The second major championship of 2008, the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, gets underway Thursday at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Suzann Pettersen, who edged Karrie Webb by one stroke last year, is the defending champion. Golf Channel will have three hours of live coverage every day starting at 12:30pm EDT Thursday.
Bulle Rock has been the site for the last three LPGA Championships. It plays to par-72 and a yardage of 6596, no change from last year. Despite having (presumably) a “major” setup, the scoring has only been slightly higher than average the last two years – about 73.4 – after playing very tough – 74.3 – in 2005. I believe the course is actually very difficult and good conditions have masked that each of the last two years. The Baltimore area is getting some t-storms over the next couple of days which will clear out by Thursday so the scoring conditions should be good for the third straight year.
Your typical field for a major is on tap with just a couple of exceptions. Ji-Yai Shin isn’t an LPGA member so she isn’t eligible and Juli Inkster is off attending her daughter’s graduation. Lorena Ochoa returns to action after an unexpected two-week break (her uncle passed away – condolences to her and her family) to continue her quest for the Senorita Slam. The Constructivist thoughtfully reminds us that this event is the final one of the first half of the LPGA “playoffs” and 12 spots in the ADT Championship will get decided following its conclusion. Only Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam and Seon Hwa Lee have already punched their tickets.
The Hound Dog Curse is reaching epidemic proportions. I met Larry Smich last week - this week, he’s out of a job. Even after adjusting my Ginn Tribute picks for Ochoa’s WD, I whiffed for the second straight week. My Top Ten percentage is dropping towards .400 and while Chipper Jones might be thrilled with that average where he works, for me that’s downright shameful. I have several candidates for the Curse this week. As usual I’ll list Lorena Ochoa but only as a CYA along with Song-Hee Kim. My pick to win the LPGA Championship is Karrie Webb. You should consider all three to be out of contention automatically.
Stats: Winners 5-14 (8-14 with CYAs), Top Tens 17-42.