Happy Birthday, Imoto! Otanjobi Omedetou!!

Imoto turns 8 today.  She’s an amazing girl.  She’s into so many things!

She’s working hard to get to Level 2 at gymnastics. Don’t know if down the road she’ll try out acrobatic gymnastics:

Or rhythmic gymnastics:

But right now she’s inspired by the Fab Five from the 2012 Olympics:


She also likes to play golf with me. I hope we can do a lot more of that this summer!

I’m really glad imoto likes to laugh.  We definitely share a sense of humor.  She loves watching How It Should Have Ended on youtube.  Here’s one of her favorites:

Yup, she loves Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit!  Not to mention Frozen, Tangled, Brave, Powerpuff Girls, Pretty Cure, and Winx Club, to name a few more!

Best of all, she’s a hard worker, great student, kind friend, and loving sister!

So happy birthday, imoto!


Congratulations to Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis!

I guess the late-December theme of Mostly Harmless is “transitions”!  Q-School results, Harukyo Nomura choosing the LPGA over the JLPGA for 2014, Paula Creamer‘s engagement, Ji-Yai Shin cutting back on her LPGA schedule in 2014, Momoko Ueda leaving the LPGA for the JLPGA next season, Lydia Ko leaving her life-long coach Guy Wilson as she relocates to the States….  In that vein, let me pass along my belated congratulations to Cristie Kerr and Erik Stevens on the birth of their son Mason (via surrogacy) and to Natalie Gulbis and Josh Rodarmel on their wedding!

[Update 1 (12/27/13, 7:57 am):  ‘Tis the season indeed!  Irene Cho is tying the knot on 2/1/14!]

[Update 2 (12/31/13, 9:03 am):  Mariajo Uribe recently tied the knot, too!]

Merry QSMS from Mostly Harmless!

QSMS is of course how onechan first tried to spell Christmas.  Speaking of which, we don’t celebrate it in this Jewish-Buddhist-not-very-religious Constructivist household–and imoto doesn’t like it.  So she hung up one of her socks by the fireplace and tried to stay up for Santa as long as she could.  I was glad for the company while I was up grading (she was paging through some Simpsons comic books I took out from the local library until they put her right to sleep, but before that we had a fun discussion on whether Santa is real).

Ah, I should call it a night so I’m fresh for Mongolian buffet for dinner tonight!  Hope your Christmas is going to be as awesome as ours….

Welcome to Double Digits, Onechan!

Onechan is 10 today!  Shocking.  It seems all the videos I found for her earlier birthdays have been taken off youtube.  So here are some more!


Recommended Reading: Hee Kyung Seo’s Wedding

Head on over to Seoul Sisters.com for a fantastic thread on Hee Kyung Seo’s wedding!  Here’s a nice video on how her fiance proposed to her:

Detroit 2, Constructivist Family 2

I’ve gotta admit I can’t tell a quad from a triple unless Skate America, NBC Sports, or every freakin’ skate blogger/tweeter on the planet points it out to me (just search #SA2013), but I can tell you a little bit about what the Constructivist family’s Detroit road trip has been like so far.

Like how we avoided another traffic jam on the 75 and got to the men’s practice session just about on time by freelancing it through some pretty scary neighborhoods on the way to the Joe Louis Arena (score 1 for Team Constructivist).  Or how we again enjoyed the Detroit People Mover and had another great dinner, but this one gave The Full Metal Archivist stomach trouble (score 1 for Detroit).  Or how cool it was to watch Adam Rippon and Jason Brown rock their short programs, then get smoked by Tatsuki Machida (whose name has been pronounced seemingly every way but right by the rink announcers), but how disappointing it was when our fave Daisuke Takahashi couldn’t bring his jumping to the level of his artistry on the ice right after Machida’s brilliant performance (score another for Detroit).  Or how much the girls enjoyed dancing around after the practice skates, riding the People Mover, and getting make-up done and pictures taken at the fake Puffs kiss and cry area between the men’s skate and the dance competition (score 1 more for the Constructivist family).

Instead, though, let me focus on how amazing Meryl Davis and Charlie White are.  So many couples skated so awesomely.  The Reeds got a season best and still ended up in 6th, while the Shibutanis did the same and looked to be in great position at 61.26 and 1st of 6 teams.  Until the Italians beat them by 8 points, that is.  Facing the same kind of pressure that Takahashi did, Davis and White made it look effortless, elegant, charming, sophisticated, romantic, and athletic.  Like Takahashi, they have a level of artistry and body control and musical interpretation that is truly their own.  Unlike Takahashi, their biggest rivals (Moir/Virtue) weren’t competing against them.  But sometimes it’s as tough being the favorite–especially in front of a home crowd–as it is being the most popular skater in the world who’s fighting for a spot in his 3rd Olympics against 5 other world-class Japanese skaters.

I’ll close with some video and some notes, first on Machida:

I was repeatedly impressed by how much air this guy gets.  I wonder if he can dunk…

Rippon:

Loved his reaction at the end! Maybe he can take a page from Adam Scott’s book and get a big win today!

Aaron:

Man, he practices hard. He was the only one going full-bore in the morning practice session. Hey, he’s young, he can handle it.  (Me, I’m officially in my mid-40s and walking like someone in his mid-80s.  I’m beginning to think my back won’t be better by the time we leave Detroit.)

Shibutanis:


I hope onechan and imoto learn from these siblings how to appreciate each other and work together!  Have I mentioned that imoto’s discovered moodiness and loves to needle onechan into overreacting and getting in trouble?  Seriously, I don’t usually like brother-sister pairs on ice, but these two picked some great music and skated their hearts out!

In closing, Jason Brown has it all:  flexibility, jumping ability, artistry, personality.  Don’t be surprised if he wins this thing.

