Bienvenue! My name is Jamie and I like golf. I grew up playing tennis in eastern Massachusetts, but fell in love with the game after watching Se Ri Pak defeat Jenny Chausiriporn at the 1998 U.S. Womens Open. I studied Hospitality & Tourism Management (with a focus on Event, Tourism, and Convention Management) at the Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Tennis is my first love, but golf is a very close second. I believe style should equal substance, and the latter is nothing without the former.

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"you can't make harmony, when everyone is singing the same note."

 

Three’s Company

Before you could finish saying the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger, the pairings for the 65th U.S. Women’s Open Championship have been released. You can check them out over here. Below are some of the most intriguing pairings in my mind:

Thursday Hole 1 7:33 a.m./Friday Hole 10 1:03 p.m.

Morgan Pressel
Maria Hjorth
Candie Kung 

All three of these ladies have famously finished runner-up at major championships (with Pressel being the only one who has been able to bounce back and win one). Morgan famously fell to the miraculous birdie bunker shot by Birdie Kim at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open. Candie Kung felt the heartbreak last year when Eun-Hee Ji managed to to sink a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff. Maria lost at the 2008 LPGA Championship to a precocious rookie named Yani Tseng in extra innings. This group could feed off each other and set a good pace early.

Thursday Hole 10 7:33 a.m./Friday Hole 1 1:03 p.m.

Ai Miyazato
Jiyai Shin
Michelle Wie

Wow. I don’t think there’s much to add to this pairing. Wie was formally a given contender for any major championship, let’s hope she can bring that form this week.

Thursday Hole 10 7:44 a.m./Friday Hole 1 1:14 p.m.

Angela Stanford
Suzann Pettersen
Paula Creamer

Expect a log jam in the galleries around these two groups. Stanford, Pettersen, and Creamer are all looking for their first win of 2010 with Stanford playing good, not great golf, Pettersen playing great, but not winning, and Creamer just coming back from injury. Paula did well two weeks in her debut tournament, but failed to make the cut last week at the Jamie Farr.

Thursday Hole 1 7:44 a.m./Friday Hole 10 1:14 p.m.

Sakura Yokomine
Hee Kyung Seo
Brittany Lincicome

Let us not forget about Seo’s non-member win earlier in 2010 at the Kia Classic presented by J Golf. She chose not to accept membership on the LPGA tour for 2010, but is in the field this week. Sakura Yokomine is the highest money winner on the 2010 JLPGA so far this year, and Linciome is a former major winner, and conveniently forgotten when talking about the future of American golf. 

Thursday Hole 1 7:55 a.m./Friday Hole 10 1:25 p.m.

Kristy McPherson
Amanda Blumenhurst
Na Yeon Choi

Kristy is one of the best Americans on tour without a win, Blumenhurst has had an impressive rookie campaign and is in a tight race with Azahara Munoz currently for Rolex Rookie of the Year. Choi obviously is coming in hot after her victory at the Farr Owens.

Thursday Hole 1 8:06 a.m./Friday Hole 10 1:36 p.m.

Jennifer Song
Catriona Matthew
Eun-Hee Ji

The low amateur from 2009, paired with the Women’s British Open Championship, and the defending U.S. Women’s Open Champion. Song had an impressive professional debut on the Duramed Futures Tour winning her first event as a professional. Ji is slowly snapping out of her U.S. Women’s funk, and Matthew has had a solid if unimpressive year so far.

Thursday Hole 1 1:03 p.m./Friday Hole 10 7:33 a.m.

Alexis Thompson
Stacy Lewis
Amy Yang

Thompson, like Song recently turned professional. If any of these three were near the top of the LPGA five years from now, I would not be shocked.

Thursday Hole 1 1:14 p.m./Friday Hole 10 7:44 a.m.

Yani Tseng
Cristie Kerr
Anna Nordqvist

Tseng & Kerr won the first two majors of 2010, and Tseng is the next breath in the conversation for World #1 (just behing Kerr, Miyazato, and Shin). Nordqvist has two top 10s in 2010 coming off an impressive rookie year that saw her win the LPGA Championship and the Tour Championships.

Thursday Hole 10 1:14 p.m./Friday Hole 1 7:44 a.m.

Juli Inkster
Christina Kim
Jee Young Lee

Expect the hometown fans to be rooting squarely for Juli and Christina this week, and Jee Young Lee seems to always be smiling on course. This would be a very fun group to follow. 

