“I know how good I am. A lot of people say, well, she really doesn’t know how good she is. I do know how good I am. Sometimes I get in my own way.”—Cristie Kerr on expecting the type of success she’s found in 2009 at a presser at the Samsung World Championship.
@TheMichelleWie , has started her own personal blog for those of you not paying attention to the LPGA blogosphere/twitterverse situation the past week or so. A Black Flamingo, “a mindless blog about life, and the stuff that doesen’t quite fit in” shows that the LPGA rookie is not only talented on the golf course, but can paint, make clothes, and do all types of artistic things.
As someone who is not good at golf, and does not have an artistic bone in my body I am of course even more jealous of Wie’s sheer ease at just jumping onto the art bandwagon. It’s not a huge surprise that someone so gifted athletically, would find herself talented in many facets of her life.
I’m sure the many haters that pester Miss Wie like little gnats will find many ways to tear up this side project of hers, but honestly it’s just fun, and I love her for it. The more players that can make themselves accessible, interesting, and show the myriad of talent and personality that each possess, the better. Kudos to Michelle Wie for putting herself out there. The only real mistake she made was using blogspot and not the brilliance of tumblr.
The LPGA Tour Championship has completely shifted formats for 2009 after having an exciting and successful run with the ADT Tour Championship Playoffs. The tour championship was limited to 30 players last year which featured a point system to qualify, and broke the season into two distinct halves, and of course the million dollar paycheck to the winner is certainly worth mentioning. The field was cut to the top 16 after 36 holes, and scored wiped clean for the third round. At the end of the 3rd round the field was cut in half and the slate wiped clean, creating a shoot-out for the 8 ladies remaining in the competition.
In a stark contrast, the 2009 LPGA Tour Championship will feature the top 120 players on the LPGA and the shoot-out drama is no longer present. After 36 holes the typical low-70 players will make it to the Saturday with another cut after the third round to the top 30.
It’s quite interesting they’ve expanded the field to the top 120 this year, as even before they adopted the playoff point-qualifying entry system in 2006, the tour championship was typically a 30 player field. I’ve always been a fan of a tour championship being at least semi-exclusive, so I’m not entirely onboard with this 120 player field going on this year. With the talent pool being so big, and so many chances for a surprise winner on tour (i.e. Anna Nordqvist, Eunjung Yi, M.J. Hur), I simply don’t think it’s necessarily a completely fitting end to see someone like Sarah Jane Smith (just as an example) have the week of her life and emerge as tour championship winner.
To me, this week’s Samsung World Championship feels more like a tour championship then the actual LPGA Tour Championship.
The most exclusive tournament on the LPGA, the Samsung World Championship will occur this weekend, and the field is as star filled as ever. Last season American darling Paula Creamer held off Song-Hee Kim by one stroke, Paula will be looking to find the same form at storied Torrey Pines this season. Paula has yet to win in 2009, and if she fails to do so, it will be her first season in her impressive career that she would have failed to nab a win.
It’s not going to be easy for Paula to repeat, the 19 other players are full of talent as is always the case at the Samsung World Championship. The biggest surprise in the field is Lindsey Wright who under the radar has been churning out a fine season for herself, making more money then Michelle Wie who is the first alternate for the event. Wright has two less top 10s then Wie (4 to 6), but Wright has two top 10s in majors (to Wie’s 0). Lindsey is sitting in the 15th spot on the tours money list, amassing a little over $100,000 over #16 Wie. Also missing out in the field is Seon Hwa Lee. The four time tour winner is missing the Samsung World Championship for the first time in her LPGA career.
I don’t have the numbers for the money list for the Safeway, but I wish they could’ve finagled a way for Se Ri Pak to have received the HoFer exemption into the event (Se Ri is currently #30 on the money list) over Karrie Webb who was already qualified via the money list.
All that aside, with such concentrated talent in the field it’s very difficult to pick a winner in this event, all that aside, I still went ahead and picked one.
Na Yeon Choi
Song Hee Kim
I am picking Inky to find some form and nab her second win of the season. She should be refreshed from her week off last week, and I think Torrey Pines should set up well for her. With last week’s winner Shin, the red hot Ai Miyazato, the renewed confidence of Suzann Pettersen, this week should produce some phenomenal stuff. I am certainly looking forward to it.
The story around the tennis world is of course Serena’s unfortunate outburst and the the most famous foot fault call in tennis history. Although Serena’s actions are inexcusable, there is something to be said about the most inconsistent call in the sport of tennis. The foot fault is a common occurrence in pro tennis and how strict these judges are in calling these things should be looked at. Serena (along with her sister) is notorious for standing so close to the line on her serve. If you’re going to call foot faults do so the entire match, not on the crucial 2nd serve points. Simple as that. Anyone who believes that this was the only time she foot faulted in that match is absolutely nuts.
For your viewing pleasure, here are some other players who have and have not reacted so well to bad calls.
Bruno Echagaray loses it after being called on a 2nd serve foot fault on MATCH point in a 50K challenger against USO darling Jesse Witten. Tell me if you see a difference between the 1st and 2nd serves.
Roddick keeps his cool after his foot fault call.
Safin is not very happy after his foot fault call.
Not a foot fault , but a crazy reaction from Mikhail Youzhny.
Poranong Phatlum wrote a short rookie blog about getting in as an alternate for Paula Creamer at the Safeway Classic a few weeks ago. It’s amazing she played so well, after having to go to the ER when she first arrived in Portland!
Shin Ruins Sob Story, Makes POY Even MORE Interesting
The not much of a rookie, rookie and possibly best lady golfer in the world Jiyai Shin broke the hearts of the Arkansas crowd and the entire Golf Channel production team by birding the last three holes to upend Angela Stanford & Sun Young Yoo on the second playoff hole to capture her third title of 2009 at the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday. In sinking the clutch putt on the par-3 15th (second playoff hole) Shin effectively ruined the story of the day (if not weekend) of Angela Stanford making a full circle bounce back from having to deal with the diagnosis of cancer that her mother unfortunately received not too long ago. Much was made of Stanford’s mom making the drive to watch Angela play singles at the Solheim Cup on Sunday, and the same fanfare was given again on this Sunday as her mother was in attendance in Arkansas. Had Stanford been able to close it out it would’ve been a amazingly triumphant come back, from extraordinary personal struggles, and would’ve been the first time she had won an LPGA tournament with her parents in attendance.
Early on it certainly looked to be Stanford’s day, after stumbling out the blocks with a bogey on the 1st, she pitched in for eagle at the par 5 second which brought her to -8 for the tournament just a stroke behind the 36 hole leader Song-Hee Kim. If she could’ve continued a bit of a run after this eagle Angela could’ve easily run away with this championship, but was only able to birdie the par 5 14th (while bogeying two other holes) going into the final hole in regulation.
Jane Park had a much worse descent after hitting the -9 mark. She birdied four of her five holes to get there, but then gave nearly all of it back when she bogeyed three of the next four holes. She birdied 11 to get back to -7 which kept her very much in contention, but followed it up with what may have been the biggest meltdown of her career as she went double-bogey-double on holes 13-15 which at the end of the day dropped her out of the top 21 (T21, -2).
As exciting as the three player playoff was, it easily could’ve featured two additional players, or potentially ended in regulation. 36 hole leader Song-Hee Kim showed just how nervous she was attempting to win her first LPGA event, being unable to secure a birdie the entire round. This was perhaps exemplified best on the birdieable par 5 14th. After driving herself into trouble off the tee, Song-Hee attempted to pitch out to a comfortable distance for her 3rd shot. Not entirely sure what happened, but Kim’s pitch-out went a distance, and inexplicably rolled into the water hazard. Kim then had to scramble to save par on a hole that all the leaders found birdie throughout the week. Kim did infact get up an down for par, and gave herself a fighting chance to win this event. She would go to the 18th with Stanford needing a birdie to get into a playoff with Shin and Yoo.
Yoo joined Shin atop the leaderboard after she birdied the 14th hole for the third time this week, but then dropped back to 2nd after she bogeyed the 16th hole for the third time this week. She needed to birdie the 18th to guarantee a playoff with Jiyai. A few groups ahead, Shi Hyun Ahn was in the same predicament, but had to settle for par. After a picture perfect drive, Yoo hit her approach to the front of the green leaving a lengthy 30-40 footer for eagle, and the lead outright. Yoo’s putting speed had looked great all week, and this was no different, she lagged close, tapped in for birdie and made the playoff official.
