Youth served at SBS


POSTED: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

If you think the only reason to go to the SBS Open at Turtle Bay this week is to see Michelle Wie, you're missing the big fairway.



This century, the LPGA Tour has undergone a well-defined makeover where youth is being served in heaping portions. A year ago, Yani Tseng was ranked No. 138 in the world and was barely known in her native nation of Taiwan. The 20-year-old will tee it up tomorrow in the first full-field event of 2009 at No. 2 with a bullet and has top-ranked Lorena Ochoa squarely in her grooves.

World No. 3 Paula Creamer, who has two professional wins in Hawaii, is barely old enough to pull the handle in Las Vegas, but the top-ranked American has already tamed Arnold Palmer's course with a win here in 2007.

For those who went to Maui last October to see the Kapalua Classic, world No. 4 Suzann Pettersen did everything but win the inaugural event, only to have it pulled out from under her by another 20-year-old in Morgan Pressel. Pettersen, at 27, would have to chaperone these gum-smacking youngsters staring down anyone who thinks they've got game.

That's not to say Wie won't have the final word come Saturday on a course she has played often enough to call her own. As a high school youngster, the 19-year-old spent a lot of time at Waialae and Ko Olina, but proved her worth on the difficult layout here with a tie for second with Cristie Kerr at the 2005 SBS Open.

That year, Wie went on to finish second at the LPGA Championship and in a tie for third at the Women's British Open. In 2006, she managed two more ties for third at the Kraft Nabisco and the U.S. Women's Open. Still in her midteens, Wie held so much promise, many believed it was only a matter of time before she ruled the golf world.

Then came 2007.

Injuries and mental mistakes on and off the golf course left the Punahou School graduate in the doldrums. To her credit, she ended 2008 by going to Q-school and earning her LPGA Tour card with a tie for seventh. That grueling five-round event was won by Stacy Lewis, who isn't exactly Wie's biggest fan.

The 23-year-old overcame a bout with scoliosis that was treated in high school with a spinal fusion to win the NCAA Championship in 2007, her junior year at Arkansas. She not only qualified for the LPGA Tour in December, she also graduated with a degree in finance. Judging by her third-place finish at the 2008 U.S. Women's Open, she's going to need that degree to balance her checkbook.

Lewis is part of a talented rookie class that includes Vicky Hurst, who many feel is the next great American golfer. While Wie's rise to stardom was seen worldwide, the 18-year-old Hurst took the path most traveled by young women trying to earn a coveted tour card—on the Duramed Futures Tour.

As a high school senior, she dominated last year, winning five times in 13 Futures Tour starts, including one the week before her high school graduation and the next week after. But most folks heading to Turtle Bay don't know that much about the 18-year-old. They will get their chance starting tomorrow in this 54-hole event as Hurst is one of 138 golfers who will try to win the fifth SBS Open title that ends Saturday.

“;It's pretty amazing right now, especially to be here in Hawaii,”; Hurst said. “;I'm really excited to be here and to start the year off competing with a great class of rookies. It's pretty exciting.”;

For those who have followed junior golf, Hurst is no stranger. She parlayed her success at that level to an opportunity to play with the game's greats. And don't forget the Korean connection. Another in a long line of great players appears set for stardom in 20-year-old Jiyai Shin.

Already ranked fifth in the world, Shin has won 26 times worldwide the last three years, including three on the LPGA Tour in 2008 as a nonmember. Two of those wins were the Women's British Open and the ADT Championship, where she cashed the $1 million first-place check. Many believe she is a lock for rookie of the year.

All of these women have a chance this week, not to mention Americans Pressel, world No. 7 Kerr and No. 8 Angela Stanford. They have had good showings here in the past and give local golf fans a good reason to make the trip to the North Shore.



