Monday, September 10, 2007

Top 30 – September 2007

Another moon has passed, so the players must be ranked.

Ever since college football kicked off, I have felt the urge to update my rankings every week to go along with my tradition of tailgaiting for three hours before the golf coverage starts. Unfortunately, that would be overkill (the rankings, not the tailgaiting). Keep the masses hungry and waiting, that makes more sense. The rankings aren’t changing that radically these days anyway and the chance of Morgan Pressel or Se Ri Pak dropping completely out of the rankings in a week’s time like a wounded Wolverine are slim indeed.

The player’s previous rating is in parenthesis:

#1 Lorena Ochoa (1)
Failed to finish in the Top 10 in either of the last two weeks. Oh…that’s right, she wasn’t playing. Will return at the Navistar Classic with a three tournament winning streak.

#2 Paula Creamer (4)
Will somebody please step up and make a solid claim for the #2 spot? Paula finished second and T12 in the two events she’s played since my last rankings, so she’s this month’s “Best Guess”. Only eight more chances for her to get that multi-win season I predicted for her.

#3 Suzann Pettersen (5)
Since I last ranked the players, Pettersen has only played the Canadian Open and there she finished T10.

#4 Morgan Pressel (2)
In her last three events Morgan has finished T13, T50 and T9.

#5 Mi Hyun Kim (3)
Unable to withstand the pressure of being picked by me to win in Arkansas, Peanut withdrew. Or maybe she knew something was up with the weather. Finished T18, T22 and T13 in the three events prior so she was playing reasonably well, although not quite as well as the three ladies just ahead of her.

#6 Se Ri Pak (6)
T34 and a missed cut in her last two events.

#7 Seon Hwa Lee (9)
Finished ninth in Canada with a T34 and T36 since.

#8 Cristie Kerr (7)
T50 in Canada and T17 at Safeway. I think I heard somebody say she’s been working on swing changes, but other than that I have no explanation for her up-and-down season.

#9 Jee Young Lee (8)
Has not been able to complete 18 holes since finishing in the tie for second at the British Open. One of her shoulders has been giving her trouble. By the time the Navistar tees off Jelly will have had nearly eight weeks off so while her shoulder may be better, she might need a while to shake off the rust.

#10 Brittany Lincicome (11)
A T39 in Canada is her only result in the last five weeks. I’m still expecting a good performance out of Brittany at Solheim.

#11 Stacy Prammanasudh (10)
A T70 in Canada is her only result in the last five weeks. I’m not expecting much of a performance out of Stacy at Solheim.

#12 Annika Sorenstam (14)
Her only event over the last five weeks was her tie for third at the State Farm. My stat system puts Jang and Park in front of her, but subjectively I think Annika has her Top 10 form back and she belongs at least this high.

#13 Jeong Jang (15)
Back in June, JJ had fallen all the way to #21 in these rankings. Since the LPGA Championship she has collected six Top 10s in nine events. Before the event was cancelled but after she completed her first round, Jang withdrew at Arkansas with a wrist injury. I had heard she was fighting tendonitis but just wouldn’t rest it – hopefully with two weeks off, she’ll do just that.

#14 Angela Park (16)
By my calculations, Angela mathematically clinched the Rookie of the Year title this past weekend even though there wasn’t a tournament! She has thus far received no fanfare for that achievement whatsoever, unless you think the HD blog qualifies as “fanfare”.

#15 Angela Stanford (18)
Consistent – T10, T12 and T13 in her last three events. Has finished in the Top 20 in 13 of the 20 tournaments she’s played.

#16 Sherri Steinhauer (23)
Won the State Farm Classic over Christina Kim in one of the most exciting final round finishes I’ve ever seen. That win moves Sherri up seven spots, the most of any player this month. Expect her to be a force at this week’s Solheim Cup.

#17 Nicole Castrale (12)
I’ve already said plenty about Nicole’s selection to the Solheim Cup team. Hopefully her injury problems have subsided enough for her to have a positive effect on the U.S. team’s performance.

#18 Sarah Lee (17)
Sarah keeps doing just enough to maintain her standing here. She hasn’t had a Top 10 since the LPGA Championship and has missed two cuts in that span. A couple of Top 20 results have prolonged her “teen” status.

#19 Shi Hyun Ahn (21)
Third place in Canada and a T7 at Safeway prompted me to pick Ahn to win the State Farm – so naturally she missed the cut. Coupled with MH Kim’s withdrawal at Arkansas, I’m starting to worry about my selection process again.

#20 Ai Miyazato (13)
The Big Dipper this time (down seven spots), Ai missed the cut at Canada and Safeway but was T17 going into the final round at State Farm. She reportedly hit three balls into the water at the 7th hole and then WD’d because of “dizzy spells”.

#21 Juli Inkster (22)
T13 in Canada and T9 at Safeway. Along with Creamer, a key performer if the U.S. is to retain the Solheim Cup.

#22 Catriona Matthew (24)
Continues her steady climb up the Hound Dog charts. T13 at State Farm in her only LPGA action over the last five weeks.

#23 Laura Davies (19)
Missing a cut and finishing T58 and T60 in a three-event stretch will hurt most players’ rankings.

#24 Christina Kim (NR)
Vaults into the Top 30 for the first time on the strength of her second-place finishes at Safeway and State Farm. The only player I could find besides X-Tina to have back-to-back runner-up finishes this year was Suzann Pettersen. About a month after those close calls Suzann won the Michelob and the month after that she won the LPGA Championship. Just sayin’.

#25 Karrie Webb (20)
Happyfan at says that 2006 was the aberration and the 2005 and 2007 versions of Karrie Webb are now the norm. I don’t have any evidence to contradict him.

#26 Laura Diaz (29)
What I don’t understand is, why did Betsy King listen to me about Laura Diaz yet ignore me about Christina Kim? Have I ever led her astray?

#27 Sophie Gustafson (30)
In her last seven events, Sophie has four Top 10s.

#28 Natalie Gulbis (25)
T34 in her only event (Safeway) since my last rankings.

#29 Maria Hjorth (28)
T43 in Canada.

#30 Hee-Won Han (27)
Still ranked! Hope to see her playing again soon.

Dropped Out: Young Kim (26).

Why would I drop out a player who won the Corning Classic instead of a player who hasn’t competed since March? In the ten events since she won, Kim’s best real finish has been T25 (she won her first round match at HSBC which is officially T17, but…). She’s missed two cuts, WD’d once and managed a couple of 30-something finishes. Including the win, YK only has two Top 10s – Han had one herself plus a T11 in five total starts. You could argue that Han may not belong in the Top 30, but Kim certainly hasn’t played well enough to stay there. Note that the wins by Francella and Cavalleri don’t guarantee Top 30 status either, and Gulbis isn’t exactly secure at #28.

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