Take a Big Bite

In a dramatic finish, Na Yeon Choi captured her first wire-to-wire victory outlasting Christina Kim, In-Kyung Kim, & Song-Hee Kim in a 2 hole playoff to capture the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger. Choi was the only player to get a birdie during the playoff doing so on the par-5 17th hole. “The Big Apple” gets her first victory of 2010, but it certainly wasn’t easy.

World #3 Jiyai Shin’s recovery from an emergency appendectomy seem to be going well, she posted a scoring  7-under 64 to post 13-under. When Shin finished she was two behind NYC who held the lead at 15-under. Song-Hee Kim was a stroke behind that at 14-under, while Christina Kim was struggling a bit and was back at 12-under.

In the closing 5-holes it appeared none of the ladies wanted to take home the title. Choi, who was in control at this point, would bogey the 14th and 15th holes to drop back to Shin’s number at 13-under. Her near collapse at last year’s Samsung World Championship (which I talked about yesterday, and last fall) showed us that while wilting, she’d still be there to walk through the door if it was left open, and boy did these ladies leave it open.

In-Kyung Kim birdied her final hole to leapfrog Jiyai Shin and become the new clubhouse leader at 14-under.

Song-Hee Kim was at 14-under also before she herself bogeyed the the 16th hole. She would bounce back with a birdie on the 17th to also post at 14-under.

Christina Kim was still recovering a rough double bogey she suffered on the 10th hole, despite immediately following that double with three consecutive birdies. She parred 14-16 to be tied with Na Yeon Choi at 13-under. She took advantage of the par 5 17th, and got herself up with Inky and Song-Hee at 14-under going into Christina & NYC’s final hole.

Going into the par 5 8th Kim & NYC both needed birdies. Christina’s would give her the outright victory. Choi’s would get her into the playoff. It was up to Christina to shut the door on Na Yeon, but she was unable to do it. She chipped to 10 feet, and had that left to claim her first victory in 5 years. She didn’t get it. NYC did sink her birdie putt, and we were set for a four way playoff.

In a great display of golf, all four ladies were on the green in 3 on the 1st playoff hole (they replayed the par 5 18th). Not only were they on the green, but they were all within 12 feet.

Choi’s 12 footer was 1st, but she missed.
Inky had a 10 footer, but she failed to convert.
Christina Kim had just 7 feet, but again was unable to hole her birdie.

The tournament was now in Song-Hee Kim’s hands. She was 5 feet away from the maiden LPGA victory we were all expecting from her. With 15 top 10s in her last 18 events, it certainly felt like this was her time. I wholeheartedly believed that the next tweet from LPGA would be one saying that S-H finally got her first victory.

She missed.

It seemed to deflate Song-Hee who found the bunker with her 3rd shot on the par-5 17th on the 2nd playoff hole, and wasn’t down after 5 shots.

Choi chipped to 3-feet, and had a near gimme for her birdie on the 2nd playoff hole. There were two players left who could shut the proverbial door.

Christina Kim had two makeable chances in a row the past two holes, and again was unable to birdie. Her 20-footer failed to connect.

In-Kyung Kim was the only person left in the Big Apple’s way. 12 feet away to put pressure on her compatriot. She couldn’t do it.

NYC sunk her 3-footer and finally put an end to it. She walked back through the door she opened to the field.

What a disappointment for Christina Kim & Song-Hee Kim. This was Christina’s first top 10 of the season, and she had a chance to win it in regulation. Hopefully she’ll remember all the good things that got her to the playoff and not the putt she missed.

Song-Hee Kim gets another top 10 finish, and is still the best player on tour without a win. This was the first time she truly had the tournament in her hands, and her failure could do very bad things mentally. It’ll be interesting to see how she bounces back next week at Oakmont.

In-Kyung’s brilliant 64 should hopefully bring her season back into the positive after a mediocre start. She played amazing to get into the playoff, but never had the upper hand in the day’s proceedings.

Na Yeon Choi again showed that she’s not quite comfortable with the lead, but miraculously again she found a way to take the title anyway.

It’s a shame that such an exciting finish was not televised. Thankfully the LPGA had constant updates to get us through this exciting finish.

Can Christina Do It?

When Cristie Kerr became the new #1 ranked golfer in the world last week, the common theme amongst the media was the potential resurgence of American Ladies Golf. Kerr has been a consistent top 5/10 player, and it was no real shock that the she is leading the charge of Americans this year.

When journalists and bloggers alike delved deeper into the American talent they began to throw out names of other Americans who could potentially make an impact for the good of the LPGA.

