Prior to this season, Annika Sorenstam held the record for money won in a single season with $2,863,904 in 2002. Lorena Ochoa’s earnings in 2007 total $4,364,994 – 52% more than the previous record. The increase in purse money over the last five years explains most of that difference. Annika won 7.37% of the available prize money in 2002. While I don’t have the total purse amount for 2007, Lorena’s total is 7.37% of about $59.23 million. I don’t think the total purse was that high (it was nearly $52 million last year, but there were three more events last year) and Ochoa’s overloaded ADT win skews the percentages a bit.
The Florida Masochist, Bill Jempty, did a fine job covering the ADT for OTB Sports – I hope he gets that chance again next year. He commented on this blog that perhaps hole #7 at Trump International was even tougher than 17 and while the numbers don’t confirm that, he wasn’t too far off. Excluding the playoff holes, the 32 players played 7 and 17 88 times apiece with the average score at 7 being 3.466 (composite +41 over the four days) and the average at 17 being 3.534 (+47 over the four days). Together, that’s a composite score of +88 at those two holes alone while the entire course played to a composite +132. The overall tournament scoring average was exactly 73.5. If you “replaced” those two holes with ones that the players could average even par, the overall average would have been one full stroke lower.
Is there anything wrong with having two holes with the potential (often realized) to blow up a player’s round? Since everyone has to play them, the simple answer seems to be no. The problem I have at these holes (especially 17) is, there is an extremely small margin for error. At 7 on Sunday, Natalie Gulbis landed just short and right of the green and rolled down the hill into the water. Though it counts just the same, she made a much better shot than those who dropped theirs directly into the water. Yes, she got to play her third from the drop zone instead of re-teeing, but any penalty for that kind of shot seems a little unfair. At 17, Ochoa erred on the “safe” side by playing left. Her reward was a fluffy lie for a downhill chip which came up short and then a slick downhill putt that slid six feet past. Even a player who landed her tee ball on the 17th green wasn’t certain of making par with the undulating speedy surface facing them.
To finally make my point - I saw several players (especially on Sunday) get so demoralized by their “failure” at one of these two holes that their subsequent elimination became moot. I’m talking Hall-of-Famers and Top 30 players here, people, not your run-of-the-mill cut-dodgers. Do we really want a championship of this caliber to have its outcome influenced so much by two “tricked-out” holes?