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."

 

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.

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!

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.

Early Reports: Michael Whan new LPGA Commissioner

Golfweek Magazine and Golf Digest are reporting that Michael Whan will be announced as the new LPGA commissioner at a special meeting in NYC on Wednesday morning.

See Golfweek’s report here.

Whan is a former executive at Taylor Made Adidas, and was recently a CEO of Mission-ITECH hockey.

More reports are coming out, but hopefully we’ll get a bigger look of it tomorrow morning.

Whan was not a name on the radar as a likely choice for the new LPGA commissioner, and hopefully he’ll prove overly fruitful for the LPGA economically and beyond. In the few short months acting commissioner Marty Evans was at the helm, she has added events back to the 2010 schedule, and secured a title sponsor for the LPGA Tour championship.

The role of LPGA commissioner has been a hot topic after a “player revolt” caused Bivens to step down during the spring.

You Better Shape Up… LPGA Website

There is no doubt that web media and web content is a very important thing, and when it comes to the LPGA, there’s skills are a bit lacking. Although their website design and layout are simple, and it’s relatively easy to navigate, there are so many things wrong and inconsistent, that it’s really an embarrassment. 5-6 years ago when they had the atrocious purple website I may have given them a pass, but right now in 2010, it’s time to step it up.

When Na Ri Kim got herself into contention last week, I noticed one big gaffe. She was listed as Priority List Category: R, aka retired! There are a lot of oddities within the player profiles, plus there’s not a lot of information on these particular pages anyway. Questions like why is Angie Oberholser still listed (as non-exempt too, how archaic), is really just one of many you’ll have if you peruse these profiles.

There stat pages could really be overhauled, and I would love to see cooler stats included. It was much talked about earlier in the year how the stats from the international events were not included, and how it skewed all the overall stats. In this day and age, that is really uncalled for!

Mistakes within live scoring happen every week. I already harped on about that, so I’ll move on. Was finally fixed though!

I’d also love to see better stats, like Golf Observer’s weekly tournament stats, or something like how many time’s players have started the final round in the lead, and their result. Things like that.

Let’s go LPGA, let’s step our games up.

Gustafson Coasts to Victory, Ochoa Tepid

Lorena Ochoa’s tepid play allowed Sophie Gustafson to coast to victory at the CVS/pharmacy Challenge. Gustafson shot a final round 68 or 69, to best her 3rd round co-leader Ochoa by three or four strokes. A duo of South Koreans Sun Young Yoo & rookie Amy Yang finished solidly for third place.

The shootout between Sophie & Lorena never came to fruition on Sunday. Gustafson started very quickly going 4-under through her first 5 holes on the day, including an eagle on the par-5 5th hole. The 5th was the site of Lorena’s first birdie of the day, to cut Sophie’s lead to 3 going into the 6th hole. Gustafson, perhaps letting the thought of running away with it get to her, would bogey holes 6 and 8 to open the door for Lorena. Lorena however would not seize any of her opportunities on this Sunday, as she parred through until bogeying the 8th. After sharing birdies on 9th hole Sophie continued to lead the tournament, now by two shots.

A couple groups ahead 2009 rookie Amy Yang was having a birdie bonanza. Birdies at holes 1 and 3 were followed by four in a row in holes 5 through 8 to finish a front nine 31. She continued her run on the back by birding the 10th, to jump to -15 for the tournament, 7-under for the day.

So, as the final group made the turn, you have Sophie Gustafson, possibly battling nerves to capture her first victory in 6 years. Would she falter feeling the pressure? Would the #1 ranked player in the world find that winning form that we’ve seen from her? Could Ochoa string off some birdies to put some pressure on her playing partner to steal victory away, and shine the LPGA spotlight back to her? Or would the unknown South Korean, who has found much more success on the LET and in Australia be able to keep the birdies coming, and completely steal the show? Sounds like a pretty exciting back nine, right?

Well, it wasn’t. I really expected Ochoa to start finding her game, and take this out of Sophie’s hand. Unfortunately Ochoa did nothing on holes 10-14, parring them, and then finally did something on the 15th. Unfortunately for her that something was bogey. Gustafson herself wasn’t running away with it, but wasn’t letting anything go either. She birdied the 13th, as the only mark on her scorecard in that stretch. Amy Yang wasn’t able to find another birdie for the rest of her round after her 10th, and ended up bogeying the 15th hole leading to a final round 7-under 65, Yang’s first top 10 finish of the year.

Ochoa’s birdie on the 16th got her to -17, but it was too little too late. Her bogey on the 18th hole really punctuated a frustrating day for the #1 player, as you never want to shoot a tepid 72 on Sunday. Gustafson may or may not have bogeyed the 18th hole, but it was irrelevant, she claimed a 3 or 4 shot victory.

The only player to light it up on the back nine was Sun Young Yoo. She was even par on her day through 10 holes, but birdied the 11th, and holes 15-17, to finish with a 68, good to tie Amy Yang for third at -14. This is Yoo’s second straight top 10 finish after losing in a playoff in Arkansas two weeks ago.

Lorena Ochoa must be kicking herself for really not being able to put any pressure on Sophie on the back nine. This is very similar to her result from last week, when coming into the weekend T3, she shot 72-71, and was unable to contend. This week she did better on Saturday, but really didn’t do anything remotely Lorena-like on this back nine. Something must be going on in that head of hers, and it’s looking all the more likely that Lorena will be departing from the #1 rank in the Rolex Rankings very soon.