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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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Michelle Wie Wins U.S. Open for her First Major Championship

Michelle Wie Wins Her First Major Championship

We have all waited for this for such a very long time. Michelle Wie won her first major championship today, by winning the U.S. Open by two strokes over Stacy Lewis.

Michelle started the day in a tie for first place with Amy Yang. At the start it did not appear that this was going to be Michelle's day as she and her playing partner (Yang), both bogeyed the first hole. At that point in the tournament there were 6 players within 3 strokes of the lead. When So Yeon Ryu birdied 1, 2, and 4, she pulled within 2 strokes of the leaders.

Yang then made double bogey on two, followed by bogeys on 4, 7, 12, and 14, ending any chance she had to win.

Meanwhile Michelle would keep her very slim lead by making pars on 8 consecutive holes (2 through 9).

When Michelle eagled the par 5 tenth hole she increased her lead to three strokes. One by one all the players chasing her would fall out of contention with the exception of a charging Stacy Lewis, and Stephanie Meadow who was making her professional debut.

When Stacy bogeyed the 16th it looked like her chances were over, but birdies on both 17 and 18 got her into the clubhouse at even par, 3 strokes behind Wie.

When Michelle double bogeyed the 16th hole, her lead shrunk to just one shot.

Meanwhile Meadow, who was playing incredibly consistent golf, was still in contention if she could birdie 17 and 18 and tie Stacy for the clubhouse lead. She only managed a par on 17, and when she birdied 18 (to finish 3 under on the back 9) she had 3rd place all to herself!

Now it came down to Michelle having to par 17 and 18 to win the championship. She put her approach shot to within 25 feet of the 17th hole and drilled her birdie putt in the center of the hole for a 2 stroke lead. When she sank her par putt on the 18th hole it was all over and she had the 4th victory of her career and first major championship.

It was Michelle's second victory of the season, and 9th victory for U.S. players this year. It also made the U.S. 2 for 2 in major championships this year, as Lexi Thompson won the Kraft earlier this year.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

U.S. Women's Open Preview & Pairings

After a week off the LPGA will be moving to the state of North Carolina for the playing of the U.S Women's Open. This is the 2nd of 5 majors on the LPGA schedule.

It is also the start of the most important part of the LPGA schedule. The next ten events will bring us four major championships, the Canadian Women's Open, and the International Crown.

This week's tournament will be #15 of 32 on the 2014 LPGA schedule (the International Crown is an unofficial tournament and is not counted in the grand total).

The tee will be moved up on the par four 345 yard 13th hole, and play at only 242 yards on two of the tournament days.

Here are the Key details:

Course:  Pinehurst #2
Location:  Pinehurst NC
Defending Champion:  Inbee Park
Winning Score:  67-68-71-73 = 281 (-8)

Final Field:  156 players
Par:   35/35 = 70
Yardage:  6549 Yards (will vary on certain days)
Purse:  $3,250,000

My strength of field rating is 85.0% making it the second strongest field of the season. Only the Kraft Nabisco Championship had a slightly higher rating. The reason the field rating isn't higher is that I base my rating on how many players from the top 80 of the LPGA Priority List, and top 80 of the Rolex Rankings are teeing it up. Because there are so many non-LPGA players invited (approximately 65), the players currently ranked numbers 71 through 80 on the Priority List do not qualify. On the other hand there are many highly Rolex Ranked players in the field that are not LPGA members. They include: Ha Na Jang (RR #19 Korea), Sei Young Kim (RR #32 Korea), Teresa Lu (RR #43 Taipei), Rikako Morita (RR #42 Japan), Sakura Yokomine (RR #45 Japan), Misuza Narita (RR #61 Japan), Yumika Yushida (RR #69 Japan), Yoo Lim Choi (RR #75 Korea), Ayaka Watanabe (RR #77 Japan), Gwladys Nocera (RR #78 France), and Minjee Lee (RR #79 Australia).

Among the very many amateurs in the field will be the very popular Brooke Henderson (Canada), and 11 year old Lucy Li. Cheyenne Woods will also be teeing it up.

Here are the television times:
Jun 19 - ESPN2 3:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Jun 20 - ESPN2 3:00 PM-7:00 PM ET
Jun 21 - NBC 3:00 PM-6:00 PM ET
Jun 22 - NBC 3:00 PM-6:00 PM ET

Here are my Pak Picker Picks for this week:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Lydia Ko
3- Karrie Webb
4- Cristie Kerr
5- Inbee Park
6- Catriona Mathhew
7- Lexi Thompson
8- Michelle Wie
9- Paula Creamer
10- Na Yeon Choi
11- Suzann Pettersen
12- Shanshan Feng
After the first 14 weeks of the season, I am currently in 7th place among the 20 contestants.
Be sure to check back here daily for any updates. I will post the leaderboard after each round.
Live scoreboards to all women's tours are always available on the top of this page.

