Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Smatterchew

If you’ve ever paid much attention to Jeff Foxworthy – and if you do, you probably ought to cut it out before permanent damage sets in – you may remember a bit he used to do by holding up placards with strange Southern words on them while he used them in a sentence. The title of this post translates to “what is the matter with you”.

There are six players who, when I’ve recently seen them way down on the leaderboard or missing the cut, I’ve said to myself “Smatterchew”. They are:

Cristie Kerr
Cristie has been #4 in each of my player rankings since last August, but she won’t be that high the next time. She’s already missed three cuts in eight starts after not missing any last year and has only one Top 10. Her scoring average is a full 2.5 strokes higher than last year (to be fair, scoring is up a bit this year across the board) dropping her to 35th in that category. Last year Kerr was fifth in GIR and first in putts per GIR (a dynamite combination) but in ’07 she’s fallen to T22 and T66. That small drop in GIR looks to be due to missing the fairway a little more often – from 58 down to T81. The putter is mostly to blame, but she’s not striking the ball quite as well either.

Natalie Gulbis
Calendar Girl knocked herself right out of my Top 20 by missing three cuts and failing to register a single Top 10. Her scoring average is up 1.7 strokes but you can’t blame her putter, she’s T2 in putts per GIR (up from T11). The problem is fewer GIR, way down from eighth to 69th. She’s hitting fewer fairways (T81 down from T54) and I’ve heard her say in interviews her driving has been a problem, so that gets some blame. Mainly though, she’s just missing the green too much.

Jeong Jang
At first glance, you’d say JJ hasn’t stumbled out of the gate nearly to the levels of Kerr or Gulbis. She’s only missed one cut, but she’s also only had one Top 10 and only one other Top 20. She’s hitting fairways at the same rate, but down just a little (18 to 30) in GIR and down a little (T11 to T22) in putting. So why is Jang down from eighth to 32nd in scoring average? I don’t usually put much stock in the sand saves stat, but she was seventh (just over 50%) in that category last year and is 99th (about 39%) this year. The three of those small declines combined explain a lot about the scoring dropoff.

Seon Hwa Lee
The best rookie of the greatest rookie class ever, Lee has a couple of Top 10s and only one missed cut but hasn’t really challenged for a victory yet in 2007 (her best finish is 7th). She made her mark last year with the putter, finishing T2 in putts per GIR. She’s fallen to T22, but that’s only a minor problem. After being T9 in hitting fairways last year she’s only T50 this year, resulting in a drop from 46th to 60th in GIR. If she gets back to driving it in the short grass, she should start contending again.

Pat Hurst
Now that she’s missed two straight cuts…you’ve met Ms. Hyde, haven’t you? We haven’t really seen Pat Jekyll yet, she only has one Top 10. Her putting stat is down from T32 to T53, GIR is down from 13 to T22, and being Pat Hurst she’s T111 in fairways – which is actually up from T129. She’s down from 12th to 27th in scoring, right at one stroke higher per round. Like JJ, she was a lot better out of the bunkers last year but I don’t like to give that stat too much weight. I’ll say she’s most unhappy with her putting these days.

Brittany Lang
By the end of 2006, Brittany was poised to make some noise. I had her ranked at #25 when they first teed off in Hawaii. In nine events, she has missed five cuts with her best finish being a T15 at the Nabisco. Her scoring average is 73.20 (69th), up 1.85 strokes from being 16th a year ago. Why? Her putting is down from T20 to T131. That is not a typo – Lang is tied for one hundred and thirty-first in putts per GIR after being tied for twentieth last year. That is so horrible a dropoff, it more than negates the improvements she’s made in her driving accuracy (up from 112 to T31!) and GIR (up from 25 to T12). Was Brittany kidnapped by aliens while she slept and replaced by a pod whose talents are directly inverse? Seriously, the next time anybody sees Brittany Lang at a golf course, I hope they are standing beside the putting green.

2 comments:

The Constructivist said...

I've argued Meena Lee and Jeong Jang are off to slow starts this year, too. But as a short hitter myself, I'll bet we see a lot of them play better in summer.

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