Around the World of Women’s Golf in 4 Easy Links

No time for individual posts on the LPGA’s Safeway Classic and 3rd round of Q-School’s 1st stage, the JLPGA’s Nitori Ladies, or the LET’s Ladies Scottish Open, so I’ll just hit the highlights here today from around the world of women’s professional golf.

Lexi Thompson‘s 65 was the low round of the morning wave (capped off by an eagle on the par-5 7th–her 16th–hole) at Columbia Edgewater, but it got eclipsed by Pornanong Phatlum‘s afternoon 64 (which amazingly included 2 bogeys).  Others going low included Cristie Kerr, Lizette Salas, and Sandra Gal with 66s, a host of players with 67s, including Juli Inkster, Se Ri Pak, Stacy Lewis, Ya Ni Tseng, Ai Miyazato, Michelle Wie, and Gerina Piller, even more with 68s, among them Suzanne Pettersen, Ji-Yai Shin, Amy Yang (who had to WD today), Brittany Lang, Natalie Gulbis, and Chie Arimura, and 69s by such golfers as Karrie Webb, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park, Anna Nordqvist, Morgan Pressel, Caroline Masson, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and Momoko Ueda.  Other notables didn’t fare quite so well, among them Na Yeon Choi (70), Beatriz Recari (71), Angela Stanford (71), Mika Miyazato (71), Laura Davies (72), Azahara Munoz (72), Carlota Ciganda (73), and Moriya Jutanugarn (73).  As you can see, the scoring was low and the cut line would have fallen at -2 if it had been established on Thursday!

In Q-School, Mia Piccio fired a 65 to get to -10 pull within 2 shots of 2nd-round leader Laura Gonzalez Escallon.  Others in the hunt for medallist include Yueer Cindy Feng and Pinrath Loomboonruang at -7, and Cheyenne Woods, Erica Popson, Julie Yang, and Babe Liu at -6.  Notables in danger of falling or staying out of the top 100 and not advancing to Stage 2 in October include Kimberly Kim at +5, Kelly Shon at +8, Ki-Shui Liao at +9, Hwanhee Lee at +10, Tiffany Lua at +11, Izzy Lendl at +12, and Kyle Roig at +15.  The cut line, which I thought would climb to the neighborhood of +12, might only go to +9 or +10 when play is completed today.  Angela Park, Meghan Hardin, Jillian Fraccola, and Seema Sadekar will definitely fall outside it.  I’m still counting on Scooby Liu and Britney Yada to make it to the next stage, for obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, Lala Anai continues the youth movement on the JLPGA, as her 4-birdie, 1-eagle 66 left her 1 shot ahead of Ji-Min Lee, 2 shots up on Yuko Fukuda, 3-up on Bo-Mee Lee and Ikue Asama, and 4 shots out of the reach of defending champion Sun-Ju Ahn and 2-time winner this season Mamiko Higa.  Other notables include Mi-Jeong Jeon, Ji-Hee Lee, Bo-Bae Song, Teresa Lu, Kumiko Kaneda, and Megumi Kido at -1, Ayako Uehara, Na-Ri Kim, and Yumiko Yoshida at E, Sakura Yokomine and Erika Kikuchi at +1, Yukari Baba at +2, Young Kim and Jin Joo Hong at +3, Yuki Sakurai and Miho Mori at +4, Miki Saiki, Da Ye Na, and Natsuka Hori at +5, Soo-Yun Kang and Maiko Wakabayashi at +6, Shinobu Moromizato at +7, Mayu Hattori and Harukyo Nomura at +8, Yoko Ishikawa (Ryo’s imoto) at +11.  Money-list leader Rikako Morita is sitting this one out after several bad outings in a row, not unlike Inbee Park, who decided very late in the week not to play in Portland.

Over in Scotland, Cassandra Kirkland leads Lee-Anne Pace, Anne-Lise Caudal, and Trish Johnson by 1 shot, with Catriona Matthew only 3 shots off the pace and Ashleigh Simon 4.

For cute pics of Jeong Jang’s daughter on the putting green with JJ and Se Ri Pak at Columbia Edgewater, head on over to Seoul Sisters.com.  I think we all need a little dose of kawaii right about now….

Catching Up, Again

Well, since I last posted here, Team Euro spanked Team USA 18-10 to take the Solheim Cup for the 2nd time in a row and the 1st time ever on U.S. soil behind Caroline Hedwall’s 5-0 record, 20-year-old Chiba native Misuzu Narita caught Esther Lee by going 65-65 over the weekend in the NEC Karuizawa 72 and beat her in a playoff for her 2nd career JLPGA victory, Christine Song won the Eagle Classic to become the 1st 2-time winner on the Symetra Tour in 2013 and leap to 2nd on the money list with only 2 events left on the schedule (in the last 2 weeks of September), and Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa finished 6 and 9 shots, respectively, out of the amazing playoff between Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth at the Wyndham Championship.  I actually got to watch a lot of the Solheim Cup’s 1st 2 days and was impressed with so many aspects of Team Euro’s play:  Hedwall’s fire, Pettersen’s and Matthew’s leadership, Ciganda’s comeback, Hull’s boldness, Recari’s steadiness, Icher’s and Masson’s putting, and better-than-expected play from just about everybody else.  Most of the matches were much closer than they looked on paper; it always seemed like the Americans had trouble sinking the pressure putts and the Europeans made the most of their opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Constructivist family spent Saturday at an awesome beach with the CT Constructivists; then, instead of driving home that day, we stayed an extra night so the cousins could spend a little more time together, left late Sunday morning, stayed for a few hours in Fort Lee, NJ, made it to Williamsport, PA, just in time to watch the Tokyo (Japan)-Taoyuan (Taiwan) game in the Little League World Series (which Japan won in a nailbiter 3-2), and got home to Hamburg after 1 am.  The girls were fascinated watching boys only a few years older than they are playing baseball at such a high level and they enjoyed cheering for Japan.

