout. Inbee came from behind and pulled out a one stroke victory over runner up Carlotta Ciganda. It sure seems every week is a nail biter. Every tournament seems to go down to the final shot on the final hole. Who could ask for more? For a full recap on last week's tournament, the Constructivist did a great recap over at Mostly Harmless.

The LPGA moves to Virginia this week for the playing of the Kingsmill Championship. Who could ever forget last year's championship when Jiyai Shin defeated Paula Creamer in a 9 hole playoff?

This will be tournament #9 of 28 on this year's schedule.
Here are the key details:

Course:  Kingsmill Resort, River Course
Location:  Williamsburg, Va.
Defending Champion: Jiyai Shin
Winning Score:  62-68-69-69 = 268 (-16)

Final Field:  144 Players
Par:  36/35=71
Yardage:  6,379
Purse: $1,300,000

My strength of field rating is 81%, which puts it smack in the middle of the 9 tournaments this year.
Players missing from this week's field include: Mika Miyazato, Karine Icher, Carlotta Ciganda, Jessica Korda, Karen Sjodin, Jimin Kang, Ayaka Uehara, and Katie Futcher.

Here are the television times:
May 2 - GC 12:30 PM-2:30 PM EST
May 3 - GC 12:30 PM-2:30 PM EST
May 4 - GC 3:00 PM-6:00 PM EST
May 5 - GC 3:00 PM-6:00 PM EST

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds.

Here are my picks for this week:
1- Paula Creamer
2- Jiyai Shin
3- Stacy Lewis
4- Inbee Park
5- Lizette Salas
6- Na Yeon Choi
7- Suzann Pettersen
8- So Yeon Ryu
9- Shanshan Feng
10- Ariya Jutanugarn
11- Cristie Kerr
12- Gerina Piller

Other Tidbits:
Beatriz Recari sunk a 4 foot put on the final hole of the second round to keep her cut streak alive at 41 in a row. She would miss the second cut on Saturday, but that does not go in the books as a missed cut as she did receive prize money for making the first cut.

When Nicole Jeray made Friday's cut, it was the first cut she has made in her last 17 tournaments.

Stacy Lewis' 7th place finish was her 6th top ten of the year. Nobody else has more than four.

Titleholders Update:
Carlotta Ciganda, Hee Young Park, and Karine Icher are the latest to qualify.

Hard to Believe Stat of the Week:
Paula Creamer has now made 50 consecutive cuts.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Carlotta Ciganda catapults from #48 to #28. Hee Young Park leaps from #42 to #36.

Who's Hot:
Julia Sergas has 3 top tens and 4 top twenties in her last 5 starts.

Who's not:
Mika Miyazato, who missed the cut, has not finished better than T33 this year.
Katie Future missed her 4th consecutive cut this week. Her 5 missed cuts ties her for the lead on the tour.
Sophie Gustafson has now missed 4 cuts this year. Her best finish is T63.
Yani Tseng's best finish in the last 5 tournaments she has entered is T29.

Symetra Tour:
Former LPGA player Christine Song defeated Isabelle Boineau in a playoff. Highly touted 18 year old rookie Jaye Marie Green tied for 3rd place.

Update - Final Results:

Cristie Kerr defeated Suzann Pettersen on the second hole of a sudden death playoff.
Here are the Final Results:
1Suzann Pettersen-12F
1x-Cristie Kerr-12F
3Ariya Jutanugarn-10F
3Ilhee Lee-10F
5Angela Stanford-9F
5Stacy Lewis-9F
7Inbee Park-8F
8So Yeon Ryu-5F
9Gerina Piller-4F
9Anna Nordqvist-4F
9Sandra Gal-4F
12Paula Creamer-3F
12Na Yeon Choi-3F
12Amy Yang-3F
12Caroline Hedwall-3F
12Katie Burnett-3F
17Alison Walshe-2F
17Chella Choi-2F
17Lizette Salas-2F

Monday, April 22, 2013

North Texas Shootout Preview & Pairings

Before we get to this week's topic, let me say if you missed last week's tournament, you missed one of the best finishes you will ever see. Congratulations goes out to Suzann Pettersen for winning the LPGA Lotte Championship in a playoff over Lizette Salas. Lizette may have been the bigger story as she shot a 29 on the back nine for a round of 62, only to come up short in the playoff.

