Defending Champion – Se Ri Pak
Highland Meadows Golf Club
72 holes, begins Thursday
Par 71 (34-37), 6428 yards
Field Score – 34
Scoring Averages – 72.0 (2007), 71.6 (2006), 72.0 (2005)
2008 Scoring Average to date – 73.09
U.S. TV Coverage (times EDT):
Fri 2p-4p ESPN2
Sat 4p-6p ESPN2
Sun 6p-8p ESPN2
The Farr has been dubbed the “Se Ri Pak Classic” and a nearby street has been renamed in honor of the Hall-of-Famer’s great success at Highland Meadows. The defending champ is gunning for her sixth victory here, which would be an LPGA record for wins by a player at a single event.
It is unfortunate that this long-time staple of the LPGA schedule isn’t being better attended by the game’s best players. The Field Score of 34 is the fourth-worst of the year, just barely missing the 33 of Corning and 31 of MasterCard. Paula Creamer and Karrie Webb are the only Top 10 players here, with Karen Stupples, Christina Kim and Mi Hyun Kim being the best of the rest. Lorena Ochoa is skipping the Farr for the fourth consecutive year, and is paying a fine of an undisclosed amount for that absence. These three events after the U.S. Open (Arkansas, Farr and State Farm) and prior to the European swing are especially vulnerable to MIAs. Some have made issue with Morgan Pressel’s decision to play the LET’s Irish Open over this regular Tour event. Looking at it from Morgan’s point of view – she is getting an appearance fee plus two extra weeks to get acclimated to the time difference, a week’s vacation, and then she plays Evian and the British Open – it sounds like good practical scheduling.
One thing which makes the Farr a little more interesting – the LPGA is using the first two rounds as a British Open qualifier. After Friday’s second round is complete, the top five players who haven’t already qualified will punch their ticket to Berkshire. Ji Young Oh and Carri Wood were two of the players who earned their way to St. Andrews in this manner last year.
I wish I could find it in me to pick Pak to win again this year. Picking her last year, and then watching her blitz the field and outlast Morgan Pressel on Sunday was one of the highlights of 2007. I believe she will finish in the Top 10 but there are half a dozen other players that I feel are more likely to win. This week has a “first-timer” feel to it, so I’m taking In-Kyung Kim to win with Paula Creamer and Giulia Sergas as CYAs.
Stats: Winners 5-18 (8-18 with CYAs), Top Tens 21-54.
P.S. In the interest of full disclosure - since the Ginn Open in April I have failed to predict the winner in ten straight events and have only collected one CYA winner in that span. Even worse, my Top Ten record during that time is 7-30. So don’t go put your last $10 on Inky just because of me.