Wednesday, July 02, 2008

P&G NW Arkansas Championship Preview

Defending Champion – officially none, but Stacy Lewis got a trophy
Pinnacle Country Club
Rogers, Arkansas
54 holes, begins Friday
Par 72, 6238 yards
Field Score – 63
Scoring Averages – none
2008 Scoring Average to date – 73.18

TV Coverage:
Sat 1:30p-3p CBS
Sun 1p-3p CBS

This event was first attempted last September but rain prevented the first round from being completed until Sunday morning.
As I said at the time, the LPGA chose to not even attempt playing a second round in the time remaining on Sunday and Monday because (although officials denied this) they were up against a traveling deadline to get players to Sweden in time for the Solheim Cup. The Tour declared it an unofficial event, awarded amateur Stacy Lewis the trophy and distributed half of the purse to each of the pros equally to pay for expenses. I hope the good folks in Arkansas kept their rain checks all these months – supposedly tickets for that event were going to be honored this week.

So this becomes the “second inaugural” NW Arkansas Championship. In the interim they grabbed a great sponsor in Procter & Gamble, moved to a better weekend (the Fourth of July holiday will sap fewer patrons and viewers than college and pro football would have) and got CBS to televise. Pretty good upgrade there.

Following the U.S. Open, a few stars are passing up the trip to Chigger Country – namely Top 10ers Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Suzann Pettersen, Yani Tseng, Karrie Webb and Maria Hjorth. Lewis is in
the field on a sponsor’s exemption again, hoping to play as well in her second professional tournament as she did in her first.

With a field score of 63 (fourth-weakest of the year but nowhere near the worst three), the opportunity is better than normal for an unknown to claim victory but still not likely. Sybase and SemGroup had the most comparable fields this year – those events were won by Ochoa and Creamer, respectively. Despite her final round collapse at the U.S. Open, I will again pick Paula Creamer to win. Mi Hyun Kim and Stacy Lewis are my CYAs.

Stats: Winners 5-17 (8-17 with CYAs), Top Tens 21-51.

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