Monday, April 24, 2017

Volunteers of America Texas Shootout Preview, Pairings, and More.

                            Image result for volunteers of america texas shootout presented by JTBC

 After a one week break the LPGA resumes its schedule in the state of Texas, with the playing of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC.

Last year Jenny Shin picked up her first (and only) LPGA victory, when her final round sixty-seven was good enough for a 2 stroke victory over Gerina Piller, Mi Jung Hur, and Amy Yang.

Image result for Jenny shin wins Volunteers of america
Jenny Shin proudly holds up her first ever LPGA trophy.

This will be tournament #9 of 34 on this year's LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Las Colinas Country Club
Location: Irving, Texas
Defending Champion:  Jenny Shin
Winning Score: 68-70- 65-67 = 270 (-14)

Final Field: 144 players
Par:  36/35 =71
Yardage:  6,441
Purse: $1,300,000

Image result for los colinas cc lpga
Las Colinas Country Club course layout.

My strength of field rating is a surprisingly high 82%. That is up significantly from 65% last year. Forty-seven of the top 50 players from the LPGA Priority List, and 22 of the top 25 players from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. Players skipping this event include: Carlota Ciganda, Hyo Joo Kim, and Lee-Anne Pace.

Here are the first round pairings.

Here are the television times:
Apr  27 - GC 12:00 PM-2:30 PM ET 
Apr  28 - GC 12:00 PM-2:30 PM ET 
Apr  29 - GC 3:00 PM-6:00 PM ET
Apr  30 - GC 3:00 PM-6:00 PM ET

Players most likely to win: (Top players in the field)
Lydia Ko - #1 in the Rolex Rankings, but barely holding on.
So Yeon Ryu - #2 and best player on tour this year.
Ariya Jutanugarn - #3 player in the world is overdue.

Players to watch out for: (I'm feeling it this week)
Cristie Kerr - Is red hot, and has finished in the top ten in this tournament 3 consecutive years.
In Gee Chun - Needs to have a good first round.
Lexi Thompson - Her first start since the ANA fiasco.

Longshot picks: (Not likely, but not impossible)
Danielle Kang - Just a gut feeling.
Stacy Lewis - Has she now become a longshot?
Gerina Piller - Came close last year.

Other Tidbits:
This week's LPGA event will have two cuts. The first, as usual, will be after the second round, where the field will be cut to the top 70 and ties. The field will be cut again after round three, to the top 50 players and ties. If a player makes the first cut and misses the second, it will not be counted in the record books as a missed cut and she will receive a portion of the purse.

This Week's Trivia Question:

What LPGA golfer holds the record for winning the same tournament the most consecutive years? Can you name the tournament?

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here:

Note: If anyone has an LPGA trivia question that they would like posted here, you can e-mail it to: tonyj5@optonline.net


UPDATE #1 -  The Monday local qualifiers are Julieta Granada and Lauren Cauflin. They both shot a score of 69. Mariah Stackhouse and Bronte Law both missed out by one shot.

Here the final results:
1 Haru Nomura -3
2 Cristie Kerr -3
3 Jessica Korda -1
4 Sung Hyun Park E
5 Eun-Hee Ji 1
5 Angel Yin 1
5 Minjee Lee 1
5 Mi Jung Hur 1
9 Amy Yang 2
9 Charley Hull 2
9 So Yeon Ryu 2
9 Ariya Jutanugarn 2
13 Brittany Lang 3
13 Jane Park 3
13 Michelle Wie 3
13 Inbee Park 3
17 Melissa Reid 4
17 Lexi Thompson 4
17 Jacqui Concolino 4
17 Stacy Lewis 4
21 Brooke Henderson 5
21 Amelia Lewis 5
21 Katherine Kirk 5
21 Joanna Klatten 5
21 Moriya Jutanugarn 5

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.