The LPGA travels to Texas this week for the  inaugural playing of the North Texas LPGA Shootout.
This will mark the first LPGA tournament in the North Texas region in more than 20 years. The tournament has attracted a very strong field. My strength of  field rating is a very strong 84.5, making it the third strongest field of the year. Among the missing  this week are: Karrie Webb, Chie Arimura, Jimin Kang, Jeong Jang, Ayaka Uehara, and Seon Hwa Lee.

One very interesting note, Madison Pressel has been given a sponsor exemption for this event. Madison 21, is the younger sister of LPGA star Morgan Pressel. She currently attends the University of Texas.

There will be two cuts in this tournament. The top 70 and ties will go on after Fridays round, and the top 50 and ties will advance after Saturday's round.

This will be tournament number 8 of 28 on this year's schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Las Colinas Country Club
Location:  Irving, Texas
Defending Champion:  Inaugural event
Winning Score:  N/A

Final Field:  144 players
Par:  36/35=71
Yardage:   6,410 Yards
Purse:  $1,300,000

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds.

Here are the television times:
Apr 25 - GC 12:30 PM-2:30 PM EST
Apr 26 - GC 6:30 PM-8:30 PM EST (Taped)
Apr 27 - GC 3:00 PM-6:00 PM EST
Apr 28 - GC 3:00 PM-6:00 PM EST

I correctly picked Suzann Pettersen as the winner last week. Here are my picks for this week:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Angela Stanford
3- Suzann Pettersen
4- Ai Miyazato
5- Paula Creamer
6- Inbee Park
7- Na Yeon Choi
8- So Yeon Ryu
9- Caroline Hedwall
10- Lizette Salas
11- Jessica Korda
12- Gerina Piller

Other Tidbits:
Karen Sjodin missed only 4 cuts last year in 23 tournaments. She has missed 4 already this year.

Mindy Kim has missed the cut in all 5 tournaments she has played in this year.

Non LPGA member Ariya Jutanugarn has played in 3 LPGA events this year. She has finished 2nd, 4th, and 3rd.

Titleholders Update:
Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, and Hee Kyung Seo, are the latest to qualify.

Rolex Movers of the Week:
Lizette Salas skyrockets from #37 to #22, and Ariya Jutanugarm leaps from #35 to 23.

Who's Hot:
Paula Creamer is the only LPGA member to finish in the top 20 in each of the last 5 tournaments.
Lizette Salas becomes the first player (other than Stacy Lewis who has 5), to have 4 top ten finishes this year.

Who's Not:
Sun Young Yoo, who missed the cut in her last 3 tournaments, finished tied for 72nd.
M.J. Hur has missed 4 consecutive cuts.

3rd round update:

Here are the leaders after 3 Rounds:

1Carlota Ciganda-11F
2Inbee Park-9F
2Caroline Masson-9F
4Na Yeon Choi-8F
5Karine Icher-6F
5Christina Kim-6F
5Jee Young Lee-6F
5So Yeon Ryu-6F
9In-Kyung Kim-5F
9Suzann Pettersen-5F
9Shanshan Feng-5F
12Brittany Lincicome-4F
12Yani Tseng-4F
12Moriya Jutanugarn-4F

Update - Final Results:

