Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Preview - Lorena Ochoa Invitational

There are two remaining events on the LPGA schedule, and for some of the big name players, it will be a sprint to the finish. The LPGA heads to Mexico with a little help from one of their all time greats for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Course: Club de Golf Mexico. This is a beautiful course, but unlike the Mayakoba, which takes place in a beautiful resort town in Mexico, this event takes place just outside of Mexico City. Winning scores have consistently been mid-teens under par, but this will be the first time this event has taken place on this course. Do not expect the shoot outs we saw during the Asian swing - single digits under par may be what we are looking at.

Strength Of Field: C. The top ranked players in the world are here, but there is only so much love I can give a tournament with 36 golfers competing. The plus side is, with so few competitors, expect the cream to rise to the top.

Extra Tidbits: Lorena Ochoa has, in the past, given herself an exemption into the event, but is only going to be playing in the pro-am this year. She has discussed the possibility of playing the event next year, along with one or two other events, but a full time return to the Tour is not in the works...Three Mexican players - Gaby Lopez, Alejandra Llaneza and Margarita Ramos - all received sponsor exemptions this week. Natalie Gulbis and Hall of Famer Juli Inkster were also given exemptions...Stacy Lewis has all but locked up the Vare Trophy, but the race for the Player of the Year is far more interesting. Stacy Lewis can lock it up with top 10's in the last two events, but if she misses out, then two top 5 finishes by Inbee would give the award to Inbee. A win Lewis, of course, locks it up, and a win by Inbee gives her a path to overtake Lewis regardless of Lewis' final finishes. Lewis and Inbee remain the last two standing.

Fantasy Four:

Inbee Park - She sees the Player Of The Year trophy in her sights, but she will need to play lights out golf the last two weeks to overtake Lewis. Won in her most recent start on the LPGA Tour, overtook Lewis in the Rolex Rankings, and finished one shot out of the playoff in her native Korea. Is the best player out there right now.

Lydia Ko - Wrapped up the Rookie Of The Year rankings, and is out of the running for the Player Of The Year, so she only has herself to worry about. Can't pass Inbee in the Rolex Rankings, but can make herself part of the conversation if she plays well down the stretch.

Michelle Wie - Top 10's in both of her starts since her return from thumb injury. Lexi Thompson gave the blueprint last year on how to win this tournament by overpowering the course, so Wie should be able to implement her game plan. Still mathematically alive for the Vare Trophy, but a lot would need to happen for her to have a shot. Despite missing several events and not playing her best in the summer due to injury, still had a career year.

Stacy Lewis - Followed up her runner up finish in Taiwan with a disappearing act in Japan. Jet leg could be a factor. That consistency that helped her dominate the LPGA this past summer appears to be gone. Is looking to just hold on to win the Player of the Year and the Vare Trophy, which she currently leads. 

(SLEEPER) Morgan Pressel - T4 finish last week was her third top 10 of the season. Finished tied for third here in 2009, which must seem like a lifetime ago for Pressel. Hasn't won on Tour since 2008, but has had her best year in three seasons, so the trend is pointing upward. Hasn't missed a cut since the LPGA Championship, with five top 25 finishes in eight starts. 

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