When the last group arrived at the 18th, Shin had been done her round for a couple hours, and Yoo had just finished. Song-Hee once again drove herself into the rough, but her layup was executed much better this time, and had a decent up-and-down birdie opportunity. Stanford hit an aggressive driver down the fairway, and gave her a shot to reach the green in two, she hit an amazing approach to 25 feet, giving her a chance to tie Shin & Yoo. Kim hit her pitch to the pin, and after a bigish bounce and some backspin found herself a difficult 12-15 downhill sliding putt to get into the playoff.
Stanford was first to putt, and she sunk it, igniting the hopes of the Golf Channel production team, and showing an even bigger sign that this tournament was her destiny. Her celebration was almost as if she had won the tournament, or better yet sunk the clinching putt at the Solheim. Arms stretched, she jumped into the arms of her caddy, it was a touching moment for a player who has had to battle so much in the middle of the best season of her career.
Utilizing Na Yeon Choi’s near identical line just before her, Song-Hee was unable to do what Yoo and Stanford did before her. She hit an aggressive putt, but it slid 3 feet past, and Kim along with NYC will have to wait for their 1st LPGA win. Choi & Kim have the talent to be winning on tour, but they have not been able to keep it together while in contention, something that their countrywomen M.J. Hur & Eunjung Yi were able to do when they won earlier in 2009. Until they can calm these nerves and thoughts, I think it will be more likely to see them win an event like Shin did this week, from behind the pack shooting an amazingly low number.
So there we were, Shin, Yoo, and Stanford in the sudden death playoff. Yoo drew first and smoked her drive down the fairway, setting up a great second shot. Shin hit her tee shot second and missed hers to the left, and was in trouble in the rough. She would be blocked out by trees and a hazard, and would not have a chance to get there in two. Stanford was next and her tee shot was falling off quickly to the right toward the right rough, she was fortunate to get a good kick and was just a few yards behind Yoo’s ball in the middle of the fairway.
Shin pitched to the middle of the fairway. Stanford’s attempt to reach ended up in a very similar position to Yoo’s in regulation, on the front edge of the green. Yoo’s looked great rolling up toward the back middle pin position, but hers was just a little bit too hot, and ended up rolling into the right greenside bunker.
You really needed to see these three next shots in order to really understand how good they were, but it was some of the best golf I’ve seen in a long time. Shin was first and pitched hers to tap-in range for her (3-5 feet). Stanford was next, and nearly holed hers, but again was a tap-in for birdie. Yoo’s bunker shot rolled to inches. All three ladies tapped their birdies in (no relapse of Michele Redman from two weeks ago!) and went to the par 3 15th.
Yoo again was first and was short and right, which was incidentally the same position she was in regulation. She flirted dangerously with the hazard, but hit it far enough to land short of the green. Stanford hit hers about 20 feet short of the pin, which was just outside of Shin’s 12 footer left, and on a very similar line.
Yoo chipped hers from just off the green to three feet, nearly a tap-in for her on this day. Stanford was first, and she piped the left to right putt about five feet past (outside of Yoo’s ball), which set the stage for Shin to putt tow in. Trusting Stanford’s line Jiyai hit a perfect 12 footer, and claimed her third victory of the season.
Shin has a chance to match HOFer Nancy Lopez in winning both the Rookie of the Year & Player of the Year in the same season. She has essentially clinched ROY, but POY is certainly up for grabs.
Stanford should be very happy with her week, and is seemingly back in peak condition like she was earlier this season. I picked Yoo to win this week, so you’ve gotta be sure I was rooting hard for her down the stretch on Sunday. Hopefully Yoo will take a lot of positives in coming this close, and I expect an LPGA win in this player’s near future.
The field for the California Sectional Qualifier has been announced and Duke Alum Amanda Blumenhurst leads the 139 players all gunning for a spot in the final qualifier at the end of the year. There are 11 amateurs in the field, the most notable being Ayaka Kaneko. Other plaeyrs to look out for in this first qualifier are: Sofie Andersson, Jane Chin, Tamie Durdin, Tiffany Joh, Hannah Jun, Yuko Mitsuka, Azahara Munoz, Sae Hee Son, and Maria Jo Uribe. The event will be run September 17-20.
We continue to move through this lovely stretch of 6 tournaments in a row as Seon Hwa Lee is set to defend her title at the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship. Lee has not continued her growth upward in the wins column this season after winning twice for the first time in 2008 (following one victory in her first two seasons), and time is running out if she wants to keep the wins per year streak alive.
To be expected, many of the year’s top players are absent in this year’s edition, including last week’s winner Suzann Pettersen, a few of her European Solheim Cup teammates, Sophie Gustafson, Catriona Matthew, and Anna Nordqvist. Karrie Webb & In-Kyung Kim are both also missing from the field.
From various tweets from many of the players, the course is in amazing shape, as it has just gone under a bit of a redesign going into this event. With so many people skipping this event, it gives many of the lower status LPGA members a chance to make a name, and perhaps sneak into the top 90 late in the season. Paige Mackenzie did a great job a few weeks ago at the Safeway gaining a top 10 and a spot in last weeks CN Canadian Women’s Open.
After doing dismally in my picks last week, and will probably do equally as poorly this week.
Sun Young Yoo
Seon Hwa Lee
Na Yeon Choi
I don’t see why Sun Young Yoo can’t follow in her countrywoman’s footsteps and become a surprise Rolex First Time Winner in this event. I expect a breakthrough from this person, and am so desperate for a random genius pick. Lets go Sun Young!
Although seeing Ai Miyazato snag her second win of the year, and move up the money list may be a more expected and likely result.
Suzann Pettersen finally broke through for her sixth win on the LPGA Tour at the CN Candian Women’s Open, which was her first since her phenomenal 5-win 2007 season, a year where she seriously threatened Lorena Ochoa for Player of the Year honors. This win could mean amazing things for Suzann’s confidence, as she was known previous to her first 5 wins as a choker, and had shown some adversity under pressure since those wins, most recently struggling mightily down the stretch and losing in a playoff to unknown rookie M.J. Hur.
It should be no surprise to see Suzann win again in 2009, and perhaps steal Player of the Year and Money List honors if she continues her strong play. She jumped to the 2nd spot, just behind Cristie Kerr, Ai Miyazato (who added a runner-up finish to her top 10 streak that dates back to the U.S. Open) is just behind Suzann, and Jiyai Shin and In-Kyung Kim round out the top 5, whom are all million dollar earners so far in 2009.
In other news, the Duramed Futures Tour has concluded their 2009 season, and the winner of the final event Song Yi Choi, continues the theme of redemption that Suzann started in Canada. Choi garnered her first professional win in America at the ILOVENY Championship, and jumped from 11th (which means no LPGA status for 2010) to 5th (which means full playing privileges in 2010). This is sweet relief for Song Yi, who was 5th going into the same event in 2008, and was knocked out after Sarah Jane Smith (nee Kenyon) won the 2008 event.
Whitney Wade couldn’t finish in the top 10 which would’ve allowed her to keep her spot, and dropped to the 6th, which will mean very limited status on the 2010 seasons. She along with the other players finishing 5-20, should be playing the final stage at Q-School to try to get full privileges in 2010. Choi, will be in the field at this weeks LPGA event in Arkansas.
Mina Hariage finished off the season as the Rookie and Player of the Year, and has yet to use her battlefield promotion in 2009 for winning 3 events. Let’s see if she tries to sneak into an event by the end of the season.
I feel as though this is the worst weekend for this to happen! With the money list race heating up in Canada at one of the biggest purses of the season, the Duramed season finishing up, the US OPEN happening in the tennis world, it’s not a great weekend to be away.
I have a good excuse though I think, I’m moving into my first house this weekend! \ So, I should be back in commission after the Labor Day holiday!
I’m rooting for Na Li & Melanie Oudin at the U.S. Open, M.J. Hur to keep her magic ride going this weekend!
The last straw for me was hearing Chris Folwer talk about 114 ranked WC Vania King upset of 15th seeded Australian Samantha Stosur as “not a youngster.” Yes, Vania King has been around for quite awhile, and received her first WC into the U.S. Open in 2004 (qualifying WC). The fact of the matter is, Vania is ONLY 20 years old! I’d say she’s still a youngster!
She may seem like a journeywoman, but she’s still progressing and growing. She broke into the top 50 at the age of 16, won her first title that year (2005 Bangkok) and played the bulk of her Fed Cup in those years. So, yes she’s fallen on tougher times. She isn’t even old enough to drink!
So, perhaps we should give Miss King a break, and really enjoy the fact that she’s made the 3rd round a grand slam for the first time. She’s only 20 years old for pete’s sake!
