Sports Outside the Beltway

Michelle Wie wins the CN Canadian Women’s Open

She shot a final round 70 to finish three shots ahead of Kristy McPherson, Jiyai Shin, Suzann Pettersen, and Jee Young Lee.

Wie opened Sunday tied for the lead at minus ten with Shin. Both golfers made an early bogey to fall back to minus nine.
This allowed Pettersen, Lee, and a red hot Kyeong Bae to get within one of the lead.

On the 8th hole, Wie got the lead to herself and never was tied again. She made a birdie putt from less than ten feet as Shin couldn’t get it up and down from a bunker. Michelle was up by two with ten holes to go.

Wie birdied holes 13, 14, and 15 to open up a four-shot lead. The 13th and 14th holes were par 5′s. Shin and Wie both made birdie from less than ten feet. On the 14th Wie hit her second shot into a greenside bunker and made a mediocre sand shot. No problem- Wie ran in a twenty footer for birdie as Shin scrambled for par. Her third birdie was a chip-in from just off the back of the green. She made a great par on 16 after a bad drive and an approach shot into a bunker. She did make a three-putt bogey on 17 but 18 was a safe walk in the park for her. A good drive and approach, two putts for par and the victory. Wie now has two LPGA Tour wins, but neither happened in the United States. Her first win was the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico last enough.

Curiously enough my family ate the exact same dinner, Chicken Parmesan served with Penne pasta, when Wie won both her tournaments. I make this dinner on average about every six weeks, but usually not with Penne. If Michelle Wie reads this, she may ask me to make of this food when she’s in contention. Cue the sarcastic laughter.

Today’s win was as impressive as her first. She played steady golf and made timely birdies. A television announcer said the win will put Wie at #7 in the Rolex rankings which are already a crowded fight for #1.

Other comments

*- Will Golf World magazine put Wie on its cover this week? Ai Miyazato has won 5 LPGA tournaments this year, Yani Tseng won two major championships, but GW never once put them on the cover. Instead we the magazine’s subscribers got to see Anthony Kim and Arjun Atwel featured.

I think Golf World won’t take a pass on a Wie cover but its editors and writers have proved to be dumb and clueless before and they could do it again.

*- At no time during the golf broadcast was a mention made of the cheating controversy I blogged about today and yesterday. This is a little surprising because announcer Judy Rankin has been known to check the internet and make mention of something she read.

*- Suzann Pettersen again couldn’t make birdie putts when in contention. She had four or five good to very good chances at least for birdie today.

*- LPGA’s live scoring had Jee Young Lee making an eagle on ten and pulling to one behind Wie. It was a mistake, Lee only made a birdie. Lee’s run at the title was spoiled by back to back bogeys on 11 and 12.

*- *- Will Jiyai Shin retake #1 in the Rolex rankings? She, Ai Miyazato, and Cristie Kerr are closely grouped and Shin finished 2nd today where as her rivals finished T15 and T8 respectively.

Shin remains #4 in the world rankings behind Ai Miyazato, Cristie Kerr, and Suzann Pettersen.

Also blogging about Wie’s win- Hound Dog and The Constructivist at Mostly Harmless


LPGA Tour Pollyanna- NY Times Golf writer Larry Dorman

For those of you who don’t know what a Pollyanna is, it is a person who is blindly or excessively optimistic.

That’s how Dorman sounds in an article written a few days ago-

The L.P.G.A. enters 2010 with a strong hand.

A strong hand? There’s only 24 tournaments, one of which is totally TBA event(The South Korea event) and another on a one-year deal(Jamie Farr). There is only 23 certain events this year, the lowest on tour in almost 40 years and right now for 2011 could even dip even lower.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not as pessimistic about the LPGA’s future as I was when Carolyn Bivens was Commissioner. Right now I’m taking a wait and see stance with new Commissioner Michael Whan. I don’t see how he CAN’T be improvement on Bivens. That is good news for the LPGA.

Dorman is making Pollyanna sound like Chicken Little.

The NY Times writer isn’t done either.

the four-year domination of Lorena Ochoa is now challenged by a strong Korean contingent led by Jiyai Shin. After a long wait, Michelle Wie has emerged as a legitimate contender.

Wie can contend for #1 at this stage? Absolutely not. About 5th on tour, yes. She isn’t going to climb over Ochoa, Tseng, Choi, Creamer, Kerr, and not to mention Shin at this stage. A few of them? For sure. All? NO! Could Wie do it in another few years? It’s a possibility.

Someone please adjust Dorman’s meds aka Happy pills.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


She did it- Michelle Wie wins Lorena Ochoa Invitational

She edged Paula Creamer by two shots. Wie opened the final round tied for the lead with Cristie Kerr.

Wie birdied two of the first three holes and was never out of the lead. At some point during the final round, both Creamer and Kerr tied Wie for the lead but fell back. Creamer’s bogey at 17 was particularly critical.Mexico LPGA Tour Golf

Wie closed out her win with a birdie on 18.

Jiyai Shin after entering the weekend with a 3-shot lead, finished 74-71 and ended the tournament in a 3-way tie for 3rd with Kerr and Morgan Pressel.

