Thursday, September 20, 2007

Make-or-Break Time ‘07

With only two full-field events remaining on the 2007 schedule, it’s crunch time for players trying to become fully exempt in 2008. My article on this topic last year laid out the many different ways a player gains exemption, so I won’t go through all that again. This post will focus on the Top 90 money list race.

The two remaining tournaments have rather small purses, but even a little money can mean a lot in the chase for the Top 90. The Navistar’s purse is $1.3 million while the Longs only awards $1.1 million (tied with SBS for the lowest of the season). So ladies, if you’ve got one good finish in you, I recommend doing it in Alabama to maximize your cash.

So how do you figure out who’s safe and who’s not? If you look at the
current LPGA money list, 90th place is occupied by Sherri Turner at $78,470. Divide that amount by the 22 events played, then multiply by 24 and adjust down slightly because of the two smaller purses – I’m going to put the expected target number at $85,000. Using that number and estimating the amount of money each player might win over the next two weeks, here’s how I think the players around the Top 90 should feel about their chances:

Anyone currently ranked #85 or higher is going to finish in the Top 90, because six or more players who are between $10,000 and $20,000 behind will all have to pass her. This includes Aree Song, Mikaela Parmlid, Kate Golden, Sun Young Yoo, Stephanie Louden and (yes, TC) Moira Dunn. Meg Mallon is at #85 but she is already exempt due to (among other reasons) having two or more career victories through 2002. That exemption is no longer awarded but those who earned it cannot lose it. Grace Park, Rachel Hetherington and Janice Moodie are others who benefit from this grandfathered exemption.

#86 Soo Young Moon already has more money than the target number but since she could be put out by only five people passing her, I can’t call her “Relaxed”. #87 Liselotte Neumann is right at the target. I believe if she can make the cut at both events (or finish in the Top 50 at one of them), she’ll have no worries. I expect both Moon and Neumann to make the Top 90.

#88 Dina Ammaccapane (
Larry Smich’s usual loop) has a $4200 edge over #91 but is $2300 short of the target number. Being a non-exempt player, Dina not only has to worry about making the cut, she has to make it into the event to start with (she’s listed in the field at Navistar). Katie Futcher and Sherri Turner are both less than $500 ahead of #91 but being exempt they will be able to play if they choose. I guarantee one of these players will fall out of the Top 90. I doubt all three will fall – that would require three players below to pass all of them. Let’s go with two failing to make it.

#91 Jill McGill, #92 Minea Blomqvist and #93 Nancy Scranton all need about $8000-$10,000 to get safe. To get that kind of money, they need one Top 30 finish or two Top 50s. Making the cut both weeks could be crucial and since Blomqvist is non-exempt, she has to make each field first (she’s in at Navistar). One of these players will make it, with maybe a 70-30 chance that two will finish Top 90.

#94 through #100 – Erica Blasberg, Yu Ping Lin (non-exempt), Vicki Goetze-Ackerman (non-exempt) and Kristy McPherson. Hee-Won Han, Sung Ah Yim and Marisa Baena are already exempt because of victories in the last three years. The four players in trouble need $13,000-$15,000 over the next two weeks to be safe. That translates to one Top 20 finish or two Top 40s. I think there’s a 25% chance that one of these four will claw her way into Exemptionville.

#101 Johanna Head, #103 Helen Alfredsson and #104 Song-Hee Kim (#102 Lorie Kane is already exempt). These three need $18,000, which means a Top 15 or two Top 30s. Alfredsson doesn’t look like she’s even trying to make it – she’s not in the Navistar field. Solheim captaincy is often a lead-in to retirement. There is maybe a 5% chance one of the players in this or the next group strikes gold.

#105 on down, including Kris Tamulis, Jane Park and Jamie Hullett. Over $20,000 is needed, meaning a Top 10 or two Top 25s. Park is definitely capable of those performances, but she (as well as Tamulis) has to make the field first.

Bear in mind that any player who wins the Navistar or Longs is automatically exempt and by my calculations, any player who finishes second in either event or third in the Navistar will have enough money to make the Top 90. Like Kristy McPherson (#100) was quoted as saying earlier this year, “You are only one good week away from a great year”. Other than Alfredsson, all of the players I mentioned above who aren’t already exempt for 2008 are in
the Navistar field so there could be a lot of shuffling after that event.

So I’m predicting two players currently in the Top 90 will fall out and two outside will jump in. I know - you want me to tell you who those four players will be. Ok, I’ll give it a shot. Given that I don’t know who will be in the Longs field, I’ll predict Dina Ammaccapane and Sherri Turner will fall out while Jill McGill and Minea Blomqvist make it. But don’t count out Jane Park.


The Constructivist said...

Besides Moira, of course, I'm rooting for Super Sophs Katie Futcher and Minea Blomqvist to make it--and would love to see Jane Park avoid Q-School.

Did you see that Mulligan Stu is starting to track the exemptions race every week over at Waggle Room?

The Constructivist said...

Glad to hear that struggling Super Soph Sun Young Yoo (say that 5x fast) can be as "relaxed" as Moira, too....

Bill Roberts said...

What is your spin on Michelle McGann. I know she is a sweetheart and I love her to death, but how does she make a decent living on tour, and when does her exempt status terminate.

Hound Dog said...

I'm pretty sure McGann's current exemption terminates at the end of 2007. I'll go into detail about it in a new post, probably tomorrow.

In the earliest of my LPGA-watching days (must have been around '97 or '98), Michelle was one of those eye-catchers. I think it was the hats she wore. Looking back over her career, I now know that she had just past her prime when I first saw her. She was definitely a Top 10 player in '95 and '96.

Hound Dog said...

Until this time last year I had never paid any attention to the players trying to gain exemption. Once I learned how it worked, I've been fascinated by it. Stu apparently is too!