On the flipside French veteran Amelie Mauresmo joined Sam Stosur in the loser’s circle after a 6-4, 6-0 whomp by French Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak. These upsets are especially disappointing considering the huge strides these players have made during the Olympus U.S. Open Series.
Agi Radwanska also lost to Adidas beauty Maria Kirilenko. Kirilenko is playing her first tournament as an Adidas clone, after being dropped from the Stella McCartney line (who now has Caroline Wozniacki as her muse). It seems to have spark some added fuel to the fire for Kirilenko who’ll need all of that and more when she takes on Li Na of China in the 3rd round.
Li Na crushed a furious Michelle Larcher de Brito who moaned, squealed, and screamed through the 2R clash. Any unforced error of of Li Na’s racket equaled a fist pump and cheer from Larcher de Brito. I found her on court antics disgusting, and I don’t care if you’re 16 or not, you need to act professional, if you want to play professional tennis. She only had two winners this match, yet still found a way to fist pump/cheer every other point. Go figure.
The LPGA Tournament Train continues it’s chug towards the finish with the CN Canadian Women’s Open this week. Katherine Hull won first LPGA title last year. This tournament has one of the biggest purses of the year, and with the money list being as a tight as it is, this could be a week someone could make a big statement. One player who we should expect to do well is Ai Miyzato. The Japanese superstar is on a four tournament top-10 steak, and a three tournament top-5 streak. This is pretty impressive as there was a time earlier in the seasons where some wondered if Mika Miyazato would beat her to the winner’s circle!
The other three players above a million dollars so far on the year are Cristie Kerr, Jiyai Shin, and In-Kyung Kim, all of whom were less then impressive last week in Portland. Kerr was steady and finished T20, Shin was T65, and In-Kyung missed the cut. This was only Shin’s 3rd finish outside the top 25 this year, so expect her to rebound in a big way. I.K. sandwiched two missed cuts with a T3, T8, and a T20, and aside from those MCs and the first two events of the seasons, I.K. has finished in the top 35. So, I wouldn’t expect the MC chain to grow.
With Seon Hwa Lee rounding back into form, Suzann getting a short taste of victory, and a group of other LPGA elites all vying for a big pay day, this weeks top 12 picks could be filled with anyone. So, who did I choose?
Sun Young Yoo
Seon Hwa Lee
Shi Hyun Ahn
My picks might seem a little haphazard and random, and they kind of are. I think I picked with heart this week over brain, and really wanted to mix things up a bit. Meena Lee must seem like a completely random choice, but it isn’t, well maybe it is. I realize Lee’s 3 top 10s at the Canadian Open did not occur in Alberta, and the one time they played in Alberta Meena Lee finished outside the top 50.
With that said, Meena did open with a 67 that week, so I’d say she can do it again, and shock us! Also threw up other favorites who have been struggling like Shi Hyun Ahn & Angela Park who is making her return to the LPGA after a self imposed hiatus.
For many top players, the opening round of a grand slam is a nervous affair. We saw Venus Williams struggle against Vera Dushevina last night, earlier today Dinara Safina was on the ropes against the Australian qualifier Olivia Rogowska, and in year’s past we’ve seen Camille Pin take Maria Sharapova to extra innings. Needless to say a random player, taking advantage of a nervous top seed, and nearly upsetting them is almost commonplace. Almost always, the top player shows why they are a top player, and comes through even when it looks impossible. Unfortunately for the 11th seed Ana Ivanovic, she wasn’t able to find the extra gear against the always dangerous Kateryna Bondarenko (who defeated Venus Williams earlier this summer).
Perhaps it was the sudden shock of being in this situation to begin with. Ana started the match strongly enough, and seemed to be in total control when she won 9 of the first 12 games, and lead the match 6-2, 3-1. Then something switched. Ana, who was once relentlessly punished her lower ranked opponents (she had never before lost in the opening round of a grand slam), froze up. Her forehand was finding the net more then it was finding the court, and Kateryna grew in confidence. Before you knew it, Kateryna strung together 9 of the next 10 games, and now the younger Bondarenko lead the match 2-6, 6-3, 4-1, which was a lead of two breaks.
Showing her true grit, Ana seemed to get things back under control, and was about to set things in place, puts things in order and finish off this match. Even though it wasn’t perfect, there was no doubt in my mind that Ana was going to pull off the third set tiebreak, and live another day. When she had a match point at 6-5, it seemed like it was over. When Kateryna clawed back and gave herself a match point at 7-6, and double faulted, I don’t think anyone thought she’d be able to recover. The true grit it seems, was actually within Kateryna, despite the double fault, she won the next two points (fittingly won on another error off the Ivanovic forehand), and claimed the biggest scalp in her grand slam career.
Where Ana goes from here is anybody’s guess. She’s fallen out of the top 10, and does not look like she’s gaining form anytime soon. Perhaps she should take a page out of her compatriot Jelena Jankovic’s book and take some time off. JJ did so after Wimbledon and has come out strong, and she won swiftly today.
Ivanovic wasn’t alone in being a seed going down today. The 16th seed Virgine Razzano has had a career best seasons so far, but Yanina Wickamayer’s comeback from injury seems to be going very well as she pulled off the upset in straights. Kleybanova lost her second straight match since her semifinal finish at Toronto where she beat Ana’s rival Jelena Jankovic, tumbling out to Petra Kvitova (incidentally her other loss since the SF was to Wickamayer). Agnes Szavay’s (pictured) come back to the top 20 was halted by another player looking to get back there Israeli Shahar Peer.
Jamie in the Rough = Jamie in the lazy rutt . Why do I say that?
Simply because I’ve chosen to miss the ITF’s 50K Boston Challenger, Pilot Pen Tennis, U.S. Open, & now will be missing Deutsche Bank tournament, despite being really too close for words for all of them.
From what I’ve read so far, the early reaction to Venus Williams's dress is a mixed bag. I personally love this dress, the bright pink looks great against her skin tone, the racing stripe is awkward, but this dress certainly needed something in the front. The side pleat-situation gives Venus some curves, which she could definitely use. I think the pink is a great color for the U.S. Open too. It's just nice to see Venus in something new.
Dress aside Venus needed all of her game to fend off the charge of Russian Vera Dushevina. Dushevina took charge of a lethargic Venus from the get go, and really displayed some fine tennis against the much favored American. Dushevina gave herself a chance to serve out the match at 7-6, 5-4, but was unable to convert. That set off 7 games in a row for Venus to get her to 4-0 in the third set. Vera, not ready to give up just yet, fought all the way back to 4-3, before Venus closed her out 6-3 in the third.
According to the Australian media, Ai Sugiyama is set to retire at the end of 2009. The Japanese veteran has played over 60 grand slams, and has played more grand slams then any active player. Although Sugiyama has struggled lately in singles, she’s still keeping herself relevant in doubles. Partnering Daniela Hantuchova, they made the finals at the Australian Open (saving match points en route against the #1 ranked doubles team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber), before falling to the Williams Sisters.
Not much was expected of her against the red hot Samantha Stosur, the 15th seed, who’s continued her incredible year through the U.S. Open Series. Despite going up a break and serving at 4-3, Sugiyama was unable to finish off the hard hitting, and epic topspin that Stosur was producing. In the end Stosur won 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, not a bad way to end your grand slam career. Hopefully, even if she were to retire in singles, she’ll continue to play doubles. She’s a workhorse, and always seems to be enjoying herself out there, a true role model for the sport which is often inflicted by spoiled brats, who never seem to enjoy their court time.
17th seed Amelie Mauresmo looked to be cruising against young German Tatjana Malek taking what seemed to be an insurmountable lead of 6-2, 5-1. In what seemed to be a blink of the eye, Malek had climbed her way up to 5-4, and looked to threaten to take the second set away from the veteran Frenchwoman. Amelie who’s not had a great year, shown some great signs of life in defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova last week in New Haven. Amelie composed herself and finished off the German and will face Canadian Aleksanda Wozniak in the next round.
In the biggest surprise of the day 210 ranked qualifier Kai-Chen Chang of Chinese Taipei upset the 25th seed Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 to win her first main draw match at a grand slam. This is actually Kai-Chen’s first ever grand slam, and is surprisingly the only player from Taiwan to qualify for the main draw (higher ranked Yung-Jan Chan & Su-Wei Hsieh both fell in qualifying 3rd and 1st Rd respectively). Another Asian qualifier Yurika Sema’s upset bid against Anna Chakvetadze took a halt after she won the 1st set, falling 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Another upset falling short was that of Meghann Shaughnessy, unable to defeat Daniela Hantuchova [pictured]. Hantuchova won 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
Other seeded winners today were (2)Serena Williams, (7)Vera Zvonareva, (8)Vika Azarenka, (10)Flavia Pennetta, (12)Agnieszka Radwanska, (14)Marion Bartoli, (18)Na Li, (20)Anabel Medina-Garrigues, (26)Francesca Schiavona, and (31)Elena Vesnina.
