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."

 

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.

Navistar LPGA Classic Preview

With many of the world’s top players sitting the last full field domestic event out, this week’s event could be a big breakthrough for one of the many talented ladies on tour. Some notable names not in the field include #1 on the money list Jiyai Shin, the owner of the longest top 10 streak on tour Ai Miyazato, and Suzann Pettersen who has decided to rest her foot after withdrawing from the final round last week in Danville. So, which player is likely to break through this week?

Could it be world #1 and defending champion Lorena Ochoa who with every winless week is losing grip to Shin as the LPGA’s top performer? Ochoa has been in contention the last two weeks, but has been unable to close the deal on the weekend. On the flip side, she has had top 10s in her last 3 events, and should find herself a 4th straight top 10. Can she get it done is the clutch is the bigger question, which is a strange one to be asking a world #1 and two-time winner in 2009.

Can Michelle Wie finally cash in and take home her first LPGA title. She’s had many strong finishes this year, but hasn’t been in the thick of things late on Sunday. Many expect Wie to become the face of the tour, and getting a win this week could go a long way in that. Wie who will be skipping the mini Asian circuit to continue classes at Stanford is running out of chances to join Shin, Anna Nordqvist, and M.J. Hur as rookie winners in 2009.

Sun Young Yoo is another player seeking her first title, and has a T2 and T3 in her last two events. Yoo looks poised to become another South Korean winner on tour. Yoo showed in her playoff loss to Shin at Arkansas that she can make birdies on the closing holes, but was unable to string them together on the front nine last week at the CVS. Can she prove that she can get the deal done on this week?

With the 2009 Tour Championship qualifying criteria unannounced as of yet, it’s going to be a go big or go home week for many players sitting outside the top 80 and top 100 on the money list. The Tour Championship does feature a field of 120, so perhaps we should be looking at the top 120 on the money list as a cut off point as well.

Time for my weekly picks, and after doing pretty well last week, the pressure is certainly on once again:

  1. Yoo
  2. Kerr
  3. Wie
  4. Ochoa
  5. Choi
  6. Lee, Sarah
  7. Feng
  8. Hull
  9. Kim, Christina
  10. Kim, Song-Hee
  11. Lee, Seon Hwa
  12. Hurst, Vicky

Ochoa’s Mediocre Closing is Puzzling

This time last year, if you were in a final group paired with world #1 Lorena Ochoa you would be shaking in your boots. The media, fans, and perhaps even yourself would’ve pegged you as a severe underdog, no matter who you were. Ochoa’s rather tepid response to being in the hunt the past two weekends is certainly puzzling, and if the streak continues this week as she defends the Navistar, the aura of Ochoa may be wearing off quicker then I imagined.

The intimidation factor of playing with a top female, or even just being in the final group can be game changing. If you were a young player looking to win, and you were paired in the final group with Annika Sorenstam, the pressure alone may get the best of you.

This is why Ochoa needs to win, and needs to win quick. Yes, three top 10s in a row are great, and back to back top 5 finishes are better. Mustering rounds in the 70s when you’re in contention are not good. With a bunch of players all contending for the top of the money list, and Jiyai Shin looking poised to become the new face of the LPGA tour, Sunday’s round at the CVS and last weekend’s play at the Samsung are potentially diminishing Lorena’s shine.

Where is the #1’s killer instinct? Hopefully we’ll see it this week.

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.

CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge Rd. 2

Sophie Gustafson continued to lead by one at the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge after shooting a second round 69 to be the sole player in double digits under par at -10, holding a bare one shot lead over Maria Hjorth, Lorena Ochoa, and Shanshan Feng.

Sophie struggled with her putter on Friday, but played well enough to keep going in the right direction. She must not miss her opportunities this weekend if she hopes to win her first title in six years.

Hoping to stop her quest for victory include Maria Hjorth, last time a winner in 2007. Hjorth and Gustafson were Solheim Cup teammates this year, and both have lost in playoffs recently; Hjorth last year to Yani Tseng at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, and Gustafson earlier this season to Ai Miyazato at the Evian Masters. Maria had a pretty exciting day Friday, with one eagle, 7 birdies, and 3 bogeys in her round of 66.

Lorena’s victory drought has been much talked about, and it’ll be interesting to see how she fares on this weekend of play. Last week at the Samsung Lorena found herself in this exact position, tied for second & one stroke off the lead, and only managed 72-71 notching a T4, but not finding herself in contention at any point on the weekend. We’ll see if she can find the inner tenacity that we expect from the #1 ranked lady in the world.

Awaking from her season long coma, and one of my surprise picks for the top 12, China’s Shanshan Feng showed some of the game that piqued our interest last season with a 5-under 67 which also had her tied for second. Shanshan has only used 49 putts this week so far, which is an amazing number for any player, and especially true for a player who is currently ranked T97 in putting at 1.85 putts per round. Compare that with the current leader Sophie Gustafson, who has used 63 putts in her first two rounds. Shanshan could use a good week as she has only notched one top 20 finish this season, and it was a T20 on the dot at the Michelob ULTRA Open.