Me, I turned around and fired my worst round of the season today in the Buffalo district qualifier for the NYSGA’s Mid-Amateur Championship.  I now have even more more sympathy for Stacy Lewis and others who had trouble adjusting to Colorado Golf Club’s fast, undulating greens this past week, as I was befuddled all day on and around Gowanda Country Club’s tiny, hard, slick, usually extremely-elevated, and often inverted-bowl-shaped greens.  I just couldn’t break the habit of popping my chips and putts that I gained over a season of playing at South Shore Country Club’s incredibly slow and bumpy greens this summer.  Sure, touching my clubs only at 2 driving ranges in the past week (once with my brother’s 3 boys and once with imoto)–not to mention being tired from our last-gasp-of-summer child-care/vacation visit and closing whirlwind tour of 3 states–played a role, but I actually was only a little bit off with my ball-striking (I had only 4 really bad full swings; the rest were very close to the fairways and greens if not on them).  Unfortunately, I don’t think any amount of playing or rest last week would have helped prepare me for Gowanda’s mental challenges:   trying to anticipate how my drives would run out on its usually-tilted fairways, clubbing myself and judging what kind of approach shot to hit, dealing with the thick rough around the greens that played havoc with my pitches and chips, and reading and executing my putts.  About the only thing I did well was stick to my game plan of playing the short, tight, tree-lined course aggressively, but that aggressiveness into and around the greens turned birdie opportunities into par saves, pars into bogeys, and bogeys into doubles or worse.  What’s worse, I don’t think I sank a putt longer than 3 feet all day.  Long story short:  it’s a good thing I don’t play golf for a living!

Speaking of which, it’s back to a full-time work schedule for me the rest of the week, what with my fall semester starting up next Monday and all :).  But I’m still getting psyched up for the CN Canadian Women’s Open, where teenagers Lydia Ko, Charley Hull, and Brooke Henderson will be among the golfers joining the best of the LPGA in Edmonton.  It’s the next-to-last event in North America before the tour heads overseas for 6 straight events; the 2013 season then ends back on this continent in the middle of November.  I’m curious to see over these last 10 events whether Stacy Lewis will be able to challenge Inbee Park for Player of the Year and the money list title, whether anyone else will be able to step it up and try to keep pace with them, what will happen in the season’s 5th major, what effect the Solheim Cup will have on those who competed in it, how long Paula Creamer, Na Yeon Choi, and Ai Miyazato can go winless, and whether Moriya Jutanugarn will be able to hold off Chie Arimura, Ayako Uehara, and Caroline Masson in the race for Rookie of the Year.  I’ll try to avoid going on last fall and winter’s extended sabbatical from blogging, but I’m not making any promises!  We’ve got a busy and exciting academic year shaping up at SUNY Fredonia and I’ve got a lot on my plate.

Catching Up, Again

Well, since I last posted here, Team Euro spanked Team USA 18-10 to take the Solheim Cup for the 2nd time in a row and the 1st time ever on U.S. soil behind Caroline Hedwall’s 5-0 record, 20-year-old Chiba native Misuzu Narita caught Esther Lee by going 65-65 over the weekend in the NEC Karuizawa 72 and beat her in a playoff for her 2nd career JLPGA victory, Christine Song won the Eagle Classic to become the 1st 2-time winner on the Symetra Tour in 2013 and leap to 2nd on the money list with only 2 events left on the schedule (in the last 2 weeks of September), and Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa finished 6 and 9 shots, respectively, out of the amazing playoff between Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth at the Wyndham Championship.  I actually got to watch a lot of the Solheim Cup’s 1st 2 days and was impressed with so many aspects of Team Euro’s play:  Hedwall’s fire, Pettersen’s and Matthew’s leadership, Ciganda’s comeback, Hull’s boldness, Recari’s steadiness, Icher’s and Masson’s putting, and better-than-expected play from just about everybody else.  Most of the matches were much closer than they looked on paper; it always seemed like the Americans had trouble sinking the pressure putts and the Europeans made the most of their opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Constructivist family spent Saturday at an awesome beach with the CT Constructivists; then, instead of driving home that day, we stayed an extra night so the cousins could spend a little more time together, left late Sunday morning, stayed for a few hours in Fort Lee, NJ, made it to Williamsport, PA, just in time to watch the Tokyo (Japan)-Taoyuan (Taiwan) game in the Little League World Series (which Japan won in a nailbiter 3-2), and got home to Hamburg after 1 am.  The girls were fascinated watching boys only a few years older than they are playing baseball at such a high level and they enjoyed cheering for Japan.

Me, I turned around and fired my worst round of the season today in the Buffalo district qualifier for the NYSGA’s Mid-Amateur Championship.  I now have even more more sympathy for Stacy Lewis and others who had trouble adjusting to Colorado Golf Club’s fast, undulating greens this past week, as I was befuddled all day on and around Gowanda Country Club’s tiny, hard, slick, usually extremely-elevated, and often inverted-bowl-shaped greens.  I just couldn’t break the habit of popping my chips and putts that I gained over a season of playing at South Shore Country Club’s incredibly slow and bumpy greens this summer.  Sure, touching my clubs only at 2 driving ranges in the past week (once with my brother’s 3 boys and once with imoto)–not to mention being tired from our last-gasp-of-summer child-care/vacation visit and closing whirlwind tour of 3 states–played a role, but I actually was only a little bit off with my ball-striking (I had only 4 really bad full swings; the rest were very close to the fairways and greens if not on them).  Unfortunately, I don’t think any amount of playing or rest last week would have helped prepare me for Gowanda’s mental challenges:   trying to anticipate how my drives would run out on its usually-tilted fairways, clubbing myself and judging what kind of approach shot to hit, dealing with the thick rough around the greens that played havoc with my pitches and chips, and reading and executing my putts.  About the only thing I did well was stick to my game plan of playing the short, tight, tree-lined course aggressively, but that aggressiveness into and around the greens turned birdie opportunities into par saves, pars into bogeys, and bogeys into doubles or worse.  What’s worse, I don’t think I sank a putt longer than 3 feet all day.  Long story short:  it’s a good thing I don’t play golf for a living!