28th seed Sybille Bammer was the only other seed to join Kaia Kanepi in losing on opening day. This ruins the epic rematch of Bammer and Serena Williams. Bammer has beaten Serena twice, including once this summer.
M.J. Hur 4th on DFT Money List 32nd 2009 LPGA Money List: $330,511 Best Finish: 1st - Safeway Classic 2009 Rookie
M.J.’s win this past week at the Safeway Classic was nothing short of shocking. M.J. broke 70 all three days, after only breaking 70 twice previously this season. As referenced through the ESPN telecast M.J. is one of the best putters on tour, averaging 28.72 putts per round (7th on tour) and 1.78 putts per green in regulation (T19 on tour). Aside from sand saves (.500, T14) she has struggled nearly everywhere else. Averaging just over 250 yards per drive, she has one of the least accurate drivers .569 (144th!) and this likely leads to her horrendus GIR average of .596 (125th!). Clear this was the week she was able to drive it straight, allowing her to get some more GIR and take advantage of that amazing putter of hers. If she can continue striking the ball well, M.J. could easily cement herself into the top 30 and perhaps even higher!
Vicky Hurst 1st on 2008 DFT Money List 55th on 2009 LPGA Money List: $161,920 Best Finish - T5 Corning Classic 2009 Rookie
Vicky’s prom picture always makes me laugh. Anyway, Hurst before this week was the clear DFT leader, and seemingly showed a continued strength over the ladies she dominated a year ago. Hurst has had two top 10s this year, and has had a solid, if not uneventful season. For the average rookie, she’s right on the money, but with Hurst’s illustrious amateur career, and her dominance on the DFT last season I think the majroity of us have felt underwhelmed by her performances this year. Hurst is in the top 40 in nearly every major category, and is one of the strongest drivers on tour averaging 268.9 yards off the tee, good for 3rd in Driving Distance. Her accuracy though is one of the worst, only finding the fairway 62% of the time which puts her 131st on tour. As we saw with Hur this week, if she can one great driving week, she could be hoisting a trophy by the time 2009 is done.
Jin Young Pak 5th on 2008 DFT Money List 87th on 2009 LPGA Money List: $76,538 Best Finish: T9 McDonald’s LPGA Championship Rookie in 2007
Jin Young Pak will need to raise her level if she hopes to continue having high priority for the 2010 season, but for the player playing her first full year on tour, she’s at least above the Top 90 line at the moment. This is mostly due to her solid T9 performance at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship far and away her best finish thus far. It’s the only time she’s been able to break the top 30 this season. She is ranked outside the top 70 in all of her stats aside from GIR (.661, 59th), and Driving Average (251.4 T64), so she’ll need to imrpove everywhere to make more cuts, and earn more money. She has nearly practically set herself up to have decent status for next year, but she’ll definitley look to securing her place in the top 90.
Mindy Kim 2nd on 2008 DFT Money List 96th on 2009 LPGA Money List: $64,766 Best Finish: T10 Wegmans 2009 Rookie
Mindy, who has struggled with some injury problems in 2009 has only made three cuts this season. However, when she’s made the cut she has finished in the top 30 both. Mindy is teetering on the edge, and is close but not quite at the top 90 line. She wasn’t able to break 80 in the first round at the Safeway and will have to regroup for this week in Canada. Aside from having one of the best sand save percentages in 2009 (.571, 3) she has struggled nearly everywhere in 2009. Mindy’s transition to the big show hasn’t been as smooth as I had predicted, but when she’s on, she’s good, and hopefully she can get on a roll before the end of the season.
Chella Choi 17th on the 2008 DFT Money List 101st on the 2009 LPGA Money List: $57, 432 Best Finish: T33 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic 2009 Rookie
Chella was one stroke away from upping her cuts in a row streak to 5 this week at the Safeway Classic, had it not been for a late birdie for Stacy Lewis, she’d be looking a pretty decent streak for herself. Unfortunately she’s been unable to break the top 30 barrier so far this year, and has pretty average stats. Her best being her driving acuracy of 72.9% (42nd) likely offset by the fact that she only averages 244 yards off the tee. Chella’s not a strong player, so she’ll need to be as accurate as possible, but she’s really only one top 30 finish away from jumping into the top 90, so if she can just buckle down and be more accurate she could make a bit of a leap, as it’s fairly bunched up down here.
Sarah Jane Smith (Kenyon) 3rd on the 2008 DFT Money List 131st on 2009 LPGA Money List: $18,520 Best Finish: T39 SBS Open Rookie in 2006
Sarah Jane’s wedding bliss hasn’t translated to bliss on the golf course and for a player who was a rookie four seasons ago she has not been able to use her experience for any solid results on the golf course. She made the cut in her first two events of the seasons, but has only made one other cut since. Sarah Jane ranks very low in almost every major stat, with her only bright spot is her 250.5 yard driving average. Sarah Jane will need to improve every aspect of her game if she wants to avoid Q-school this year.
Jeehae Lee 78th on 2008 DFT Money List 151st on 2009 LPGA Money List: $3,989 Best Finish: T57 J Golf Phoneix LPGA International 2009 Rookie
Jeehae was one of the most surprising players who received high priority status at 2009 Q-School, and hasn’t been able to translate the same success on the tour this season. It’s may not be a big surprise, as Jeehae struggled on the DFT last year. Lee has already done something that Violeta took all season last year to do, which was make a cut, in her third event of the season. In the beginning of the year Lee’s M.O. was to have two similiar mediocre rounds. As of late she’s had one decent to okay round, and one round in the 80s. She hasn’t been able to get two solid rounds back to back yet, and if she’s able to have one strong finish it might give her the confidence to catapult herself into the top 90. She has one of the most interesting, if not inspiring stories of all the players on the tour, and really hope she can pull off something big by year’s end. She came out of nowhere at Q-School, maybe she can pull the same thing off here.
So thre you have it, those are the six players that I was curious about at the start of the seasons. M.J. Hur’s win was a huge surprise, and I am equally shocked by how poorly Sarah Jane Smith has done so far in 2009. I am a big fan of both Mindy Kim and Jeehae Lee and hope that they can turn it around before season’s end.
Regardless of all that, they have all shown flashes of good play, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see any of these ladies retain a high priority for 2010. Hopefully the rough starts to a lot of their seasons won’t hold them back as they look to finish strong in 2009.
In an exciting final round 2009 Rookie M.J. Hur outlasted Suzann Pettersen and Michele Redman in a two-hole playoff to claim her first tour victory. Down the stretch it was a question of who wanted to win as a series of errant shots, missed putts, and opportunities turned a would be blowout into one of the most exciting finishes so far in 2009.
When Suzann Pettersen reached the 13th she was in the lead by 3 at -15, with M.J. Hur & Michele Redman leading the charge at -12. M.J. Hur, playing a couple groups ahead of Pettersen and Redman hit her approach close on 14, and sunk the ensuing birdie putt to get within two of Suzann. M.J. continued her stealth iron play and hit another close shot at 15. In the meantime on the 14th, Suzann was on the green after her tee shot to the par 3, but was too agressive with her birdie putt and ran it by. In the short 3 footer coming back, Suzann missed it. Unbeknownst to Hur who now had a putt to tie Suzann. She did not make a solid putt and remained one back of Suzann.
Pettersen on the 15th hole, a par 5, laid up into a decent position after two shots. With a wedge in hand Suzann did the unthinkable, she badly flew the green actually going over the t.v. tower. After dropping to get eye line relief, Suzann hit her pitch short of the green. From there she hit a poor chip, and was finally on the green in 5. Unable to convert her putt for bogey Suzann had to settle for double. Dropping her a stroke behind M.J. Hur.
Meanwhile Hur had another birdie chance at the 16th, of similiar length as the one she had on 15. Hur, perhaps feeling rookie nerves of being in contention, again missed the putt. She would settle for pars at the driveable par-4 17th, and the tough as nails 18th, and posted the -13 number.
Suzann and Michele went to the 220 yard par-4 17th, and both missed the green with their tee shots. Michele, up first, missed hers badly to the left and had a buried lie in the primary rough. Suzann also missed left, but was a bit better, and had a clean lie in the bunker. Michele’s shot was a doozy, buried lie, green running away toward the creek. We had just seen Christina Kim’s pitch run past the hole, off the green, and nearly in the hazard. Michele showing her wily veteran skills, played a perfect delicate pitch that played off the ridge behind the pin, rolling just a few feet away. Suzann hit another good shot, a bit outside of Michele’s setting up two birdie putts for a share of the lead. They both sank to tie M.J. Hur at -13.