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

LPGA Player Profile - Natalie Gulbis


With the LPGA taking a one week break before resuming its schedule in the state of Texas, I want to take this opportunity to do my fifth player profile.

The player I have chosen this time around, may very well be in the twilight of her career, but has been a crowd favorite for many years. I have chosen:

NATALIE GULBIS
Image result for natalie gulbis
Natalie (wearing body paint) poses for Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue



Born: 1/7/83 (34 years old)
Hometown: Sacramento Calif.
Resides: Lake, Las Vegas, Nev.
Rookie Year: 2002


Image result for usa wins 2009 solheim cup
Natalie (back row 2nd from left) celebrates USA's 2009 Solheim Cup win.

Natalie has won once on the LPGA tour:

  • 2007 Evian Masters
Natalie Gulbis beat Jang Jeong in a playoff Sunday.
Natalie kisses trophy after winning the 2007 Evian Masters


               
 Natalie has had many of her best finishes in Major Championships!

Best Finishes in Major Championships:

  • ANA Inspiration - Finished 3rd in 2006
  • KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Finished 5th in 2005
  • U.S. Women's Open - Finished 4th in 2005
  • Ricoh British Open - Finished 9th in 2013
  • The Evian Championship - Finished 52nd in 2013 (It was not a Major Championship when she won this event).
      

Natalie and Yours Truly

Career Stats:

  • 318 career starts
  • 237 cuts made (74.5%)
  • 37 top tens (11.6%)
  • Has $4,892,233 in career earnings through the 2016 season (57th on the all time LPGA career money list).

Other Career Highlights:
  • A three time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member (2005, 2007, 2009) with a 5-4-1 overall record.
  • Carded a career low 63 in the third round of the 2003 Welch's/Fry Championship.
  • Won four collegiate tournaments while at the University of Arizona and was named a first team All-American in 2001.
  • Won the California Women's Amateur Championship at the age of 14.
Links to Previous Player profiles:

This week's Trivia Question:   (For those who missed it earlier this week).

What three active LPGA players have won 7 major championships each?


Note: If anyone has an LPGA trivia question that they would like posted here, you can e-mail it to: tonyj5@optonline.net

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Year 2017 - Part 1

Now that we have completed about 1/4 of the LPGA season, it's time to take a look at the players that have made the biggest leaps and taken the biggest falls in the Rolex Rankings this year.

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 is: (1) A player must have been ranked in the top 100 at the start of the year, or be in the top 100 now. (2) A player must have started the year 2017 with a minimum rating of 0.50 (or else this chart would be filled with unknown names.)
Image result for so yeon ryu
So Yeon Ryu has been , by far, the year's biggest gainer


The Year's Biggest Gainers:
1- So Yeon Ryu - 5.46 to 8.19 = Gain of 2.73 (moved from #9 to #2)
2- Mirim Lee - 3.24 to 4.44 = Gain of 1.20 (move 24 to 14)
3- Cristie Kerr - 2.78 to 3.72 = Gain of 0.94 (move 30 to 18)
4- Inbee Park - 5.34 to 6.06 = Gain of 0.72 (move 11 to 7)
5- Austin Ernst - 1.39 to 2.07 = Gain of 0.68 (move 80 to 37)
6- Michelle Wie - 0.67 to 1.34 = Gain of 0.67 (move 174 to 75)
7- Anna Nordqvist - 4.55 to 5.17 = Gain of 0.62 (move 14 to 10)

Note: Only 7 players had gains of over 0.50. A special mention should go out to Nelly Korda who doesn't qualify for this list because she didn't start the year in the top 100 and isn't there now, but has moved up from #341 to #157.


