Monday, February 24, 2014

HSBC Women's Champions Preview & Pairings

Before I get started with this week's topic, I want to give a big congratulations to Anna Nordqvist for winning last week's Honda LPGA Thailand Championship. This was Anna's first win in nearly 5 years and she did it in a very unusual fashion, winning it wire to wire.

Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer in Thailand

The LPGA moves to Singapore this week for the playing of the HSBC Women's Champions. Many of you may remember last year's exciting finish, when Stacy Lewis came out victorious by one stroke over Na Yeon Choi. Paula Creamer finished two strokes back.

Stacy Lewis the defending champion




This will be tournament #4 of 32 on this year's LPGA schedule.
Here are the Key details:

Course:  Sentosa Golf Club, The Serapong Course
Location:  Singapore
Defending Champion:  Stacy Lewis
Winning Score:  67-66-69-71=273 (-15)

Final Field:  63 Players
Par:  36/36 = 72
Yardage:  6,600
Purse:  $1,400,000

Although the field is very small, my strength of field rating is a very solid 77.5%. Thirty-nine of the top 40 players on the LPGA Priority List, and  18 of the top 20 players on the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up.
Jiyai Shin will be in attendance, teeing it up as a non LPGA member.

Here are the television times:
Feb 26 - GC 10:30 PM-2:30 AM ET
Feb 27 - GC 10:30 PM-2:30 AM ET
Feb 28 - GC 10:30 PM-2:30 AM ET
Mar 1 - GC 10:30 PM-2:30 AM ET

Here are my picks for this week's Pak Picker:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Na Yeon Choi
3- Lexi Thompson
4- Paula Creamer
5- Suzann Pettersen
6- Lydia Ko
7- Catriona Matthew
8- Karrie Webb
9- Gerina Piller
10- So Yeon Ryu
11- Anna Nordqvist
12- Inbee Park
I was last week's winner as I correctly picked 6 of the top 10 finishers. I am also the overall leader after the first 3 weeks of the season.

Here are the first round pairings.
Other Tidbits:
The prize money earned by Lydia Ko last week in Thailand will not count as official earnings as she was a sponsor exemption, on foreign soil, in a tournament without a cut.
Catriona Matthew broke into the top 15 of all time in career earnings.
Stacy Lewis' fifth place finish last week was her 13th consecutive top ten finish.

Irene Choe got married and is now playing under the name of Irene Coe.
Rolex Movers of the Week:
Anna Nordqvist jumps from #27 to #14 this week. Other big movers include Catriona Matthew leaping from #13 to #10, and Michelle Wie vaulting from #60 to #48.
On the downside, if you played under the Japanese flag, things continued to go wrong, Mamiko Higa (finished 35th place), Ai Miazato (45th), Chie Arimura (55th), Ayako Uehara (64th), Mika Miyazato (65th), and Shinobu Moromizato (69th), all fell in the Rolex Rankings. There were only 70 players teeing it up. It has really been a struggle for the players from Japan for more than a full year now.
The Symetra Tour:
The Symetra Tour opened its season last week and Alena Sharp became the year's first winner. Cheyenne Woods finished 14th, nine shots back.
Race for the CME Globe (1 Million Dollars)
Jessica Korda continues to lead this race with 587 points. She is followed by Karrie Webb (552), Anna Nordqvist (526), Stacy Lewis (510), and Paula Creamer (421).
Who's Hot:
Gerina Piller has finished 10th and 5th in the last two weeks. Sandra Gal and Azahara Munoz have not finished out of the top 20 this year. Gal has finishes of 7th, 19th, and 14th, while Munoz has finished 18th, 11th, and 11th.

Who's Not:
Beatriz Recari has failed to finish in the top 25 in all 3 of her starts this year.

Here are the leaders after round 3:
1Karrie Webb-11F
2Angela Stanford-10F
3Azahara Munoz-8F
3Teresa Lu-8F
5Paula Creamer-7F
6Morgan Pressel-6F
7Suzann Pettersen-5F
8Na Yeon Choi-4F
8Caroline Hedwall-4F
10Michelle Wie-3F
10Ha-Na Jang-3F
10Inbee Park-3F

For those wanting live updates, see the LPGA link on the top of this page.I am not going to post results until the people in the U.S. have a chance to watch on TV the next day.





Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Honda LPGA Thailand Preview & Pairings

Moriya Jutanugarn tries to comfort her sister after a triple bogey on the final hole

2013 Champion Inbee Park






The LPGA tour moves to Thailand this week for the playing of the Honda LPGA Thailand.

Many of you may remember the startling conclusion of this tournament in 2013.

Ariya Jutanugarn had a two stroke lead going to the final hole, and triple bogeyed the par five 18th.

Inbee Park who had already completed her round, would be the beneficiary of Ariya's misfortune and take home the winner's check.

Yani Tseng was the winner of this event in 2011 and 2012. She also played well in 2013 finishing in 3rd place, just 2 shots back of the eventual winner.

This will be tournament # 3 of 32 tournaments on the 2014 LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Siam Country Club
Location:  Chonburi, Thailand
Defending Champion: Inbee Park
Winning Score:  67-71-71-67= 276 (-12)

Final Field:  70 Players
Par:  36/36=72
Yardage:  6,469
Purse:  $1,500,000

In spite of the limited amount of players teeing it up, my strength of field is a very high 79%. This is by far the strongest field of the year so far. Seventeen of the top 20 Rolex Ranked players will be teeing it up, and 23 of the top 25 players on the LPGA Priority List will be in attendance. I.K. Kim and Natalie Gulbis are the biggest names who are missing.

Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn are among the sponsor exemptions.

Here are the television times:
Feb 20 - GC 9:00 AM-12:30 PM ET
Feb 21 - GC 9:00 AM-1:30 PM ET
Feb 22 - GC 2:00 PM-6:00 PM ET
Feb 23 - GC 1:30 PM-6:00 PM ET

Here are my Pak Picker picks of the week:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Na Yeon Choi
3- Lydia Ko
4- Jessica Korda
5- Inbee Park
6- Suzann Pettersen
7- Lexi Thompson
8- Gerina Piller
9- Shanshan Feng
10- Paula Creamer
11- Chella Choi
12- So Yeon Ryu
My poor picks last week were only good enough for 7th place. With 19 participants, I am currently tied for second place for the season.

Here are the pairings for the first two rounds.

Here are the final results:

1Anna Nordqvist-15F
2Inbee Park-13F
3Catriona Matthew-11F
4Michelle Wie-10F
5Gerina Piller-9F
5Stacy Lewis-9F
5Lexi Thompson-9F
5Yani Tseng-9F
5Julieta Granada-9F
10Suzann Pettersen-8F

For full leader board see LPGA link on top of this page.

Other Tidbits:
The wedding and engagement announcements continue. Sydnee Michaels announced her engagement on Valentine's Day. We all wish Sydnee, the youngest of 8 siblings, all the best.

Rolex Movers of the Week:
Karrie Webb moves from #8 to #7, while Paula Creamer jumps back into the top ten with a move from #12 to #10. Outside the top ten Chella Choi leaps from #28 to #23, and Gerina Piller hops over five players and lands at #31. On the downside, Yani Tseng (who finished 53rd) dropped for the 25th time in the last 27 weeks landing way down at #45.

Race to the CME Globe (1 Million Dollars)
Jessica Korda continues to lead the Race to the CME Globe with 552 points. She is followed by Karrie Webb (500), Stacy Lewis (400), and Paula Creamer (360).

Who's Hot:
Paula Creamer is the only LPGA player to finish in the top 3 in both tournaments this year.
Stacy Lewis continues her incredible streak. She now has 12 consecutive top 10 finishes.

Who's Not:
It is still very early in the season, but nobody had expected Lexi Thompson to get off to this slow of a start. She has finished T58 in her opening tournament and missed the cut this past week.





Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open Preview & Pairings


Defending Champion Jiyai Shin will not be teeing it up.

The LPGA will be moving to Australia this week for the playing of the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open.

Jessica Korda, winner of the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, will be trying to open the 2014 season with back to back wins. The Korda family has a rich history of coming up big in this country as Jessica won this event in 2012, and her father, Petr Korda, won the Australian Open Tennis Championship in 1998.