Speaking of which, it’s back to a full-time work schedule for me the rest of the week, what with my fall semester starting up next Monday and all :).  But I’m still getting psyched up for the CN Canadian Women’s Open, where teenagers Lydia Ko, Charley Hull, and Brooke Henderson will be among the golfers joining the best of the LPGA in Edmonton.  It’s the next-to-last event in North America before the tour heads overseas for 6 straight events; the 2013 season then ends back on this continent in the middle of November.  I’m curious to see over these last 10 events whether Stacy Lewis will be able to challenge Inbee Park for Player of the Year and the money list title, whether anyone else will be able to step it up and try to keep pace with them, what will happen in the season’s 5th major, what effect the Solheim Cup will have on those who competed in it, how long Paula Creamer, Na Yeon Choi, and Ai Miyazato can go winless, and whether Moriya Jutanugarn will be able to hold off Chie Arimura, Ayako Uehara, and Caroline Masson in the race for Rookie of the Year.  I’ll try to avoid going on last fall and winter’s extended sabbatical from blogging, but I’m not making any promises!  We’ve got a busy and exciting academic year shaping up at SUNY Fredonia and I’ve got a lot on my plate.

Fantasy Island Family Friday or Symetra Tour in Syracuse?

So we finally had a day with no gymnastics or skating or swimming lessons, no art class or music lesson, no playdates or festivals or movie nights.  What to do?  In one ring was the Constructivist, lobbying for a trip to Syracuse to catch Tiffany Joh, Hannah Yun, and Mitsuki Katahira and the rest of the Symetra Tour in round 1 at the Credit Union Classic.  In the other ring was the Full Metal Archivist, onechan, imoto, and tomodachi-chan, demanding we go to a Fantasy Island Family Friday on Grand Island.  I don’t need to tell you who won that bout–it was a quick knockout, not least because tomodachi-chan will be back in Chiba next Friday and her favorite part of last year’s visit was our visit to the oxymoronically-named Marine Land.  

Of course we had a great time–I even got to ride alone with the FMA on 2 rides!–and we even had trouble dragging the kids away before the place closed down for the night.  And it turns out it’s just as well we missed today’s round:  Katahira shot the low score of our faves, a 74, while T-Joh opened with a 76 and Yun ballooned to an 85 that included a 10 on the tricky par-4 14th.  To add insult to injury, 35 golfers shot par or better and 13 broke 70.  (Last week’s winner P.K. Kongkraphan led the way with a 66 that included an eagle on the par-5 13th.; Birdie Kim was part of a big group at -1 70.)  So it looks like my family made the right call today.  And if I had qualified for the NYSGA’s Men’s Amateur and somehow made the cut, I probably would have missed out on the fun!

Plus there’s another silver lining.  Given that at least one of our faves won’t be playing Sunday, maybe I have a stronger case for a Saturday trip to Syracuse!  (Besides alliteration, that is.)  The girls might not wake up in time to see much of Joh’s or Yun’s morning rounds, but Katahira doesn’t tee off till 1:40 pm (and she plays with Jean Reynolds and Mallory Blackwelder, who also opened with 74s).  We’ll see if the girls would rather play golf or drive 3 hours each way to watch golf….

Constructivist Family Highs and Lows on Wegmans LPGA Championship Sunday

I saw Ai Miyazato hit 1 shot at the 2013 Wegmans LPGA Championship, a beautiful fairway wood on the 11th hole at Locust Hill, her 2nd hole of the final round and 20th of her day.  At the time, I had no idea she had just doubled the difficult downhill 10th, or would fail to birdie the par 5 but would go on to make her 8th, 9th, and 10th birdies of the day over the course of the back 9 to move from +5 to -2 and into contention yet again in Pittsford, or would falter over her final 9 with 3 bogeys and only 1 birdie to extend her streak of non-wins at LPGA majors to 34 starts.

Nope, I was with onechan at the time, following Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko, and Jennifer Rosales.  We had wandered over from the 17th fairway to the 11th against onechan’s wishes because I had figured out that Ai-sama’s group had just hit their drives, but she made the best of the situation by calling out “Gambatte-ne!” to Ai-sama before she started sizing up her 2nd shot.  The wave we got from my favorite golfer was one of my high points of the day, but for onechan it was just one of many cool moments, like the chances she and imoto got to ride a shuttle bus, the smiles she got from Paula Creamer (whom she had followed for 15+ holes during last year’s final round) at different times while she and I followed her for most of the back 9 of the final round, the golf ball Mika Miyazato rolled to her on the 1st tee a little while later after onechan had seized the opportunity to send a “Gambatte-ne!” her way, the signatures she got from Kristy McPherson, Moira Dunn, Ya Ni Tseng, and others on her floppy pink hat towards the end of the day, the chance to see Ai-sama again at our favorite Korean restaurant in Rochester early that evening, or, her favorite moment, when Paula stopped to ask her her name, age, and favorite color.