1-Inbee Park-13F
2Carlota Ciganda-12F
3Suzann Pettersen-10F
4Hee Young Park-9F
4So Yeon Ryu-9F
6In-Kyung Kim-8F
7Stacy Lewis-7F
7Shanshan Feng-7F
7Karine Icher-7F
7Na Yeon Choi-7F
11Paula Creamer-6F
11Dewi Claire Schreefel-6F
11Cristie Kerr-6F
11Christina Kim-6F
15Giulia Sergas-5F
15Mo Martin-5F
15Jee Young Lee-5F
15Caroline Masson-5F

Sunday, April 14, 2013

LPGA Lotte Championship Preview & Pairings

                                                  Last year's winner Ai Miyazato

After a one week break, the LPGA resumes its schedule with the playing of the LPGA Lotte Championship Presented by J Golf. This will start a stretch of six tournaments over a seven week period, that will be capped off by the year's second major championship.

There will be a pretty solid field, with newly crowned Kraft Nabisco champion Inbee Park, and the world's number one player Stacy Lewis, leading the way.
Although there are a few key players sitting it out, my strength of field rating is still a very solid 80.5%.
Among the players sitting it out this week are: Amy Yang, Catriona Matthew, Lexi Thompson, Chie Arimura, Ayaka Uehara, and Jimin Kang.

This will be tournament number 7 of 28 to be played this year.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Ko Olina Golf Club
Location:  Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii
Defending Champion:  Ai Miyazato
Winning Score:  71-65-70-70=276 (-12)

Final Field:  144 Players
Par:  36/36=72
Yardage:  6,383
Purse:  $1,700,000

Here are the television times:
Apr 17 - GC 6:30 PM-11:00 PM EST
Apr 18 - GC 6:30 PM-9:30 PM EST
Apr 19 - GC 6:30 PM-9:30 PM EST
Apr 20 - GC 6:30 PM-9:30 PM EST
All coverage is live.

This week's sponsor exemptions will include the following highly ranked, non LPGA members:
Lydia Ko - Rolex Ranking #22
Hyo-Joo Kim - Rolex Ranking #47
Char Young Kim - Rolex Ranking #60

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds.

My Picks For This Week's Tournament
1- Suzann Pettersen
2- Azahara Munoz
3- Paula Creamer
4- Cristie Kerr
5- Ai Miyazato
6- Inbee Park
7- So Yeon Ryu
8- Yani Tseng
9- Jiyai Shin
10- Stacy Lewis
11- Na Yeon Choi
12- Caroline Hedwall

Cast your vote for this week's winner in the poll section on the top left hand corner of your screen.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Players Fighting for Spots on Solheim Cup Team

Only twelve more tournaments remain for the U.S. players to get themselves into position to qualify for the 2013 Solheim Cup, which will be played this year at the Colorado Club, in Parker Colorado. Players started accumulating points at the completion of the last Solheim Cup, in 2011.

The United States has changed the qualifications for entry. In previous years it was the top ten players who accumulated the most points, and then two captain's picks. They have now changed that to the top eight players off the point list, the 2 highest Rolex ranked players not already in, and 2 captain's picks.

Points are accumulated the following way:
(From the first event after the previous Solheim Cup match in 2011 through the end of the 2012 season)
Winner - 40 points, 2nd - 20 points, 3rd - 18 points, 4th - 17 points, all the way down to 20th - 2 points.
(The 2013 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.

With many players fighting to get into a position to make the team, let  us look at where we stand as of today.

Here are the top 8 Solheim Cup point leaders right now:

1- Stacy Lewis - 696 points (current Rolex Ranking #1)
2- Paula Creamer - 340 points (current RR #10)
3- Cristie Kerr - 331 points (current RR #12)
4- Angela Stanford - 271 points (current RR #18)
5- Brittany Lincicome - 215 points (current RR #21)
6- Lexi Thompson - 168 points (current RR #23)
7- Brittany Lang - 154 points (current RR #33)
8- Jessica Korda - 136 points (current RR #44)
The above 8 players would make the team if the tournament was held today.

