Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Top 20 - October 2006

All hail the return of the Top 20 list! It’s been five tournaments since my last rankings, and with six remaining through the ADT Championship, now seems like a good time. Previous rankings are in parentheses.

#1 Annika Sorenstam (1)
As usual, but not as secure as a couple of months ago.

#2 Lorena Ochoa (3)
Two wins in the last five events (Wendy’s and Corona), with two other Top 5s. She’s finished in the Top 5 in 7 of her last 8 events. Four victories in 2006. After a mid-season lull, Lorena is on her second extended Top 5 tear of the year. In my statistical ratings her 2006 season scores at 98 (of a possible 100). I have to put her above Webb now and start seriously considering Ochoa for the #1 spot.

#3 Karrie Webb (2)
Collected her fourth win of the year at Longs. The only thing Karrie has over Lorena is a major victory, and she had to beat her heads-up in a playoff to do that. I don’t have the historical stats to prove it, but 2006 has to be the most competitive season ever for Player Of The Year honors. There are four players whose performances in most years would make them a shoo-in for that title.

#4 Cristie Kerr (4)
Earlier this year she was quoted as saying she wanted to be known as one of the best in the sport. I’m of the opinion that she’s there – a major or ADT Championship would cinch it. Over the four events she’s played since I last ranked them, Cristie has been Top 10 each time – T9 at Wendy’s, 2 at State Farm, won JQ Hammons and T4 at Longs. She’s currently on a run of SEVEN straight Top 10s with five of those in the Top 5. If she was looking over my shoulder right now, I believe she would ask me “What the f--- do I have to do to move up this list?” My possible answers would be “Win the ADT” or “pull a Tonya Harding on the three in front of you”.

#5 Mi Hyun Kim (6)
Kim and Inkster haven’t played much since my last rankings – both were at the Longs and Kimmie played Corona. Kim finished T4 and T26, Inkster T42. They were neck-and-neck before, and they still are.

#6 Juli Inkster (5)
See #5 above.

#7 Jeong Jang (7)
Putting JJ at #7 is the easiest decision I had to make. Six players have been significantly better than her, and nobody below her is really pushing her.

#8 Paula Creamer (8)
Finished third at Corona - her first Top 10 in four events since the last ranking, but did finish Top 20 twice.

#9 Seon Hwa Lee (10)
Finished T3 at the State Farm Classic, and clinched the Rookie Of The Year award. Seems ready to finish strong.

#10 Hee Won Han (9)
Still sliding (she ranked #6 in July). In her three starts since last being ranked, she’s finished T21, T20 and T27. Since I was counting before – that makes only two Top 10s in her last 12 starts.

#11 Michelle Wie (11)
Hasn’t played with women since my last ranking. Hasn’t moved, since I have no way of factoring in those abysmal men’s tournament performances. She’ll be playing this weekend at the Samsung.

#12 Se Ri Pak (12)
These players in the low teens haven’t done a whole lot lately. At least Se Ri’s had a decent excuse. Battling injuries, she played her first event in five weeks at Longs but only managed T50.

#13 Pat Hurst (13)
Missed the cut at State Farm and finished T13 at Longs.

#14 Natalie Gulbis (14)
T15 at Wendy’s, T42 at JQ Hammons, didn’t start at Longs due to a finger problem, then forgot to sign her scorecard at Corona. The finish at Wendy’s was her best since coming in second at the Jamie Farr in July.

#15 Brittany Lincicome (17)
T9 at State Farm and T23 at Wendy’s, but missed the cut at Longs for only the third time this year.

#16 Meena Lee (18)
T7 at JQ Hammons was her third straight Top 10. Broke the string at Longs with a T27.

#17 Sherri Steinhauer (16)
T20 at JQ Hammons and T33 at Longs.

#18 Shi Hyun Ahn (15)
Hasn’t played since the British Open. I have no idea why – if Seoulsisters.com doesn’t know, it must be a big secret. If we don’t see her again in ’06, you won’t see her here the next time I rank them.

#19 Morgan Pressel (NR)
Finally playing like the Rookie Of The Year candidate she was. Three Top 10s in the last four events, two of those in the Top 5.

#20 Jee Young Lee (NR)
Finished tied for second at Wendy’s for her third straight Top 5 (go back and read that again). Considering the strength of the field, she was a respectable T28 at State Farm. A long hitter, she has only been playing the game for about five years so you’d expect her to keep getting better as she learns the nuances.

Dropped out: Ai Miyazato (19), Julieta Granada (20)

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