Catriona Matthew (#26)
Making only 18 LPGA starts as she returned from delivering her first baby, Catriona put together a good season – five Top 10s, only one missed cut, 25th in scoring and 28th in money. Oddly enough, her first two starts in March were her best results of the year – T5 at Safeway and T2 at the Kraft Nabisco. Matthew was Team Europe’s best player at the Solheim Cup, racking up a 3-1 record. If she plays a full schedule next year like she did every year before becoming pregnant, expect to see her reach the Top 15 at least.
Christina Kim (#27)
While coming up just short in her run to make the Solheim team, X-Tina did succeed in making herself a contender again. Seven Top 10 finishes with only two missed cuts in 28 starts, 23rd on the money list and 26th in scoring. She improved from 49 to 22 in GIR and from T60 to T25 in PPGIR, but also added nine yards per drive while slightly improving her accuracy (T87 to T63). Let’s face it – she just plays better as a big girl.
Hee-Won Han (#28)
Don’t believe Mom’s stat page at lpga.com – it shows zero Top 10s this year, but she had two in her seven starts. She did miss one cut. Her scoring average of 71.67 would have placed her 13th had she played enough rounds to qualify. Han returned to finish T11 in Thailand and T10 at the TOC. Assuming she plays the two season-opening events in Hawaii, she’ll be back in the Top 15 by the end of March.
Laura Diaz (#29)
Like Matthew and Han, Diaz was on the comeback trail this year after giving birth. She managed five Top 10s in 23 starts with three missed cuts, 26th in money and 27th in scoring average. Made the Solheim team with a fine mid-summer push, then completed the year with a few up-and-down finishes. Her season ranks about even with her 2004 campaign, where she wound up 25th in my rankings. Compared with that season, she is way off with the putter (T27 down to T95) but is almost dead even in every other raw stat. Laura uses a long putter now – I don’t recall what type of putter she was using back in ’04 – but this one doesn’t seem to be working for her.
Pat Hurst (#30)
Pat finished tied for third at the Mitchell TOC, but moved up into my final Top 30 mostly because of Ai Miyazato’s recent struggles. Five Top 10s in 22 starts and 23rd in scoring, but missed five cuts and finished only 35th in money. After ranking 13th here a year ago, you would have to call her season a disappointment.
Hurst fell from 13 to 39 in GIR this year while remaining about the same in every other category. She improved a little in her driving accuracy (although T108 is nothing to be proud of) without losing any distance but still missed the green more. If she can get her iron troubles worked out, Pat should be able to move up.