Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Player Profiles - Part 5

Laura Davies (#21)
I’ve heard some talk about Suzann Pettersen being Comeback Player of the Year and earlier I supported Maria Hjorth for that honor, but Davies deserves some consideration as well. My stats barely registered her in 2006 – she was 34th on the money list but the rest of her numbers were a big zero in my system. In 2007 Laura finished Top 10 six times, only missed two cuts, was 21st on the money list and 13th in scoring. She had three reasonable chances to win and add to her Hall of Fame point total but unfortunately came up empty each time. Laura played better in ’07 because she improved from 141 to 36 (!) in GIR and from T20 to T3 in putting.

Shi Hyun Ahn (#22)
Ahn’s productivity in 2006 was stymied by an injury (what it was, I never heard) and I would bet that was case again in 2007, although I never heard of any new injury. Shi Hyun’s season in one sentence with several commas - Outstanding golf the first three weeks then fall back a bit, then WD, play some more and struggle, collect back-to-back Top 10s, miss a cut, DNS, then a Top 10 in front of the home folks and finally a couple of indifferent finishes. I would put money on a nagging injury in one of two places, maybe even both – the WD and the missed cut. When she’s healthy she’s an automatic Top 20, but staying healthy seems to be a problem.

Karrie Webb (#23)
Happyfan (he who begat says that the 2006 Karrie Webb was the aberration and the 2005 and 2007 version are now the norm. I’m inclined to agree with him, but will defer to the 2008 model to make the final call. It IS more than coincidental that Karrie placed #23 in my rankings in both ’05 and ’07 – her GIR of 11 this year is much closer to the 12 of 2005 than to the fourth of 2006, and her putts per GIR of T48 is even worse than her T27 of 2005 and both are way out of line with the T2 of 2006.

No wins, six Top 10s, 18th in scoring, 22nd in money and two missed cuts aren’t bad numbers but if you’ve had seasons like Karrie Webb used to have every year, you wouldn’t be happy.

Sarah Lee (#24)
Seven Top 10s, three straight Top 5s in late May, 20th in money, 21st in scoring with three missed cuts - Sarah enjoyed the best season of her six-year LPGA career. She improved from 130 to 66 in GIR and T32 to T16 in putts per GIR.

Now that I’ve established that GIR and putts per GIR are my primary indicators of golf performance, I need to figure out what makes a player get better or worse in those categories. Does driving distance plus accuracy combined with some other stat help GIR? Does a higher GIR naturally tend to force putts per GIR down because of the extra attempts? Are there any other stats already available that might answer these questions or do we need to devise others? Are you ready for me to shut up and move on to the next player?

Sophie Gustafson (#25)
Mrs. Votaw didn’t have one of her best years, but it was pretty good. She only made 19 starts but finished Top 10 in five of them and 16th in scoring, but only 30th on the money list and three missed cuts. Those results are fairly similar to her 2006 ones, which placed her #24 here, although she made six more starts a year ago and consequently made more money. When she wasn’t playing the LPGA, Sophie was tearing up the LET - in four starts there this summer, she won the Scottish Open and finished second in the other three. With that kind of success in Europe, we may see even less of her next year!

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