SBS Open Tee Times

At Turtle Bay
Tee No. 1
7:10 a.m.—Becky Lucidi, Carolina Llano, Na On Min; 7:20 a.m.—Marcy Hart, Angela Jerman, Beth Bader; 7:30 a.m.—Young-A Yang, Leah Wigger, Eunjung Yi; 7:40 a.m.—Stephanie Louden, Mika Miyazato, Allison Hanna-Williams; 7:50 a.m.—Reilley Rankin, Erica Blasberg, Russy Gulyanamitta.

8 a.m.—Kelli Kuehne, Becky Iverson, Maggie Will; 8:10 a.m.—Anja Monke, Carri Wood, Samantha Richdale; 8:20 a.m.—Louise Friberg, H.J. Choi, Yani Tseng; 8:30 a.m.—Hee-Won Han, Jimin Kang, Laura Diaz; 8:40 a.m.—Teresa Lu, Lindsey Wright, Meaghan Francella; 8:50 a.m.—Brittany Lang, Kristy McPherson, Jane Park.

9 a.m.—Jiyai Shin, Katie Futcher, Il Mi Chung.

11:50 a.m.—Se Ri Pak, Janice Moodie, Nicole Castrale.

Noon—Hee Young Park, Angela Park, Allison Fouch; 12:10 p.m.—Sandra Gal, Jill McGill, Heather Young; 12:20 p.m. Christina Kim, Rachel Hetherington, Wendy Ward; 12:30 p.m.—Morgan Pressel, Sophie Gustafson, Natalie Gulbis; 12:40 p.m.—Dorothy Delasin, Stacy Lewis, Vicky Hurst; 12:50 p.m.—Michelle Wie, Haeji Kang, Jin Young Pak.

1 p.m.—Audra Burks, Jamie Hullett, Jackie Gallagher-Smith; 1:10 p.m.—Eva Dahllof, Kim Hall, Jimin Jeong; 1:20 p.m.—Mindy Kim, Mikaela Parmlid, Jennifer Rosales; 1:30 p.m.—Anna Rawson, Paige Mackenzie, Amy Yang.

Tee No. 10
7:10 a.m.—Taylor Leon, Kris Tamulis, Birdie Kim; 7:20 a.m.—Johanna Mundy, Lisa Strom, Kyeong Bae; 7:30 a.m.—Louise Stahle, Aree Song, Danielle Downey; 7:40 a.m.—Cindy Rarick, Wendy Doolan, Janell Howland; 7:50 a.m.—Karine Icher, Michelle McGann, Charlotte Mayorkas.

8:00 a.m.—Sarah Lee, Kate Golden, Na Ri Kim; 8:10 a.m.—Julieta Granada, Jeehae Lee, Anna Nordqvist; 8:20 a.m.—In-Kyung Kim, Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen; 8:30 a.m.—Stacy Prammanasudh, Cristie Kerr, Shanshan Feng; 8:40 a.m. Angela Stanford, Eun-Hee Ji, Juli Inkster; 8:50 a.m. Jee Young Lee, Alena Sharp, Young Kim.

9 a.m.—Lorie Kane, Leta Lindley, Silvia Cavalleri.

11:50 a.m.—Sun Young Yoo, Brittany Lincicome, Minea Blomqvist.

Noon—Na Yeon Choi, Candie Kung, Momoko Ueda; 12:10 p.m.—Liselotte Neumann, Pat Hurst, Irene Cho; 12:20 p.m.—Meena Lee, Ai Miyazato, Michele Redman; 12:30 p.m.—Michelle Ellis, Giulia Sergas, Grace Park; 12:40 p.m.—Song Yi Choi, M.J. Hur, Moira Dunn; 12:50 p.m.—Meredith Duncan, Shiho Oyama, Joo Mi Kim.

1 p.m.—Jeanne Cho-Hunicke, Sung Ah Yim, Mollie Fankhauser; 1:10 p.m.—Linda Wessberg, Sarah Jane Smith, Young Jo; 1:20 p.m.—Hee Kyung Seo, Ha Neul Kim, Chella Choi; 1:30 p.m.—Anna Grzebien, Amy Hung, Soo-Yun Kang.