Sure, I could have gone straight to find Ai-sama on the front 9 when we first arrived at Locust Hill and the girls were having fun at the play area and Wegmans loot tent with their mom, but by the time I realized what a great 3rd round she was having, I had already committed to following Chie Arimura (who got it to -2 with 19 holes left to play, but doubled 18, tripled 4, and sprinkled 3 other bogeys into her final round to plummet out of contention), Michelle Wie, and Shanshan Feng on the back.  I had thought the Full Metal Archivist would take both girls to follow imoto’s favorite player, Ji-Yai Shin, when she and Amy Yang and Sarah Jane Smith had hit the 11th tee, so that I would get more time with the Arimura threesome, but the FMA wasn’t handling the heat well and understood the flow of play worse, so had ended up tiring the girls out walking up and down the 10th and 18th hills after they had gotten bored with the free shopping and eating.  As a result, I had to backtrack back to the loot tent sooner than I expected go meet up with them and decide what to do next, which was for imoto and the FMA to camp out in the shade by the 17th green while onechan and I caught up with Paula’s group.  By the time onechan and I returned to 17 from doing just that, the FMA and imoto had taken the opportunity to follow Shin’s group up 18, gotten Shin’s autograph and a ball from Yang, and booked down the hill again and crossed Jefferson Road to rendezvous with us.

Again, I could have had us all wait for Ai-sama’s group to reach us there at 17, but Mika Miyazato, Caroline Hedwall, and Belen Mozo rolled in just as we got settled in and onechan and I decided to follow them on 18 and 1, before peeling away back up the #2 and #3 hill to get back to the FMA and imoto, who was getting stir-crazy at the 17th green (but had gotten a chance to see Ai-sama, which is more than I could say!).  Given that Mika was -2 on her final round, had just missed a short birdie putt on 17 (I just realized it would have been her 9th in her previous 21 holes!) and made a great up-and-down from about 100 yards out on 18, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  I could always get the ladies situated by the putting green to collect as many autographs and balls as they could while I caught back up with Mika and then followed Ai-sama for her closing holes on the front.  But even that plan didn’t work out all that well, as the FMA was feeling exhausted by the time onechan and I got back to the 17th green and needed to get out of the sun, so we wasted almost an hour trying to figure out where to pick up the shuttle to take us back to the back-up media lot before realizing we were better off hitting the loot tent and just staying on the course as long as the FMA and girls could hold up.  By the time we made it back to the putting green area, and I could look for Mika’s group, they were finishing up #6, so all I got to see was Mika missing 2 short birdie putts in a row on 7 and 8 and making a great par save on 9 to preserve her 72 (she had been done in by a bogey on 1, a double on 4, and those 3 missed short birdie putts I saw).  After taping the Japanese media’s interviews with Mika, I was all set to finally backtrack to Ai-sama’s group, when I thought I’d better drop by the putting green on the way to see how everyone was doing.

And that’s when my plans went out the window.  Turns out while I was awkwardly interviewing Mika in English, onechan had incited imoto to make a dash across the empty putting green, so by the time I got there, the FMA was furious, onechan was crying, and imoto was trying to blend into the background to minimize the trouble she was in with her mom.  A volunteer graciously brought ice cream bars for the girls and we got them away from Golf Channel’s interview booth, but the damage had been done.  One look at the FMA’s face was enough to convince me I wasn’t going back out on the course.  No way I would get a chance to see Tiffany Joh or Ayako Uehara or Mina Harigae hit a shot or 2 as I made my way back to Ai-sama’s group.  No way the family could even hang out together in the 9th- or 18th-green grandstands and watch the rest of the groups come in.  Nope, it was time to back up my wife’s disciplinary strategy, get everyone back to the car and into a restaurant, and get us all fueled up, cooled off, and calmed down.

So, yeah, not only did I miss Ai-sama, but I didn’t even know there was a playoff going on until the end of our meal (and I didn’t even find out its results until after we got home, woke the girls up for a quick bath and teeth-brushing, and got them to bed).  But what a meal it was!  It started with us getting seated right behind Se Ri Pak, waving hi to Ai-sama midway through our meal as she and her manager Takumi Zaoya walked into the restaurant, trying hard not to react as Ji-Yai Shin joined Se Ri a few minutes later and Amy Yang walked right by us, and it ended with us convincing the girls not to bother the Hall of Famer or the former world #1s, or the sure-to-break-through-soon star.  Sure, imoto made more visits than strictly necessary to look at the fish in the ornamental display at the front of the restaurant (and try to catch Ji-Yai’s eye!), and onechan decided as we were leaving to bring me with her to the bathroom area at the back of the restaurant (passing by Ai-sama’s table in the process), but we didn’t initiate contact with any of the players.  It was actually Zaoya-san who started talking to onechan and I as we were passing by them on the way to leaving the restaurant.  Ai-sama was relaxed and friendly, but I was embarrassed and incoherent and onechan had lost her voice, so I missed a chance to have a real conversation with them, although I did accidentally find out that she wouldn’t be playing the Manulife in Waterloo.

So it was all worth it, right?  Well, of course!  Not to say I won’t do things differently in the future, like maybe bring the ladies on a Saturday afternoon after Japanese school and come alone on Sunday, or stay overnight Saturday so the girls could get their fixes with their favorite players on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning and plan to split up so I could focus on covering the closing hours of the tournament.  But this year was different, and not just because of the washed-out Thursday round or the 36 holes on Sunday.  We needed to be together, for reasons I won’t go into here.  And except for one big mistake and blow-up at the end of the day, the girls had a great time and the family had another memorable vacation in Rochester.  They got to see a decent proportion of the 76 women trying to be the best on the planet that day, focus on a couple of players they both really admire, and spend some quality time with their parents and each other.  Sure, the FMA suffered and I sacrificed, but it was definitely worth it.  We even got to visit an Asian market before we hit the Thruway, although not the Korean market we usually love to raid when we’re in Rochester.

