Mizuno Classic Preview & Pairings

With the Constructivist swamped at work, I thought I would keep things moving here with a copy of my Preview of the Mizuno Classic.

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After another exciting finish in Taiwan, the LPGA moves to Japan for the playing of the Mizuno Classic. This will be the 6th and final leg of the Asian swing. This is one of the longest running tournaments on the LPGA. It was first won in 1976 by Donna Caponi. It is also one of the few 54 hole events that remain on the LPGA schedule.

2013 Mizuno Classic Winner Teresa LU

This will be tournament #30 of 32 on the LPGA 2014 schedule.

Here are the Key details:

Course:  Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club
Location:  Shima-Shi, Mie, Japan
Defending Champion:  Teresa Lu (non-LPGA member)
Winning Score:  70-68-64 = 202 (-14)

Final Field:  78 players
Par:  36/36 = 72
Yardage:  6,506
Purse:  $1,200,000

My strength of field rating is just 36.5%, making it the weakest field of the year. The field will include Stacy Lewis, who will be attempting to take back the #1 spot. There will also be several top players from the JLPGA tour teeing it up.

I will post the pairings as soon as they become available.

There is no television coverage of this event.

Here are my Pak Picker Picks for this tournament:
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Chella Choi
3- Na Yeon Choi
4- Sun Ju Ahn
5- Teresa Lu
6- Karrie Webb
7- Mirim Lee
8- Jessica Korda
9- Jiyai Shin
10- Ilhee Lee
11- Ayaka Uehara
12- Bo-Mee Lee
With the 3 weeks left I am currently in 3rd place, but still have an outside chance of coming out on top of our field of 21 players.

Other Tidbits:
Danielle Kang may not have won an LPGA tournament yet in her young career, but she sure is getting good at winning cars. For the second consecutive week she has aced the hole that had an automobile as the prize for doing so. I wonder what the Vegas odds would be for her doing it for a third consecutive time.

Azahara Munoz has become the 9th player this year to pass the 1 million dollar mark in 2014 LPGA earnings.

Stacy Lewis now has six second place finishes this year to go along with her 3 wins.

Since I had pointed out several times earlier in the season how the American players were dominating the first half of the schedule, it is only fair that I now point out that players from South Korea have now won 8 of the last 11 tournaments. They now have nine wins this year, but will need to win the remaining 3 events to tie the Americans.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Amy Yang moves up from #24 to #19, while Pernilla Lindberg jumps up from #108 to #97.

Race to the CME Globe:
Stacy Lewis continues to have a huge lead with 4,783 points. She is followed by Inbee Park with 3,912 and Lydia Ko with 3,313.

Who’s Red Hot:
Inbee Park has now finished in the top ten, eight consecutive tournaments.
Mariajo Uribe very quietly has six top thirteen finishes in her last 8 starts.

Who’s Ice Cold:
I.K. Kim has only 1 top ten finish in her 17 starts this year.
Ai Miyazato has now failed to register a top ten in her last 37 tournaments.

It’s Crunch Time on the LPGA and Symetra Tour This Week!

The Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic and the Symetra Tour Championship this week will have a huge bearing on who keeps or gains solid LPGA status for the 2015 season and who will have to go to Q-School to improve or secure it.

In a nutshell, those who finish in the top 100 on the 2014 LPGA money list will be able to get as many starts as they want in 2015, as will those who finish in the top 10 on the 2014 Symetra Tour money list.  Those between #101 and #125 on this year’s LPGA money list will have a limited number of starts next year, and will probably choose to go to Q-School to improve on their status, while those who finish between #11 and #25 on the Symetra Tour money list will get a free pass into the final stage of Q-School and those who finish outside the top 25 will need to play in Stage II at the end of the month.  With that in mind, let’s review the LPGA and Symetra Tour money lists to see who’s on the edge.