The foursome that are tied for 5th are just as dangerous. Angela Stanford finished her round with four birdies after being +2 after 6 holes for her 70. Suzann Pettersen had four birdies of her own on the back nine to finish at 4-under for the day, and -8 overall. Joo Mi Kim had a 68 on Friday, which was only her 6th round in the 60s all season (her 5th coming in the first round). After bogeying holes 3 & 4, Joo Mi had six birdies coming home.

The last player in this group also had the round of the day, Sun Young Yoo shot a 29 on the par 35 back nine (her first 9 holes of the day), and shot an 8-under 64 jumping up from T64 to T5. She could’ve tied the course record (or broken it) if it were not for a three putt bogey on the par 5 9th, her last hole of the day. Yoo is continuing where she left off, her last result being a T2 losing in a playoff to Jiyai Shin a couple weeks ago.

A duo of young Americans Vicky Hurst & Paula Creamer round out the top 10, at  -6. There are a lot of other surprising names near the top of the leaderboard this week, all looking to cement their priority for 2010. Reilley Rankin, Mikaela Parmlid, Amy Yang and Monday qualifier Sophia Sheridan are all T11 (with Natalie Gulbis & Yani Tseng). Minea Blomqvist, Haeji Kang, Kris Tamulis, and Anna Grzberian are also in the top 20, one stroke worse at -4, T17.

Na Ri Kim seemed to be on her way to solidify her opening round 67 when she player the back nine (her first nine) in 2 under with two birdies and no bogeys. Coming back to the front the wheels fell off, and she went bogey-triple on holes 4-5, and doubles the 8th for a disappointing 76, that dropped her all the way back to T39.

The rising heat reeked havoc on #1 on the money list Jiyai Shin. Shin had been feeling ill all week, and withdrew midway through the second round. She carried an umbrella with her on Friday to stay cool, but after bogeying holes 2 & 5 she decided that she did not have enough to finish.

NYC Nearly Chokes Away 1st Victory

It was supposed to be so easy, and about half a round ago it was. Na Yeon Choi was cruising through the Samsung World Championship, eagling the par-5 6th giving her a whopping 7 stroke lead with only 12 holes to play. You knew Miss Choi was nervous, but there was no way she could blow this lead could she?

She was supposed to steal the show. The Japanese star Ai Miyazato, who was seemingly transformed to a bonafide week-in and week-out contender. Riding a 6 week top 10 streak, she got hot as Choi choked. As Choi found four bogeys over the next 11 holes, the pint sized Japanese player struck gold with four birdies. As she ascended to the top of the leaderboard miraculously changing a 7 stroke deficit to a 1 stroke lead. Miyazato, now a certified winner on tour, couldn’t bogey the 18th hole could she?

There was supposed to be a playoff. Sure the par-5 18th was reachable, but when you’re attempting to win for the first time on tour, knowing in your mind that you’ve just blown a 7-shot lead is not an easy thing to overcome. So, when you’re putt from off the green for eagle landed 5 feet short, no one expected you to make it. No way, no how. You’ve missed putts with no pressure from that length today, could you really sink this putt now?

The playoff would’ve been an interesting story line, Miyazato who won her first title at the 2009 Evian vs. Choi who lost her first playoff at the 2008 Evian…

…but Choi did the unthinkable. She shook off the demons, the doubt, the fear, the nervousness, and sunk her putt for birdie at the 18th to do what her countrywoman Song-Hee Kim could not do last week, win her maiden LPGA title. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, but Choi did it, and I think I am more relieved for her then she is! I can’t imagine how damaging losing a lead like this can be on a player’s psyche. 7 shots.

Miyazato’s decision to go for the green in 2 on the 18th is the real head scratcher. Miyazato may have only won once so far in the states, but we all know she’s a proven winner. That play seemed to be more of a shot choice from a youngster trying to force their first win, rather then a vet playing it cool under pressure. Many say that when you’re in the lead you should keep playing your own game, which is all well and good at the start of the round. With one hole to play, and the possible danger, and an opponent is faltering, going big in this instance seemed insane.

Of course that’s how we all felt when we saw the ball trickle into the hazard. Had Miyazato cleared it, and perhaps landed with ease, we all would be praising her for sticking to her guns, being aggressive and slamming the door shut. Still, she got her 7th straight top-10, and does not look to be slowing down anytime soon. Jiyai Shin, who never got anything going on Sunday, now only holds a slim lead over Miyazato, which is a testament to Ai’s consistency this season, considering Shin leads the win tally 3-1.

More alarming then Ai’s bogey on the 18th, or Choi’s bogeys down the stretch was the fact that World #1 Lorena Ochoa was unable to find any sort of groove on the weekend. After she finished Friday’s round tied for 2nd, it appeared that Ochoa might be able to shut everyone up and join Shin as the only 3-time winner of the season. Unfortunately Lorena came up lame on the weekend shooting a 1-under 72-71 combo. Her T4 was her best finish since her win in April at the Corona. Despite this finish, she was not a factor in this weekend’s proceedings. Defending champion Paula Creamer joined Ochoa at T4 7 strokes back at -9.

Despite the 20 player field, Eun-Hee Ji was unable to best her best finish since winning the U.S. Women’s Open (a T17 at the Safeway) as she finished dead last. 19th placed In-Kyung Kim bested her by 4 shots, finishing at +6 during a week where she was unable to break 70.