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.
In the fickle world of tournament golf, it’s all about what have you done for me lately. Christel Boeljon who hovered behind the lead for the majority of the Australian Ladies Masters wound up on top after birding the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff with U.S. Open Champion So Yeon Ryu, Diana Luna, and Ha-Neul Kim. Ryu, the 54 hole leader couldn’t find any of the form that saw her shoot an 11-under 61 in the second round.
When the tournament opened all eyes were on last week’s champion Lydia Ko, the 14 year old amateur from New Zealand. After the opening round Bo-Mee Lee lead by 1, but lurking behind were the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open playoff participants So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo. Even in my post after the opening round I barely mentioned Boeljon, who shared the 2nd place spot with the two Koreans.
When Ryu shot a 61 on Friday to vault atop the leaderboard, the only question was would she have the post-awesome-round slump, or would someone be able to come close to such form on Saturday. Frances Bondad did with a 63 all her own, but Ryu still lead and looked to ride her great form into victory on Sunday.
It wasn’t to be.
Boeljon’s 4-undr 68 was enough to out duel the field, and she had the awesome opportunity to have a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to take the crown. For Ryu, it has to be another disappointment in a career that could be a lot better. I remarked earlier about her near misses in the KLPGA’s season ending awards, and the U.S. Open was only one of two worldwide victories she’s had in the past 2 years. This tournament can be added to her growing list of near misses. Strange sight for a player who burst on the international scene with some of the clutchest shots ever during the end of the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open.
Boeljon who finished #6 on the LET Order of Merit in 2011 starts off her 2012 season in fine fashion. She might not have been a headline coming into Sunday, but she grabbed the only one that really mattered.
Incoming rookie & 2011 U.S. Women’s Open So Yeon Ryu lit up the course on the Gold Coast shooting a 61 to take a 4 shot lead over Christel Boeljon. As Ryu finishes her preparations here for the first LPGA event as a tour member next week my thoughts are immediately turned to the potentially epic Rookie of the Year showdown between So Yeon & Alexis Thompson.
Both are joining the LPGA this year after posting non-member wins in 2011, with Thompson becoming the youngest winner ever on the LPGA when she cruised to victory at the Navistar LPGA Classic. While Thompson’s entrance in the world’s elite has been well documented, Ryu, who’ll be 22 later this year, started her career in Korea with a bang very similarly to her new rival.
Ryu was a decorated amateur in Asia earning a gold medal at the 2006 Winter Asian Games (an Asian equivalent of the Olympic Games), and aiding Korea in team wins at the same games and the 2007 Queen Sirikit Cup, which pits top amateurs from Asia and the Pacific. At the end of the year she turned pro at the age of 17.
Turning pro before 18 is far more common in Korea, but it still doesn’t maker Ryu’s win at the KLPGA’s 2008 Sports Seoul Open any less impressive. Did I mention it was her first event on tour?
Not to count out the other talented rookies in the 2012 class it would be shocking if the contest did not come down to these two talented ladies. Can Lexi continue to live up to the hype and pressure and continue to thrive in the LPGA microscope? Will Ryu cope with a year abroad adjusting to the American tour? Coming over for a three week span is one thing, but spending an entire season is entirely another.
Ryu, although a consistent top performer on the KLPGA, has never taken home any end of the year awards. In 2008, despite winning the first tournament she entered on the KLPGA, she still wound up #2 in their Rookie of the Year race. In 2009 despite at one point winning 3-events in a row she only finished second on the money list and player of the races to Hee Kyung Seo (the 2011 LPGA Rookie of the Year and runner-up to Ryu at the U.S. Open). Ryu only managed one win in 2010, but still finished 4th on the money list. Last year she lead the KLPGA money list for most of the 2011, but couldn’t find it at the end of the season and finished 3rd.
Despite her top 4 finishes or better, Ryu hasn’t shown that she can have it all for the entire year. Thompson’s stamina is untested as well as 2012 will mark her first full year on a professional tour. So, who has the edge?
I don’t have an answer, but I’ll grab the popcorn as it’ll be a great show to watch.
*Lexi Thompson shot a 2-under 70 in the second round and finds herself 10 strokes behind Ryu.
In what could be a mini-preview of next week’s co-sanctioned ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, 2010 KLPGA player of the year Bo-Me Lee leads by a stroke after the opening round of the ALPG’s Australian Ladies Masters. Lee, who is not currently in the field for next week’s LPGA event, shot a 7-under 65 and leads two of her more well known contemporaries by a stroke: 2011 U.S. Open Champion So Yeon Ryu & the runner-up and 2011 LPGA Rookie of the Year Hee Kyung Seo (Christel Boeljon of the Netherlands joined them). Lee had 7 birdies & no bogies to take the early lead.
U.S. Teen phenom Lexi Thompson is only two behind after her opening round 67, further proving her position as one of the world’s best. For a change though, Lexi isn’t the youngest player of interest at the event. 14 year old Kiwi Lydia Ko is 5 shots behind after opening with a 70, which was marred by bogeying 2 of her final 4 holes. Ko became the youngest player to win a professional title last week when she won the 2012 Bing Lee/Samsung Women’s NSW Open also on the ALPG.
LPGA members Christina Kim, Gwladys Nocera, Sophie Gustafson, and Permila Lindberg are all in the hunt 4 shots at 3-under. Joining Lydia Ko at 2-under par are former amateur stalwarts Jennifer Song & Danielle Kang. Hee Young Park is the most notable name struggling on the wrong side of the leaderboard and we’ll need to go under par to make the cut after opening with a 76.