Thursday, March 08, 2007

MasterCard Classic Preview

The Tour makes the first of its two 2007 visits to Mexico this week at the MasterCard Classic Honoring Alejo Peralta. Annika Sorenstam is the two-time defending champion of this event, which will be played at Bosque Real Country Club in Mexico City. The 54-hole event gets underway Friday and will be televised live by TGC.

The course is one of the longest that the ladies will tackle all year – 6901 yards with par at 72. The thinner air and presumably drier conditions in Mexico City should help compensate for the extra yardage. The terrain is very hilly – so much that last year, the players rode in carts to speed up play. With the emphasis the LPGA has put on that to start this season, look to see the carts again. Last year the cut was +5 and only 19 players finished the tournament under par. Despite the season debut of Annika, the field is a bit weaker than in the two Hawaiian events – seven members of my Top 20 didn’t make the trip. Aside from Karrie Webb (who played two events in Australia immediately prior to the SBS), that’s a little surprising considering that anyone who doesn’t play this week will have a three-week layoff until the Safeway International March 22-25. My personal favorite Grace Park will also be making her 2007 debut this Friday.

The biggest question for me about this event was – Who is Alejo Peralta? After a Google search and then some Spanish-to-English translations, I discovered he was an engineer who made many industrial and philanthropic contributions to Mexican society. He was also richer than Midas – I found his name on the 1995 Forbes 500 list. I speak of him in the past tense because he has a foundation that was formed “in his memory”, per its website.

So who is going to win this week? Why are you asking me? I haven’t picked a winner since Kerr won in Canada last August. Oh well, I’ll give it another shot. I almost decided to pick Cristie here because of what happened at the Fields, but Ochoa is playing decently and she broke her streak of poor homeland appearances with a victory last fall so I’m going with Lorena. Kerr and Annika are my CYAs.

Stats: Winners 0-2, Top Tens 3-6.

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