This will be tournament #2 of 32 tournaments on the 2014 schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  The Victoria Golf Club
Location:  Victoria, Australia
Defending Champion: Jiyai Shin
Winning Score:  65-67-70-72 = 274 (-18)

Final Field: 156 Players
Par:  36/36=72
Yardage:  6,480
Purse:  $1,200,000

My strength of field rating is only 51.5% as many of the top players are sitting this one out, although that is up from 49.5% last year. Ten of the top 25 players on the LPGA Priority List will not be in action, and 9 of the top 20 in the Rolex Rankings are skipping the event.

The list of star players this week not in attendance include: Inbee Park, Shanshan Feng, So Yeon Ryu, I.K. Kim, Na Yeon Choi, Angela Stanford, Lizette Salas, Amy Yang, Cristie Kerr, Ai and Mika Miyazato, Se Ri Pak, and Michelle Wie.

Suzanne Pettersen, Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and Paula Creamer will be among the favorites to take home the winner's trophy. Charlie Hull, Ariya Jutanugarn, Melissa Reid, and Carly Booth will be among the top L.E.T players in the field this week.

There are a number of LPGA players that have a high Priority List ranking, that have made this field because of their LET standing. This is a huge opportunity for them to make some official LPGA money and improve their priority rating in the first reshuffle that will take place in a couple of months. Those players include Lee-Anne Pace and Laura Davies. Cheyenne Woods, winner of last week's LET tournament, has received a sponsor exemption.

With the 16 hour time difference here are the unusual TV telecast times:
Feb 12 - GC 11:00 PM-2:00 AM ET
Feb 14 - GC 12:00 PM-2:30 PM ET
Feb 15 - GC 5:00 PM-9:00 PM ET
Feb 16 - GC 5:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Here are the pairings for the first two rounds'
Here are my Pak Picker picks for this week's tournament: (I am currently in 2nd place out of 17 entries after the first tournament of the year)
1- Jessica Korda
2- Stacy Lewis
3- Lydia Ko
4- Lexi Thompson
5- Suzann Pettersen
6- Beatriz Recari
7- Karrie Webb
8- Yani Tseng
9- Catriona Matthew
10-Chella Choi
11- Paula Creamer
12- Pornanong Phatlum

Check back here for live scoreboard, all the time, at the top of this page.

Other Tidbits: 
Irene Cho has joined the long list of LPGA players who have recently "tied the knot."

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
There were no big movers within the top 100, but Cheyenne Wood did leap up 209 spots this week moving from #363 to #154. The biggest move by an LPGA player went to Belen Mozo, who jumped from #175 to #165 as a result of her top 10 finish this past weekend in Australia.

Here are the final standings:
1Karrie Webb-12F
2Chella Choi-11F
3Paula Creamer-10F
3Karine Icher-10F
3Lydia Ko-10F
6Stacy Lewis-9F
6Jenny Shin-9F
6Amelia Lewis-9F
6Morgan Pressel-9F
10Gerina Piller-8F


For complete leaderboard see link on top of this page.






Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cheyenne Woods Stuns Field and Wins LET Tournament

 


Cheyenne Woods has shocked the golf world by winning the Volvic RACV Ladies Masters. The tournament which took place in Queensland Australia was the second tournament on the Ladies European Tour of the 2014 season.

Woods, the 23 year old niece of Tiger Woods, finished with a 4 under par 68 to win by 2 strokes.

This was the first win for Cheyenne on a major tour.

This was not a weak field as it included such players as Yani Tseng, Jessica Korda, and Caroline Hedwall.

Woods had tried to qualify for the LPGA this past December but was unsuccessful.
She will be teeing it up as a sponsor exemption this coming week, when the LPGA plays in Australia.





Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fierce Competition For International Crown Spots

*Logo taken from official LPGA website

At the end of the 2013 season we found out who the eight countries were that will be competing in the International Crown that will be played in 2014.

There are still some very important things that have to be decided yet. They include:
  • The players that will be representing their countries.
  • The final seeding of the countries themselves.
We will not know the results of the above until the Monday of the Kraft Nabisco Championship week.

