I’m about as amped up for the start of this LPGA season as I have ever been for Opening Day of any sport. Ok, maybe I was more wired on Day One of the 1974 baseball season – after a full winter of pouring through my first complete bubble-gum card collection a thousand times and anticipating Henry Aaron’s 714th home run (which he delivered on that Opening Day) – but if one’s excitement at age 46 is even remotely comparable to one’s at age 12, that’s sayin’ something!
At 12:10pm EST today, the first of 47 groups will tee off in search of the SBS Open title. In recent years, 17-19 players per season have won at least one event and I expect at least 20 are going to do it this year. I can say with reasonable certainty that Ochoa, Creamer and Sorenstam will win this year (and probably multiple times) but who will be the others? Jeong Jang? Morgan Pressel? Angela Park? Which player will be the 2008 version of Meaghan Francella and Julieta Granada – collect her first win and play well enough otherwise to show that victory wasn’t a fluke?
Can Ochoa possibly win eight again? Could she clinch her entry into the Hall of Fame by Cinco de Mayo or might she fail to win even once all year? Which player will win her first major? Creamer? Peanut? Which surprise player will perform so well in the early weeks that we’ll be calling her a dark horse or even favorite to win the Kraft Nabisco? Which rookie will jump out to the early ROY lead? Which player who all of us expect to step forward will fall flat on her face?
One beauty of the LPGA is while you have the stability of a consistent group of stars who are regularly in contention, almost every week you’ll see a player finish in the Top 10 who hasn’t been there in months (if ever) and occasionally that upstart will take the whole ball of wax. It’s predictable - and yet it isn’t.
Don’t worry – I’m going to keep TRYING to predict it. That’s half of the fun, despite my sporadic results. Before I forget - Happy Valentine’s Day, ladies! Excuse me now, I have to go buy some tailgaiting supplies …
Before I go to the store - Larry Smich has posted the rules changes for 2008 at his Life On Tour site.
1230pm update - And they're off! Heather Young gets the first birdie.