Monday, August 27, 2007

Safeway Classic Epilogue and Solheim Captain’s Picks

Lorena Ochoa Hall of Fame Watch – 15 victories, one major championship, one Rolex Player of the Year award, one Vare Trophy. She now has 18 HOF points and needs 9 more to qualify. Another POY, another Vare, two majors and three other wins (or one major and five other wins) would equal 9 points.

Nobody seems to be talking about Ochoa playing poorly Sunday yet still winning by five shots. The talk is about why Nicole Castrale is on the U.S. Solheim Cup team and Christina Kim is not. I agree with the sentiment – I would have picked Laura Diaz and Kim. Betsy King agreed with me on Diaz, but apparently went with Castrale’s better overall performance for 2007. She’s not being stupid - in my current stats, I have Nicole ranked 13th (she won the Ginn Tribute in early June) and Christina ranked just outside the Top 30. However, Castrale has not played well lately (no Top 10s since June) and has been fighting injuries. Kim notched her third Top 10 in the last five events at Safeway, and has a fine match-play (and Solheim) record to go along with her effervescent personality. As you might expect, the most vocal objections are coming from and I find myself on their side in this matter. I don’t think the choice will cost the Americans the Cup but if they fall a point or two short and Castrale hasn’t played well (or at all due to injury), the clamor could be a bit louder.

Prior to the anti-King outburst, the Seoulsisters board posted some fine on-course reports from Portland. If you haven’t seen them already, check out what
Happyfan and IceCat had to say about the goings on at the Safeway.

The average score for the 2007 Safeway Classic was 73.743, up 0.565 from the 2006 version. For the season, the average is now 0.357 higher than it was to this point a year ago. Neither of those increases can be completely blamed on Nancy Lopez.

Mhairi McKay finished tied for second, equaling the best of her 10-year LPGA career. It was only her second Top 10 in the last four years.

I’m thrilled that Laura Diaz made the Solheim team, but I hope she takes one of the next two weeks off. I’d hate for her to be completely gassed at the start of the competition. She did fade to a 73 in yesterday’s final round.

Of course inflation and larger purses distort the picture, but her victory moved Lorena Ochoa into fifth place on the all-time LPGA money list. She broke Annika Sorenstam’s 2002 record for winnings in a single season and she still has half-a-dozen events left to play. Ochoa will be taking the next month off, skipping the State Farm and Arkansas events and is expected to try to win her fourth straight event at the Navistar tournament the last week of September.

It sounds like I’m really piling on Nancy Lopez, but I can’t let this one pass – you could combine the scores of any two other players in the Safeway field, and they wouldn’t have been as much above par as Nancy’s +29.

One more thing - The Caddy Corner mentions that Tina Barrett has announced her retirement. In her 18-year LPGA career, Tina had one victory (the 1989 Mitsubishi Open) and only once in all those years (1990) did she fail to finish in the Top 90 on the money list, earning just under $3.3 million dollars. Looks like she made a pretty good living and I hope she has a successful and enjoyable life after golf.

1 comment:

The Constructivist said...

Yeah, Kim was just out of my top 25, too (as was Diaz), and Castrale had sunk to #17, so it's not like King made a terrible choice. But I still think it's a bad one.