LPGA – Who Can Guess From Week to Week?
Iâ€™m not saying that any round of golf, or any established tour is predictable. Itâ€™s far too capricious a sport to predict, and itâ€™s the last thing in the world on which Iâ€™d ever gamble. It would be too easy money for the house. That being said, however, even though one would be hard-pressed to name an eventual winner or order of the leaderboard for the PGA, there is a certain yawn factor, a likelihood that this guy, this guy, and that guy, will probably be in it somewhere. Granted, thatâ€™s still unpredictable, but compare that to the non-yawn factor over on the LPGA, which has been replaced by a totally unpredictable, â€œWhoa! Where did she come from?â€
In all the years following the LPGA, Iâ€™ve thought I had the hierarchy nailed down in my mind, only to have it overturned instantly. I have declared specific players as the next great thing, only to see them disappear for lengthy periods of time. But hey, thatâ€™s not just good for the game, itâ€™s great â€“ and being somewhat unpredictable myself, Iâ€™ll just keep swinging at it until I get it right.
Last week at Manulife, Suzann Pettersen made her return to the winnerâ€™s circle. The last I heard of her, she was having severe back problems. But, here she is. Itâ€™s almost as if the greats of the Pettersen, Stacy Lewis genre play great golf, then wait a while to get recycled to the top. Theyâ€™re never far away, just waiting for natureâ€™s next biorhythm to catapult them back into the limelight. That biorhythm is as unpredictable as anything, but like earthquakes, youâ€™ve got to figure after a while that theyâ€™re due.
Yani Tseng (slow shaking of heads, â€œoh, poor Yani Tsengâ€) is in that category. Attempts by the media to portray Tseng as going through a â€œTigerâ€ thing are blown way out of proportion. Sheâ€™s even playing good golf most of the time, as she did last week at Manulife. Yaniâ€™s not broken, sheâ€™s just getting ready to be recycled like the rest of them.
Meanwhile, two exciting kids are making waves, Canadaâ€™s Brooke Henderson, and the UKâ€™s Charley Hull, two of my absolutely favorite newcomers. You might notice that Brooke is leading the KPMG Womenâ€™s PGA Championship through 16 of the first round, at seven under. In a sense, thatâ€™s unpredictable, not that she would emerge sooner or later, but that she did it so fast, and almost every week thatâ€™s sheâ€™s played this year. With every 66 she turns in, and with every leaderboard she threatens, itâ€™s a blow for early exemptions, denied in this case by Mr. Whan. Brookeâ€™s making him eat crow every week. Charley was a wunderkindâ€™s wunderkind, and her quality was not unpredictable. Beating far more veteran opponents as an amateur, sometimes by ridiculous scores and age differences, her presence could be easily predicted. When sheâ€™ll deliver a knock-out blow, though, unpredictable.
Then thereâ€™s the rest of the leaderboard, representing every age group and geographical area of the globe. Chinaâ€™s Sinin Feng is at minus 4. No, thatâ€™s not Shanshan â€“ itâ€™s Sinin. That merits a good old unpredictable â€œWhoa! Where did she come from?â€ The famous Aussie veteran, Karrie Webb, is in the thick of it, the Thai Moriya Jutanugarn (wait, isnâ€™t there another one of those?) and a host of others. If Icher, Klatter, Nocera, Delacour, and Beljon suddenly started to score at the same time, it would herald a highly unpredictable golf empire for France and nations with French ancestry
The PGA is in a state of â€œAnything could happen, but this and that probably will.â€ The LPGA, however, is in a â€œThrow up your hands and say â€˜how would I know?â€™â€ For me, thatâ€™s the best condition for a tour to be in.