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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking Ahead... the LPGA

I'm going to look ahead to my expectations for 2012 over the next few days. I thought I'd start with the LPGA.

I've broken down my thoughts to a few players (or groups of players) I think are worth watching in 2012.
  1. Yani Tseng: Of course Yani leads the list! Earlier in the week I wrote a pretty long piece on her accomplishments this year. Unless Yani has a meltdown, nobody's likely to take the #1 spot away from her in 2012. However, I don't know if she'll have quite the year she did in 2011. That's not because I expect a falloff in play, although her domination of the LPGA (and women's golf in general) will be tough to match. Rather, I suspect Yani will focus her attention on two specific tournaments -- the U.S. Women's Open, which she needs to complete the career Grand Slam, and the Women's British Open, which would make her the only player to win it 3 times straight. I don't know how that might affect her play the rest of the year.
  2. Lexi Thompson: Clearly she's the 2nd storyline of 2012. With 2 wins before her 17th birthday, she enters 2012 with a huge amount of momentum. She's got to learn the courses but I'll be surprised if she isn't a factor pretty soon.
  3. Michelle Wie: I know many of you have given up on Michelle, but I haven't. In fact, I suspect the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment she'll have after getting her degree from Stanford will put her in a great frame of mind to make some noise on the golf course. The only real question for me is how soon she'll get her putting figured out... but I suspect she will, and then the sky's the limit.
  4. Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, and Jiyai Shin: Although these players certainly didn't have bad years in 2011 -- all of them are still in the Rolex Top10 -- none of them had a win anywhere in the world. I have trouble believing that will continue. The question will be who and how many.
  5. Caroline Hedwall, Hee Kyung Seo, and Azahara Munoz: These three players are poised to make a huge splash on the LPGA. Hedwall and Munoz played big at the Solheim, which almost always kickstarts a young player's career, and Seo was the runaway Rookie of the Year.
Finally, I wanted to pick a player to watch. I've narrowed it to two but I can't make up my mind:
  • Na Yeon Choi is #3 in the Rolex this week. (She moved ahead of Kerr by .01  points.) Na Yeon won once on the LPGA (also one loss in a playoff) and once on the KLPGA. Most importantly, I believe she won both playing head-to-head against Yani. (I know she did in the LPGA event.) She's the most obvious choice here.
  • In-Kyung Kim is the other. Inky sits at #8 in the Rolex. She didn't win this year, but she came close -- she had five Top5s on the LPGA. Her problem has merely been some inconsistency at bad moments. But I really have a good feeling about her in 2012.
Just one more mention I'd like to make. The Constructivist and his pals over at Mostly Harmless have done some really nice work covering the women's golf scene this year. TC's been adding some new writers to his existing list of very capable posters, most notably Tony Jesselli and Diane. You probably recognize their names, if for no reason than they occasionally comment on this blog. If you haven't been checking out their blog, you're missing a good chance to keep up with women's golf in general. I couldn't keep up with the worldwide women as well without them. (TC somehow manages to get scores from the Japanese sites, which impresses the hell out of me. ;-) In fact, Tony recently did a post showing who the big gainers and losers in the Rolex were this past year -- cool post.

I expect all of us will have plenty of cool stuff to write about the ladies in 2012.

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