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What's at stake in this weekend's LPGA finale

Jay Busbee
Devil Ball Golf

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The LPGA wraps up its 2010 season this weekend, and there's plenty yet to be decided at the Tour Championship in Orlando. The ladies tee off Thursday at Grand Cypress Golf Club, and still in the air are the player of the year and No. 1 ranking. So let's run down some of the major stories, shall we?

Top of the heap: Jiyai Shin enters the tournament in the top spot in the world rankings, and Cristie Kerr and Ai Miyazato have also held the spot at various times this year, and Suzann Pettersen is also in the hunt. As for player of the year, Na Yeon Choi and Yani Tseng are in the mix, along with Miyazato, Shin and Kerr. Chances are, the awards will come down to who plays the best on the final nine holes, perhaps even the final one.

Michelle Wie: She's always in the LPGA conversation, but her recent injuries have slowed her ascent. Still, she's proven not only that she belongs, but that she can dominate when everything lines up just right.

Juli Inkster: Can the Hall of Fame vet make a run at one more age-defying victory? She came close last month; a strong showing in Orlando would be career-defining.

The two-cut format: Unlike the PGA Tour's championship, where everybody who shows up on Thursday plays all the way through, the LPGA Tour Championship features a two-cut format, once at 36 holes (lowest 70 and ties) and another time at 54 holes (lowest 30 and ties). In other words, start fast, ladies.

The end of a bad run? The LPGA has endured its share of economic turmoil and bad press in the last few years, but now has a steady hand at the wheel in commissioner Mike Whan. Even with a breakout superstar, it'll never approach the popularity of the PGA, but the LPGA stands poised to rebound from its late-2000s woes and enter 2011 as strong, and competitive, as it has in many years.

As play begins Thursday; keep an eye on the leaderboard right here.

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