Here are the leaders after round 3.

T1Amy Yang-2-2F716968-208
T1Michelle Wie-2+2F686872-208
T3Juli Inkster+2-4F717566-212
T3Stephanie Meadow+2-1F717269-212
T3Na Yeon Choi+2+1F717071-212
T3Minjee Lee+2+2F697172-212
T7Pornanong Phatlum+3-1F717369-213
T7So Yeon Ryu+3EF697470-213
T7Karrie Webb+3EF707370-213
T7Sakura Yokomine+3+1F746871-213
T7Lexi Thompson+3+4F716874-213


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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stats & Facts - Vol. 19

The LPGA is off this week as the players prepare themselves for the U.S. Women's Open which will be played next week in Pinehurst, North Carolina. The LPGA is now entering the most important part of its schedule. Included in the next 10 tournaments will be 4 major championships and the International Crown.

I thought I would take this time to look at some of the more important statistics that have been compiled over the first fourteen events of the season:

Rolex Player of the Year:  (Winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
1- Stacy Lewis - 136 points
2- Lexi Thompson 96
3- Michelle Wie - 88
4- Anna Nordqvist - 82
5- Inbee Park - 74

Vare Trophy:  (Winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
1- Stacy Lewis - 69.00 strokes per round
2- Michelle Wie - 69.30
3- Inbee Park - 69.63
4- Suzann Pettersen - 69.90
5- Lexi Thompson - 70.05

Race to the CME Globe: (One million dollars)
1- Stacy Lewis - 2,718 points 
2- Michelle Wie - 1,878
3- Anna Nordqvist - 1,763
4- Inbee Park - 1,618
5- Lydia Ko - 1,558

Louise Suggs  Rolex Rookie of the Year
1- Lydia Ko - 641 points
2- Mirim Lee - 240
3- Line Vedel - 201
4- Amy Anderson - 143
5- Joanna Klatten - 104
6- Kim Kaufman - 102
7- Jaye Marie Green - 94
8- Xi Yu Lin - 68
9- Kelly Tan - 44
10- Stacey Keating - 42

Most Consecutive Tournaments Without a Missed Cut:
1- Stacy Lewis - 57
2- Lydia Ko- 27 (unofficial total that includes her playing as a non-LPGA player)
3- Shanshan Feng - 23
4- Azahara Munoz - 22
5- Suzann Pettersen - 20
5- Michelle Wie - 20

Most Wins:
1-  Lewis, Korda, Nordqvist, Webb - 2
5- Wie, Ko, Creamer, Salas, Thompson,  I. Park - 1

Most Top 5 finishes:
1- Stacy Lewis - 7
2- Michelle Wie - 5
2- Lydia Ko - 5
2- Inbee Park - 5

Most Top 10 Finishes:
1- Stacy Lewis - 11
2- Michelle Wie - 8
3- Inbee Park - 8
4- Cristie Kerr - 7
5- Four players tied with - 6

Most Top 20 finishes:
1- Stacy Lewis - 12
2- Michelle Wie - 11
3- Azahara Munoz - 10
3- Chella Choi - 10

Most Wins By Country:
1- United States - 8
2- Australia - 2
2- Sweden - 2
4- New Zealand - 1
4- South Korea - 1

Solheim Cup Standings:
1- Stacy Lewis - 403
2- Lexi Thompson - 315
3- Michelle Wie - 258
4- Cristie Kerr - 163
5- Lizette Salas - 145
6- Gerina Piller - 143
7- Angela Stanford - 139
8- Paula Creamer - 130
Note: Jessica Korda (117 Solheim points) and Morgan Pressel ( 83 Solheim points) would get in via the Rolex Rankings. Jennifer Johnson (85), Brittany Lincicome (58), Brittany Lang (49), and Christina Kim (48), would not qualify as of now.

Other Tidbits:
Karine Icher has had finishes of 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th this year

Rolex Movers of the Week:
Cristie Kerr returns to the top ten this week, jumping from #13 to #10, while outside the top 100, Belen Mozo surges from #149 to #113.

Who's Hot:
Belen Mozo has had two top ten finishes in her last 3 tournaments. Jennifer Johnson has has 5 consecutive top 25 finishes.

