Monday, July 7, 2008

Seon Hwa Lee Wins for 2nd Time in 2008

She did so with a birdie on 18 to finish one clear of two other players. It was her only birdie on the back nine.

From the AP game story:

Lee birdied the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Jane Park and Meena Lee on Sunday in the LPGA Tour's NW Arkansas Championship. Seon Hwa Lee closed with a 4-under 68 to finish at 15-under 201.

Meena Lee (70) led by a stroke before coming up short of the green on the par-3 17th. Her chip was long, and she missed from about 10 feet for a bogey.

Seon Hwa Lee, playing in the group just ahead, hit her approach on No. 18 within 3 feet, setting up a birdie that she thought would put her in a playoff.

Let me also link to the Hound Dog's recap that's more comprehensive of the action.

Again, weather was a problem for this event. Too bad for a new event that is trying to really gain traction, had a good date this year, and some TV time. I would even speculate that the LPGA Tour may have helped the date and with TV to promote the event as viable.

In the comments below, you'll also see a link over to Mostly Harmless (see sidebar links) about some other questions about the comparisons between Seon Hwa Lee's 2nd win of the season and 3rd in 12 months versus Anthony Kim's 2nd win of the season and 2nd in five starts.

Both are awfully impressive feats for young people. Unfortunately, though, the media is going to pick up a lot more about someone who MIGHT be the Tiger challenger than someone who might be able to join the company of the LPGA elite. (I won't say the Triumverate - that's way too presumptive.)

The golf media has been searching for a Tiger challenger for 10 years. There was Sergio, Phil, Ernie, Retief, Vijay, Phil again, the Big Five, Sergio, and now to Anthony Kim. With so many failed attempts, the media has to find something that will stick.

Seon Hwa Lee has made two huge strides this season - albeit not in the strongest fields, not in weak ones either. She should be on the radar.


The Constructivist said...

I think you're missing the big picture here!

The Constructivist said...

Like your update, but I think there's a case to be made that Lee is already in the game's elite. Putting aside what I already mentioned, she's never finished below #12 on the money list in her brief career and is again in the top 5; she's one of the few players on tour to average over $1M/yr. per season and over 1 win per season; plus, check out her match play record over the past 3 seasons (12-1, if I'm not mistaken, along with a similar level of dominance in the Kyoraku Cup, which features head-to head stroke play between Korea's and Japan's best women's golfers in a team format). At the end of June, I already had her ranked #8 this season:

--and that was before this win. Lee's beaten Karrie Webb head-to-head in a playoff this season (something Ji-Yai Shin couldn't do earlier this season in Australia)--and that Ginn Tribute win came in one of the stongest fields of the season, according to HOund Dog.

The bottom line is, if the media were as eager to identify where Lorena Ochoa's next major challenger is going to come from as they were Tiger's, Lee would be getting at least as much attention than Kim. But instead most of the golf writers out there are just catching up to how good Lorena is and still hung up on her dominance, which is definitely under challenge from the tour's young guns the past month....

Ryan Ballengee said...

That's good enough of a case for me. I am reluctant to call SHL "elite" because that would put her in the company of Ochoa and Sorenstam, both of whom have more majors and way more wins. If I had to classify things, I'd call her the B+ level - almost good enough, but a couple of more wins will do it. (I think Paula Creamer really fits this description well and that the US media goes too far in measuring her talents/disappointments.)

As for the media aspect of all of this, you have to keep in mind that the media moves either too quickly or too slowly. In this case, they're still getting over the fact that Lorena is awfully good. It'll be a while before they start trying to identify her challenger(s).

The Constructivist said...

She's now #8 in the Rolex Rankings, so B+ sounds just about right to me. Although last I compared Lee and Creamer, Creamer's stats looked a lot better, so maybe I'd give her an A-: (as of 6/20/08)

Ochoa, by the way, has better stats than the 2 of them combined (in fewer starts), so, yeah, if you want to reserve the "elite" tag for A+ers like her and Sorenstam (and for a season here or there Webb and Pak), I'm fine with that.