Lorena Ochoa finished sixth. While Shin widened her lead for POY it is still a very much open race. Ochoa can still take the title and doesn’t necessarily need a win. Kerr can do it with a win if Ochoa and Shin both finish out of the top 10 in next week’s tour championship.

I won’t mention what Wie’s victory ended. The golf media has only been hammering it over our heads for the last few months. Then some members of the media and the American public look at Wie or Asians as lesser Americans. I won’t get into that stupid subject unless one of those culprits then make hay of Wie’s win as a American triumph.

The next few days are sure to see a deluge of articles about how big the win was for both Wie and the LPGA. Wie’s critics can’t separate the fact that the LPGA’s future success or even survival may be riding on this woman’s back. What other female golfer excites fans and brings them to tournaments? It ain’t Ochoa, Shin, or even Kerr and Creamer.


The United States wins the Solheim Cup

The matches are still in progress but Morgan Pressel’s 3&2 win over puts the score at 14-11 in favor of the United States. Christina Kim is dormie in her match against Tania Elosegui. That means the Americans will score at least 14.5 and out of 28 points total that gives them the win.

Today’s final result is likely to be 15.5 or 16 for the U.S. The matches were actually quite close today, not just because Europe and the United States were tied when play started this morning. At the mid point of play, Europe was ahead in matches and I was getting a bad feeling. The United States rallied, perhaps due to the turnarounds in the matches of Juli Inkster-Gwladys Nocera and Brittany Lang-Laura Davies. Lang was down all most all the way but salvaged a half after Davies played the 18th hole disastrously. Inkster trailed for most of her match too but pulled ahead at 17 but lost 18. Still that was another big half point for the United States.

The star of the 2009 matches for the U.S.? You can’t argue with the selection of Michelle Wie. Wie went 3.5-.5 in her matches. That was the best record for any of the Americans, including a one up win in singles against one of Europe’s better players Helen Alfredsson. Will Michelle’s detractors turn down the volume a little. One of their main complaints was that Wie hadn’t won anything since 2003. That doesn’t apply any more at all.

Update- Kim won her match. So the score is now 15-11 in favor of the United States. Cristie Kerr is dormie in her match, Natalie Gulbis is one down. The U.S. will have at least 15.5 when it is all over but could score as high as 17. That would be a deceptive score, play was much closer than that.

2nd Update- Gulbis pulled even with Janice Moodie at 17. What a turn around there also. Natalie was down by 3 holes in her match.


Angela Stanford wins 2009 LPGA season opener

Her margin of victory at the SBS Open was three shots. Michelle Wie finished a clear 2nd.

This was Angela’s third win in her last seven LPGA starts. An argument can be made for her as the hottest golfer performance wise on tour at the moment.

Michelle had a 3-shot lead with eight holes to go. She was in part done in by a bad tee shot on 11 that led to a double bogey. Some of Wie’s detractors will say she choked yesterday, I don’t think she did. Here’s why.

Angela Stanford played the last eight holes three under par in tough conditions, Wie played them in three over. Like many other players in the field, she struggled.

I’m sticking to my prediction- That Wie will be in the LPGA winner’s circle by year end. I may have underranked Stanford too. We have 9 more months of golf to find out if I am right.


Michelle Wie- change of attitude

With 10 holes to go, Michelle Wie has a one shot lead over Angela Stanford. Stanford is in trouble on the par 5 9th hole. A two-shot swing could soon see Wie up by three.

The SBS Open isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination. I want to just something on record. If Wie wins today, expect to see a slew of articles about her breakthrough and how she could be the LPGA’s savior as the tour struggles in difficult economic times.

Honestly Michelle could save the LPGA. She is talented on the course and brings in people to watch tournaments she plays in. No one on the LPGA has her drawing ability with the public. Not Ochoa, Not Annika. No one in professional golf in the US except Tiger Woods.

I expect to see Johnny come latelies to start appearing next week.Some past critics will suddenly be singing her praises. I predicted Michelle in the top 10 money winners this year and make the Solheim Cup team. Her upside is, she could challenge Ochoa, Shin, Creamer, and Tseng for #1 on the money list. You heard it here first.

Update- Stanford holed a long putt for par. Wie made birdie and now she is up by two with two holes to go.


The 2009 LPGA season begins today

The US Women’s professional golf circuit tees it up for the first time at the SBS Open in Hawaii. The 2008 event was won by Annika Sorenstam who has since stepped away from the game. Also not in the field is World #1 ranked player Lorena Ochoa. The SBS field is strong however with Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, and Ji-Yai Shin. Shin who won the final LPGA event of 2008, the ADT Championship, looks to begin where she left off.

So another LPGA season is about to underway. A slimmer one than the 2008 schedule, with the loss of quite a few tournaments. The 2010 schedule is looking rough already, with the SBS Open already down as history.

Some off the course news, the LPGA signed a 10-year deal with the Golf Channel. This is great news for the tour.

