Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Top 30 – August 2007

After the final major championship of 2007, we have some major shuffling in the Top 10. Three veteran faces appear in the Top 30 for the first time while another pretty one returns! Without further ado, let’s get to it:

#1 Lorena Ochoa (1)
What was that movie called - “A League Of Their Own”? That’s where Lorena has been playing this year. So which “demon” should she exorcise next? You say there aren’t any left? I’m sure somebody can find one somewhere.

#2 Morgan Pressel (5)
Much like the final round at St. Andrews, they are all playing for Number Two now. These next four are all bunched tightly together and if anyone ranked between #2 and #8 were to win the Canadian Open, that player would be solidly #2. Pressel and Kim had the edge going to Scotland but they both missed the cut. I assign this spot to Pressel with as little certainty as I have ever given a ranking to anybody but I don’t have good reasons to put anybody else here.

#3 Mi Hyun Kim (3)
Four things told me Peanut wasn’t going to play well at St. Andrews.
1) She struggled to a T30 at Evian after playing six rounds in four days at the Match Play event.
2) She’s not a long hitter and the 6600-plus-yard Old Course was going to play even longer because of the cold weather.
3) She hates playing in cold weather.
4) She never wanted to set foot in Great Britain again.
In a pre-tournament piece on Lpga.com, Kim actually said she was thinking about not playing the British Open because of the cold weather but decided to go since it was at St. Andrews. She didn’t mention the real reason she didn’t want to go. Kim and Young Jo had been racially harassed by a group of thugs while they were walking in Lancashire last year. I hope she gives it another try next year, but I’m not counting on it.

#4 Paula Creamer (2)
The missed cut at the Jamie Farr was the low point of a rather mediocre stretch for Paula. What was that movie called – “The Curse Of The Pink Panther”? She finished tied for seventh at St. Andrews for her first Top 10 since the LPGA Championship.

#5 Suzann Pettersen (6)
Skipped the Farr, lost in Round Two at the Match Play, then played so bad at Evian that the French TV people mistook her for a 50-plus-year-old photographer! Recovered to shoot 68 in the final round there and finish T43, then managed T28 at the British.

#6 Se Ri Pak (12)
Won the Farr for the fifth time, lost her second match at the HSBC, then surprised many by skipping Evian. Looks like she knew what she was doing, because she came back to finish tied for fifth in the British. To close out a statement I made nearly a year ago, I am now COMPLETELY sold on her comeback. Over the last two months, Se Ri has played better than anyone except Ochoa.

#7 Cristie Kerr (4)
Did somebody steal that Korean putter? Since the US Open win, Kerr has finished T39, T33, T43 and T33.

#8 Jee Young Lee (11)
Putting Lee right in front of four players who have all won this year might seem foolish on the surface until you look closely at the numbers. With three runner-up finishes and by playing well in the majors and other high-paying events, Lee is fifth on the money list. Seon Hwa and Lincicome are right behind her there but Jelly scores better than both and has as many Top 10s as they do combined. In Scoring Average, Stacy P is ahead of her but Jelly kills her on the money list. Castrale trails her significantly in four of the five categories I rate players by. I thought about ranking Kerr behind her too, but decided that was a bit too radical.

#9 Seon Hwa Lee (20)
Won the HSBC Match Play event, adding her name to the list of players who have consistently excelled in that format. The Solheim Cup needs to include the Asians, somehow. Seon Hwa’s jump of 11 spots is the largest this month.

#10 Stacy Prammanasudh (8)
Battled through a thumb injury to finish T9 at the Farr. Lost in Round Two (haven’t I seen this movie before?) at the HSBC before playing rather poorly (T38) at Evian. Came back with a very steady performance at St. Andrews, finishing T16.

#11 Brittany Lincicome (7)
When she lost her first match at the HSBC, I thought that signaled that Brittany was in for a rough stretch. T49 at Evian confirmed that feeling but then she bounced back to T11 at the British.

#12 Nicole Castrale (13)
Picked up a Top 10 the week after she won at the Ginn Tribute, but hasn’t managed that again in the six events since.

#13 Ai Miyazato (14)
Lost in the final of the Match Play event. Did you know she’s “like a rock star in Japan”? I never thought much of Japanese rock stars, though. After Gulbis won Evian, I immediately picked Ai to be the next “when is she going to win” candidate for the media.

#14 Annika Sorenstam (10)
For the first time this year, Sorenstam’s and Karrie Webb’s paths diverge. Annika has begun to show signs of her old self. Tied for sixth at Evian and started out well at St. Andrews but faltered on Sunday to drop to T16. Looking at her progression of scores, it seems obvious that she still has a stamina problem. Otherwise she’s playing very well. Of the players who have started more than six events this year, Annika and Ochoa are the only ones remaining who have yet to miss a cut.

#15 Jeong Jang (16)
Was playing great until I picked her to win the British. Sorry, JJ.

