Sports Outside the Beltway

The ADT Championship after one day

Christina Kim who I reported on, and Mi Hyun Kim are tied for the lead at 67. Paula Creamer and Juli Inkster are one shot back at 68, and Cristie Kerr and Catorina Matthew another shot back at 69.

Having the first round lead doesn’t matter as much under the ADT’s unique format, because scores will be reset at the end of today’s play. It does however take some pressure off the golfers who are at or near the top. They know their first round scores give them a considerable edge when it comes to making the cut.

Some assorted notes

*- Paula Creamer said she had the worst warmup in her life on the practice tee yesterday morning. If I was superstitious, I’d be hoping for a repetition all weekend.

*- Juli Inkster at age 47 is the oldest player in the field. When asked if she practices thinking this shot is for a million dollars, Juli replied.

“No, but my husband does. He practices for me (laughter).” I wonder if Juli’s daughters are practicing too.

*- Mi Hyun Kim has gone back to her old irons. That and her swing have her feeling confident at present.

*- Christina’s close call on the 6th hole(flirting with the water on the right) was a fade that got away from her.

I’ll be in attendance again today but not till the afternoon.


The ADT Twilight Zone moments

*- Reilley Rankin was three under par for the day when she teed off the 12th hole. While very few if any players will get home in two at the 12th, it is still a birdie hole.

Listen to what happened to Reilley.

Her drive misses the fairway right
2nd shot lands in the woods on the left.
3rd shot is a punch 4-rion
From 132 holes, Reilley hits it into bunker
Then Reilley hits out of bunker into out of bounds area.
Drop back in bunker, then shot goes over green
A chip and two-putt follow. Reilley makes a ten on hole 12.

When interviewed Reilley hopes to play tomorrow like she did today without going into the twilight zone.

*- Lorena hits two tee shots in the water at 17. Final result is a quadruple bogey 7. Lorena goes from six under to two under in one hole.


Fourteen holes with Sherri Steinhauer and Christina Kim

Shortly after I finished last post, I went and walked part of round one. The group I followed consisted of Christina Kim and Sherri Steinhauer. I stayed with this group till they finished the 14th hole.

Sherri’s Round- It started badly with a bad drive leading to a double bogey on the 1st hole. After bogeys on 4 and 5, Sherri was four over through five holes. She then had a bit of a rally due to three birdies between holes 6 and 11. That got her to plus two. Right now she stands plus 3 through 17 holes.

Christina’s round- She ran in a thirty foot putt for birdie on the first hole. After that Christina didn’t make a putt 10 feet or longer through 14 holes. In addition to her birdie on 1, Christina birdied holes 4 and 12. Errant driving was a problem for Christina. She missed the fairway on 2, 6, 9, and 10. Her misses on 6, 9, and 10 either came seriously close to the water or the out of bounds markers. She recovered on all of these holes to make par.

I didn’t see Christina’s eagle on 15. She did however miss makable birdie putts from 15 feet or less on 3, 5, 8, and 11. If Christina was a little luckier with the short stick she could easily be -8 or -9.

Christina may make me eat my words so far as my pre-tournament prediction goes for her. At the moment she is the leader in the clubhouse at minus 5. Mi Hyun Kim is -4 through 11 holes. Juli Inkster and Lorena Ochoa are -4 and still out on the course.

Christina’s 1st hole- Birdie 3 after one putting from twenty five feet.
2nd hole- 2 putt par. Missed fairway left.
3rd hole- Par 5. Missed the green to the right in two. Played a flop shot to 3 feet but missed the putt.
4th hole- Birdie 3. One putted from five feet.
Holes 5-11- All pars. Only things of note.
Missed very makable birdie putts on 5 and 11.
Missed fairway right on 6 but avoided the water.
Missed fairway left on 9 but again avoided the water.
Missed fairway left on 10. Coming close to OTB area.
12th hole- Birdie 4. One putted from 12 feet.

Update- Christina’s eagle at fifteen came after she hit the green in two and ran in a twenty-five footer from above the hole.

When asked about playing Trump international, Christina said you had to be gutsy or ballsy. Need cajones. Interesting observation from a LADIES professional golfer. Christina is a hoot.

2nd Update-

Q- Back to the Trump-esque nature of the golf course, when you said you have to have balls, you were not referring to a lot of golf balls I take it?

Christina- Hopefully—no, you’ve got to have enough golf balls just to make sure you can make it through your round, but no, you have to have guts and cojones or whatever you want to call it. You have to be an aggressive person. It was just a term–you don’t actually have to have balls.

When asked about the ballsiest thing she did today, Christina replied

“I didn’t do anything ballsy today. I did a couple things by accident that ended up really close.