Paula Creamer immediately came to mind, along with fellow top American pros Morgan Pressel and Angela Stanford. Again, no shock here as these players are some of the highest ranked and most popular girls on tour.

Missing from the conversation was former major champion Brittany Linicome. If the big hitting blonde was going to be missing from the chatter, then it’s certainly no surprise that there was no mention to the spunky Californian Christina Kim. Well CK is looking to get her name back in the mix in a big way this week.

She is only one back of Na Yeon Choi playing her best golf of 2010 by far. Kim has struggled in a big way in 2010, her best finish is a T24 way back in March at the Kia Classic presented by J Golf. Kim’s 3 rounds in the 60s so far this week matches the number of rounds in the 60s she’s had so far in 2010.

Kim hasn’t won on the LPGA in 5 years. If she can do it this week it could really capitalize on the momentum of American golf going into the biggest event of the year next week, the U.S. Women’s Open.

With the LPGA in a big transition period, many casual fans are not warming up to a leaderboard crowded with talented Koreans and other foreign born players. A win by Kim or one of the other Americans in the hunt (Kristy McPhereson is 4 back, and Stacy Prammanasudh is 6 back) could continue the momentum that Kerr gave us last week, which would be just in time as we head into the biggest event on the LPGA next week, the U.S. Women’s Open.

That would be a sweet 4th of July for the LPGA. Although having television coverage of this event would certainly make this sweeter.

NYC bouncing back.

Last week I scanned the leadearboard of the LPGA Championship presented by Wegmans and did a double take when I didn’t see Na Yeon Choi’s name among the top 20. Using my trusty command + f, tool I typed her name to find her below the cut line for the first time in her career. 

I have a lot of faith in Na Yeon Choi’s game, so much so that I picked her to finish #1 on this year’s money list. Choi has been solid in 2010 (as always) sitting at #10 on the money list with over $341,000 in earnings over the year, but that’s a far cry from the top of the list (#1 & #2 Ai Miyazato and Cristie Kerr have nearly tripled her earnings), but she’s looking to close the gap this week at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger.

Choi enters the final round with a one shot lead over Christina Kim, and is looking to post her first ever wire-to-wire victory. A victory this week could prove momentous for NYC. Choi captured her first victory last year at the super exclusive Samsung World Championship, but it wasn’t easy. Choi held a whopping 7-stroke lead with 12 strokes to play, before seeing it deflate completely by the time she arrived on the last whole. A two shot swing (a birdie for Choi, with Ai Miyazato’s earlier bogey) on the 18th hole gave her first title, but it was certainly more of a barely hung on moment, then a cruise to the title victory we thought she was getting.

She showed a lot of gutso in her 2nd victory on tour, matching Yani Tseng’s birdie on the final hole to capture victory by one stroke and avoiding a three way playoff with Maria Hjorth. So, she’s certainly brushed off the nerves that almost saw her blow her maiden victory. Let’s see if she continue to hold her nerve tomorrow.

jamie in the rough is back.

Dear Everyone,

For the 10 of you who read my blog, and specifically to the great staff over at SB Nation (especially Ryan Ballangee) I have to apologize for complacent laziness that have overcome my golf blog the past few months. I began working a lot of hours at a restaurant and completely neglected my online life.

Thankfully the bulk of it began during one of the many gaps in the LPGA schedule. Unfortunately when the LPGA resumed I wasn’t prepared or willing to start writing again. It’s so bad that I don’t even know the exactly when SB Nation pulled my blog offline, I hadn’t been paying attention. 

I think I’ve found a balance in my life, and will begin to post again. I unfortunately blew my chance to write semi-professionally, but I do miss it, and miss the little ol community that is the LPGA blogosphere. 

Sincerely,

Jamie R. Belyea

Nordqvist Notches 2nd Win, Lorena Player of the Year

When Anna Nordqvist calmly shot a 68 during the final round of the McDonald’s LPGA Championship to capture her first title (and obviously first major), they were a slew of questions that opened up. The biggest of all being, who is this unknown Swede, is she the next Annika, or is this a fluke?

On another important final round Nordqvist shined brightest shooting a 7-under par round of 65 to capture her 2nd title in her rookie season. To capture two titles in a year and to have them be the McDonald’s LPGA Championship & the LPGA Tour Championship is pretty impressive for anyone, especially an unheralded rookie! Anna utilized 8 birdies and a lone bogey to win two strokes up on World #1 Lorena Ochoa.

