Friday, November 30, 2007

Player Profiles - Part 7

These players did not make my final Top 30 but for various reasons they deserve a closer look. The special-request profiles will be included in Part 8.

Ai Miyazato
On the surface, Miyazato’s season looks pretty good – six Top 10s, 17th on the money list. In fact she earned more money this year than in 2006, when I ranked her 19th. In early August, I ranked Ai 13th on the heels of her second-place finish in the HSBC.

We have since learned that Ai suffered a leg or foot injury during the HSBC that caused her to alter her swing. At any rate, after August 7 Miyazato started nine events with mostly horrendous results – four missed cuts, a WD after hitting three balls into the water on one hole at State Farm, 18th out of 20 at Samsung, T57 out of 59 in Thailand, and T68 out of 78 at Mizuno. A respectable T9 at the ADT, which wasn’t enough to keep her in the Top 30, hopefully means Ai-chan has worked out the swing problems and will come back strong in 2008.

Young Kim
The best of the three 2007 winners who failed to make my Top 30, YK won the Corning Classic in May. She only missed three cuts, but the rest of her numbers drag her down – 32nd on the money list, 36th in scoring and only two Top 10s. In four of the five categories I rate players on (victories being the exception), Kim rated better in 2006 and ranked 23rd overall. The raw stats show a dropoff from 74 to 105 in GIR with nothing else significantly different.

Meaghan Francella
This graduate of the University of North Carolina was the first of eight first-time winners in 2007 when she defeated Annika Sorenstam in a playoff at the MasterCard Classic. Meaghan managed four Top 10 finishes including a T5 at the Kraft Nabisco and finished 29th on the money list. Her downer stats are seven missed cuts and 66th in scoring. Unfortunately none of those Top 10s came over the last four months, so Francella didn’t exactly go into the offseason on a high note. She finished T123 in PPGIR so some putting practice is in order. Meaghan could use a little more length off the tee but her other numbers are pretty good.

Silvia Cavalleri
Your Fluke Victory of 2007 was Silvia’s win at the Corona Championship. That win wasn’t just her only Top 10 of the year, it was the only time she finished better than T26. She has now started 176 events in her nine-year career with nine Top 10 finishes and 63 missed cuts. Without analyzing it too much, Cavalleri’s win should slide into the #3 spot on my
Fluke Victories chart. I’ll put her ahead of Birdie Kim and Jimin Kang since they both added two Top 10 finishes to their career totals this year.

In the four raw stats that I look at the most when evaluating a player, the ONLY one that Silvia ranked in the Top 100 of this season was putts per GIR, at T75.

Julieta Granada
When Julieta won the Women’s World Cup in January (representing Uruguay along with Celeste Troche) and then finished second in the SBS Open, it appeared that the 2006 ADT champion was going to continue her ascent into the upper echelon of the LPGA. Little did we know that Granada was only going to finish Top 10 two more times all year and miss nine cuts. She only finished in the Top 20 six times total. After ranking #14 in April, Julieta was out of the Top 30 by August.

Wha’ happened? Her GIR dropped from 42 to 72 and her PPGIR fell from T20 to T30. She ranked about the same in driving accuracy and distance, but she went from hitting nearly 80% of the fairways in ’06 to only 74% in ’07. I’ve already mentioned in these profiles that Tour-wide, the players hit GIR less often this year and it appears they hit the fairway less often as well. So while a player might not drop much in her ranking in a stat, she may have dropped significantly in her success rate in that stat. Granada, being a very small person, may have a lot more trouble playing from the rough than a physically stronger player would. Since she was in the rough 30% more often than last year, that probably explains her drop in GIR from 68% to 61%. It’s pretty hard to score as well when you miss the green that much more often.

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