Sports Outside the Beltway

The ADT Championship starts today

In West Palm Beach Florida. The 32 player field will start competing at Trump International when Ji-Yai Shin and Shanshan Feng go off the tee at 9:30.

That’s a interesting first pairing for a tournament, even for a limited field event. Shin is the defending British Open champion, ranked #6 in the world, and just 11 days off winning the LPGA Tour stop in Japan. Shin has to be considered one of the favorites this week. The probable reason for this early pairing is Shin not being a LPGA Tour member yet.

The ADT has a interesting playoff format. 32 players begin the tournament, but 16 are eliminated after Friday’s play ends. If there are any ties, a playoff takes place to eliminate any excess players. Then scores reset for Saturday play. At the end of Saturday, the top 8 only qualify for Sunday’s final round where the winner takes home a million dollar check. Julieta Granada won the ADT in 2006 and Lorena Ochoa won in 2007. Their good luck charm final round playing partner, Natalie Gulbis, is not in this year’s field.

How do I handicap the field. First I’ll give the Palm Beach Post’s picks for the final 8. As you can imagine, I got a bone to pick with the newspaper.

The Post in order of finish- Ochoa, Yani Tseng, Christina Kim, Paula Creamer, Inbee Park, Cristie Kerr, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb
My picks- Shin, Ochoa, Kerr, Feng, Helen Alfredsson, Sun Young Yoo, Katherine Hull, Creamer
Post picks to make it 54 holes- Jeong Jang, In Kyung Kim, Candie Kung, Song-Hee Kim, Angela Park, Suzann Pettersen, Morgan Pressel, Yoo
My picks- Pressel, IK Kim, Kung, Webb, Pettersen, Tseng, C Kim, Ji Young Oh

My main gripes with the Post selections

1- Only South Korean player chosen.(Christina Kim) Two made it in 2006, two made it in 2007. The player who made it both years, Mi Hyun Kim, is not in this year’s field.

Inbee Park has played terrible since winning the US Open. Out of the 13 South Koreans in the field, she may well be my last choice this week. One surprise Korean player has made the final round both previous year. Last year it was Sarah Lee. I think we’ll have one this weekend too. Sun Young Yoo has been quietly been playing excellent golf for about two months.

Angela Park also was selected to make play on Saturday and she has been playing almost as poorly as In bee. The Post picked the wrong Korean major champion to be around Sunday, I’d bet Greg Stoda ten dollars its Shin over Inbee.

2- The selection of Karrie Webb. Webb made the final 8 both times, but she has been erratic at best in 2008 and isn’t playing the best golf of any Australian right now. That designation goes to Katherine Hull, who I picked to make the final 8.

We’ll have to wait till Sunday to see who is right.

Some other notes

*- Much has been made about Annika Sorenstam’s ‘retirement‘. While Annika won’t play the tour in 2009, I bet she comes back to compete 10-15 times in a year before 2013 comes and this won’t be her last ever Tour Championship. We’ll see who is right in 5 years.

*- Randall Mell of the Sun-Sentinel writes that ADT company didn’t want to end its sponsorship but the renewal price the LPGA was asking for was too high.

Also up with previews of the ADT Championship- Hound Dog and The Constructivist


Ji-Yai Shin wins the Mizuno Classic

Look out Lorena Ochoa. You have a challenger for #1 in the world. From AP-

SHIMA, Japan – Shin Ji-yai won the Mizuno Classic for her second LPGA Tour title and ninth international victory of the year, shooting a 5-under 67 on Sunday to easily hold off Mayu Hattori at Kinetsu Kashikojima.

The Women’s British Open winner and the first player to sweep the Korea LPGA Tour’s three majors in a season, Shin finished at 15-under 201 for her second victory of the year in Japan. The 20-year-old South Korean star earned $210,000.

“Yesterday and today I was really good with my iron shots,” Shin said. “Almost the best this year. It feels like I can make everything.”

Hattori, the Japanese player coming off a victory last week in the Japan LPGA’s IDC Otsuka Ladies, closed with a 67 to finish second, six strokes back in the event sanctioned by the LPGA Tour and JLPGA. Lim Eun-a (70) was third at 8 under, and Chung Il-mi (69), Wei Yun-jye (70) and Lee Jee-young (72) followed at 7 under.

Shin played the front nine in 4 under — birdieing Nos. 2 and 3 and holing an eagle chip on the par-5 seventh — to move four strokes ahead of Hattori and Lee. Lee birdied the 10th to cut Shin’s lead to three, but had a double bogey on the par-3 11th.

“I was very nervous on the first tee,” Shin said. “But I made birdies on the second and third holes and got more comfortable and confident.”

Shin birdied the par-5 13th and had a six-stroke lead with four to play. She three-putted for a bogey on the par-4 15th, only her second bogey on the week and first in 47 holes, then birdied the par-5 16th and closed with two pars.

Shin now has two LPGA wins and she isn’t yet a LPGA Rookie. She will be eligible for Rookie of Year, assuming Ji-Yai comes to play in the US. She has been tearing up the KLPGA, to a lesser extent the JLPGA for a few years now. You read it here first, the second South Korean LPGA golfer to qualify for the Golf Hall of Fame will be Ji-Yai Shin. Take that to the bank.

The complaints the Koreans are taking over the LPGA are about to get louder. Isn’t it about the best golfer is, not where in the world they are from?

Note- Shin is rated #8 in the world right now.

Update- Hound Dog, perhaps the best blogger who out there writing about the LPGA, agrees with my assessment of Shin.

The reigning British Open champ blew everyone away the last two days in a manner reminiscent of Lorena Ochoa. That’s how good Ji-Yai Shin might be. It’s too bad this tournament doesn’t get any U.S. exposure or a lot more Americans would know what Asia already does – Ji-Yai Shin is a contender to overtake Ochoa as World #1 as soon as 2009.

Here comes Ji-Yai Shin.


Ji-Yai Shin to play at 2008 LPGA season opener

The South Korean sensation will be playing at the SBS Open Feb 14-16. Shin is in the field on a sponsor’s exemption. Ji-Yai has already finished second at the 2008 Australian Open.

Shin isn’t a LPGA player yet but reports say she will go to qualifying school late in 2008. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ji-Yai bypasses qualifying school by winning a LPGA event this year. If there is another Korean out there to make the HOF one day, I’d be putting bets on Shin.

She won 9 times on the KLPGA tour last year. Repeat she won NINE TIMES. The KLPGA aka Korean LPGA can be likened to the LPGA’s AAA minor league. The best players not playing the American circuit can often be found here. The competition is fierce and Shin won nine times in 2007.

Has she played the LPGA? Shin finished third at the Evian Masters last year, and 6th at the US Open. This year Ji-Yai is likely to get a half dozen or more shots at winning an LPGA event. The majors, The SBS, the year-end LPGA event in South Korea, and one or two others. If Ji-Yai wins one of these tournaments, it won’t come as any surprise to knowledgable golf fans.

I will be posting a 2008 LPGA preview tomorrow. Are you ready for some ladies professional golf?


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.


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