As much that news sounds interesting, I prefer talking about what goes on during tournaments than all off the course distractions. Here are my predictions for 2009

Player of the Year- Ji Yai Shin. Shin is ranked #5 in the world and has 26 professional wins at age 20. Last year she won 3 LPGA titles, including a major championship. She has a unflappable personality on course, and I personally think she’ll top Ochoa this year. Golf blogger Mulligan Stu is on board the Shin Express also.

Ochoa won’t lose the money title by much and will retain #1 ranking in the world.

Rookie of the Year- Shin. The 2009 LPGA rookie class is incredible with Shin, Vicki Hurst, Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, and a few more could have immediate impact. Shin however is going to win the ROY title in a runaway.

Comeback of the Year- Brittany Lincicome. If she is healthy, I see her returning to her 2007 form.

The come out of nowhere award- Amy Yang. She shouldn’t really be a contender for this, but even my LPGA golf buddies Hound Dog, The Contstructivist, and Ryan are not paying any attention to this golfer’s chances in 2009, so why would the golf media. Yang won twice on the LET last year and I’ll go out on a limb by putting her in the top 5 players for 2009. More on that later.

1st time winners for 2009- Wie, V Hurst, Yang, Angela Park

How many times will naturalized US citizen Angela Park be mislabeled as South Korean by the golf media in 2009- At least two times

The 2009 Solheim Cup matches- US wins 16-12

The 2009 US Solheim Cup qualifiers- Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Wie, Hurst, Christina Kim, Morgan Pressel, Nicole Castrale, Brittany Lang, and Stacy Prammanasudh

Beth Daniel’s Captain’s selections- Two potted plants Juli Inkster and Natalie Gulbis. Any Asian American golfer if they want to play in the matches, should only plan on making it via the points list. As I pointed out two years ago, the team’s Captains have done great gymnastic work in order to avoid selecting Asian golfers for the team, even if the criteria they used is in conflict with what they or past Captains have said or done.

So Wie, Hurst, Kim, Prammanasudh, Jane Park will have to make the team by performance. Daniel will pick potted plants for the US squad before choosing any of those talented ladies.

How many tournaments will the South Koreans win in 2009- Ten. Five by Shin. Plus at least two more from Wie, C Kim, and half Korean V Hurst.

How many members of the media will bemoan the Asian invasion- Three.

How many times will I say Carolyn Bivens should be fired before she gets fired the 2009 season ends- Three

How many LPGA writing related Knucklehead awards will I give out in 2009- Five, starting with this guy.

How many times I will be a credentialed member of the LPGA media in 2009- Zero

How many times will I apply- Zero because the LPGA has left the building so far as Florida goes.

2009 Major Champions- I hate picking way in advance, but I’ll go out on a limb. Shin(US), Ochoa(Kraft Nabisco), Creamer(LPGA), and someone else. Ok, that’s 3 out of 4. My crystal ball is not working too well at the moment. Put me down for Hee Won Han at the British Open.

Miscellaneous predictions-

Katherine Hull will take over as Australia’s #1 golfer from Karrie Webb
Se Ri Pak will win the Jamie Farr Classic for a record breaking sixth time
The Korean LPGA tour stop curse aka No winner of the tournament since 2003 has won a LPGA event afterwards, will finally be broken with Suzann Pettersen taking home a LPGA win in 2009

Now for my my top 30, I’ll put it beneath the fold


Michelle Wie earns LPGA Tour card

Michelle Wie finished 7th at LPGA Qualifying school. From AP-

Michelle Wie has earned a spot on the LPGA Tour.

The 19-year-old from Hawaii overcame a miserable start Sunday with a safe finish for a 2-over 74 that had her comfortably among the top 20 at the LPGA qualifying tournament.

Wie has been playing mostly on sponsor exemptions for the last seven years, when she became a sensation for her youth and power, and her unsuccessful quest to compete against the men.

Wie tied for seventh and now takes her place as part of the 2009 rookie class, along with Q-school medalist Stacy Lewis, who birdied the last two holes for a 3-under 69 for a three-shot victory at LPGA International in Daytona Beach.

I’m going out on a limb and predict Michelle both wins an LPGA Tour event and makes the 2009 Solheim Cup team.


Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis advance at LPGA Qualifying School

They finished tied for fourth in the first stage of qualifying for a LPGA Tour card.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Michelle Wie breezed through the final round of an LPGA Tour sectional qualifying tournament on a scorching Friday in the desert, shooting a steady 1-under 71 to tie for fourth.

Completing the first step toward earning her tour card, she was 8 under after 72 holes. The 18-year-old Stanford student needed only to finish in the top 30 to advance to final qualifying tournament in Florida in December.


Stacy Lewis, who tied for third at the U.S. Women’s Open this summer, shot a closing 69 in the qualifying tournament to tie Wie and Japan’s Shiho Oyama (70) at 280, eight shots behind first-place finisher Sun-Ju Ahn of South Korea (68).

Anna Nordqvist of Sweden shot a 70 to wind up second at 274, and Miki Saiki of Japan had a 69 to finish third at 276.

Wie’s game looks to be in recovery mode. I think she will earn full LPGA playing privileges in December, as should Stacy Lewis and probably Ahn also.


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