Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Preview & Pairings

Let me once again congratulate Michelle Wie for winning the 2014 U.S. Women's Open. It was Michelle's second LPGA win of the season, fourth of her career, and first major championship victory. My full recap can be found here.

  • Michelle Wie holds her U.S. Open trophy

This week the LPGA moves to the state of Arkansas for the playing of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. This tournament will begin on Friday and is just 54 holes.

This is tournament #16 of 32 on the 2014 LPGA schedule, and will complete the first half of the season.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Pinnacle Country Club
Location:  Rogers, Arkansas
Defending Champion: Inbee Park
Winning Score:  69-65-67 = 201 (-12)

Final Field:  144 players
Par:  36/35 = 71
Yardage:  6,389
Purse:  $2,000,000

My strength of field rating is a very strong 81%, making it the third strongest (non major) of the year.
Seventy-five of the top 80 ladies on the LPGA Priority List, and 18 of the top 20 from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. The most notable absentees include: I.K. Kim, Karrie Webb, and Danielle Kang.

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds:

Here are the television times:
Jun 27 - GC 9:00 PM-11:00 PM ET (Tape Delay)
Jun 28 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Jun 29 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET

Here are my picks for this week's tournament:
1- So Yeon Ryu
2- Stacy Lewis
3- Lydia Ko
4- Paula Creamer
5- Lexi Thompson
6- Michelle Wie
7- Inbee Park
8- Shanshan Feng
9- Cristie Kerr
10- Amy Yang
11- Na Yeon Choi
12- Jessica Korda
I currently rank #7 among the 20 participants in the Pak Picker standings.

Other Tidbits:
As explained previously, a non LPGA member can become a member by finishing the season with earnings equal to or greater than the amount of official money won by the member who was in 40th place on the money list. If a player meets those qualifications she would earn a category 10 playing card and full playing privileges, thus avoiding Q-school.  Stephanie Meadow, in her professional debut at the U.S. Open, earned $271, 373 with her 3rd place finish. How good is that? In her first tournament of the year, she earned more money than  players such as: Suzann Pettersen, Se Ri Pak, Yani Tseng, Brittany Lang, and Sandra Gal have earned all season, and they have all played in at least 12 events. She would currently rank #24 on the LPGA money list. Look for her to get some future sponsor invitations to try to add to her earnings. By comparison, Charley Hull would currently rank #43, and Hyo Ju Kim #44. Highly touted Ariya Jutanugarn who has played in 5 tournaments would rank #83.

Suzann Petterson (20) and Cristie Kerr (16), had their cut streaks stopped. 

Ai Miyazato missed the cut and another chance to win her first major championship. She is now 0 for 39.

Stacy Lewis, who has won twice this year, now has 4 second place finishes.

If you are a fan of the four top LPGA players from Japan, this season continues to be a nightmare. Those four players all missed the cut at the U.S. Open, and shot a combined (Chie Arimura +11, Ayaka Uehara +12, Ai Miyazato +13, Mika Miyazato +17) 53 over par. 

Michelle Wie's victory was the 9th for U.S. players. She was also the 3rd U.S. player to win for a second time. No other country has had more than one player win this year. 

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Michelle Wie jumps up from #11 to #7, while Lexi Thompson moves up to #5. Amy Yang jumps up from #20 to #15. In what may be the biggest leap in Rolex Rankings history, Stephanie Meadow jumps up 506 places. She moves from #601 to #95.

Race to the CME Globe: (1 million dollars)
Stacy Lewis continues to have a comfortable lead with 3,094 points. She is followed by Michelle Wie with 2,503, and Anna Nordqvist with 1,763.

Who's Hot:
Lexi Thompson has 6 top ten finishes in her last 7 starts.
In her 13 starts this year, Michelle Wie has 2 wins, 6 top 5's, 9 top tens, and 12 top 20's. Her worst finish was a tie for 23rd.

Who's Not:
Morgan Pressel has not finished better than 45th in her last 6 starts.

Update #1 - Reilly Rankin & Ariya Jutanugarn are the Monday qualifiers.

Here are the final results:
1Stacy Lewis-12F
2Lydia Ko-11F
2Angela Stanford-11F
2Cristie Kerr-11F
5So Yeon Ryu-10F
6Suzann Pettersen-9F
6Chella Choi-9F
8Meena Lee-8F
8Julieta Granada-8F
8Jennifer Rosales-8F
8Karine Icher-8F
8Mi Hyang Lee-8F
8Mina Harigae-8F
8Michelle Wie-8F

For full scoreboard see link on top of this page.

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  1. Thanks for explaining that top 40 money list factor is it relates to Stephanie Meadow and he chances for status in 2015. I looked up last year's final money list. 355K was needed to finish 40th on the list, so she may need to earn a bit more to have a shot.
    Also, I was wondering if she may have set a record in earning the most money by a woman or a man in her very fist event as a pro. I can't think of anyone else who might have done it.

    1. I can't think of anyone either. This was quite an accomplishment for Meadow.

  2. I think there some fine print in that rule, guys. Doesn't it have to be a regular, full-field LPGA-run event? I thought USWO winnings didn't count.

  3. This is the exact language as written by the LPGA:

    Non-Member Top 40: Non-Members who, as of the conclusion of the last Official Tournament of the previous year, won an amount of money during such year in Official Tournaments with a cut, that is equal to or greater than the amount of official money won by the Member who was in 40th place on the Money List at that time.

    Although run by the USGA, this is still an official LPGA event with a cut.

    I will talk to Heather to get a clarification on this.

    1. Just got word from Heather Donofrio. The U.S. Open money does count. That is certainly good news for Meadow.

  4. Last year Lang at 42 also had 355K+ as did Wie at 41. Yoo at 39 had 383K and Tseng at 38 had 405K+. So even if the total LPGA purse this year were the same as last year you would expect a figure more than 355K. But the total LPGA purse this year is quite a bit higher than last year. The difference between the old standard of 80th place and the new one of 40th will probably be more than her USWO earnings.

  5. Your absolutely right that her current amount won't stand up the full year. I do expect that she will get a few sponsor exemptions though, to add to her current total.