Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SemGroup Championship Preview

Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma is the site of this week’s tournament, the SemGroup Championship Presented by John Q. Hammons. Mi Hyun Kim is the defending champion – she defeated Juli Inkster in a one-hole playoff, and then donated nearly half of her winnings to charity. The 72-hole event (which was only 54 holes in previous years) begins Thursday with TV coverage starting Friday afternoon on ESPN2.

Lorena Ochoa returns to action and will attempt to tie Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam by winning in her fifth consecutive start. Beware – I’ve already seen the significance of this week being misstated (Lorena would NOT be setting a new record, only tying one). Annika will not be the player to derail the Ochoa Express as she is sitting this one out, along with fellow Top 30 members Hee-Won Han, Karrie Webb, Ji-Yai Shin (do I need to keep listing her absent every week – probably not), Se Ri Pak, Yani Tseng and Brittany Lincicome. This is Week Six of the 11-week stretch of consecutive tournaments so I expected a few names to be missing from
the SemGroup field. We’ll likely have a better turnout next week at the Michelob and then the Sybase and Corning should have somewhat thinner fields as players rest up going into the Ginn Tribute and LPGA Championship.

Cedar Ridge is one of the Tour’s longest layouts at 6602 yards, especially given that par is only 71, and is often cited as a U.S. Open-style test. The course got a lot of rain this past weekend so the greens should be fairly receptive but if the wind gets up (like it did on Sunday last year), the scores can still skyrocket. Playing lift-clean-place all three days, the field still averaged almost 73.6 in 2007, 0.3 above the season’s final number.

My Week in Prognosticating at Stanford was my worst in recent memory – not that I would try to remember things like that. None of my three picks here finished any better than T20. I discussed my complete PakPicker flop yesterday. Thank God Lorena is back so I can at least count on a Top 10 from the player I pick to win. If she fails me, I am definitely doomed. For CYAs, I’m going with two players who’ve played very well in their last two events and both of whom played well here last year – Young Kim and Teresa Lu.

Stats: Winners 5-9 (7-9 with CYAs), Top Tens 14-27.