Quietly the final group on the course had two players at -11 when they got to the tee at the birdieable 17th. Ai Miyazato and Seon Hwa Lee both had birdie putts on the 17th hole. Ai made hers, Seon Hwa did not. Ai could seemingly birdie the 18th and get into the playoff.
That was if, Redman and Pettersen did not birdie the final hole. The 18th was playing very difficult on this day, and had only 2 birdies and that point in the day. Redman, after a picture perfect drive, hit hers short of a ridge, but directly on line to the pin. Suzann had the opposite fate, she pushed her driver far right, and it bounced off the rocks in the hazard, and landed in the rough. She layed up from there, and hit her third shot to 10-15 feet of the pin. Redman, didn’t quite hit her putt hard enough, but left an easy tap in to ensure there was a playoff. Pettersen had a test par putt, and found the nerve to sink it to make it at least a 3-way playoff.
Miyazato, needing birdie to get into the playoff, hit her tee shot wayward right, and it landed in the primary rough. She missed the green on her approach, made an aggressive pitch, then two-putted finishing at -11 and tied 4th with Seon Hwa Lee and Michelle Wie.
Pettersen had a 2-0 record in playoffs, M.J. Hur was playing in her first LPGA playoff, and Redman had not been in a playoff in 20 years I beleive. Who would settle their nerves?
All three of them had picture perfect drives all in line with eachother. Redman’s approach landed in a very similiar place to her shot in regulation, if not a few feet further away and to the left. Hur was long and to the left and in the rough. Suzann played a beautiful approach and had a 8-12 footed for birdie. Suzann’s was the only shot that looked makeable. Hur left her chip about 5 feet short, and after wrestling with those type of putts down the stretch, definitley left herself some work. Redman putted to 2 feet, marked, and it set the stage for Pettersen.
Suzann must have been the favorite to win out of these three, winning 5 times in 2007, and never losing in a playoff. Here she had a ten footer to claim the sweet feeling of victory. She missed to the left. Hur steadied herself and sank her 6-footer, but Redman missed her two footer. A sad end to a player who really fought hard this weekend, you never want to miss a chance to win like this.
Pettersen & Hur went to the 17th and hoped to get on the green and one. Hur again was short and to the left, but left a doable pitch shot to get a birdie. Pettersen hit one of the worst shots I’ve ever seen her hit, and she was short and to the right, luckily not rolling into the creek that was short of the hole. Her shot was that poorly hit that it was short of the hazard.
Hur pitched to 6 feet, leaving an uphill birdie putt. Pettersen’s approach nearly bounced into the cup, but rolled 20 feet past. Pettersen gave it a good aggressive go for birdie, but it wasn’t good enough. Hur with the tournament in her hands, finally sank a short birdie putt giving her her first career win.
She is the third rookie to win on tour this year after Jiyai Shin & Anna Nordqvist, and made only her 7th cut this year. We’ll see if Hur can continue an ascension upward on the LPGA, or if she’ll fall into Eunjung Yi land.
Christina Kim got up to -12 at one point, but struggled down the stretch. Seon Hwa Lee never got it going today, and even though finished at T-4, was not really a factor. Neither was Anna Nordqvist.
Russy Gulyanamitta had a surprise top 20 finishing T-12 at -7. Her compatriot Poranong Phatlum, had a hole in one, but struggled mightily dropping all the way down to 60th after a 78. Jeong Jang joined Gulyanamitta at T-12, and Jennifer Rosales notched a top 20 finishing at -6 and T-17.
It was adorable watching Haeji Kang try to spray M.J. Hur with champagne after the finish. After not being able to get the spray action she wanted, and Hur fleeing for safety in the gallery, Kang settled for dumping the champagne all over her. Hur teared up hugging her parents, and spoke solid English in a post tournament interview.
I know 16 ladies who aren't pleased with Stacy Lewis right now
With the second round of the Safeway Classic nearly complete, there are 16 players anxiously awaiting the finishes of Lisa Strom & Kristy McPhereson (playing the 9th and 18th holes, both their last, respectively). If either of them bogeys it will push the cutline up to +1 giving them a chance to play on Sunday. To miss the cut at T71 has gotta be brutal. Notables of this group of 16 players include Laura Davies (who bogeyed her last hole of the day, and three of her last four holes, a group ahead of McPhereson), Monday qualifier amateur Ayaka Kaneko, and tournament winners this season Pat Hurst, In-Kyung Kim, and Catriona Matthew. IK birdied 16 and 18 to give her a chance to make the cut, while Katherine Hull birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to also finish at +1. On the flip side Johanna Mundy & Alison Hanna-Williams both finished double bogey-bogey on 17 and 18 to fall below the cut line.
As I wrote that paragraph Stacy Lewis has birdied the 8th (her 17th) to go above the cutline, meaning Lewis, McPhereson, or Strom need to bogey the 18th to allow those players to make the cut.
Onward to players who will absolutely make the cut and be a factor tomorrow. On top of the leaderboard after 36 holes is McDonlad’s LPGA Champion and rookie Anna Nodqvist. The stauesque Swede had 5 birdies and 2 bogeyes for a 69, good enough for a one stroke lead over Evian Masters Champion Ai Miyazato (68) and Seon Hwa Lee (70).
Two veterans hoping to make the Safeway their first top 10 of the year are Michele Redman (T4, -8) & 1st round leader Beth Bader (T6, -7) who offset her three bogies on her front nine with four birdies on the back, before disaster struck in the form of a double bogey on the 15th. Who knows, maybe one of these vets can steal the show tomorrow.
With 26 players within 6 strokes of the lead, and the fact that birdies come in bunches here this week, this tournament is still up for grabs. Perhaps the two unheralded Thais in the field Russy Gulyamanitia and the alternate for Paula Creamer’s withdrawl Pornanong Phatlum could really shock the field. Russy, who has been nearly invisble after opening the season last year with a runner up at the SBS Classic, was 7-under on the day through 12 holes, despite having two bogies coming in, she still is T-9 at -6. Phatlum, making her LPGA debut on American soil (she played in the HSBC Masters earlier this year, but for some reason that money was not counted as official), followed up her opening 71 with a bogey free 68, and is T15. If she can snag a top 10 she’ll get into the field next week I beleive.
Anna Rawson double bogeyed the 17th, giving the players currently T71 a fighting chance. McPhereson birdied and Strom parred, all their hopes rely on Rawson and Lewis at this point. Anna just birdied the 18th, so Lewis, who just jumped out of the T71, can put the axe on the cutline by parring the 9th.
Lewis did finish by parring the 9th, which means 16 players have missed the cut at +1 finishing a devasting T71.
Se Ri Pak withdrew from the tournament earlier today, after her opening round 69. Hope it’s not serious Se Ri!
Apparently it’s not performance enhancing drugs cocaine, or the myriad of other things that are the source of the true problems of integrity in the pro tennis world, it is TWEETING.
Did you know in 140 characters or less you can help to corrupt an entire sport? That’s the truth according to the TIU (Tennis Integrity Unit, for you squares not in the know), who issued warnings via signs throughout Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on the dangers of tweeting.
Now don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the issue of not tweeting while on court. Although I do think it would be hilarious to watch someone like Jelena Jankovic post a tweet while she’s toweling herself down inbetween points. I do think it’s a non-issue, with all the energy it takes to actually play a match, I don’t think any player will be looking to tweet during the match. I’d say that’s a non-issue.
I don’t know what sort of insider information that players could be tweeting that would really change the nature of the sport. The Davydenko match rigging scandal that had been going on, is likely the catalyst. Although I don’t think anything is safe in this day and age, and I don’t really know what type of information would be so sensitive to hide.
Perhaps if you were betting on a tennis match and you knew that Andy Roddick had mexican last night, perhaps you’d change your bet? Perhaps not.
If Beth Bader had a birdie for every round in the 60s she had this year, she would be two strokes worse then then the -8 (64) she fired in the opening round of the Safeway Classic. Nine birdies and a single bogey on the par 4 2nd has given Bader her best round of the year, and a one stroke cushion over 2009 Rookie and major champion Anna Nordqvist. Not a bad bounce back for Anna who is shaken off the dubious distinction of losing the point that allowed the U.S. retain the Solheim Cup.