Image result for Lydia ko
Lydia Ko has lost more Rolex Rankings points than any other player so far this year


The Year's Biggest Decliners
1- Lydia Ko - 11.25 to 9.33 = Loss of 1.92 (moved from #1 to #1)
2- Brooke Henderson - 5.84 to 4.59 = Loss of 1.25 (move 8 to 13)
3- Bo-Mee Lee - 4.20 to 3.24 = Loss of 0.96 (move 15 to 21)
4- Sei Young Kim - 5.99 to 5.08 = Loss of 0.91 (move 6 to 11)
5- Shanshan Feng - 6.94 to 6.14 = Loss of 0.80 (move from 4 to 6)
6- Jin-Young Ko - 2.86 to 2.10 = Loss of 0.76 (move 26 to 36)
7- Na Yeon Choi - 1.90 to 1.31 = Loss of 0.58 (move 55 to 77)
8- Morgan Pressel - 1.90 to 1.34 = Loss of 0.56 (move 56 to 76)
9- Hyo Joo Kim - 3.17 to 2.62 = Loss of 0.55 (move 25 to 28)
10- Sung Hyun Park - 5.59 to 5.05 = Loss of 0.53 (move 10 to 12)
10- Candie Kung - 2.54 to 2.01 = Loss of 0.53 (move 33 to 40)
12- Brittany Lang - 3.29 to 2.77 = Loss of 0.52 (move 22 to 25)



Other Tidbits:
The Lotte Championship was not kind to a number of players that had cut streaks. Pornanong Phatlum (16), Moriya Jutanugarn (15), and Alison Lee (13), all missed the cut.

With her win in Hawaii, Cristie Kerr crosses the 18 million dollar mark in career earnings. She ranks third on the all time list.

Cristie Kerr's victory was the 2nd this year for an American player (Brittany Lincicome won earlier in the year) in the first 8 tournaments of the year. That equals their total for the whole 2016 season (in 33 events). 

Klara Spilkpova became the first Czeck player to win on the L.E.T. Her final round 66 was good enough for a one stroke victory over Suzann Pettersen.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Cristie Kerr jumps up 8 spots from #26 to #18, while non-LPGA member Su Yeon Jang leaps from #68 to #52. Danielle Kang soars from #63 to #55, and Alena Sharp rises from #81 to #70.

Race to the CME Globe:   (1 million dollars)
So Yeon Ryu continues to lead with 1,525 points. She is followed by Ariya Jutanugarn (1,145), Inbee Park (968), Lexi Thompson (926), and In Gee Chun (915).

Who's Hot:
So Yeon Ryu has finished in the top seven in all of her six starts this year. She has nine straight top ten finishes dating back to last year.

Aria Jutanugarn leads the tour with seven top 25 finishes this year.


Who's Not:
Hee Young Park has now missed four consecutive cuts. Morgan Pressel has already missed four cuts this year.


This Week's Trivia Question:

What three active LPGA players have won 7 major championships each?


For the answer to this week's trivia question press here.



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Monday, April 10, 2017

Lotte Championship Presented by Hershey Preview, Pairings, & More

The LPGA moves to Hawaii this week for the playing of the Lotte Championship Presented by Hershey.

Image result for 2017 lotte championship


This will be the 6th year that this tournament is on the LPGA schedule. Many may remember last year's exciting finish, when Mingee Lee came from behind to take home the winning trophy. She shot a final 64 to finish one stroke better than both Katie Burnett and In Gee Chun.


Image result for Minjee lee wins lotte championship
Minjee Lee celebrates after winning the 2016 Lotte Championship


This will be tournament #8 of 34 on this year's LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Ko Olina Golf Club
Location: Kapolei, Hawaii 
Defending Champion:  Minjee Lee
Winning Score:  68-66-74-64 = 272 (-16)

Final Field:  144 players
Par:  36/36=72
Yardage:  6,383
Purse:  $2,000,000

My strength of field rating is 64% (up from 59% last year). Thirty-Six of the top 50 players from the LPGA Priority List, and Fourteen of the top 25 players from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. The field will include the top three world ranked players: Lydia Ko, So Yeon Ryu, and Ariya Jutanugarn. Players skipping the event this week include: Shanshan Feng, Sei Young Kim, Anna Nordqvist, Lexi Thompson, Suzann Pettersen, and both the Korda sisters.