9- Lizzette Salas - 130 points (current RR #37)
10- Gerina Piller - 105 points (current RR #61)
11- Katie Futcher - 97 points (current RR #98)
12- Nicole Castrale - 95 points (current RR #75)
13- Michelle Wie - 93 points (current RR #88)
14- Vicki Hurst - 93 points (current RR #81)
15- Morgan Pressel - 88 points (current RR #54)
The above 7 players would have failed to qualify via the point system.

Here are the highest Rolex Ranked players that would not have already qualified:
1- Lizette Salas (37)
2- Morgan Pressel (54)
The above 2 players would make the team Via the Rolex Rankings.

3- Gerina Piller (61)
4- Danielle Kang (62)
5- Nicole Castrale (75)
6- Jennifer Johnson (76)
7- Mina Harigae (78)
8- Vicky Hurst (81)
9- Michelle Wie (88)
10- Natalie Gulbis (95)
The above 8 players would have failed to make the team via The Rolex Rankings.

The ten players above, highlighted in red, would all be playing if the Solheim Cup was held today.

That is a very different different look from the 2011 team. Thompson, Korda, and Salas would be Solheim Cup rookies. Julie Inkster, Vicki Hurst, Michelle Wie, Christina Kim, and Ryann O'Toole, who were on the 2011 team, would not qualify.

Now is where it gets even more interesting. Captain Meg Mallon, will have to choose 2 players to add to the team. Here is my opinion on what she should do.

1- Pick Gerina Piller. This is a no-brainer, Gerina already has two top 10, and 4 top 25 finishes in her 6 starts this year. Her massive length off the tee would serve the U.S. well.

2- The second pick is more difficult as there is no clear cut choice. Do you go with youth or experience?
Assuming that Piller is picked that would be 4 newcomers already on the team. So what? I am going to go out on a limb here and pick Danielle Kang as my second pick. She does have a top 5 and 2 top twenties this year. I know her results are still a little inconsistent, but at 20 years old she may be the breath of fresh air the U.S. team needs after being defeated in 2011.

To sum this up: Gone would be Vicki Hurst, Christina Kim, Julie Inkster, Ryann O'Toole, and Michelle Wie.
Replaced by Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas, Gerina Piller, and Danielle Kang.

I sure like that 2013 team better than the team the U.S. fielded in 2011. What do you think?

Other Tidbits:
It is said that, "Driving is for show, and putting is for dough." Never is that more evident than when looking at Inbee Park's statistics for this season. Inbee is ranked 82nd in driving distance and 71st in driving accuracy.
She is #1 in putts per greens in regulation, and second on the money list.

Hard to Believe Stat of the Week:
Paula Creamer has played 20 rounds of golf so far this year. She has shot in the sixties in 11 of them. That is 55%, and leads the entire tour.

Rolex Movers of the Week:
Inbee Park moves from #4 to #2. So Yeon Ryu jumps from #9 to #5. Caroline Hedwall leaps from #39 to #28, and Jodi Ewart Shadoff rockets from #112 to #74. Going in the opposite direction, Shanshan Feng falls from #5 to #8, and Ai Miyazato (who failed for the 32nd time to win her first major), tumbles from #6 to #9.

Who's Hot:
Julia Sergas has finished T4, T9, and T7, in her last 3 tournaments.
Karrie Webb has 2 consecutive top tens, and four consecutive top twenties.
Paula Creamer has 4 consecutive top 20 finishes.
Catriona Matthew is the only player to finish in the top 25 in every tournament this year.

Who's Not:
Brittany Lang's best finish this year is a T37. She has already missed 3 cuts.
Mika Miyazato has yet to finish better than T33 so far this year.
M.J. Hur has missed her last 3 cuts, her best finish is a T38.
Jennie Lee has made only one cut this year, and that was a T66.
Mindy Kim hasn't made a cut yet this season, missing all 4 she has played in.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Inbee Park Eases Her Way to Kraft Nabisco Championship Victory

Inbee Park

Before the 2013 season started I posted my top 30  predictions for LPGA Player of the Year.
My pick as winner was none other than Inbee Park. Inbee is making me look very good now, winning her second tournament already this year.