Let’s start with the LPGA:

90. Jaye Marie Green $88.4K
91. Kelly Tan $88.1K [not in Yokohama field]
92. Alison Walshe $85.4K
93. Lindsey Wright $84.7K
94. Kristy McPherson $83.9K
95. Ashleigh Simon $78.3K
96. Yueer Cindy Feng $77.6K
97. Alena Sharp $75.3K
98. Paz Echeverria $75.0K [not in Yokohama field]
99. Jee Young Lee $74.8K
100. Joanna Klatten $72.7K

101. Alejandra Llaneza $66.1K
102. Lisa McCloskey $66.0K
103. Chie Arimura $62.8K
104. Hee-Won Han $61.1K [retired]
105. Paula Reto $58.4K
106. Becky Morgan $57.7K
107. Paola Moreno $57.0K
108. Rebecca Lee-Bentham $51.9K
109. Jennifer Kirby $51.7K
110. Felicity Johnson $50.8K

So let’s say someone wanted to guarantee she passed Echeverria.  A top-25 finish would be good enough for Llaneza or McCloskey, while Lee-Bentham, Kirby, and Johnson would need more like top-10 finishes.  A top-2 finish would be good enough to leapfrog anyone in the field into the top 100 who wasn’t already there, while a top 5 would be good enough for almost everyone.  The only question is how many players from outside the top 100 play well enough to make a move on those near the bottom of it.  To keep their fate in their hands, the most vulnerable players in the top 100–Simon, Feng, Sharp, Lee, and Klatten–need to at least make the cut in Alabama.

On the Symetra Tour, it seems to me that if the purse is the same as last year, then everyone from #8 Kendall Dye on up has already secured their card, no matter what happens this week.  (That’s why Yueer Cindy Feng is playing on the LPGA to improve on her #96 position there rather than defending her #6 position on the Symetra Tour money list).  But a top-5 finish from someone fairly far down the money list can have a huge impact on who makes the top 10 and top 25, particularly if those near the edges miss the cut:

9. Mallory Blackwelder $39.5K
10. Veronica Felibert $39.5K

11. Sara-Maude Juneau $36.5K
12. Lee Lopez $36.1K
13. Lindy Duncan $36.1K
14. Brittany Altomare $33.9K
15. Demi Runas $33.2K
16. Emily Talley $32.7K
17. Nicole Vandermade $31.9K
18. Olivia Jordan-Higgins $30.9K
19. Laura Gonzalez-Escallon $29.0K
20. Madison Pressel $27.9K
21. Maude-Aimee Leblanc $25.2K
22. Hye-Min Kim $24.9K
23. Daniela Iacobelli $24.2K
24. Jennie Lee $23.6K
25. Rebecca Artis $23.4K
***
26. Jean Reynolds $22.8K
27. Marta Silva $22.3K
28. Molly Aronsson $22.0K
29. Stephanie Na $21.3K
30. Therese Koelbaek $21.3K
31. Calle Neilson $20.1K
32. Megan McChrystal $20.1K [in Yokohama, not Tour Championship, field]
33. Kim Kaufman $19.6K [LPGA card already secured; fighting to make Asian Swing]
34. Casey Grice $19.5K
35. Caroline Powers $19.0K
36. Samantha Richdale $18.2K
37. Katie Kempter $18.1K
38. Madeleine Sheils $17.5K
39. Ashley Tait $17.3K
40. Garrett Phillips $16.1K

McChrystal has decided she has a better shot at improving dramatically on her #133 position on the LPGA money list ($21.8K) than even a win at the Symetra Tour Championship is worth.  Meanwhile, Cheyenne Woods (#58, $12.0K) and Kelly Shon (#71, $8.6K) basically need to win to skip to Stage III of LPGA Q-School, although Cheyenne might get lucky with a solo 2nd.
So keep an eye on these names this week!

Back to School: Stage I of LPGA Q-School Starts Today

Most Interesting Pairings at the JTBC Founders Cup

The JTBC Founders Cup has a pairing for everyone!