I will post the pairings as soon as they are made available.

Here are the television times:
Apr 12 - GC 7:00 PM-11:00 PM ET (Wednesday start)
Apr 13 - GC 7:00 PM-11:00 PM ET
Apr 14 - GC 7:00 PM-11:00 PM ET
Apr 15 - GC 7:00 PM-11:00 PM ET (Saturday finish)

Players Most likely to win: (Top players in the field)
  • Lydia Ko - Number one player in the world is not playing well, but is always dangerous.
  • So Yeon Ryu - Now ranked #2, she has not finished out of the top 10 all year.
  • Ariya Jutanugarn - Number 3, and overdue for a victory.

Players to watch out for: (I'm feeling it this week)
  • Minjee Lee - Defending champion played well last week at the ANA Inspiration.
  • Sung Hyun Park - Always a betting favorite, but windy conditions could hurt her game (a high ball hitter).
  • Michelle Wie - Is playing her best golf in quite some time, and has won here already.

Longshot Picks: (Not likely, but not impossible)
  • Mo Martin - A very good player in windy conditions.
  • Carlota Ciganda - Just a gut feeling
  • Chella Choi - has finished 15th, 4th, and 5th the last 3 years here.
This Week's Trivia Question: (This one is especially tough!)

Three players in LPGA history have come back from 10 shot deficits at the start of the final round, and went on to victory. Can you name any one of them?



Here are the final results:

1 Cristie Kerr -20
2 Lydia Ko -17
2 In Gee Chun -17
2 Su-Yeon Jang -17
5 Alena Sharp -16
6 So Yeon Ryu -15
7 Stacy Lewis -14
7 Ariya Jutanugarn -14
9 Danielle Kang -13
9 Cydney Clanton -13
11 Katherine Kirk -11
11 Inbee Park -11
11 Brooke Henderson -11
11 Lizette Salas -11
11 Jenny Shin -11
16 Eun Jeong Seong -10
16 Mi Jung Hur -10
16 In-Kyung Kim -10
16 Brittany Altomare -10
16 Becky Morgan -10
16 Hae-Rym Kim -10
16 Brittany Lang -10

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.




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Thursday, April 6, 2017

LPGA Player Profile : Hee Young Park

With the LPGA taking a one week break before resuming its schedule in Hawaii, I thought it would be a good time to do my fourth LPGA player profile.

The player I have chosen this time around is the very popular:


HEE YOUNG PARK

Image result for Hee Young Park
Hee Young Park has always been one of the friendliest players on the LPGA tour.

Born: 5/24/87 (29 years old)
Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
Resides: Orlando, Florida
Rookie Year: 2008
2016 Earnings:  $527,422 (34th)

Image result for Hee Young Park wins cme
Hee Young won the 2013 CME Group Titleholders Championship.

She has won twice on the LPGA tour:
  • 2011 CME Group Titleholders
  • 2013 Manulife Financial

Best Finishes in Major Championships:
  • ANA Inspiration - Finished 7th in 2013
  • KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Finished 14th in 2012
  • U.S. Women's Open - Finished 9th in 2009
  • Ricoh British Open _ Finished 2nd in 2013
  • The Evian Championship - Finished 6th in 2008
Image result for Hee Young Park wins manulife
Hee Young Park holds up her 2013 Manulife trophy

Career Stats:
  • 244 career starts
  • 197 cuts made (80.7%)
  • 39 top tens (16.0%)
  • Has $4,937,200 in career earnings through the 2016 season. (55th on all time LPGA career money list)

Other Career Highlights:
  • Carded a career low 61 in the third round of the 2013 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
  • Tallied a career high seven top 10 finishes during the 2010 LPGA season
  • Finished 3rd at the 2007 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 12 for the 2008 season.
  • In 2005, competed on the LPGA of Korea (KLPGA) and won three events en route to being named the 2005 KLPGA Rookie of the Year.
Previous Player profiles:


This week's Trivia Question:   (For those who missed it earlier this week).