Maybe someday I’ll break down and get a smartphone, so I won’t have to rely on walking by the many electronic scoreboards or hiking back to the media center to fire up my Chromebook to find out what’s going on outside my immediate vicinity.  Maybe someday onechan and imoto will be more interested in the actual golf than in being fangirls, so they’ll learn something they can apply to their own games.  Maybe someday the FMA will enjoy walking the golf course more, so she can appreciate the sport more.  But given what we had and where we were and how young the girls still were, last Sunday may not have gone according to plan or supplied me with all the golfy and bloggy material I was hoping for, but it was still a great day!

Recommended Reading: HappyFan on Lydia Ko

Shutting down the 1st week of classes this afternoon and have obviously been super-busy with everything that usually goes with it, not to mention a new university President, new chair of the University Senate, and new President of the campus UUP chapter.  But I couldn’t let the week go by without recommending HappyFan‘s awesome post on Lydia Ko’s LPGA win, amazing summer, and impressive career.  Do yourself a favor and watch the youtube link that he included in the post.  It includes clips of her practicing with her coach at age 8.  Don’t get me started on how, well, awesome her fundamentals were even then.

It’s hard not to make comparisons to your own kids.  Onechan starts 3rd grade next Tuesday, and she’s already several light-years behind where Lydia was at her age, golf-wise.  No problem, as she’s more into becoming a writer, starting gymnastics, and playing with her 6-year-old sister with their American Girl dolls.  Her biggest challenge is keeping up with the curriculum in her Japanese school!  Imoto, meanwhile, can’t wait to start 1st grade, although she’s nervous about reading more big words than ever before.  They’ve definitely been paying a lot of attention to all the teenage Olympians and to Lydia this summer and can’t wait to get back into gymnastics, swimming, skating, and girl scouts.  The Full Metal Archivist and I are trying to give them as well-rounded a childhood as we can, while showing them many examples of girls who push themselves to achieve what no one before them has and waiting to see what inspires them.  We all went and hit balls several times this summer (well, the FMA watched) and I even played a couple of holes with the girls late one evening on the town course, but I have a feeling golf is pretty low on their totem poles right now.  I’m fine with that.  I’m just looking forward to the time when they get big enough and good enough to play 9 holes with me!

Wegmans LPGA Championship Sunday: Shanshan Feng Makes History

Shanshan Feng fired a bogey-free 67, the low round of the week, to take control of the Wegmans LPGA Championship at -6 and secure a 2-shot victory over Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen, Mika Miyazato, and 3rd-round leader Eun-Hee Ji

Feng had hit 16 of 17 greens on Sunday when she arrived at the 18th 2 shots ahead of Miyazato, the leader in the clubhouse, who birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to post a 69, but the 22-year-old Chinese phenom, who’s already won this year on the LET and JLPGA, missed the green long on the toughest hole at Locust Hill.  She calmly chipped to 2 feet and sank the par putt to force Pettersen, Lewis, and Ji to perform miracles to force a playoff.  Pettersen, who had gotten to -5 for the week with a birdie on the par-3 5th and again on the par-5 8th (her 4th birdie in her 1st 8 holes), and had stayed there through the 12th, dug herself a hole when she bogeyed 13 and 14 and could only birdie 17 coming home.  Lewis also had bogeyed consecutive holes on the back–the 10th and 11th–to drop to -1 for the week, and made a similar charge as Miyazato, with 3 birdies in her last 7 holes, but it was too little, too late.  Ji had also fallen off the pace with 3 bogeys between the 9th and 11th and needed 3 birdies in her last 6 holes to join the big group at -4.  Feng also benefited from the late struggles of a suddenly-incandescent Gerina Piller, who birdied 7 of her 1st 16 holes Sunday to leap to -5 for the week, but doubled the eagle-able par-5 17th (a hole she had eagled Saturday!) and had to settle for a tie for 6th at -3 with Ai Miyazato (who fired a bogey-free 68, matched only Hee Young Park, whose round included 7 birdies, just like Piller) and Karrie Webb (who had a roller-coaster 72, with 5 birdies and 5 bogeys scattered throughout her round).

This was a good week for dual LPGA-JLPGA members, as Feng won, Mikan was T2, Ai-sama was T6, Inbee Park was T9 (after a roller-coaster 72 that included an eagle, 2 birdies, 2 bogeys, and a double), and Harukyo Nomura was T36 and finished ahead of world #1 Ya Ni Tseng (who opened her final round with 2 birdies in her 1st 3 holes while onechan and I were watching her but fizzled to a 76 that left her 32 strokes off the pace she set last year).  It was also a good week for Americans, as Lewis kept right on rolling along, Piller came out of nowhere to almost win, Paula Creamer hit the ball great (although she couldn’t buy a putt on Sunday!), Cristie Kerr regained her putting touch (it’s a good thing she scrambled her way to 107 putts for the week, as it seemed she hardly ever found the fairway yesterday!), Mina Harigae rode a Sunday 69 to T15, Nicole Castrale went 70-70 over the weekend to secure her 1st top 20 in ages, and Jennifer Johnson hung on in the intense heat and humidity to join her at T19 (Lexi Thompson would have joined the club but she finished double-double, as would Lizette Salas had she not gone +4 in her final 6 holes–in contrast to Mo Martin, who bounced back from 77s on Friday and Saturday with a bogey-free 69 Sunday).

It was also a good day for onechan and imoto!  Onechan walked a few holes with Ya Ni Tseng in the morning and after lunch walked the entire course with Paula and Cristie.  Not only did she get several waves, acknowledging looks, “hi”s, and “thank you”s from Paula sprinkled through the round, but Creamer also signed her hat after the round and gave her little sister a golf ball as she walked up to the 8th tee (imoto also was given a ball by Cristie’s caddie as they approached Jefferson Road after finishing the 10th, prompting about a 45-minute quiet jealousy jag from onechan).  The girls also got autographs and pictures with Ai Miyazato, golf balls and autographs from Mika Miyazato, and a little time (and a couple of balls) in the middle of the day from Hannah Yun (who was working hard on her game after missing the cut).  To top it off, they ended up eating in the same restaurant at the end of the day as Mika Miyazato and what seemed like the entire Japanese media contingent in Rochester!

