May 19

Sybase and Byron Nelson: Around the League


Sybase and Byron Nelson Final Day Play

All right then, gamblers. We have our Sybase quartet, not precisely the exact configuration that we expected, but that was bound to happen. There are too many great players in the LPGA to foresee which ones will ignite at what times. It can’t be done…well, at least I can’t do it.

If you had to put it all on this Sunday, though, who would you back? Who’s got the hottest hand, and who has the most glaring weakness. Who’s got the nerves, and who’s afraid to go in and take it. First, you have Vicky Hurst, born in ’90 and a pro at the age of seventeen. She won five times in her first year on the Futures. Her win column includes the Jalapeno Classic, the Michelob, the Horseshoe Ultra Features Players Championship, the CIGNA Golf Classic and the Duramed Invitational.  She seems like a good bet – doesn’t shun winning or choke much.

Hurst’s opponent for Sunday will be Candie Kung, a golfer out of Texas of Taiwanese ancestry. Born in ’81, she’s young enough to drive it home, and old enough to be a seasoned performer. In 2003, she won her first three LPGA events, and a fourth at the Hana Bank – KOLON Championship in ’08. She almost caught Birdie Kim at the ’09 U.S. Women’s Open. For this particular weekend, it must be noted that she defeated Yani Tseng and Julieta Granada to reach the semi-finals. In other words, she got here the hard way. It’s almost a coin flip, but I think I’ll go with Kung this week against Hurst.

On the other side of the ledger are two of my favorite young golfers, and I’m almost sorry they’ll face each other, as I don’t want either one of them to go home until they absolutely have to. We have Morgan Pressel, a pro at seventeen and the youngest winner ever of a modern LPGA major, ranked as high as fourth in the world. She won eleven AJGA titles, including  all five invitationals – the slam. Her first victory came at the Kraft Nabisco of ’07, and she’s a Solheim player. As to the intangibles, she has a lot of personality, and it’s not all just for the magazines. It’s the type of personality that gets channeled into her game, and she has a fierce focus.

Her opponent tomorrow morning is the talented Azahara Munoz of Malaga, Spain. Less is known of her until recently, when she began appearing all over the leader boards as a consistent presence. She may be gearing up for a huge breakthrough, and who knows? It might happen tomorrow. She has a scary collegiate record behind her, gathered as an Arizona State star. My take is that Ms. Munoz will explode onto something this year, but that Morgan will take the semi from her tomorrow. It’s as close to a coin toss as the other one, though, so we should watch it as if nothing could surprise us.

The boys are over in Irvin, Texas this week, playing the Byron Nelson Championship. Speaking of breakthroughs, two interesting faces have emerged. We watched Jason Dufner throw the monkey off his back when he won the Zurich Classic a short while back. I didn’t expect to see him again so soon, but he’s entering the fourth round with a one stroke lead after a 67, 66, 69. In golf, you can hit a fluke shot, but you can’t hit a fluke three rounds under 70. Dufner might be more dangerous than we thought.

Finally, a tip of the hat to esteemed age. Vijay Singh, in his fifties, and who turned pro in ’82 has come in with 68, 70, 66. He has a great set of nerves, and $70,434, 609 in career earnings to prove it. Let’s see if he can break through one more time. Best of the day, ladies and gentlemen! Tomorrow should be fun.

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