All right, he put me on the pot. I don’t have balls.(laughter)

The bubbly Christina Kim. Call me nuts, but the LPGA could use more like her.


ADT Round One

Play has begun at the ADt this morning with Inbee Park and Reilley Rankin teeing off at 9:25 a.m. Its a bright sunny day, and there was no mentionable breeze when I came in this morning. Of course this is Florida where the weather can change in five minutes.

I’m going to follow play for at least 9 holes this morning. Starting aroun 10 p.m. The first major pairing of the day goes off at 9:52. That is when Annika Sorenstam and Laura Diaz tee off. Annika has won the ADT(The LPGA’s end of the year tour championship) four times, three of those at Trump International.

Morgan Pressel, Christie Kerr, and Natalie Gulbis arrived at Trump late yesterday afternoon. When asked how the delay arriving here will affect her this week, Morgan said.

Oh, it’s been a bit hectic. I don’t really know how it’s going to impact my week. I guess I kind of look at it as the reason we went, to represent the Tour, and we come here and hopefully get through the first two days and then of course we’re rested enough for the weekend.

Since scores reset for the weekend, I think that’s going to be a common strategy. Get through the first two days to leave yourself in contention for the weekend.


Handicapping the ADT

The ADT tees it up this morning. Here is how I break down the 32 player field.

Top tier favorites- Suzann Pettersen, Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr, Karrie Webb

On past performance here and who is playing well this year, these are the five most likely

The Koreans or why they just don’t seem to play well at Trump International- Over the last five ADTs, Soo Yun Kang came the closest to winning the event in 2005 finishing second. Il Mi Chung did have a piece of the lead on the back nine last year but wilted.

There are 8 South Koreans in the field, plus two other players of Korean heritage(Angela Park and Christina Kim). I have a hard time seeing one of them winning, though based on their records this year, I can’t avoid making some of them second tier choices.

Second tier favorites- Se Ri Pak, Paula Creamer, Jeong Jang, Morgan Pressel, Laura Davies

Dark horses- These are the people I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they won Sunday even though they’ll hardly get a mention from others

Brittany Lincicome
Seon Hwa Lee
Angela Stanford
Jee Young Lee

Angela since the Jamie Farr has had only two non top 15 finishes. A missed cut and a T39th.

Jee Young is coming off a T6, T18 and a T9 in her last three outings. She has played well all year.

The in betweeners- Catorina Matthew, Natalie Gulbis, Mi Hyun Kim, Juli Inkster, Angela Stanford, Jee Young Lee, Stacy Prammanasudh, Angela Park, Maria Hjorth, Seon Hwa Lee

The Julieta Granada pick for 2007- Inbee Park. A rookie who didn’t win Rookie of Year, or win a tournament before the ADT. The only 2007 ADT entrant fitting Granada’s description before last year’s tournament is Inbee.

Then the rest- Reilley Rankin, Meaghan Francella, Sophie Gustafson, Shi Hyun Ahn, Laura Diaz, Sarah Lee, Nicole Castrale, Sherri Steinhauer,

People I’d be most surprised if they won this week- Christina Kim and Ai Miyazato. I like both these players but right now they don’t look to be on form.

My picks for the final eight- Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Jee Young Lee, Seon Hwa Lee, Angela Stanford, Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome, and Christie Kerr.


ADT Championship notes

I’ll be departing for home shortly. Tomorrow I will be back in attendance for the first round of play.

*- Morgan Pressel, Christie Kerr, and Natalie Gulbis all missed this morning’s pro-am. They were in Las Vegas to shoot the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge. The charter plane that was to fly these players back to Florida had mechanical problems.

Pressel, Kerr, and Gulbis are all expected to arrive late today. All three players have extensive experience at this course. I don’t think it will affect how they play this week.

*- LPGA Drug tesing will begin in 2008. For the most part, the LPGA has been ahead of the curve compared to other tours on this issue.

Drug testing of pro golfers has never particularly struck a nerve with me. I’ve never felt its been in an issue in golf. Maybe I’m naive in that opinion, but it is one I’ve held for some time. I hope testing proves me right.

*- Dolores Hope has donated a gift of one million dollars to the LPGA Foundation.

*- For those eight players who qualify for play Sunday, a special lottery drawing will be done. Players will then have the choice of which group they want to play in Sunday.

Karrie Webb at her press conference yesterday said she wouldn’t pick either the first or last group on Sunday if given the choice. I suspect many LPGA pros will take a similar philosophy.


Nine holes with Se Ri Pak

Shortly after completing my last post, I got to follow recent Hall of Fame inductee Se Ri Pak for 9 holes.