But back to the only other person who had a better day than the girls to close out this post.  Feng’s win makes her the 1st Chinese winner and the 1st Chinese major champion in LPGA history.  She joins Hisako Higuchi, Se Ri Pak, and Ya Ni Tseng as the only Asian winners of the LPGA Championship in its long history.  She and Ya Ni Tseng are the only 3-time winners in big-time professional women’s golf in 2012.  She’s projected to move into the top 5 (at least) on the LPGA money list, Player of the Year race, and Rolex Rankings tomorrow.  Impressive!

[Update 1 (12:59 am): Here’s bangkokbobby on Feng’s record-setting win!]

Wegmans LPGA Championship Sunday: Shanshan Feng Makes History

Shanshan Feng fired a bogey-free 67, the low round of the week, to take control of the Wegmans LPGA Championship at -6 and secure a 2-shot victory over Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen, Mika Miyazato, and 3rd-round leader Eun-Hee Ji

Feng had hit 16 of 17 greens on Sunday when she arrived at the 18th 2 shots ahead of Miyazato, the leader in the clubhouse, who birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to post a 69, but the 22-year-old Chinese phenom, who’s already won this year on the LET and JLPGA, missed the green long on the toughest hole at Locust Hill.  She calmly chipped to 2 feet and sank the par putt to force Pettersen, Lewis, and Ji to perform miracles to force a playoff.  Pettersen, who had gotten to -5 for the week with a birdie on the par-3 5th and again on the par-5 8th (her 4th birdie in her 1st 8 holes), and had stayed there through the 12th, dug herself a hole when she bogeyed 13 and 14 and could only birdie 17 coming home.  Lewis also had bogeyed consecutive holes on the back–the 10th and 11th–to drop to -1 for the week, and made a similar charge as Miyazato, with 3 birdies in her last 7 holes, but it was too little, too late.  Ji had also fallen off the pace with 3 bogeys between the 9th and 11th and needed 3 birdies in her last 6 holes to join the big group at -4.  Feng also benefited from the late struggles of a suddenly-incandescent Gerina Piller, who birdied 7 of her 1st 16 holes Sunday to leap to -5 for the week, but doubled the eagle-able par-5 17th (a hole she had eagled Saturday!) and had to settle for a tie for 6th at -3 with Ai Miyazato (who fired a bogey-free 68, matched only Hee Young Park, whose round included 7 birdies, just like Piller) and Karrie Webb (who had a roller-coaster 72, with 5 birdies and 5 bogeys scattered throughout her round).

This was a good week for dual LPGA-JLPGA members, as Feng won, Mikan was T2, Ai-sama was T6, Inbee Park was T9 (after a roller-coaster 72 that included an eagle, 2 birdies, 2 bogeys, and a double), and Harukyo Nomura was T36 and finished ahead of world #1 Ya Ni Tseng (who opened her final round with 2 birdies in her 1st 3 holes while onechan and I were watching her but fizzled to a 76 that left her 32 strokes off the pace she set last year).  It was also a good week for Americans, as Lewis kept right on rolling along, Piller came out of nowhere to almost win, Paula Creamer hit the ball great (although she couldn’t buy a putt on Sunday!), Cristie Kerr regained her putting touch (it’s a good thing she scrambled her way to 107 putts for the week, as it seemed she hardly ever found the fairway yesterday!), Mina Harigae rode a Sunday 69 to T15, Nicole Castrale went 70-70 over the weekend to secure her 1st top 20 in ages, and Jennifer Johnson hung on in the intense heat and humidity to join her at T19 (Lexi Thompson would have joined the club but she finished double-double, as would Lizette Salas had she not gone +4 in her final 6 holes–in contrast to Mo Martin, who bounced back from 77s on Friday and Saturday with a bogey-free 69 Sunday).

It was also a good day for onechan and imoto!  Onechan walked a few holes with Ya Ni Tseng in the morning and after lunch walked the entire course with Paula and Cristie.  Not only did she get several waves, acknowledging looks, “hi”s, and “thank you”s from Paula sprinkled through the round, but Creamer also signed her hat after the round and gave her little sister a golf ball as she walked up to the 8th tee (imoto also was given a ball by Cristie’s caddie as they approached Jefferson Road after finishing the 10th, prompting about a 45-minute quiet jealousy jag from onechan).  The girls also got autographs and pictures with Ai Miyazato, golf balls and autographs from Mika Miyazato, and a little time (and a couple of balls) in the middle of the day from Hannah Yun (who was working hard on her game after missing the cut).  To top it off, they ended up eating in the same restaurant at the end of the day as Mika Miyazato and what seemed like the entire Japanese media contingent in Rochester!

But back to the only other person who had a better day than the girls to close out this post.  Feng’s win makes her the 1st Chinese winner and the 1st Chinese major champion in LPGA history.  She joins Hisako Higuchi, Se Ri Pak, and Ya Ni Tseng as the only Asian winners of the LPGA Championship in its long history.  She and Ya Ni Tseng are the only 3-time winners in big-time professional women’s golf in 2012.  She’s projected to move into the top 5 (at least) on the LPGA money list, Player of the Year race, and Rolex Rankings tomorrow.  Impressive!

[Update 1 (12:59 am): Here’s bangkokbobby on Feng’s record-setting win!]

