HERE COME THE LADIES. Finally. The 2011 LPGA season gets underway on Thursday at the Honda LPGA Thailand. A field of 60, including new World No. 1 Yani Tseng, will tee it up at the Pattaya Old Course at Siam Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand. The 22-year-old Tseng was last season’s Rolex Player of the Year. She has superstar potential.
World No. 6 Ai Miyazato is the defending champion. A year ago Miyazato chipped in for birdie on the final hole to beat Suzann Pettersen by a shot. She went on to win the following week on her way to five 2010 victories. Her favorite pizza topping is pepperoni. And she doesn’t like cilantro. (It’s true. I read it at LPGA.com.)
(Photo: “I’m pretty sure this is my driver.” It’s been a long layoff for Ai Miyazato and all the ladies.)
Miyazato told USA Today’s Steve DiMeglio that she hasn’t played a competitive round of golf in two and a half months. Nonetheless, Ai said she’s ready to go after spending much of her offseason in Phoenix. She worked on getting the clubhead more square at the top of her backswing.
A long offseason is probably nice. But the rust can set in quickly. World No. 4 Cristie Kerr spent her break working on fitness—and relaxing. Kerr took five weeks off from playing golf, starting up again in mid-January. Her goals for 2011 are to bag another major and have a multiple win season.
Other LPGA players who are expected to contend for top honors such as player of the year and the money title include Jiyai Shin, Suzann Pettersen, Na Yeon Choi, I.K. Kim, Sun Ju Ahn, Song-Hee Kim, Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie.
The season opener is the first of 25 LPGA events on the 2011 calendar. The ladies tour has lost nine events since the economy tanked in late 2008. The Solheim Cup will be played in late September in Ireland.
−The Armchair Golfer
(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)