A third of the field finished under par on opening day, and the birdies came in bunches, and for three of my favorite players Mindy Kim (82), Jeanne Cho-Hunicke & Jeehae Lee (83) struggled mightily.
The story of the opening day though belongs to Bader. The 9th year player hasn’t had a top 10 since 2007, and best finish in the last two seasons has been a T25 at the 2008 State Farm Classic. Currently 95th on the money list, a solid finish here could guarantee her Category 1 status for next year. Bader returned to Q-School last year, where she tied for 4th, giving her Category 11 status for the year.
Earlier in the week The Construcstivist posted the question: Will the Rookie of the Year Race Finally Get Interesting? In the post he referenced the #2 in the ROY race Michelle Wie as a potential player to threaten Jiyai Shin for the honor. McDonald’s LPGA Champion Anna Nordqvist may have something to say about that after her bogey-free 65 (-7). Anna may only have one top 10 this year (but, my was it a good one!), but has shown poise under pressure, and definitley has a chance to make a run at it. Shin, who only has one finish outside the top 25 so far this year, is in danger of missing the cut after a +2 74 which puts her in a tie for 83rd.
Seemingly always coming out of nowhere to win, Seon Hwa Lee is tied with Anna Nordqvist in T2. She may not have made the big leap into the top of the game like I expected her to this year, but that dosen’t mean she won’t grab a win or two before 2009 is done.
Nordqvist’s playings partners Angela Stanford (66, T4) & Ai Miyazato (67, T8) had similiar good rounds, and were the clear winners for group of the day. Solheim Cupper Janice Moodie, former Solheim Cupper Stacy Prammanasudh, and Lexus Cupper Candie Kung joined Stanford at -6, T4, while Moira Dunn and another former Solheim Cupper Michele Redman joined the red hot Miyazato at -5, T8.
Great opening rounds by two injury sticken players, Jeong Jang & Jennifer Rosales who both fired 68s to finish just out of the top 10 at tied for 11th with a quadruple of Solheim Cuppees Christina Kim, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle Wie, & Suzann Petterson, and the #2 player in the world Yani Tseng.
Pornanong Phatlum gained entry in the field after the withdrawl of Paula Creamer, and used her alternate status well, Phatlum shot a 71 and is T39. Amateurs and Monday qualifiers Ayaka Kaneko and Taylor Karle had two different rounds today, Kaneko is above the cutline (T66, 73) while Karle is below it (T125, 78).
Surprisingly joining Jiyai Shin, and Karle below the cutline are, Morgan Pressel, In-Kyung Kim, and Karrie Webb all who could only manage 74s today are are tied for 83rd. 2009 major champions Catriona Matthew & Brittany Lincicome were worse after their 77s.
With birdies available in Portalnd this week, we should be in store for an exciting weekend.
“You know, if you look at our tour, I think we have a lot of marketable players. We just have a lot of backgrounds and a lot of different nationalities. We can market that to different places. It’s becoming a really global tour. But, you know, I don’t — I mean, I think — I don’t really see myself as, oh my God, I’m going to lead this tour or anything, I just want to be out there and show everyone what I have and try to win and stuff.”—Michelle Wie on being the defacto player messiah for the LPGA… and stuff.
143rd ranked Nicole Vaidisova’s loss to the 109th ranked and 6th seed Taiwaneese Yung-Jan Chan in the opening round of U.S. Open Qualifying on paper appears to be the expected result. Vaidisova is currently enduring the worst stretch of tennis in her career, and will soon find herself competing in the minor leagues, ITF Challengers, as her ranking will no longer be high enough to get into regular WTA tour events.
This is a curious case for a player that was once so good, that some debated her date of birth, saying she was much older then she actually was. The haters will come when you experience success at that young of age, and as quickly as she did, reaching her career high rank of #7 at the tender age of 18 (the first year she was no longer restricted from the Age Eligibility Rule).
At the end of her fine season in 2007, the Miami Herald reporter that Nikki had applied for a marriage lisence with then 29 year old Radek Stepanek, who was the ex-fiance of Martina Hingis (this when Hingis was going through a slump of her own). Although these rumors were later proved to be false, Stepanek and Vaidisova are still currently a couple. Has Vaidisova changed priorities?
Nicole has a big game, big serve, big ground strokes, and if she can find her game, she can certainly be a factor on the WTA tour again. Whether she wants to, is an entirely different question. She’s only 20, she has plenty of time.
What do you think? Can and will Nicole Vaidisova return to form?
The 38 year old machine keeps on trucking! Kimiko Date-Krumm dispatched Russian 28th seed Ekaterina Ivanova in the opening round of the U.S. Open qualifying tournament on Tuesday. After a sluggish start in her return to Flushing Meadows, Date-Krumm gathered herself for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over the player 17 years her junior.
I fully expect Date-Krumm to advance past her countrywoman Yurika Sema in the next round. Kimiko has found her best success against other Japanese woman thus far in her comeback. For Sema this must be an oportunity to play against her childhood idol. That’s pretty special.
Safeway Classic Preview, Will anyone ride their Solheim form
After what feels like forever, the LPGA is finally back in action at the Safeway Classic in Portland, Oregon this week. The Safeway is the tour’s first 54-hole event since the Mastercard Classic in March, which was won by Pat Hurst. In 2008 Cristie Kerr was cool in the clutch, sinking a 15-hole birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Helen Alfredsson and Sophie Gustafson.
The return to tour could not have come any sooner for the lower ranked fully-exempt (or high priority) players no the tour this year. For any of those unable to qualify for the European Swing, and not able to get an entry into this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, the Safe Classic will be their first event in eight weeks. Almost has the feel like the beginning of the year for some of then I’d imagine!
With the LPGA taking center stage last week with a brilliant event at the Solheim Cup, this is a great opportunity to ride that momentum here in Portland. This will be the last regular LPGA tour event that ESPN will cover for at least 10 years, due to the exclusive deal the LPGA tour struck with the Golf Channel earlier this year. Hopefully some of the drama from last week in Rich Harvest Farms will follow.
With only Angela Park the only LPGA regular ranked in the top 50 in the Rolex World Rankings not in the field at the Safeway has got to be one of the strongest events of the year. So, who has the best chance to come through this week?
Of the Americans, current money list leader and defending champion Cristie Kerr is coming off a solid 2-1-1 performance at the Solheim Cup. Kerr, the most consistent player on tour this season is playing as good as golf as anyone.
I’ll get to the big question, is this week, or at least this fall, going to be when Michelle Wie finally breaks through? I don’t take lightly the indelible experience Wie gained last week at the Solheim Cup. She seemed to have the same lightness, the same fun, and the same power that she had when she was a 14 year old dominating nearly all of the events she entered. The 3-0-1 record is the best of the USA team, and the only player with three wins to go undefeated. Paula Creamer and Christina Kim the other players to get gain three wins, also had one defeat.
Perennial LET star Gwladys Nocera was the only player on the European team able to secure three wins (she matched Michelle Wie with the best record of the cup) is returning to Europe this week. We’ll see if Suzann Petterson, who fighting a bad back, was only able to go 1-4 last week can bounce back in a big way.
With the top three players in the world returning to action (Lorena Ochoa, Yani Tseng, and Jiyai Shin) it’s anyone’s guess as to who will finish on top this weekend. Remember, before we broke Ai Miyazato was on quite a hot streak winning in Evian and finishing top 3 at the WBO. With all of that said, who are my picks for the top 12?
Sun Young Yoo
Ji Young Oh
Seon Hwa Lee
Like I’ve said many times In-Kyung Kim is my pick to finish as Player of the Year, so it’s no wonder I’m picking her to win again. I expect Michelle Wie & Brittany Lang to some solid play at the Solheim and have strong finishes this week. Very impressed by Lang’s finish against Laura Davies on Sunday.
Finally, big props to Taylor Karle and Ayaka Kaneko for taking advantage of open Monday qualifying and gaining a spot in this year’s event.
Am I missing something? Were we not applauding and turning Christina Kim into a covergirl after her stellar, enthusiastic performance after the 2005 Solheim Cup? What has happened in the four years that has turned the newly svelte Kim into a distracting, over the line, unprofessional golfer? Was Christina Kim the only roof raising, booty bumping, crowd amping, and overly patriotic lady on the USA Solheim Cup team? No, she was not alone. Why is she getting the flack for it?
Was I the only one who saw and heard Christina give due props to Europe’s Tania Elosegui after hitting a clutch shot down the stretch on Sunday?
Were we not just praising Michelle Wie for letting loose and having fun on the golf course, but when she was paired with Christina Kim and letting loose, it was a no-no? What a bad influence you are Christina.
Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t lack of personality one of the biggest criticisms of the LPGA? Now we’re complaining that a player has taken it too far?
The LPGA got the opportunity to be center stage this week. It’s coverage of the Solheim Cup superseded an exciting weekend over at the PGA where players were vying for spots into the Fed Ex Playoffs, and a major over at the Senior PGA Tour. We should be praising the ladies for letting loose, representing the USA proud, playing some amazing golf, and not nitpicking on things like that. This, to me, depreciates what a great weekend of golf this was.
Perhaps it’s only fitting, in 2005 Christina Kim got all the spoils for being nothing else, but her. A kick ass golfer, who loves her country. Now she’s getting the backlash. Can you imagine how devastating this weekend if the players “kept it cool” the entire weekend? That’s not what I want to see by players competing for their countries!
Christina Kim was being herself. We need to embrace the players, all of them, for being who they are. Whether they are loud, whether they are reserved, whatever it is. In the end Christina Kim showed us how much she loves the LPGA, the Solheim Cup, and the United States of America, and that is something I would never criticize her for.
What’s next? Criticizing Jiyai Shin for winning too much worldwide? Criticize Lorena Ochoa for helping to grow the game in Mexico? Complain that Paula Creamer wears to much pink, and that Michelle Wie is too tall? All of this is nonsense. Christina Kim you’re amazing, and you’ve inspired me and countless others this weekend.
The 2009 U.S. Open Qualifying tournament begins on Tuesday, and one of the players I am definitley interested in following is Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan. If you haven’t been paying attention to tour qualifying and the lower echelons of the WTA tour, Kimiko Date-Krumm is making a comeback on the WTA Tour after a 13 year absence!
Date-Krumm, who will turn 39 in September, lost in the opening round at Flushing Meadows the last time she played in 1996. Date-Krumm did make the quarterfinals at the last grand slam of the year in 1993 & 1994.
Date-Krumm, now ranked 160, will open her qualifying campaign against Ekaterina Ivanova. The 21 year old Russian was 5 years old when Date-Krumm first made the quarterfinals here in 1993. Ivanova is ranked a bit higher, but I think Kimiko’s retro game will be enough to outduel the Russian.
Earlier in 2009 Date-Krumm qualified for the Australian Open before losing a three set heartbreaker to 25th seed Kaia Kanepi. She was forced to withdraw from her opening roung qualifying match at Roland Garros to the “Dropshot Dame” Romina Oprandi, and then valiantly lost another three setter to top 10 player Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
Let’s hope Kimiko can have a bit better success (and luck with the draw!) this week at Roland Garros.
They gave valiant efforts, but two underdog’s attempts to upset their higher ranked and seeded opponents in the opening round of the Pilot Pen fell just a bit short. Chinese stalwart, and former Wimbledon semifinalist Jie Zheng managed to win four points in a row to win the second set tiebreak, but it was not enough to outduel French Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova (pictured) who held on for a 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-4.
Italian Roberta Vinci, possibily inspired by countrywoman Flavia Penneta becoming the first Italian woman to reach the top 10, almost took out Polish #1 Agi Radwanska. After trading 6-2 sets amongst them, Radwanska held off the Italian’s upset quest by edging out a tiebreak at 7-5.
Alisa Kleybanova, fresh off a surprising SF finish at last week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto, seemed to have run out of gas. Kleybanova who gutted out three set wins against Jelena Jankovic and Dominka Cibulkova, was unable to find the same solid form in her opener against qualifier Yanina Wickamayer. Wickamayer managed to hold on for a three set victory, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Other winners on opening day were former #1 Amelie Mauresmo, Iveta Benesova, and Virgine Razzano.
Samantha Richdale of British Columbia, Canada parred the first playoff hole to hold off Amanda Mathis to win her third event and second of the year at the Duramed Futures Tour Turkey Hill Classic. The event held in Pennsylvania was forced to completed the final round on Monday after rain held up play throughout the week.
Richdale’s final round 68 was capped off by three birdies in a row on holes 15-17. Mathis off set two bogies on 10-11 with three coming in to finish tied with Richdale at -10.
Just missing out on the playoff were the top two players on the DFT, Mina Harigae (70), the leader when play began, who could not find a birdie on the back 9, and her two bogeyes were one too many to get her fourth victory on tour this season. Two-time winner Jean Reynolds (68) used a birdie on the 18th to tie Harigae at T3. Joining Reynolds and Richdale for the round of the day was fellow top 10 on the money lister Christine Song, who used her four under par round got her alone in 5th.
DFTs top 4, Harigae, Reynolds, Misun Cho (who skipped this week’s event), and Samantha Richdale have separated themselves and will be finishing in the top 5 on this year’s money list. With only one event remaining this should be sweet relief for Richdale who can now rest easy going into the tour’s final event (the other three had already secured their top 5 standing by winning at least two events on the year).
With $15,000 up for grabs at the season ending event in a couple weeks in Syracuse, NY anyone in the top 15 can potentially jump up to the top 5 with a win. The entire top 40 can secure low playing privileges for next season with a win, which would get then into the top 10 for the year. Should be an exciting conclusion to a great season on the DFT!
Samantha Richdale will be participating in this week’s LPGA event in Oregon, the Safeway Classic.
After Jenny Chausiriporn valiantly battled Se Ri Pak at the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open I instantly became hooked on golf. I wanted to emulate Jenny and wanted a set of clubs of my own. My mother, tried as she might to spoiled me, went to the local Caldors, which was going out of business at the time, and bought me a set of clubs that were on sale for $75.
It seemed the pillagers of the going out of business sale had customized these pre-set golf sets, and I had been stuck with the ghetto left over set. It was old, incomplete, but I loved it.
Last summer, finally at the age of 21, I decided I wanted to take a set of clubs to a driving range, but found myself quite embarrassed by my mediocre club set. I needed to find clubs that would fit me, be good for a beginner, but I wanted them to be good quality. I had no knowledge of anything when it came to golf equipment or anything of the like, luckily The Golf Channel’s Equipment page was like a knight in shining armor!
I like many others had been utilizing the Golf Channel’s website for golf news, information on the Big Break reality series, and a myriad of other things, luckily I stumbled upon their equipment page, and found a warehouse selection of all things golf.
I wanted to first start out by searching for putters, as I had been putting in my bedroom almost anytime a golf telecast was on. Their putter page was nothing short of amazing. The ease of the search, and the excellent use of User ratings really helped me narrow down on a club. Even though I thought I would be overwhelmed by the shear size and scope of the selection, it was user friendly and easy.
The same could be said when I was looking for drivers, iron-sets, and all the other golf needs I may have had.
I am happy to say with my new shiny set of clubs in hand, I confidently went to the driving range proud (until I had to hit a shot that is!). If it wasn’t for The Golf Channel Equipment page I don’t think I would’ve had the confidence or the want to head to the golf course once a week like I try to do now!
]If anyone questioned Mina Harigae’s decision to leave Duke and focus on a professional career, it did not take Mina very long to give a resounding answer as to why she did. Mina won the Falls Auto Group Classic today on the Duramed Futures Tour to get her third win of the season, giving her a battlefield promotion to enter some LPGA tournaments this season.
Lisa Mickey’s phenomenal story isn’t up yet, but Harigae steadied herself after an early bogey and posted a steady one-under 71 to beat another Duke star Amanda Blumenherst by two strokes. Blumenherst did one better, a 70, but was never really in it. She birdied her last three to climb within 2. Yoora Kim was the only player really threatening Mina all day, but her bogey at the last dropped her to 4th tying Gerina Mendoza who had a 4 at the par 5 18th. Permila Lindberg also creeped by Yoora by virtue of an eagle at the last which gave her one of the lower rounds of the day a 66.
This day though belongs to Mina Hariage, who was one of the top juniors in the country before turning pro. She beats Jean Reynols and Misun Cho to the third win victory, and we’ll see which LPGA events she can get herself into. This promotion won’t give her a tour card, but she will secure one anyone by her top 5 finish when the DFT finishes up in a few weeks.
Mina will be one to watch for the next couple years.
Another player to watch for sure will be Jennifer Song who capped off her extraordinary summer Sunday by defeating Jennifer Johnson 3 & 1 in the finals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Jennifer, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Champ and the low amateur at the 2009 (and 2007) U.S. Women’s Open became only the second women to win two USGA championships in the same year, the other being Pearl Sinn-Bonnani in 1988 (which was one year before Jennifer Song was born).
This finishes off an amazing summer for Song, who has had many heartbreaking runner-ups in her amateur career. She lost to Tiffany Joh 2&1 last year at the WAPL, and finished runner-up at the SEC Championships and NCAA Championships this year. The latter with a heart breain 3-putt double bogey to finish second.