If you want to see the top players in the world of women’s golf duking it out, this tournament has more than you can shake a stick at:

10th tee, 8:00 am: Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Jessica Korda
10th tee, 8:10 am: Paula Creamer, Lexi Thompson, Ya Ni Tseng
1st tee, 12:45 pm: Suzann Pettersen, Karrie Webb, Michelle Wie
1st tee, 12:55 pm: Stacy Lewis, Azahara Munoz, Brittany Lincicome

If you want to see golfers fighting to make their country’s team for the International Crown, check out the following groups:

10th tee, 12:55 pm: Angela Stanford, Hee-Won Han, Sun Young Yoo
10th tee, 8:00 am: Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Jessica Korda
10th tee, 12:25 pm: Na Yeon Choi, Lizette Salas, Eun-Hee Ji
10th tee, 12:45 pmAmy YangMorgan PresselHaeji Kang
1st tee, 12:25 pmIn-Kyung Kim, Catriona Matthew, Hee Kyung Seo
1st tee, 8:10 am: Se Ri Pak, Hee Young Park, Pornanong Phatlum
1st tee, 8:00 am: Chella Choi, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Ilhee Lee
1st tee, 7:00 am: Katherine Kirk, Sarah Jane Smith, Jenny Suh
10th tee, 8:40 am: Thidapa Suwannapura, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Danah Bordner

If you’re interested in following up-and-coming golfers under the age of 22, the tournament organizers have accommodated you:

10th tee, 7:20 am: Vicky Hurst, Mi Hyang Lee, Jaye Marie Green
10th tee, 1:05 pm: Ashleigh Simon, Harukyo Nomura, P.K. Kongkraphan
1st tee, 7:50 am: Pat Hurst, Carlota Ciganda, Jenny Shin
1st tee, 7:20 am: Maria (Hjorth) McBride, Ryann O’Toole, Moriya Jutanugarn
10th tee, 8:40 am: Thidapa Suwannapura, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Danah Bordner
10th tee, 12:15 pm: Ayako Uehara, Mindy Kim, Danielle Kang
10th tee, 8:30 am: Kathleen Ekey, Xi Yu Lin, Kelly Tan

And if you want to follow my favorite golfers for me, pick any of the following groups:

10th tee, 7:50 am: Ai Miyazato, Anna Nordqvist, Gerina Piller
1st tee, 7:40 am: Mika Miyazato, So Yeon Ryu, Jennifer Johnson
10th tee, 11:45 amMoira Dunn, Paz Echeverria, Jacqui Concolino
1st tee, 12:25 pmIn-Kyung Kim, Catriona Matthew, Hee Kyung Seo
10th tee, 12:25 pm: Na Yeon Choi, Lizette Salas, Eun-Hee Ji
10th tee, 7:10 am: Seon Hwa Lee, Sandra Changkija, Paula Reto
10th tee, 12:05 pm: Tiffany Joh, Julieta Granada, Heather Bowie Young
10th tee, 7:40 am: Jeong Jang, Shanshan Feng, Karine Icher
10th tee, 11:55 am: Mina Harigae, Alison Walshe, Brooke Pancake
1st tee, 12:05 pm: Mariajo Uribe, Paula Moreno, Sue Kim

Looking Ahead to Next Week’s JTBC Founders Cup

The field list for the LPGA’s 1st U.S.-based event of 2014, the JTBC Founders Cup, has been released, and since I’m snowed in and needing a break from grading, I thought I’d look ahead to next Thursday before turning to this week’s JLPGA and LET events.

The most exciting thing about the field in Phoenix for me is the return to competitive golf of In-Kyung Kim, who’s hanging on to the last spot on Team Korea for the LPGA’s new team event, the International Crown, by the edge of her fingernails.  With Ha Na Jang of the KLPGA, Ji-Yai Shin of the JLPGA (playing this week, btw), and Amy Yang, Hee Young Park, and Chella Choi right on her tail, Inky will need to start the season strong to stay on the team.

As a fan of Japanese golfers in general and Ai Miyazato and Mika Miyazato in particular, I’ll be paying close attention to see if they can start playing like they’re capable of.  I’m also rooting for Chie Arimura and Ayako Uehara to continue making progress in their adjustment to the level of competition on the LPGA.  Harukyo Nomura, #137 on the LPGA priority status list, is the 1st alternate, so I’m hopeful she’ll make it into this very strong field.

