Sports Outside the Beltway

Hee Kyung Seo wins the LPGA Kia Classic

The Super Model of the Fairways(her KLPGA nickname) made it look easy today. She shot a 2-under 70 to win by6 shots over 2008 U.S Open Champion Inbee Park. Other than a tee shot in the water Seo was nearly flawless on the day. She entered the round with a 5 shot lead and saw it shrink to four shots early on. Back to back birdies on three and four pretty much stifled the idea of a final round collapse.Hee Kyung Seo2.

Seo was the 40th ranked player in the world but will move up after this win. She did not have LPGA playing priviliges before her victory. She was playing in the tournament on a sponsor’s exemption. Now Seo faces a decision, to play the LPGA full-time in 2010 or not. It may depend on her Korean commitments. Seo has expressed her desire to play the LPGA.

For those of you unfamilar with Seo, she won 11 KLPGA tournaments in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 she won 3 KLPGA majors. This player could have a big impact on the LPGA. In fact she may be one of the ten favorites at next weekend’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA’s first major of 2010.

Other assorted notes about the tournament.LPGA Tour Golf

*- From the I’ve never seen that before department. Seo’s tee shot on 14 hit some wires overhanging the fairway. She got to replay her shot. That’s the rules and I’ve never seen anything like this happen in 32 years of television golf watching.

*- Seo is very attractive. She could change the view of the Asian players on tour but she’ll have to drop those dark shades she wears when playing. It hides her beauty. Photos in this post are courtesy of AP Photo/Denis Poroy and the website Seoulsisters.

*- Asian golfers have won all 3 LPGA events this year. In fact the Kia leaderboard was dominated by Asian golfers, eight of the top 10 finishers were either born in Asia or Asian-American.(Four of the top 5 were South Korean. Seo, Park, Jee Young Lee, and Jiyai Shin. The other was Candie Kung, a naturalized United States citizen born in Taiwan.) Of the top 20 finishers, only 6 golfers didn’t have at least one Asian parent(Stacy Prammanasudh’s Dad is Thai, Pat Hurst’s mother is Japanese). If another wins the Kraft Nabisco(Only Asian golfer to win it ever is Grace Park in 2004), we may hear again ugly and hateful talk again similar to what was written in this column, which I then took apart in this post.

*- Michelle Wie’s play on today’s 11th hole is going to be the subject of lots of talk the next few days. The hole is a par-5 and Michelle’s 2nd shot came up short in the water. Wie tried to play it, but barely budged her shot. After completing her swing, Michelle inadvertently grounded her club. She was assessed a 2-stroke penalty, which dropped her out of a tie for 2nd to a tie for 6th.

Wie told a rules official that she only grounded the club because she worried she was going to lose her balance. She did have a unsteady stance because of having to hit from the water. I agree with the officials, Wie put the club down and didn’t need to do so to steady herself. When she was told of the penalty, Michelle called it unfair.

*- Inbee Park looks to be playing well again. She struggled after winning the U.S. Open two years ago, but has started 2010 strongly. in addition to this week, she finished 2nd or 3rd in a JLPGA event.

*- The #1 play in the world, Lorena Ochoa, continues to play poorly. She finished T-52.

*- Golf Channel cut away from the customary bathing of the winner in beer after walking off 18 to show Wie talking with rules officials. A dumb and unnecessary move by GC.

Update- Hound Dog is also blogging on the final round.
2nd Update- Also blogging on Seo’s victory or the Wie ruling- The Constructivist, Geoff Shackelford, and Jeff Skinner.

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Michelle has to understand that when the officials have video, it takes precedence over any other evidence. It’s not a question of whether she felt unsteady or not, but whether the video shows her as being off-balance… which it didn’t. It may not be fair but “protecting the field,” as they call it, is the officials’ job. Michelle will appreciate that when it helps her some day.

Like I said at my site, it’s a shame that this may overshadow Seo’s performance. I wonder if she’ll do as well at the Kraft Nabisco this week?

Posted by Mike Southern | March 29, 2010 | 10:01 am | Permalink

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