Inbee won this season's first major championship quite easily, with a 4 stroke victory over So Yeon Ryu.
The issue was never in doubt. Starting the day with a 3 stroke lead over Lizette Salas, and a 6 stroke lead over six other golfers, Inbee put an end to this championship very early. Inbee birdied the first hole while Salas would record a double bogey, and the three stroke lead became six very quickly. From there on in everyone else would be playing for second place. The only question was how many strokes ahead of the field she would be when she jumped into Poppie's Pond.

Inbee would finish with a 3 under par 69 for the day, which left her 15 under for the tournament.
Lizette Salas would falter, shooting a 79, which would leave her in a tie for 25th place.

The lowest round of the day, and of the entire tournament, belonged to Ryu who would finish in the runner up position. Ryu's super round still never got her into contention, as Inbee was rolling in long putts all day long.

Inbee's winning check of  $300,000 will move her into second place, behind only Stacy Lewis.

Other Tidbits:
It was not a surprise that Lydia Ko's two under par total would win her top amateur honors. What was a surprise was the the 73-73-71-72 =289, shot by Stephanie Meadow. Stephanie, a University of Alabama Junior, would grab that runner up spot.

Defending Champion Sun Young Yoo missed her third consecutive cut of the season.
Brittany Lincicome and Jennifer Song also missed the cut for the third straight time.

Beatriz Recari made her 39th consecutive cut. Only Karrie Webb (50), Paula Creamer (48), and Jiyai Shin (42), have a longer streak.

Titleholders Update:
Caroline Hedwall, Suzann Pettersen, and Haiji Kang are the latest to qualify.

Everyone be sure to answer the player of the year poll at the top left of this blog.

Inbee Park Extends lead in 3rd Round of Kraft Nabisco Championship

Will anyone be able to catch Inbee Park? Inbee extended her Kraft Nabisco Championship lead to three shots, shooting her second consecutive 67 for a three day total of 12 under par. Lizette Salas, who shot a 69, is her closest pursuer 3 shots back.

It was a mistake free round for Inbee as she made 5 birdies without making a single bogey. She will be very difficult to catch if she continues to play the mistake free golf that she has played in the last 2 rounds.
Other than Salas, no one else is closer than six shots back, so it will take a very low round for anyone to come from behind.

It was ideal conditions, as the winds that have wreaked havoc on this course failed to materialize the entire day.
It was ideal scoring conditions and Inbee took full advantage. Angela Stanford who had the low round of the day, shot a 6 under par 66. If the wind stays away in the final round the tournament record of 13 under par will probably be shattered. On the other hand if the wind becomes a factor, high scores could bring Inbee back to the field.

The following six players will be trying to make up a six stroke deficit:
Angela Stanford - (66)
Karine Icher - (68)
Karrie Webb - (67)
Suzann Pettersen - (67)
Jessica Korda - (68)
Pornanong Phatlum - (70)

Paula Creamer (69), and Caroline Hedwall (72), are one shot further back.

World's #1 Stacy Lewis is not in contention, as her one under par 71 left her 11 shots off the lead.
Stacy could have been passed in the Rolex Rankings this week, but both Yani Tseng and Na Yeon Choi are  also not going to be contending on Sunday.

Ai Miyazato will have to wait again for that elusive first major championship. After a 3 over par 75, she finds herself 13 shots back.

Sentimental favorite I.K. Kim's game never got on track this week, and is an alarming 18 shots off the lead.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Big Names Rise to the Top in Second Round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship

It started out as a nice calm day out at Mission Hills Country Club, but before the day ended it became hot and very windy. The afternoon pairings had to deal with the vicious Rancho Mirage winds, and as usually is the case, the cream has risen to the top of the leader board.