Se Ri may have the biggest impact on pro golf today. More than Tiger Woods. The reason is simple, for her success on the LPGA Tour has inspired many South Korean(And even Korean-American) girls to take up golf as a career. At present there are 45 South Korean players on tour. More are coming, and the Korean-American impact will soon be felt when people like Kimberly Kim(Affectionately known as K2) and Michelle Wie among others join the tour.

On Monday Se Ri was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. An honor she richly deserved. If Se Ri retired today, her 24 wins, 5 majors, and role as a pioneer, are more than sufficient for Hall of Fame status. At only thirty years of age, Se Ri could still have many good years ahead.

Right now, Se Ri isn’t 100% as she prepares for the start of the ADT tomorrow. Last weekend at the Tournament of Champions, Se Ri suffered a hip injury. One that caused her to withdraw after three rounds of play.

While watching Se Ri today, she showed no outward sign of being hurt. Her play was solid, but nothing exceptional. She hit a sand wedge to three inches on the par four 6th but put one in the drink at the Par 3 7th.(A treacherous hole that I’ve seen many LPGA pros have trouble at in the five years I been coming to the ADT. The waterfall 17th may be better known, but the 7th may be just as tough) When asked, Se Ri told me her hip was better but still bothering her.

Se Ri’s best finish at the ADT since it began being played at Trump International, was 5th in 2003. Its hard to dismal Se Ri as a potential winner Sunday. I think it will all depend on how her hip holds up over the coming days.

Some Se Ri facts

*- She and Juli Inkster are the only players to win 2 major championships as a rookie.

*- She is 5-0 in playoffs. The best record on the LPGA tour.

*- At the 1999 Jamie Farr, Se Ri won the biggest playoff in LPGA history. A six player affair. She defeating Karrie Webb, Kelli Kuehne, Mardi Lunn, Sherri Steinhauer, and Carin Koch on the first hole of sudden death.

*- At the 1998 Jamie Farr, Se Ri shot a second round 61. At the time that was the lowest 18 hole round in LPGA history. Since then Se Ri has won the Farr four more times. Only two other players in LPGA history have won the same event five times.


2008 LPGA Tour schedule

It came out this morning. The highlights

*- The tour will lead off with the Women’s World Cup of Golf in South Africa.

*- A new tour stop, the HSBC Women’s Championship, will come immediately after the February Hawaii swing.

*- The Cornoa Championship, in Morelia Michoacan Mexico, will go head to head with the Masters.

*- A new South Florida LPGA event in April 08. No details yet, but an announcement will come sometime after Thanksgiving.

*- ShopRite will be returning as a sponsor of an LPGA event. The Sybase Classic presented by ShopRite will be played in May of next year.

*- The Samsung and Longs Drugs have flip flopped on the schedule. Samsung coming first.

*- A new event in Hawaii before the tour does its fall Asia swing. The Kapalua LPGA Classic. Kapalua will be the final full field event for 2008.

*- A new Mexico event. the Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by Banamex and Corona will come the week before the ADT.

Some changes from last year.

*- The Mexico City and Tournament of Champions events aren’t on the schedule at this time. Mexico City will hopefully fill an empty week in March. Both events at this moment are uncertain.

*- No Matchplay in 2008.

*- No Thailand event next year. This is just a temporary thing. Starting in 2009, the LPGA will swing through Thailand and Singapore early in the tour’s schedule.

The Kraft Nabisco is again the weekend before the Masters. While this is an improvement on when the tournment was held the week of The Players Championship, the golf media seems to be more focused on the coming happenings in Georgia than the LPGA’s first major of the year.


LPGA Year End Awards

The Ladies Professional Golf year is almost over. We’ll celebrate the best, oddest, or just plain out of nowhere things that happened in 2007.

Player of the Year- Lorena Ochoa. Seven wins and a British Open title make her the hands down selection.

Rookie of the Year- Angela Park. At the Fields Open in February, Angela finished third and never let up the rest of the year. A tie for second and two more third place finishes left Angela with almost double the points of her next closest pursuer for Rookie of the Year.

Shot of the Year- Momoko Ueda’s final round double eagle at the Mizuno Classic. It propelled Momoko to a two-shot triumph.

Comeback of the Year- This is one of the toughest choices I have when it comes to 2007 awards. The four top candidates as I see it are Suzann Pettersen, Maria Hjorth, Birdie Kim, and Beth Bader.

Suzann’s and Maria’s stake to Comeback player of the year too closely resembles Karrie Webb in 2006, and I didn’t think Karrie was right choice last year either. Going from 46th on the money list to 2nd isn’t a comeback to me.

Birdie, the surprise 2005 US Open Champ, has had a much better year than her dismal 2006. Still she misses lots of cuts and her strokes per round average(73.40 to 73.86) is barely different than last year.

Beth Bader went from 83rd to 46th on the money list. Easily Beth’s best year.