What active player has the most career top ten finishes without recording a single victory?



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Monday, April 3, 2017

Surprises and Disappointments 2017 - Part 1

Although the LPGA has completed  only about 20% (7 of 34 tournaments) of its 2017 schedule, I don't think it is too early to take a look at some of the ladies that have been the biggest surprises and biggest disappointments of the year so far.

As I do every year, I will do this again at the halfway point of the season and again at season's end.


To further explain how I come up with my list, a player that is very highly ranked and having a great season would not make this list, as I had high expectations for that person and it wouldn't be a surprise. On the other hand, a player that had a bad season last year and is having another one now, would not make this list because expectations would have been lowered. 


With that in mind here are my early season choices:


Biggest Surprises:
Related image
Austin Ernst has been the biggest surprise of the young season.

1- Austin Ernst - Not many big surprises yet this year as all of the tournaments have been won by established players. The biggest surprise though has to be the consistent play of Austin Ernst. Austin has 1 top five finish, 3 top tens (only Ariya Jutanugarn and So Yeon Ryu have more), and 5 top twenty-five finishes. Austin finished #51 last year on the money list, and currently she is #10.

2- Moriya Jutanugarn - While everyone is watching her sister Ariya (#3 in the world), Moriya is off to the best start of her career. She has teed it up 7 times this year, and has 6 top sixteen finishes. She finished 40th on the money list last year, and is currently #16.

3- Michelle Wie - Michelle has been on my list quite a few times over the past couple of years, but in the disappointments section. This year has been another story. Just when we lowered our expectations, she is having a comeback year. She has scraped the table top putting stance, and her putting has been so much better. She has already made almost double the prize money she made the entire 2016 season when she was #105 on the money list. She already has 2 top ten finishes, and currently resides at #26 on the year's money list.

4- Marina Alex - Marina is off to the best start of her career. In just 5 starts, she has 1 top ten, and 3 top twenty-five finishes. She is currently #34 on the money list, by far the best of her career.

5- Nelly Korda - We all knew for sure who was going to win the Rookie of the Year award this year (Sung Hyun Park), but with veterans like Mel Reid joining the tour, we didn't know who would finish second. Nelly, is sure off to a good start. She already has 2 top twenty finishes, with one of them being a top five. She has made every cut, and is currently #33 on the money list.

Honerable Mentions: Angel Yin, Pei-Yun Chien, Jeong Eun Lee.

Biggest Disappointments:
Related image
Na Yeon Choi has been the #1 disappointment so far this year.
1- Na Yeon Choi - One of the top players in the world for many years, she has taken a remarkable fall in a very short period of time. Her best finish this year was a tie for 60th place. She has missed the cut in every tournament that has had a cut. Her scoring average is an embarrassing 74.7 which ranks 143rd on a tour that currently ranks 148 players. She currently ranks #124 on the money list, and must turn things around soon if she wants to continue to play on this tour.

2- Karrie Webb - Has she finally reached the end of a brilliant Hall of Fame career? She has not finished better than 48th this year, and already has missed 3 cuts. She is currently #98 on the money list, but is in no danger of losing her card, as she has at least two exemptions she can use to retain it if need be.

3- Hee Young Park - I will be very surprised if when I do this report again later in the year, that she is still on this list. That said, she certainly deserves to be on it now. She has struggled mightily this year, with her best finish in 6 starts a tie for 37th place. She has also missed the cut in her last 3 starts, and finds herself #90 on the money list.

4- Candie Kung - Always a consistent performer, she has yet to find the magic this year. She has yet to finish better than 46th place. She finished a very solid #25 on the money list last year, but is currently #71.

