2011 LPGA Tour

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Wishful thinking

Five LPGA players with local ties have varying goals for 2011.


Yani Tseng

2011 goals: Bring stability to the top of the world rankings; complete Grand Slam.
The torrid Tseng owns the No. 1 slot in the Women’s World Golf Rankings for the first time in her career thanks to four straight early-season wins in 2011. Now, her challenge is to do what neither Jiyai Shin, Cristie Kerr nor Ai Miyazato could do in 2010 — stay at No. 1 for longer than two months, bringing a level of stability formerly seen in the heydays of Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam. The 22-year-old Tseng, who resided in Beaumont before her rapid rise to the game’s elite, would become the seventh player in LPGA history to complete the career Grand Slam with a victory at the U.S. Women’s Open in July.

Ai Miyazato

2011 goals: Become more consistent; win a major.
It’s hard to find much fault with a player who wins five LPGA tournaments and holds the top spot in the world rankings for 12 weeks in a single season. But Miyazato, an incredibly talented native of Japan who lives part-time in Irvine, had her share of valleys, including a missed cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and separate rounds of 80 at both the U.S. Women’s Open and the LPGA Tour Championship. While her fall to sixth in the world is more a function of the tightly bunched group atop the rankings, Miyazato has too much game to be outside the top five at any point. A 2011 campaign without a major would be disappointing.

In-Kyung Kim

2011 goals: Win a major; enter discussion for No. 1.
It was one of the best stories in sports last year — after winning the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last November, Kim donated her entire $220,000 check to charity. That feel-good moment also was a fitting climax to a strong 2010 campaign for the Rancho Santa Fe resident, whose 12 top-10 finishes included three top-five efforts at majors. The next step for the South Korea native is to win one of those tournaments, which would thrust her from the cusp of the world No. 1 discussion firmly into the middle of it.

Jennifer Song

2011 goals: Win LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year; become top-10 player in the world.
With a consistent influx of international talent every year, the LPGA Tour has little trouble producing a crop of worthy contenders for Rookie of the Year. Song, a former amateur standout at USC, heads that list of contenders for 2011. The 21-year-old had immediate success after turning professional last year with two Futures Tour victories, and she had a respectable start to this season with a fifth-place showing at the Women’s Australian Open last month. The path she’s taken to the LPGA has been more conservative than most of her accomplished South Korean peers, but don’t be surprised to see Song topping them on leaderboards early on.

Nicole Castrale

2011 goals: Regain LPGA Tour exempt status; contend again.
The Glendale native and Palm Desert resident seemed headed for stardom after winning the 2007 Ginn Tribute and sinking what proved to be the clinching putt for the U.S. Solheim Cup team later that year. But lingering injuries in her left shoulder took their toll in 2010, requiring season-ending surgery in July. Now, able to compete in a select number of tournaments via a major medical exemption and sponsor’s exemptions, Castrale must successfully walk the tightrope of returning from serious injury and earning enough money to retain her playing status. A win would be nice, but all it will likely take is just one top-five finish before her exemptions dry up.


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