Who's Not:
Ai Miyazato's best finish in her last 6 tournaments is a tie for 38th. She has not had a top 20 finish in her last 15 starts. I.K. Kim has not finished better than 64th in her last 4 starts.


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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Preview & Pairings

Before I get started with this week's tournament, let me congratulate Stacy Lewis for winning the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Stacy won it in style, pulling away at the end and winning by six strokes. It was the 4th consecutive win by an American player, and 6th in the last 7 tournaments. It was the 8th U.S. win of the young season. It will be much more difficult to keep that streak going this week as 2014 winners Paula Creamer, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and Lizette Salas will not be in attendance.

This week the tour makes its way to Waterloo, Canada for the playing of the Manulife Financial LPGA Championship. Hee young Park won this event in 2013, with a very exciting playoff win over Angela Stanford. You can expect lots of birdies this week as Park and Stanford both shot 26 under par. You would think that playing par golf  this week is not going to be good enough, as the cut last year was -3.

Defending Champion Hee Young Park

This will be tournament #14 of 32 on the LPGA schedule this year.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Grey Silo Golf Course
Location:  Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Defending Champion:  Hee Young Park
Winning Score:  65-67-61-65 = 258 (-26)

Final Field: 144 players
Par:  36/35 = 71
Yardage:  6,330
Purse:  $1,500,000

My strength of field rating is just 50.5%, making it the weakest field of the year. Thirty-six of the top 60 golfers from the LPGA Priority list, and 17 of the top 30 players from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. Some of the bigger names absent this week include: Lexi Thompson, Paula Creamer, Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas, Beatriz Recari, Karrie Webb, Amy Yang, Pornanong Phatlum, Azahara Munoz, Se Ri Pak, Brittany Lincicome, Yani Tseng, Jennie Shin, and Natalie Gulbis.

Sixteen year old Canadian sensation Brooke Henderson will be a sponsor invitee this week. Brooke, you may remember, put up a very good showing at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, finishing 26th.
Jackie Stoelting, this year's Big Break winner, will get the other sponsor exemption.

Here are the pairings for the first 2 rounds:

Here are the television times:
Jun 5 - GC 12:00 PM-2:30 PM ET
Jun 6 - GC 12:30 PM-2:30 PM ET
Jun 7 - GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET
Jun 8 - GC 3:00 PM-5:00 PM ET

Here are my Pak Picker Picks for this week's tournament:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Gerina Piller
3- Michelle Wie
4- Inbee Park
5- Suzann Pettersen
6- Anna Nordqvist
7- Cristie Kerr
8- Na Yeon Choi
9- Shanshan Feng
10- Angela Stanford
11- Catriona Matthew
12- Hee Young Park
Although I correctly picked the winner last week, my other picks left a lot to be desired. I was only able to pick 3 of the top 12 finishers which was only good enough for 12th for the week. I have dropped to 7th place for the year, out of the 20 contestants now playing.

Other Tidbits
So Yeon Ryu missed the cut, ending her streak of 22 consecutive cuts made.

Rolex Ranking Movers of the Week:
Stacy Lewis is the new #1 player in the world, as Inbee Park drops to #2.
Gerina Piller continues her rise this week jumping from #30 to #26.
Jennifer Johnson leaps up from #53 to #44, while Haeji Kang bolts from #67 to #54.
From outside the top 100, Christina Kim soars from #109 to #53.

Race to the CME Globe: ( 1 million dollars)
Stacy Lewis takes a huge lead with 2,619 points. Michelle Wie is her closest pursuer with 1,778. 

Who's Hot:  
In her 12 tournaments this year, Stacy Lewis has 7 top 5's, and 10 top tens, both of which lead the tour by a very comfortable margin. 
Jennifer Johnson has finished in the top 15 in her last 4 starts.

Who's Not:
Yani Tseng has hit just 256 fairways in 490 attempts. That rate of 52.5%, ranks her #159 of 160 players.

Be sure to check back here for any updates. I will post the leaders after each round.
Live scoreboards to all tournaments on all tours are available at the top of this page.

Here are the final results:
1Inbee Park-23F
2Cristie Kerr-20F
3Shanshan Feng-18F
4Belen Mozo-16F
4Lydia Ko-16F
6Stacy Lewis-15F
6Michelle Wie-15F
8Chella Choi-14F
8Suzann Pettersen-14F
10Caroline Masson-13F
10So Yeon Ryu-13F
10Hee Young Park-13F
10Anna Nordqvist-13F
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