Asia vs the World

By Randall MellJuly 29, 2009, 4:00 pm
There may not be a dominant player standing up as the favorite to win the Ricoh Womens British Open this week with world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa searching for her best form, but there is a dominant force.
 
When Eun Hee Ji holed a 20-foot birdie putt at the final hole to win the U.S. Womens Open last month, it marked the third major championship triumph for a South Korean in the last five majors.
 
Among players tying for 13th or better at Saucon Valley Country Club, eight were South Korean.
 
Eun Hee Ji
Eun Hee Ji won the most recent major, the U.S. Women's Open. (Getty images)
With Japans Ai Miyazato winning the Evian Masters Sunday in France, Asias run of LPGA victories moved to four consecutive, seven in the last eight.
 
South Koreas Jiyai Shin is the defending champion with the Womens British Open beginning Thursday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Shes one of nine Asians among the top 17 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings.
 
With so much focus this summer on the player rebellion that ousted Carolyn Bivens as the LPGA commissioner, the Orients conquest of womens golf has quietly grown closer to completion.
 
Ochoa looms as the Far Easts last obstacle.
 
It seems almost inevitable that an Asian will ascend to No. 1 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings. When that day comes, it will mark the official planting of a new flag on the games mountaintop.
 
That day may not be so far away with Ochoa looking vulnerable upon her arrival for the Womens British Open.
 
Something is not right with Ochoa.
 
Whether its something in her swing, or her putting stroke, or something in her head and heart with the distractions of a coming marriage and a new life on her horizon, its clear shes in transition. She shot 79 in the second round of the U.S. Womens Open and made three double bogeys in the final round. With the mistakes, there has been uncharacteristic emotional venting, winged balls in disgust at the Kraft Nabisco and the U.S. Womens Open.
 
In the last 52 weeks, Ochoas lead in average world ranking points over the No. 2 player has been cut in half.
 
A year ago, Ochoa had 19.04 average points to Annika Sorenstams 11.51. This week, Ochoa has 12.42 points to Taiwan Yani Tsengs 8.82 points.
 
Theres more than one American looking to beat Asia to the mountain top should Ochoa continue to slip.
 
Cristie Kerr arrives at Royal Lytham & St. Annes leading the LPGA in Rolex Player of the Year points, official money and scoring. Kerrs ability to do so with just a single victory this season shows the lack of dominance of any single player.
 
Kerrs rise to No. 3 in the world has been fueled by disappointing close calls in the majors. She tied for second at the Kraft Nabisco, losing by a shot after Brittany Lincicome made eagle at the final hole. She led the U.S. Womens Open after 54 holes and ended up tying for third. The losses, though, only seem to steel her resolve and her bid to become the worlds No. 1 player.
 
Paula Creamer will be gathering herself in a bid to win her first major. She made a run at the U.S. Womens Open, where she ultimately was derailed by Saucon Valleys 10th hole, which she played in 4 over par on the weekend. As it turned out, she finished four shots back of the winner. Creamers season has been dogged by physical challenges ' first a mysterious stomach malady, then an inflamed thumb ' but the eight-time LPGA winner has fought through to remain a force while looking for her first win this season.
 
Lincicome, Angela Stanford, Morgan Pressel and Kristy McPherson are all capable contenders as the Americans seek to win just their second title in the last nine majors.
 
They all know, though, that theres likely to be a gifted, driven Asian standing in their way.
 
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