I have been asked many times if you have to be an LPGA member to compete in this event, and the answer is no. You just have to be one of your country's four highest Rolex Ranked players. A country that does not have 4 ranked players does not qualify.

We will have changes each week as tournaments are being played leading up to the April deadline.
Here are the current seedings, and the players that would represent their countries if the cut-off was today.

1- South Korea - 23
Inbee Park (1)
So Yeon Ryu (5)
Na Yeon Choi (7)
I.K. Kim (10)
-------------------------------
On the outside:
Ha Na Jang (14)
Amy Yang (15)
Jiyai Shin (16)
Hee Young Park (18)

With 8 of the top 18 players in the world from South Korea, this is going to be a dogfight right to the very end. You would think the top 3 players here are safe, with everyone else chasing I.K. for her spot. This team will be going in as the #1 seed and will be the favorite to win. My odds 5-2.

2- United States - 37
Stacy Lewis (3)
Lexi Thompson (9)
Paula Creamer (12)
Cristie Kerr (13)
--------------------------------
On the outside:
Lizette Salas (17)
Angela Stanford (19)
Jessica Korda (24)

Jessica Korda's victory last week has made this very interesting. Stacy is a lock, and it would appear that barring a complete collapse, Lexi is safe also. Paula and Cristie are going to have to play well to keep their spots, as Lizette has become a big factor. It would appear that Jessica would need another win to jump into the top four. This team, especially if Jessica plays her way on, will be a very strong contender. My odds 3-1 with Jessica, 7-2 without.

3- Japan - 119
Mika Miyazato (21)
Ai Miyazato (23)
Sakura Yokomine (35)
Rikako Morita (40)
-----------------------------------
On the outside:
Miki Saiki (45)
Shiho Oyama (48)
Mamiko Higa (49)
Yomiko Yoshida (51)

Although the Miyazatos have not been playing well, their spots appear to be safe. Who will fill the last two spots is anyone's guess. Higa could be someone to watch here. I think I liked this team a whole lot better at this time last year. They do have the 3rd seed sewn up, but I don't see them as a big threat at this stage. My odds 8-1.

4- Thailand - 252
Pornanong Phatlum (30)
Ariya Jutanugarn (31)
Moriya Jutanugarn (82)
Thidapa Suwannapura (109)
--------------------------------------
On the outside:
No one. This team is set.

Thailand just recently passed Spain and took over the 4th seed. Ariya, it has been reported, has been back swinging the golf clubs and will be ready. This team is a real dark horse. Odds 7-1.


5- Spain - 269
Beatriz Recari (20)
Azahara Munoz (36)
Carlotta Ciganda (38)
Belen Mozo (175)
---------------------------------------
On the outside:
No one. This team is set.

This team has shown that they can play well in match play. Azahara's only LPGA victory was at the Sybase Match Play Championship. The top 3 players all have been very successful in Solheim Cup play. If Belen, currently the weak link here, can play well, watch out! My odds  5-1.


6- Sweden - 317
Caroline Hedwall (22)
Anna Nordqvist (27)
Pernilla Lindberg (119)
Mikaela Parmlid (149)
----------------------------------------
On the outside:
Karin Sjodin (203)

We all saw what Caroline is capable of when she went 5-0-0 at the Solheim Cup last year. She is capable of carrying a team on her shoulders. That said, I don't think her shoulders are big enough to pull this one off. Caroline and Anna might be able to throw a scare into Japan when they meet in the first round, but I don't see this team getting farther than that. My odds 10-1.

7- Australia - 352
Karrie Webb (8)
Katherine Kirk (105)
Stacey Keating (114)
Lindsey Wright (126)
-------------------------------------------
On the outside:
Rebecca Artis (146)
Sara Jane Smith (168)

I don't think this team has any chance of winning it all. That said, this team is loaded with experience, and could pull off an early upset. My odds 10-1


8- Chinese Taipei - 353
Yani Tseng (43)
Teresa Lu (52)
Candie Kung (95)
Hsuan-Yu Yao (163)
------------------------------------------
On the outside:
Yun-Jye Wei (212)

With Yani playing very poorly, and a serious lack of depth, this team has little or no chance. Will open up against either the U.S. or South Korea. My Odds 12-1.