Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This Week in Golf

LPGA Tour - This week's season finale comes on the ladies' tour. The LPGA Tour Championship will be held at the Houstonian Country Club. Unlike the other tours, this Tour Championship boasts a full-field of players that will include Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Jiyai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Sophie Gustafson, Chirstie Kerr, and Michelle Wie. Wie, who is billed as the savior of women's golf, comes in as the shining star following her first professional win last week at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara. Some had written Wie off a few years ago as a teen phenom that the media tells us we have to love because they will become the next Tiger Woods only to turn into the next Ty Tryon. Michelle deserves credit, though. She stepped into the spotlight at a very young age. When she was only 13 years old, she shot a 66 in a major championship and was in the final pairing on Sunday. At 14, she played alongside Ernie Els in the PGA Tour's Sony Hawaii Open. She turned pro at 15 and immediately signed a $20 million deal with Nike. She took on a heavy load of pressure for someone who couldn't even drive yet (a car that is). Her critics spoke loud and clear, though, since her 2003 Women's Am Pub Links victory. "She cannot win," they would shout every time she received a sponsor's exemption. And she didn't. She played in 19 women's majors, a handful of PGA Tour events, and many other tournaments, but had only strong finishes and made cuts to show for it. Besides a few bank accounts full of cash, Michelle had no trophies. Many criticized her quick ascension to the top of the golfing world as hollow. She continued on, though. With help from Dave Stockton and David Ledbetter, she proved that she belonged on the LPGA Tour by qualifying in Q-school and regularly finishing events in the top ten. This year she made the Solhiem Cup team and played an integral role in their victory over Europe. Many ladies have come of age at their most revered team event, and Wie wore her Solhiem Cup shoes this past Sunday for inspiration. That week in Aurora was the first I believe she felt truly accepted by the players publicly and the fans. Anyone can tell she cherishes that experience, and I agree that it probably did give her an extra jolt of confidence as she played Lorena's tournament on Sunday. She won by two strokes over Creamer in an emotional and relieving victory. Jiyai Shin is my favorite to win this week, though. The money leader and potential POY has been solid all year including of late. I do not know much about the Korean lady players, but I do know they have game. As a sleeper pick, I have always appreciated Julie Inkster's enthusiasm and work ethic. The Golf Channel will air all four rounds.

European Tour - The Dubai World Championship in the United Arab Emirates concludes the European Tour's annual Race to Dubai. Designed after NASCAR's Nextel Cup (or whatever sponsor owns that title now) and the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup, the final tournament in the Race to Dubai features the top 60 on the tour's money list. The winner of the event collects $1.25 million and the top player on the money list at the conclusion of this week's playing will garner a $1.5 million bonus. The 20 year old Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland currently sits atop the list. The youngest Order of Merit winner was Seve Ballesteros in 1979 at 19. Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, and Ross Fisher are also still in contention to win the Race. At the Jumeriah Golf Estates' Earth Course, my pick to win is Swede Henrik Stenson. The Players champion is a strong, poker-faced contender. My sleeper pick will be Sergio Garcia from Spain. Garcia continues to play well, but not win. The Golf Channel will also show this event.

1 comment:

  1. When can we expect an opinion piece debating the merits of women playing in PGA events… your readers want to know!


[Valid Atom 1.0]