Monday, December 04, 2006

Top 20 - Players 11 thru 15

#11 Michelle Wie (11)
What’s left to say about Wie-Wie that hasn’t already been said? I’ll give it a go…as of this writing she’s still not committed to playing anywhere near a full LPGA schedule in 2007. If she plays the same assortment of events that she played in ’06, I predict she and her daddy will regret it for several years. Until she gets into a routine and learns how to win as a pro, her competitive growth will continue to be stunted. Switching gears, I’ll also say that Michelle Wie has the talent to carve out a career that could leave the other players on this list in the dust, and I for one would love to see that happen.

#12 Se Ri Pak (12)
Returned to glory with a four-iron shot I’ll never forget, to win the LPGA Championship. Otherwise, 2006 was a mish-mash of solid performances, injuries and tournament withdrawals. In July I wrote that I was almost sold on her comeback – if she can’t go three months without one injury or another, I’m not ever going to buy it. But I might buy my wife some of those clothes that Pak’s sister designs for her – those railroad engineer caps are fab, baby! Here’s hoping we get to see that style strolling up to the final green in victory a couple of times in ’07.

#13 Pat Hurst (14)
About ten years ago when Greg Maddux was the best pitcher in baseball (don’t give me that Roger Clemens bulls—t – look at their numbers from ’92 thru ’96), people were saying he not only didn’t physically resemble a great pitcher, he didn’t look like he could be the bat boy. Pat Hurst is the best female golfer who doesn’t look the part. Her swing is indescribable, her putting runs the gamut from blistering to yipping, she wins one week (Safeway) then misses the cut the next (State Farm). I swear this has to be true - she’s out there on Tour playing with the best in the world, forces a playoff in the US Open with the greatest player of this generation, and just before she goes out to the first tee Monday morning one of her kids calls her on the cell crying about what the dog did on his Playstation or Mom-in-law calls demanding to know when you’re going to stop playing that silly game and let her son and grandkids come see her, so Pat goes out with her concentration ruined and shoots 74. If you have a better explanation for this, please let me hear it.

#14 Natalie Gulbis (13)
The moment Mi Hyun Kim’s putt dropped in to win the Jamie Farr and beat Gulbis in a playoff, I had a premonition of Natalie’s second half that came eerily close to the truth. Ten events (DNS at Longs), one Top 10, only two other real Top 20s (T11 at Samsung, but there were only 20 players in the field so that don’t count) and the unsigned scorecard incident at Corona. Natalie’s positives for the year include finishing ninth in scoring, 16th in money, only one missed cut and yet another Hot Calendar. If I could develop a “sex quotient” and figure it into my statistical rankings, she would move into the Top 5. Otherwise I don’t think she’s ever going to get there.

#15 Julieta Granada (NR)
Vaults into my rankings with the ADT Championship win. All by itself the ADT gives Julieta a 20-point boost in my player rating system, which put her in a tie for 11th place. I subjectively place her here, with the caveat that I also had reasons to put her as high as #10. Finished fourth on the money list, 15th in scoring, was in the Top 10 nearly a quarter of the time. She missed three cuts, but since nobody played more events than Granada (30) you could cut the rookie some slack there. Before the ADT Julieta was one of about a dozen players I could rank anywhere from #17 to #25. She just took one big step in front of that group. Silly me, I thought Brittany Lang was going to be the one to do that.

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