Friday, December 14, 2007

1997 Player Rankings

1997 was an odd season in at least one respect. The LPGA Championship was the only major to be won by a Top 10 player, and that player was…Chris Johnson. Not exactly a household name, there. Chris (now Christa) defeated Lita Lindley on the second playoff hole to clinch her only major title, and went on to win again later in the year en route to finishing as the third-best player that season. Betsy King won the Kraft Nabisco but was only #11 in the final rankings. The other major winners were British player Alison Nicholas at the US Open and Colleen Walker at the du Maurier. Nancy Lopez also enjoyed her final Top 10 season and final LPGA victory.

Despite their lack of major titles, the players at the top are recognizable names. Here are the Top 30 Players of 1997:

1. Annika Sorenstam
2. Karrie Webb
3. Christa Johnson
4. Kelly Robbins
5. Juli Inkster
6. Nancy Lopez
7. Tammie Green
8. Liselotte Neumann
9. Laura Davies
10. Donna Andrews
11. Betsy King
12. Michelle McGann
13. Lorie Kane
14. Lisa Hackney
15. Rosie Jones
16. Tina Barrett
17. Dottie Pepper
18. Jane Geddes
19. Barb Mucha
20. Hiromi Kobayashi
21. Brandie Burton
22. Colleen Walker
23. Cindy Figg-Currier
24. Pat Hurst
25. Patty Sheehan
26. Alison Nicholas
27. Terry-Jo Myers
28. Michele Redman
29. Dana Dormann
30. Kathryn Marshall (Imrie)

Player of the Year – Annika Sorenstam
Rookie of the Year – Lisa Hackney
Fluke Victory of the Year – none

Even with the “no-names” winning the majors and four wins by players outside the Top 30, there isn’t one I can comfortably label a fluke. Gail Graham would be the choice if I was forced to pick, but she also won in 1995. Every other winner in 1997 had at least two more career victories. Another weird thing – two players who each won twice that year (Colleen Walker and Terry-Jo Myers) only ranked 22nd and 27th. Usually two victories guarantees a Top 20 finish, but both players missed a lot of cuts and their scoring averages weren’t great. If not for Annika winning six times and being POY it would have been one screwy season.


Bill Roberts said...

I notice that Nancy Lopez is number 6 and she disapears off the radar in 1998. Is this perhaps the year that she retired?

Hound Dog said...

Lopez played 19 events in 1998 (about the same as before) and fell out of the Top 40 on the money list. She started cutting down on her appearances in '99. She didn't ever really retire - Nancy's played at least one event every year since then. In that light, her "comeback" announcement in 2007 seems a little strange. She did play six times this year, the most since 2002.