By finishing runner up today, and having points leader Jiyai Shin finish T8 Ochoa was able to capture her 4th Rolex Player of the Year title & Vare Trophy. In heartbreaking fashion Shin bogeyed the 17th hole to lose to Lorena by a mere point in the final point tally. Thus Jiyai couldn’t join Nancy Lopez as the only players to capture all four major titles in their rookie season, but being the Money List leader & Rookie of the Year is nothing to be scoffed at.

Na Yeon Choi took third place after shooting the round of the day, an 8-under 68 that left her 3 back of Anna. An eagle, 7 birdies (4 of them in the first four holes!) and a lone bogey should keep NYC’s spirits up going into 2010. With Choi’s clearly added confidence from gaining her first win, she could be someone to watch in the Player of the Year race for 2010.

Heather Bowie Young & Reilley Rankin were both unable to jump into the top 80 after Monday’s round. Bowie Young did herself proud with a season best T12, but it left her two spots outside of the top 80 at 82. Rankin struggled mightily on Monday dropping to T42 after she lead for some of the 2nd round. Rankin maintained her spot at #100 giving her some status for 2010, but certainly not what she was looking for when she started her rounds on Monday.

The cruel fate of #81 fell upon Moira Dunn who finished just under 2K behind #80 Irene Cho. While former tour winner Joo Mi Kim will be officially returning to Q-School as she finished at #101 a little under 5K behind Reilley Rankin.

Former Big Breakers Jeannie Cho-Hunicke & Kim Welch get the dubious distinction of finishing in the bottom of the money list in 2009 at 159 & 160, making $2,647 & $2,171 respectively.

2009 LPGA Tour Championship Update, NYC Making a Play

In 2008 Na Yeon Choi went winless, but still put up a valiant fight in the Rookie of the Year eventually won by LPGA Championship winner Yani Tseng. Yani, would go on to struggle to win her second event not doing so until earlier this year when Soo Yun Kang choked on the 18th hole at the LPGA Corning Classic. In a sharp contrast Na Yeon Choi finally broke through at the star studded Samsung World Championship this fall (despite a three bogey in a row stretch). The wait for NYC’s second win was not as long awaited as Miss Tseng, Choi broke through a few tournaments in Korea.

Now, at the conclusion of the season Choi has an opportunity to join Jiyai Shin & Lorena Ochoa as the only three time winners in 2009. She is currently 7-under on her day and 9-under overall, tied for the lead with American Kristy McPherson. Kristy, a Big Break Alum, is seeking to join Na Yeon Choi as a Rolex First Time Winner in 2009. Choi has an eagle, 6 birdies, and one bogey through her first 13 holes, while Kristy McPherson has only managed one birdie and eight pars through her first 9.

Jiyai Shin who is currently coming up lame in the final round (+1, through 9) is three back of Choi and McPherson. You’ve gotta believe that if Shin can keep her spot in the top 10 she’ll be rooting for Choi or McPherson to claim victory this week to secure her first Player of the Year title. Her only rival, World #1 Lorena Ochoa is one stroke behind the leaders at -8 through 9 holes.

Needless to say, I wish I wasn’t at work so I could bask in the excitement of this final round. This is looking to be an exciting finish!

Jiyai Shin Answers Ochoa’s Call

@Kstupples, 2-time LPGA Winner Karen Stupples, tweeted on Wednesday: “i tee off at 12:50 and its dark here at 5:30, my chances of finishing? slim at best." Little did she or any of us know the type of foreshadowing it would spell for the LPGA Tour Championship presented by Rolex.

Instead of finding an outcome of the Rolex Player of the Year or Vare Trophy races, or seeing if Michelle Wie would continue her strong form from winning in last week, we are instead still looking to finish the second round. It’s quite an underwhelming and anticlimatic finish after the great buzz that was built up this week.

54 holes or not, we are still in for an exciting finish at the Tour Championship. American Kristy McPherson managed to finish her round on Sunday, and currently sits atop the leaderboard after a bogey free 67, and sits at 8-under. Lurking right behind the player looking for her 1st win on tour, is the 2009 Rolex Rookie of the Year, 6-time LPGA tour winner, and Player of the Year race winner, Jiyai Shin. Shin is still on the course, with two holes to play, but is 5-under on her round herself, and just a stroke behind. Shin’s strong round has allowed her to move past POY #2 Lorena Ochoa whose 3 birdie, 3 bogey effort through 17 holes has stalled her at -6. She is tied with rookie Anna Nordqvist, and Heather Bowie Young.