Inbee Park shot the day's low score, a five under par 67, to take a one stroke lead into the weekend.
Lizette Salas (68), is one shot back. Caroline Hedwall (68), and Guilia Sergas (69), enter the weekend two shots behind the leader. It is the players directly behind them that could cause lots of trouble in the last 2 rounds. There are 20 players within 5 shots of the lead, including such stars as: Jiyai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Se Ri Pak, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, and Michelle Wie. Paula Creamer and Ai Miyazato's 68's were bested only by Park.

After Park birdied the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes giving her a 2 stroke lead, it looked like it might be the start of a runaway. That would change quickly as she bogeyed the 14th hole, and failed to record another birdie the rest of the round, allowing the players beneath her to gain some ground.

Number one player in the world Stacy Lewis shot a 1 under 71, and is still in contention just 7 shots back.
Yani Tseng ranked number 2, saw her tournament chances come to an end when she triple bogeyed the seventh hole (her 16th hole of the day), and finished at +3.
Third Ranked Na Yeon Choi, who could become #1 this week with a victory, struggled in with a 75, which left her 6 strokes back.

Azahara Munoz, Brittany Lincicome, Chie Arimura, and Sandra Gal, were some of the bigger names who failed to make the cut.

It looks like we are in for a very exciting weekend, with so many top stars having a chance to win the year's first major championship.

For the full leaderboard see the link at the top of this page. Live leaderboards are always available at this site.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kraft Nabisco Championship Preview & Pairings

After a very exciting start to the season, the LPGA will be staging its first major championship this week with the playing of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

This will be the first of five major championships this year. The United States will be trying to break Asia's streak of seven consecutive major championship victories. For more on that see my blog on Asian dominance. 

Winning a major championship can go a long way towards achieving the LPGA's most prestigious awards at season's end. Player of the Year points and Rookie of the Year points are doubled for major championships.

This will be tournament number 6 of 28 on this year's schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Mission Hills Country Club, Dinah Shore Tournament Course
Location:  Rancho Mirage, California
Defending Champion:  Sun Young Yoo

Winning Score:  69-69-72-69 = 279 (-9)

Final Field:  112 players
Par: 72
Yardage: 6738 Yards
Purse: $ 2.0 Million

Here are the Pairings for the first 2 rounds>

Here are the television times:
Apr 4 - GC 12:00 PM-3:00 PM EST
Apr 4 - GC 6:00 PM-9:00 PM EST
Apr 5 - GC 12:00 PM-3:00 PM EST
Apr 5 - GC 6:00 PM-9:00 PM EST
Apr 6 - GC 5:00 PM-9:00 PM EST
Apr 7 - GC 5:00 PM-9:00 PM EST

My strength of field rating is 87.5% making it the strongest field of the year to date.
48 of the top 50 ladies on the LPGA priority list, and 34 of the top 40 ladies on the Rolex Rankings are teeing it up this week.

There will also be an outstanding amateur field which will include New Zealand superstar Lydia Ko, Ireland's (attending the University of Alabama) Stephanie Meadow, and Duke University standout Lindy Duncan.

Here are my picks for this week:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Inbee Park
3- Na Yeon Choi
4- So Yeon Ryu
5- Paula Creamer
6- Yani Tseng
7- I.K. Kim
8- Jiyai Shin
9- Ai Miyazato
10- Lydia Ko
11- Jessica Korda
12- Gerina Piller

Other Tidbits:
Mika Miyazato had made 16 consecutive cuts, and Angela Stanford 15, before they both missed the cut at last week's Kia Classic.

Stacy Lewis has played 20 rounds of golf so far this season. Incredibly 17 of those rounds she has shot under par.

Rolex Rankings Mover of the Week:
Aria Jutanugarn, who won last week's tournament on the L.E.T., moved from # 42 to #33.

Who do you think will win this week's major championship? Cast your vote on the upper left hand side of this page.