Nice Moments from the Practice Round at Locust Hill

Well, I couldn’t find a lot of the players I was specifically looking for during the 5 hours I walked Locust Hill in the practice round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship today, but I did get to see some pretty cool moments.  Probably my favorite was when I wandered over to the putting green in the mid-afternoon and ended up only a few feet away from Belen Mozo and Mariajo Uribe as they took their time checking out the Hello Kitty golf gear a rep was showing them, to the accompaniment of merciless teasing in Spanish from Mozo’s caddy.  But a close second was watching a Japanese girl about onechan’s age taking a picture of her dad with Ai Miyazato off the 8th green, wondering aloud to the security guard following her group whether the girl ever got a picture with Ai herself, and getting a reply that she had about 5 holes earlier.  I got a little taste of Janice Moodie’s sense of humor on the 9th green, when she teasingly thanked the gentleman for protecting her.

I also wandered past a little moment of levity between Katherine Hull and Sandra Gal on the back 9 and overheard Na Yeon Choi on the 16th tee asking Ai Miyazato what Korean food she likes and being a little surprised she likes it spicy.  But, really, it’s difficult to single out any moment in particular.  Stopping in the parking lot after I picked up my media credentials to let Laura Davies walk by, getting a chance to wish Maria Hjorth luck as she was walking up the hill beside the 10th fairway, watching a little bit of buzz break out at the sleepy putting green when Ya Ni Tseng showed up, finding out that Pornanong Phatlum and her caddie coordinate their clothes even during practice rounds and that Harukyo Nomura has dyed her hair light blond, getting to see Inbee Park and Hee Young Park hit a few shots (not to mention Momoko Ueda, Jimin Kang, Jenny Shin, Ji Young Oh, and many others I didn’t recognize)….  The list goes on and on, particularly if you happen to be a women’s golf otaku, but I’ll stop here in deference to my readers who aren’t.

By the way, Ai-sama’s manager Takumi Zaoya very kindly helped me gain permission to join the Japanese press pool as they interviewed her after her practice round, on which more after I get some translation help from the Full Metal Archivist, onechan, and imoto.  I also have some observations on Locust Hill and the way Ai-sama and NYC prepare for a major.  Stay tuned!

Ji-Yai Shin Gives Herself a 67 for Her 24th Birthday

Ji-Yai Shin is celebrating her 24th birthday today on the JLPGA and she just gave herself a 6-birdie 67 for a present.  Imoto, who turned 6 yesterday and is a huge Ji-Yai fan, will be totally psyched.  That sweet weekend I was talking about on her birthday just got even sweeter!  And just wait till I show her the tweet from Mariajo Uribe wishing her a happy birthday.  Wouldn’t it be cool for her if Shin and Uribe can pull off the double win?  Not bad for them, either….

Ji-Yai Shin Gives Herself a 66 for Her 24th Birthday

Ji-Yai Shin is celebrating her 24th birthday today on the JLPGA and she just gave herself a bogey-free 66 for a present.  Imoto, who turned 6 yesterday and is a huge Ji-Yai fan, will be totally psyched.  That sweet weekend I was talking about on her birthday just got even sweeter!  And just wait till I show her the tweet from Mariajo Uribe wishing her a happy birthday.  Wouldn’t it be cool for her if Shin and Uribe can pull off the double win?  Not bad for them, either….

[Update 1 (9:44 pm):  Ah, the perils of early posting!  The JLPGA site originally had Shin bogeying her last hole, but they corrected it to a par.  She ended up 2 shots behind Chie Arimura, who shot her 2nd-straight 68, and Ji-Woo Lee, who matched her 66.  Tied with Inbee Park and 2 shots ahead of Yuri Fudoh, Sakura Yokomine, and Sun-Ju Ahn, the golfer-formerly-known-as-“The Final Round Queen” will need to re-earn that title tomorrow to get her 6th career JLPGA victory.]

Make It BABYMETAL in 2012!

Happy New Year from Mostly Harmless!  Enjoy some BABYMETAL, what looks like an elementary-school-aged kawaii metal band from Japan, to kick off 2012:

OK, so even though Laughing Squid thinks they’re teenagers, I’m going with Blabbermouth, who has the lead singer at 13 and the 2 dancers/screamers at 12, not least b/c it fits my ’12 theme.  Anyway, if you think they look young in this video, check out this fan montage, which lays the “Doki Doki Morning” track over clips of Sakura Gakuin performing live (that’s the band they are an offshoot of):

It’s going to be a great year!  Or at least a weird one!  How could it not be when a fan came out with a computer-game style video of their debut song within 8 days of its official release?

Make It BABYMETAL in 2012!

Happy New Year from Mostly Harmless!  Enjoy some BABYMETAL, what looks like an elementary-school-aged kawaii metal band from Japan, to kick off 2012:

OK, so even though Laughing Squid thinks they’re teenagers, I’m going with Blabbermouth, who has the lead singer at 13 and the 2 dancers/screamers at 12, not least b/c it fits my ’12 theme.  Anyway, if you think they look young in this video, check out this fan montage, which lays the “Doki Doki Morning” track over clips of Sakura Gakuin performing live (that’s the band they are an offshoot of):

It’s going to be a great year!  Or at least a weird one!  How could it not be when a fan came out with a computer-game style video of their debut song within 8 days of its official release?

Look for Us on TV at Skate Canada Tonight!

We’re here in Mississauga and hanging out at our Holiday Inn Express for a little while after watching a 14-year-old from Russia take the lead in the ladies short program at Skate Canada.  The girls want to go swimming, but we’re forcing them to watch the pairs competition on TV.  It turns out that not only did we have great seats at the Hershey Centre but we’ll also be visible on camera at times while we watch the men’s short program tonight.  Just look for us 5 rows above the Canada sign on the boards–you should be able to see onechan and imoto not too far above the little Canadian flag after the last “a”!  And you’ll probably see me shushing them!!