Based on her poor 2005, I’ll give comeback player of the year to Suzann Pettersen.

‘Where did they come from?’ Award- Meaghan Francella. Honorable mention to Na On Min.

Best finish of the year- We have a tie. Between The Sherri Steinhauer/Christina Kim State Farm Classic final round battle and the Laura Davies and Suzann Pettersen duel at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

Collapse of the year- Another tie. Suzann Pettersen and Se Ri Pak. Both looked to have the Kraft Nabisco in the bag on Sunday, but failed to close.

2007 Mom of the Year- Juli Inkster edges Catorina Matthew.

‘The Tiger Woods had it easy’ award- To the new LPGA Moms of 2007, Hee Won Han, Karen Stupples, Hillary Lunke and Jackie Gallagher-Smith. Also Catorina Matthew who had her daughter in 2006, but returned to play in 2007. As a father, I know mothers have the hardest job around. That these women can combine motherhood and professional golf, should get a big round of applause. That goes for all 29 LPGA Moms.

The ‘What me worry?’ award- Se Ri Pak for her final round birdie of the sixth hole at the Jamie Farr after Morgan Pressel made a hole in one on the same hole. Se Ri went on to win her fifth Farr Classic.

The ‘I survived’ award- Brittany Lincicome for her win at the Ginn Open. Morgan Pressel gets honorable mention.

‘The Raindrops keep falling on my head’ award- To Mother nature for washing out the NW Arkansas Championship Presented by John Q Hammons. Only 18 holes were played. And I thought the south was suffering from a drought this year.

The ‘Pick who doesn’t belong’ award- Maria Hjorth. She was the only non-Asian among the four semifinalists at the HSBC World Match Play Championship.

The ‘Scotty and the search party’ award Part I- Michelle Wie. Can someone please locate her golf game?

The ‘Scotty and the search party’ award Part II- Morgan Pressel’s golf clubs. They were stolen the day after she won the Kraft Nabisco.

The ‘Thank God for electronic scoreboards’ award- Stacy Prammanasudh and Virada Nirapathpongporn for their duel in the early rounds of the Navistar. Imagine if Vicki Goetze-Ackerman and Jackie Gallagher-Smith had been in contention…….

The ‘Go away little monkey award’- Lorena Ochoa, Christie Kerr, and Natalie Gulbis. Lorena and Christie for winning their first major, Gulbis for winning.

The ‘Big hand for a little lady’ award- Mi Hyun ‘Peanut’ Kim for her donation to Kansas tornado victims

The ‘biggest splash’ award- Morgan Pressel at the Nabisco

The ‘thanks but no thanks’ award- Annika Sorenstam for turning down a last minute invite to the Samsung.

The ‘What the heck’? award- St Andrews 17th Road Hole plays as a par five for the British Open.

The ‘Sizzler’ award- In-Kyung Kim for shooting an LPGA record 27 for 9 holes.

The ‘Pitchforks and torches’ award- To the Korean golf fans who got upset when the Hana Bank-KOLON final round was canceled. Who says LPGA fans aren’t enthusiastic?

‘The Never forget but keep on living’ award- Durmaed Futures player Jenny Hansen whose husband Jeff was killed while serving in Iraq in 2006. Ji Yai Shin gets honorable mention.

The ‘Chokin Freakin Dogs’ award- To….cough…cough…Dottie Pepper. Dottie may well have destroyed any chance she had of being a Solheim Cup Captain in the future.

‘We need an optometrist STAT’ award- To the ESPN announcer who mixed up Laura Davies and Laura Diaz at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

Biggest letdowns of 2007- Karrie Webb, Meena Lee, Pat Hurst, only 4 Korean winners this year

Million Dollar winner award- You’ll have to check back in on Sunday to see who wins that one.


ADT Championship- Defending champion Juleta Granada not playing

This was pretty much a foregone conclusion for the last month or two. The twenty-year-old from Paraguay wouldn’t be back to defend her title.

Should the defending champion be invited back to the ADT? Paula Creamer gave a reasonable reply yesterday when she said.

“The whole point of this tournament is earning your way into it, playing well to make it to the tournament for that million dollars,” said Paula Creamer, the eighth-place finisher last year. “You’d think in any other tournament the defending champion gets to go in, but this is an unusual event in itself.

The ADT certainly is unusual. Not just the million dollar first prize, but that scores reset for both Saturday and Sunday play.

You could say, Julieta earned her way in by winning the 2006 event. I think she should have been included in the 2007 field. However that should be laid out in advance, so all players can take it into consideration as they attempt to qualify for the ADT. I wasn’t a fan of a last moment invitation being given to Annika Sorenstam so she could play the Samsung. As it ended up, Annika declined the Samsung invite.


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