5- Morgan Pressel - She has played every week, but has only managed to finish better than 42nd just once. A solid player for many years, she started tailing off last year, and this year finds herself all the way down at #66 on the money list.

6- Brittany Lang - Another player that I expect will not be on this list later in the year. Last year's U.S. Open champion does not have a top twenty finish yet this year. She finished #9 on the money list last year, and is currently sitting at #47.

Others: Haru Nomura, Danielle Kang, Eun-Hee Ji, Lee- Anne Pace, Megan Khang, and Paula Creamer.


Other Tidbits:
Jodi Ewart Shadoff missed the cut at the ANA Inspiration. Her cut streak came to an end at 30.

Odd Stat of the Week:
Ariya Jutanugarn and Moriya Jutanugarn, are the only LPGA players that have 6 top twenty-five finishes this year.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
So Yeon Ryu inches up one more spot to #2 in the Rolex Rankings. Lexi Thompson leaps up from #9 to #4, while Suzanne Pettersen jumps up from #21 to #17. Michelle Wie moves back into the top 100, catapulting from #105 to #75.

Race to the CME Globe:   (1 million dollars)
So Yeon Ryu takes over the lead with 1,425 points. Ariya Jutanugarn is next with 1,055, followed by Lexi Thompson with 926.

Who's Hot:
So Yeon Ryu has finished in the top 10 in her last eight starts dating back to last season.

Lexi Thompson now has 3 top four finishes this year. She has lost 2 playoffs.


Who's Not:
Nontoya Srisawang has missed the cut in all 5 of her starts.


This Week's Trivia Question:

What active player has the most career top ten finishes without recording a single victory?

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here:

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Lexi Thompson Receives 4 stroke Penalty, Loses Championship by 1 Stroke in Playoff

Lexi Thompson was informed that she received a four stroke penalty as she walked off the 12th hole on Sunday at the ANA Inspiration.

Image result for lexi ana inspiration
So Yeon Ryu (l), Lexi Thompson (R)

An email was received by LPGA officials from a viewer about a possible rules infraction during the third round.

After deliberating for two hours, they informed her that she had violated rule 20.7c when she replaced her ball an inch away from its original position one foot from the hole.

She received four strokes in penalties. Two for the rules infraction, and two strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard.

"Oh my god," said Thompson, as she broke into tears.

LPGA official Sue Witter later said she was 100-percent sure it was not intentional. "It was a hard thing to do. To be honest it made me sick."

When TV viewers were informed of the infraction, Thompson had a 2 stroke lead. When the score was adjusted she was two strokes back.

With the crowd chanting Lexi, Lexi, Lexi during the remaining holes, she birdied the 13th & 15th hole to tie for the lead. Her bogey on the 16th, coupled with So Yeon Ryu's birdie on 18, left Thompson one stroke back.

She would par the 17th hole and went to 18 with her playing partner Suzann Pettersen, both needing a birdie to force a playoff.

When Pettersen hit her 2nd shot on the par five 18th hole over the green, she was able to only salvage a par. Lexi put her 2nd shot about 12 feet from the hole and missed the winning eagle put by less than an inch.

When Ryu birdied the first playoff hole she was the 2017 ANA Inspiration champion. It was the second Major Championship victory of her career. For Lexi, it was her 2nd playoff loss this young season.

Tiger woods sent out the following tweet when the penalty was announced. "Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes. Lets go @Lexi, win this anyway."

This one will be remembered for a long, long time. One has to question how a penalty this severe could be assessed a day later. Here is hoping the rule is changed and no one will ever have to suffer like this again.

Kudos goes out to Suzann Pettersen (who was blasted during the last Solheim Cup), for being a calming influence on Thompson during the final holes. She handled the situation with class.

For Ryu, (who in this bloggers opinion is one of the classiest acts on the LPGA Tour), it will be a bittersweet victory. This story should be about her winning, but unfortunatly for most, that was not the biggest story.


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