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Saturday, August 30, 2014

So Yeon Ryu Is Going for Two

While the PGA Tour is just getting started (they have a Monday finish this week), the LPGA is well underway with the Portland Classic. And while I.K. Kim has a 3-shot lead on the field and is certainly playing like a champion -- she's shot 65-67 so far -- So Yeon Ryu is in position to make a run at her second win in a row.

So Yeon Ryu

Ryu sits at -8 (T5) with only Mi Jung Hur, Carlota Ciganda, and Laura Diaz between her and Kim. Both Kim and Ryu have won this year -- Kim's win came at the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters on the LET in early July -- and both have done so in dominating fashion. It won't be a surprise if either wins.

Neither is a sure bet yet. Defending champ Suzann Pettersen is T10 at -6, as is Anna Nordqvist (and Juli Inkster, who has a very good record at the Portland Classic), and Shanshan Feng is only one shot farther back. However, since most of the other players around them are unproven down the stretch, you have to feel that one of the favorites will have to stumble if anyone else is to have a chance.

Right now, it looks like a fairly small group of likely winners. The course is playing hard and fast, and players are having a tough time putting two low rounds together.

One other thing to consider is the Rolex Player of the Year competition. While Lydia Ko has pretty much locked up Rookie of the Year, the POY race is a long way from settled. According to Neal Reid at LPGA.com, there are 6 players very much in the running (their point totals follow their names):
  1. Stacy Lewis, 200
  2. Inbee Park, 169
  3. Michelle Wie, 151
  4. Lydia Ko, 128
  5. Lexi Thompson, 104
  6. Anna Nordqvist, 100
So Yeon Ryu -- in 7th place with 85 points -- could put herself in the mix with a win this week. (The win is worth 30 points, with 2nd claiming only 12 points.) And with none of the Top5 playing this week, this is an excellent chance for Nordqvist and Ryu to really move up the list. Ryu could reach fifth place (115) while Nordqvist could get to fourth (130).

And in case you wonder, Pettersen and Feng could only move up to around 95-100 points with a win. But with the Evian being worth 60 points...!

I like both Kim and Ryu's chances of winning this week. But will Ryu's desire to get in the POY race overcome Kim's birdie barrage? We'll just have to see. GC's broadcast starts at 7pm ET tonight.

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