#16 Angela Park (18)
Finally missed her first cut this weekend. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

#17 Sarah Lee (15)
Sarah’s outstanding run during May and June got short-circuited by back problems that forced her to WD from Wegmans and miss the cut at the US Open. She did manage to win one Match Play round and finish T53 at Evian and T28 at the British.

#18 Angela Stanford (22)
If Angela Stanford performed like a Top 20 player in a forest and no one was there to see it, was she really a Top 20 player?

#19 Laura Davies (26)
Interrupted a pretty good streak when she missed the cut this past weekend. There were seven Top 20 players who missed the cut at St. Andrews - Pressel, MH Kim, SH Lee, Jang, Park, Stanford and Davies.

#20 Karrie Webb (9)
If Karrie Webb played exactly as well as Sherri Steinhauer and Shi Hyun Ahn for most of a season, why would anyone believe that she was the second-best player in the world? Because Rolex says so. Karrie drops 11 positions, the largest fall this month. Granada would have fallen farther, but the floor was too close. Without a Top 10 or two in the next month, Karrie will be even farther down this list. She’s only had one of those in her last eight events.

#21 Shi Hyun Ahn (19)
Currently on a streak of ten straight starts without a Top 10.

#22 Juli Inkster (17)
Fighting a bad putter these days, but still striking the ball well and getting into contention about once every two months. I wouldn’t have wished her three-putt on the final hole at Evian on anybody.

#23 Sherri Steinhauer (23)
For two days it appeared that Sherri might make it two British Opens in a row, but she slipped over the weekend to T23.

#24 Catriona Matthew (28)
Lost in the first round at the HSBC, T24 at Evian then tied for seventh in front of the home folks at St. Andrews. May have changed a poopy diaper or two in the R&A Clubhouse before getting out of town.

#25 Natalie Gulbis (NR)
Even with the Evian victory, Natalie ranks below all the other 2007 winners except for Young Kim, Francella and Cavalleri. If she continues to play well a return to the Top 20 is very possible, even higher if she manages to win again.

#26 Young Kim (21)
YK won one match at HSBC but other than that her best since winning at Corning was T25 at the US Open. I haven’t heard about any injuries.

#27 Hee-Won Han (24)

#28 Maria Hjorth (NR)
Missed the cut at the US Open but in the other three of her last four starts she has finished tied for eighth, fourth and T16. When you are looking at players who aren’t considered to be in the Top 20, three good tournaments can really move one of them up fast. As recently as June 11, Maria wasn’t even in my Top 50.

#29 Laura Diaz (NR)
Laura has been hanging around the edges of my Top 30 since about the end of March. She finally “makes the cut” after tying for third at the Farr, winning two matches at HSBC, and finishing T12 at Evian. Missing the cut at St. Andrews was a setback, but not enough to keep her off the list. If she can keep up the good work, Diaz could wind up with her best season since she was a Top 10 player back in 2002.

#30 Sophie Gustafson (NR)
Two things I didn’t know about Sophie until just recently: 1) She wears different baseball team caps because she is sponsored by MLB. Whatever major league city each tournament is closest to, that’s the team cap she wears. 2) Within the past year she got married to Ty Votaw, the previous commissioner of the LPGA. Reckon they had to wait for him to vacate that office before announcing the engagement?

Dropped Out: Pat Hurst (25), Julieta Granada (27), Michelle Wie (29), Meaghan Francella (30)
Francella falls out in favor of Gustafson. Hurst, Granada and Wie have been free falling. One more little stat comparison before I go – Michelle Wie’s scoring average for 2007 is 77.1. Of course that doesn’t include the round at the Ginn Tribute where she withdrew before the 88 Rule kicked in. If we arbitrarily add an 88 in there, her average becomes 78.0. The only regular player on Tour with an average higher than that is Riko Higashio, at 78.88.


The Constructivist said...

For my last LPGA post from Japan, I decided to try to come up with my own top 25, using the same method I tried out in mid-June. When I was turning my sub-groups into a ranked list for a diary entry at Waggle Room, I found out you just posted your top 30. I like yours better!

Hound Dog said...

Thanks dude!

For everyone else out there, TC takes the Rolex and Sagarin rankings and combines them with the money list to get a "consensus poll", if you will. The results are fairly similar to mine, with a few explanable differences. Annika and Karrie are much higher in his rankings thanks to Rolex and Seon Hwa Lee is a bit lower because Sagarin rates her only #21.

You can read about my system at the link on the right labelled "Player Rating System".

The Constructivist said...

Looks like Lincicome is making both of us pay for ranking her behind Prammanasudh--she's got a huge lead on her (and a small lead on the charging Catriona Matthew and a decent lead on the rest of the field, including second-round leader and Solheim Cup hopeful Laura Diaz) over at Annika's tournament in Sweden.