It looks like Jennifer has learned how to win, and she’s going to be very dangerous in the NCAAs and amateur championships for as long as she remains amateur. Congrats to both ladies!
After the 2005 Solheim Cup I was hopeful that Christina Kim’s sharp patriotism, team spirit, and most importantly, excellent golf game would put her in the upper echelons of the American golfers on the LPGA. As this little trading card pack shows you, Christina Kim is not one of America’s darlings, though she should.
I have conceded the fact that Paula Creamer is, and deservedly so, the LPGA #1 America’s Sweetheart. She has the phenomenal results to back this statement, and is the picture of girl next door. Fine, I’m okay with that. Natalie & Morgan though, what do they have going on that should put them in an upper playing field compared to Christina.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to turn this post into a rambling size/race discussion. Morganza does have a major that Christina dose not, but if CK were to win the RICOH Women’s British Open today, would she be warranted the same American darling status? I don’t think that’s likely. Which is a real shame, Christina Kim is truly an amazing ambassador for this tour. She showed just what she was made up on the professional side of things, as if I recall correctly was the only LPGA pro present for Marsha Evan’s presser announcing her as interim Commissioner.
Morgan Pressel is firery and competitive, a la Dottie Pepper. Christina Kim is, loud? Exuberant? Brash? Natalie Gulbis has calendars, and photo shoots galore. Christina is posting super-sexy tweets of herself. There’s quite a dichotomy here. Let me be clear here, I do not want to diminish anything from Morgan, Natalie or Paula. They are all clearly talented women, all deserving of the utmost praise, and I wish them continued success, all of it will help the LPGA.
I just wish Christina got the due respect she deserved for being an open, fan-friendly, professional out here. Would we care about her so-called “excessive tweeting” if she were size 2 and blonde? Or would we be fawning at the fact that someone so desirable were letting us in on their lives? The same way many, many, many fanboys and fangirls follow their favorite actor/singer/crush of their life sort of way?
I just think it’s truly a pity when someone who is incredibly icy (not naming names, but they may have the same initials) is considered more marketable then Christina. Let’s embrace CK and give her the love she deserves.
I don’t know why the LPGA Board of Directors or any of us fans/bloggers/writers are even going through the motions seeking out the next LPGA Commissioner. It is quite obvious that person right and ready for the job has been sitting under our noses! Literally on the bottom, of the money list that is… Anna Rawson (what is it about women’s sports and polarizing ladies named Anna?)! Clearly playing golf at a competitive professional level may not be in the cards for Anna, so why bypass years of toiling away with low priority status, when she could jump on up and take the Commissioner role?
While appearing on ESPN’s E:60, she laid out a brilliant 5 point plan to help the LPGA Tour. If someone how you missed the model’s appearance (how could you?!), you can read up on everything right here.
Let’s go a little bit deeper on her statements!
1. ROCK THE TEE. Every player should tee off to her favorite song at the beginning of the tournament and have it played again when she approaches the 18th green.
Really Anna? Really? Let me preface all of her statements as she’s clearly speaking from the young perspective and trying to reach out to a younger audience. As a 22 year old herself, I can see her appeal for some of these things. However nearly everything she recommends alienates her peers and a huge part of the LPGA fan base. Not so great. As much as I’d love to see Rosie Jones marching up the 18th tee to “I Kissed a Girl,” or anything like that, it would clearly be a bother to the other players, not to mention how do we pick whose song in that group to play? Whoever is prettier perhaps?
2. BRING ON THE MEN. Some LPGA tournaments should be played in conjunction with PGA tournaments. Both tours would play on the same course during the same week — and at the same time — while still competing for separate titles.
Even though I can’t begin to understand the logistics of an event like this, I do enjoy this idea in theory. Getting some sort of event where you can attract the best men and women in golf in the world is only a good thing. Not that trying to rely on the men’s tour as a crutch at this moment is necessarily the best thing in pride terms, trying to figure a way to get this event to happen I think would be a huge benefit. They held the Boys and Girls US Junior championships together this week, I do believe this can happen in some way.
3. FASHION TO THE FAIRWAYS. For each tournament, I would have a fashion designer create a piece of clothing or accessory for the trophy ceremony. On Monday, the winner would be flown to Manhattan to shoot the gown, jacket or jewelry for an ad to be placed in a fashion magazine (Elle, Vogue, Glamour, InStyle).
I think this has a genuine heart to it, but the idea of a cookie cutter champion, stripping away their athleticism, and dressing them up to be Anna’s idea of fashionable, is not exactly the right thing. Getting a spread in a fashion magazine, or any weekly non-golf publication, would bring publicity and good press for the tour. Trying to squeeze everyone into a Vera Wang gown isn’t the way to do it. This is the fundamental problem with a lot of reactions to players right now, we are not ready to embrace the players for who they are. Usually the problem is that the player doesn’t speak good enough English, and is too reserved. We should be embracing the differences in these women and highlight everyone for who they are. That’s so much more empowering, and so much better for all the girls who are looking up to these athletes.
4. MARKETING IS THE BOSS. I would give the LPGA’s VP of communications, David Higdon, a long-term contract and make him directly answerable only to the players. Higdon knows how to help the public connect with athletes.
I think it’s a solid idea to have someone help marketing. Although I don’t think ALL DECISIONS should necessarily be made by a marketing perspective. I think we’re on the right track with this one.
5. READY FOR OUR CLOSE UP. Every group should be miked up and followed by its own camera crew, not a hard or expensive thing to do in this era of cheap, portable devices that can send images and audio around the globe in an instant.
I think having one or two mic’d groups every tournament would be an amazing thing! CK was great, but you need the right player to grab the mic. It’s not going to be a good thing if you are mic’ing a group who is uncomfortable, and thusly not saying or being exciting at the least. Before we mic every group, perhaps we should get every tournament broadcast.
All and all I don’t have nearly as many problems with her thoughts as I made it sound like at the top of the post. I just think her problem is she’s thinking in a purely one-sided direction, and not taking in account the diversity of cultures and personalities (not to mention physicality) on tour. Everything she promotes to do, works in benefit for who she is.
I guess that’s all and all to be expected. Anna will need all the help she can get, if her golf game won’t get it done. Stephanie Wei (and I some how make even more comments) has her thoughts on this. I also posted some thoughts on Waggle Room.
Will any of the 2009 Category 9ers be a Violeta Retamoza?
I’ve made no attempts to hide my odd fascination for Violeta Retamoza’s 2008 season. Violeta earned her card by finishing in the top 5 of the 2007 Futures Tour Money list, and had exempt status for the 2008 LPGA season. She performed badly, one of the worst seasons by an exempt player in recent memory. She missed all, but one cut, and in the one cut she did make, at the Longs Drugs, she finished last, 7 strokes behind her nearest competitors, and 34 strokes worse then the winner, In-Kyung Kim.
I thought it might be interesting to see how Violeta’s 2007 stats compared to the top players from 2008, to see if any of them are likely to befall a tough 2009 campaign a la Violeta.
In 2007, Violeta Retamoza won once, finished in the top 10 six times, made 16 out of 17 cuts, and had a scoring average of 72.76.
PLAYER…………EVENTS..WINS..TOP 10..CUTS…..AVG Vicky Hurst………..13…..4…….9….13…70.28 Mindy Kim………….17…..3……11….17…71.12 Sarah-Jane Kenyon…..10…..1…….6….10…70.97 M.J. Hur…………..17…..1…….8….16…72.16 Jin Young Pak………17…..0…….8….17…71.56
All of these ladies have better stats then Violeta, although M.J. has eerily similiar stats. Both finished 4th on the money list, made 16 out of 17 cuts, and had one win. M.J. did have two more top 10s and a scoring average 1/2 a stroke better though.
IMO, none of these ladies are the likely candidates to befall Violeta’s state. Some other FT alums from 2008 may be a better bet… such as
PLAYER…………EVENTS..WINS..TOP 10..CUTS…..AVG Chella Choi………..17…..0…….4….16…72.47 Jeehae Lee…………16…..0…….0…..8…74.98
Note that despite Chella Choi’s 17th place finish on the DFT money list, she still had a better stroke average then Violeta.
The best bet out of all the players Category 11 or above to likely have a Retamoza type season (or a Riko Higashio type season if you go back another year) is Jeehae Lee. Jeehae broke 70 more time during the final qualifying school tournament (twice) then she did in her 16 events on the DFT in 2008 (she fired a 69 once).
It’ll be interesting to see just how well the Yale grad will fare next year.