The other player in the thick of things for Player of the Year Cristie Kerr is 5 strokes behind Kristy at -3 after a 69. Kerr needed to win this week, and Lorena and Jiyai to not finish in the top 10 to secure her first Player of the Year title, and unless Shin and Ochoa blow up on Sunday, it appears she’ll need to wait another year.

Aside from that, the LPGA Tour Championship has the perfect scenario to finish off this 2009 season. The tour’s #1 and #2 are 2 and T3 heading into the final round. Not too shabby considering the poor weather and circumstances the LPGA had to endure this week. The other race to watch out for is the race for the top 80 and top 100 on the tour’s money list. Getting into the top 80 gives players full status for next season, while 81-100 get interspersed with Q-School qualifiers for status.Considering the sparse schedule for 2010, it’s more important then ever for players to get their category #1 status.

Reilley Rankin sits at #100 on the money list, a little more then $50,000 less then #80 Katie Futcher. Despite a pair of bogeys on 8 and 9, Rankin is still in the top 10 three strokes behind McPherson. She’ll want to look for a top 10 finish in order to retail Categoy 1 status for 2010. Rankin has 5 holes left to play in the second round.

Heather Bowie Young is a stroke better then Rankin at -6, and will want to make up the 21K deficit she has behind Futcher. Katie Futcher is -1 at T30 keeping herself in the race for the category 1 spot.

In-Kyung Kim & Christina Kim headline the players likely to miss the cut at the conclusion of tomorrow’s morning round.

For the record, Kaen Stupples has played two solid rounds and find herself at -4 currently T-9.

Lorena Ochoa is Making Moves for the Player of the Year

World #1 Lorena Ochoa has put herself in prime position after the opening round of the inaugural ADT-less LPGA Tour Championship after a 6-under 66. Ochoa who can clinch her 4th Rolex Player of the Year with a win this week. Ochoa’s current 3-win season is mediocre for her standards (she hasn’t won less then 6 times since 2005), but despite this she along with Jiyai Shin have had the most victories in 2009 on the LPGA tour.

Ochoa has had bouts of lackluster play this summer, and was a non-factor at the history making, Wie’s first win, Lorena Ochoa Invitational last week. Lorena’s opening round had 8 birdies and two bogeys and leads Reilley Rankin by one stroke. Rankin is looking for a strong finish this week as she is sitting in a precarious 100th spot on the LPGA Money list for 2009.

Although Jiyai Shin was unable to live up to her ‘Final Round Queen’ nickname last week, I wouldn’t conclude that her 4 stroke deficit to Ochoa is too much to handle. Let us not forget that Jiayi was able to hold up to the pressure on the KLPGA in 2008, and swept all three major championships under intense pressure and scrutiny.

With 23 players at T9 or better including 2009 winners, Ochoa, Shin, Yani Tseng, Pat Hurst, Anna Nordqvist, Ji Young Oh, Na Yeon Choi, Brittany Linicome, Sophie and Gustafson the LPGA Tour Championship presented by Rolex should be an exciting affair.

Michelle Wie withdrew after an even par-72 citing her sprained ankle as a cause. Due to her withdrawal the LPGA will have gone through 2009 without a back-to-back winner, which is a testament to the depth of the tour.

Other 2009 tour winners Eunjung Yi & Catriona Matthew were not able to rise to the occasion shooting 77s putting them outside the top 100 in the season ending event. Tour winners and two of my favorites Christina Kim & Seon Hwa Lee are two strokes away from DFL after posting disappointing 79s, which all but ruin their chances to gain their first and only win of 2009.

LPGA Timing, Not so Great

Some argued that having the player revolt/ousting of Carolyn Bivens occur during one of the LPGA’s major championship was a bad thing, in my eyes it always seemed like the right time to have controversy. Have it during your tour’s biggest events, so, even if they are tuning it because of the Commissioner drama, they will be able to witness your tour’s best and brightest playing in one of their biggest events of the year.

This is why making an announcement tomorrow, on the eve of the Hana Bank * Kolon Championship 2009 seems a bit silly indeed. The event is in Korea, ie the tour’s elite are all in Korea (including current acting commissioner Marty Evans), and it’s not going to be televised in the United States. For a tour that’s screaming and needing more attention in it’s home country, making the announcement now, rather then during the LPGA Tour Championship a televised home event, is baffling.

It’s not as if Michael Whan will be beginning his tenure right away anyway. Marty Evans will be holding down the fort for the remainder of the season with Mr. Whan taking the lead beginning in January.

The LPGA jumped the gun on this one, timing could’ve given the LPGA Tour Championship some pretty big buzz.