Wednesday, March 12, 2008

MasterCard Classic Preview

Tournament Number Four on the LPGA schedule is the MasterCard Classic Honoring Alejo Peralta. For the fourth consecutive year, Bosque Real Country Club near Mexico City will host this event which honors one of Mexico’s greatest philanthropists. Meaghan Francella, who defeated Annika Sorenstam in a four-hole playoff on Monday after a weekend full of rain delays, is the defending champion. The 54-hole event begins Friday, with no television coverage available in the U.S.

Even though they shaved off 25 yards, Bosque Real is still the longest course on Tour at 6876 with par at 72. While some of its length is negated by the thin air at over 7000 feet above sea level, the course has still played tougher than average all three years it has been on the schedule. Last year the wet weather actually helped the MasterCard scoring just miss the overall average, probably because the greens were holding approaches better than usual. The forecast is a good one, so expect rounds of 74 to be the norm.
Louise Friberg confirms on her site that the players will be using carts again to keep the rounds from exceeding six hours.

The Constructivist mentioned last week that the field is a good one even minus many of the top players. I wasn’t sure I agreed with him but then several more top players pulled out in recent days (Mi Hyun Kim and Christina Kim most prominently) and now you can safely call it WEAK. Of my soon-to-be-updated Top 30 players, only nine are in attendance. Lorena Ochoa can make any field look strong (until she wins by 10+ shots) and she is joined by Seon Hwa Lee, Stacy Prammanasudh, Jeong Jang, Angela Stanford and Hee-Won Han. The missing stars allow lots of non-exempt and conditional players to tee it up. In fact the cutoff point this week came after Amy Yang, who is the final Conditional Player (#35). All told, about 50 LPGA exempt players are bypassing the event plus several non-exempt and conditional players who didn’t bother making the trip. Larry Smich tells us that so many slots were available, there was no need for a Monday qualifier. With two off-weeks surrounding the MasterCard, that doesn’t say much for the allure of this tournament. For the third time, Michelle McGann is the Category A entry. Hopefully her visit with John McCain last week will inspire her to a good finish.

So while I’m only 1-for-3 in picking winners, my CYA streak is still alive (five straight!). Not to mention my three picks at HSBC finished 1-2-3. So I only had Creamer in the right position – gimme a break! I need an outright win so I’ll take Lorena Ochoa to win with Angela Stanford and Stacy Prammanasudh as the CYAs.

Stats: Winners 1-3 (3-3 with CYAs), Top Tens 6-9.


Bill Roberts said...

Lorena Ochoa by 12 shots, no contest.
Some bloggers are saying that this tournament might be dropped from the schedule next year. What say ye H D, do you think this is a possibility.

Hound Dog said...

Interesting question. I am expecting the tournament turnover we've seen the last couple of years to continue. The MasterCard is being skipped by a lot of contenders and I'll bet the Corona next month will be too. Both events currently have the same low-level purse ($1.3 million) with high profile sponsors. Three events in Mexico is too many, and Lorena's limited field event probably didn't replace one of these due to contractual obligations. The MasterCard was a late add to the 2008 schedule (one without ANY fanfare that I could find) but I'm not sure that means it's the least stable. If the LPGA was interested in letting the MC die, they let a perfect opportunity pass right there.

So I'm gonna say that most likely the Corona is going bye-bye. If not, one of these two will probably be moving to another location.

Hound Dog said...

I just noticed that Ochoa's event is "Presented by Banamex and Corona". The Corona Championship is history.

The Constructivist said...

OK, you've convinced me the field will be one of the weakest of the year. But now I'm really hoping someone beats Lorena, just to prove us all wrong (both on strength of field and invincibility of the world #1)!

The Constructivist said...

On second thought....