So once again I was unable to watch any LPGA that I DVRed this past week, due to work responsibilities reaching a white-hot pitch, imoto’s interest in catching up on past seasons of Once Upon a Time, and my own interest in seeing Primus play live for what may well turn out to be the only time in my life.
As a result, I’m going to recommend some other people’s writing on Inbee Park’s victory at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship by 2 shots over Stacy Lewis: Centurion‘s post over at LLLLet’s Golf!, LPGA.com‘s notes and interviews, the AP‘s game story, Ladies on Tour‘s summary, Elizabeth Bethel‘s post over at ProGolfNow/Fansided, and Rick Woelfel‘s post over at Women’s Golf Center….
So far, the title for best 2014 in women’s golf is down to 8 golfers. Each has at least 3 worldwide wins on major women’s professional tours. As impressive as Stacy Lewis has been, her difficulty in sealing the deal has opened the door to some golfers who have been racking up wins of late. Still, Stacy’s still my #1 candidate:
Of course, a lot can happen down the home stretch, with 6 JLPGA, 5 LPGA and 5 KLPGA, and 4 LET events left to go before the year is out. Maybe someone will leave all these players in the dust if she really heats up as the temperatures continue to go down.
In a nutshell, the best of the best women golfers in the world have not yet begun to fight! Who do you think will prevail in the end?
The Constructivist household is in mourning for the retirement of Daisuke Takahashi from competitive figure skating. Ever since we found out, I’ve been asking the Full Metal Archivist to write something celebrating his career, but she’s still dealing with the shock of the news and is just too sad to put her feelings into words. What she has told me has been poetic: “he flirted with the music, seduced audiences, and challenged judges…he was a shaman on the ice.” So I’ll just point you too her April 2010 “Luv Letter” for now. More on his legacy later!
There are a lot of female golfers having great seasons, but Stacy Lewis is doing it on the biggest stage against the toughest competition while playing the most consistently excellent golf. She didn’t have a particularly great ball-striking day by her standards yesterday to kick off the Reignwood LPGA Classic, but took only 24 putts on her way to a bogey-free 66. Today, she responded to an opening bogey with 6 birdies the rest of the way, including 3 in her last 6 holes, to move to -12 and dare the field to catch her.
So far only Brittany Lang has really responded to Lewis’s challenge. Her bogey-free 66 crammed 7 birdies into her last 12 holes. It’s that kind of burst that’s required to keep up with the world #1 these days, and yet Lang is still 2 back at the halfway point. Speaking of bursts, Suzann Pettersen birdied 4 of her last 5 holes to post a bogey-free 66 of her own and move within 6 of Lewis after a forgettable 1st day. We’ll have to see if LPGA newbies Caroline Masson (7-birdie 68) and Mirim Lee (bogey-free 68) can keep the pedal to the metal; they moved within 4 of the lead, catching Caroline Hedwall (4-birdie 71) and Belen Mozo (5-birdie 69) at -8. Meanwhile, So Yeon Ryu finally woke up, with 5 birdies in her last 13 holes and 3 in her last 4, but she’s 7 off the pace, as are Inbee Park and Chella Choi, while Mi Jung Hur (-2), Ya Ni Tseng (-2), Na Yeon Choi (E), and defending champion Shanshan Feng (E) are even further behind.
So huge advantage to Lewis heading into the weekend in Beijing. She’s got a big lead on the biggest names chasing her while putting the pressure on those closest to her. I don’t see any reason she won’t continue making at least 5 birdies a round. She hasn’t missed a fairway all week, she has taken only 51 putts in 36 holes, and she’s talking like she has history in her sights. A solid weekend allows her to extend her lead on the money list and in the Player of the Year race and Race to the CME Globe. The time is certainly ripe for Lewis to rack up even more Hall of Fame points. Can anyone stop her?
I usually wait till Thanksgiving and the end of the LPGA season to revisit an old Hound Dog LPGA question: who will be the next player to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame? But given how well the top golfers on tour have been playing, and how much is at stake during the tour’s 2nd Asian Swing and beyond, I figured I’d review where everyone with at least a halfway decent chance of making the Hall stands right now.
Here are the criteria from LPGA.com:
- Must be/have been an “active” LPGA Tour member for 10 years;
- Must have won/been awarded at least one of the following – an LPGA major championship, the Vare Trophy or Rolex Player of the Year honors; and
- Must have accumulated a total of 27 points, which are awarded as follows – one point for each LPGA official tournament win, two points for each LPGA major tournament win and one point for each Vare Trophy or Rolex Player of the Year honor earned.
Check out how quickly Lorena Ochoa qualified in points in Hound Dog’s follow-up post–although he couldn’t have predicted then that she’d retire so soon, before actually meeting criterion #1! So assuming Laura Davies and Ochoa will either play their way in or be voted in, who are the top candidates for entry right now?
Check me on this, but here’s how I believe the points breakdown stands right now:
1. Ya Ni Tseng (23)
T2. Inbee Park (18)
T2. Cristie Kerr (18)
4. Suzann Pettersen (16)
5. Stacy Lewis (14)
6. Ji-Yai Shin (13)
7. Paula Creamer (11)
T8. Na Yeon Choi (9)
T8. Ai Miyazato (9) [the only one on this list who doesn’t meet criterion #2]
I’m going to go out on a limb here and officially doubt that Kerr will make it to 27 points. And given how Shin, Choi, and Miyazato have stalled, it’s difficult to have much confidence that Park, Pettersen, or Lewis will catch Tseng very quickly–although given how well Pettersen has played in Asia in her career and how hot Park and Lewis are, who knows? Tseng, meanwhile, needs to take a deep breath, realize that everyone runs into rough patches in a golf career, refocus, and learn to crawl again before she tries to run.
In short, everyone on this list has made a name for themselves, but it takes more than that to make history. With so many 1st-time major winners this season, the only points that are left besides wins are for Player of the Year and for the Vare Trophy (for lowest scoring average). Right now, Lewis has sizeable leads in both races. Let’s see if she can lock them up in the next 2 months!
Hyo Joo Kim looked to be in control of the Evian Championship for much of the final round, despite charges by Na Yeon Choi and Ha Na Jang, and an eagle-par-birdie run by Mi Jung Hur, but right about the time Golf Channel coverage switched over to NBC, things changed dramatically. Even as Karrie Webb‘s birdie barrage in the middle of her round–5 birdies between the 9th and 15th holes that got the LPGA legend to -11–put the pressure on the 19-year-old KLPGA superstar, Kim bogeyed both par 3s on the back to drop from -12 to -10. And even as Choi, Jang, and Hur faltered down the stretch, the tournament came down to the 72nd hole.
Not that I got to see any of it. I was behind on my DVRed Golf Channel coverage and only found out about the switch to network tv a half-hour after its coverage had ended. So I didn’t get to see how Kim stuck her approach on the final hole and sank her 12-foot birdie attempt while Webb’s approach failed to fade and she failed to get up and down from the fringe to force a playoff. I didn’t get to see the look on Webb’s face down the home stretch as she was trying to become the 1st golfer to ever win 6 different major championships. I didn’t get to see Kim’s body language as she was trying to become the 3rd youngest winner of an LPGA major. At least I’ll have highlights–some time.
But on a day the Buffalo Bills went 2-0 and my entire neighborhood was cheerful, I spent most of the afternoon annoyed at myself that I never double-checked LPGA.com or my tv listings. That’s what I get for purposely staying off the web (after posting on 20-year-old Ai Suzuki‘s record-breaking major victory on the JLPGA, that is!) so that I could savor the final-round drama!