How strong?  Well, consider that in addition to Inbee Park and Suzann Pettersen renewing their rivalry, and in addition to #5 So Yeon Ryu and #7 Shanshan Feng, who competed with them last week in China, #3 Stacy Lewis, #4 Lydia Ko (who’s making her U.S. debut as an LPGA member), #6 Karrie Webb, #8 Paula Creamer, #9 Na Yeon Choi, and #10 Lexi Thompson will get to join in the fun.  That’s right, the entire top 10 in the world of women’s golf will be facing off 2 Thursdays from today!  And everyone in the top 20 but Jang and Shin.  And everyone in the next 10 except the KLPGA’s Hyo-Joo Kim.  In fact, every 2014 winner of a major women’s tour event will be playing in Phoenix, including sponsor exemption Cheyenne Woods, except for the JLPGA’s Onnarin Sattayabanphot–and the woman she displaced from the #4 position on Team Thailand for the International Crown, Thidapa Suwannapura, will be teeing it up.

And of course there are plenty of players I’m following who haven’t yet proven they belong (again) among the best on the planet:  Moira Dunn, Seon Hwa Lee, Mina Harigae, Jennifer Song, Jeong Jang, and Ya Ni Tseng.  I’m sure others will have their own lists of favorite players!  Who are you excited to follow (in person or virtually) next week on the LPGA?

Honda LPGA Thailand Pairings Feature LPGA’s Big 3 Going Head-to-Head-to-Head for 1st Time in 2014

So the pairings for the Honda LPGA Thailand are out and every single one of them is interesting for one reason or another, given how strong this limited field is.  Here are the most interesting ones to me:

Race to the Top
1st tee, 11:51 am:  Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis

Teen Queens
1st tee, 11:29 am:  Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Ariya Jutanugarn

Hall of Famer(s-to-Be?)
1st tee, 11:40 am:  Karrie Webb, Ai Miyazato, So Yeon Ryu

Sleepers
1st tee, 10:34 am:  Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, Carlota Ciganda

Dark Horses
1st tee, 10:29 am:  Hee Young Park, Gerina Piller, Pornanong Phatlum

Something to Prove
10th tee, 11:07 am:  Na Yeon Choi, Michelle Wie, Jennifer Johnson

We’re Going Off How Early?!
10th tee, 10:12 am:  Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, Ilhee Lee

Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kid
10th tee, 10:34 am:  Chella Choi, Lizette Salas, Mamiko Higa

Rabbits
1st tee, 9:50 am:  Ayako Uehara, Mariajo Uribe
10th tee, 9:50 am:  Brittany Lang, Meena Lee

How about you?

By the way, I’d appreciate it if you wished the Full Metal Archivist otanjobi omedetou in comments.  Yep, it’s her birthday!

Prime-Time Pairings at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic

I’ll be lucky enough to watch the 1st round of the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic on Golf Channel at my parents’ home before I head out to Albany in the afternoon.  From the brief description of the Ocean Club on LPGA.com, it seems the players will have plenty of chances to dissolve the rust on their games in sea water.  As low as everyone went over 36 near-flooded holes last year, I’d be surprised if we had all that many all that far under par this week.

Here are my guesses as to who will prevail against the prevailing winds.  And here are my favorite pairings for today’s opening round!

10th tee, 12:20 pm:  Ai Miyazato, Paula Creamer, Jessica Korda
1st tee, 7:20 am:  Moira Dunn, Jaclyn Sweeney, Erica Popson
10th tee, 12:30 pm:  Morgan Pressel, Lexi Thompson, Gerina Piller
1st tee, 8:10 am:  Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko, Beatriz Recari
1st tee, 8:20 am:  Na Yeon Choi, Michelle Wie, Sandra Gal
1st tee, 12:10 pm:  Angela Stanford, Pornanong Phatlum, Pernilla Lindberg
1st tee, 12:00 pm:  Hee Young Park, Ayako Uehara, Dewi Claire Schreefel
10th tee, 8:00 am:  Jeong Jang, Meena Lee, Danielle Kang
10th tee, 12:10 pm:  Juli Inkster, Brittany Lincicome, Lizette Salas
1st tee, 12:30 pm:  Pat Hurst, Amy Yang, Chella Choi

Who are your favorites?  Who would you be following if you could be at Paradise Island instead of wherever you are?  (For me, the temperature dropped from 9 to -2 during yesterday’s drive from Hamburg to Clinton….  Gotta love finally getting a real winter around here!)