Monday, December 03, 2007

Player Profiles - Part 8

These are the last of the profiles I plan on doing but if you would like to see more, give me some names in the comments and I’ll write ‘em up.

In-Kyung Kim
It’s nowhere near the rookie season that Angela Park racked up, but Inky’s year wasn’t too shabby. Four Top 10s including a runner-up at the Wegmans, 31st on the money list, 35th in scoring with four missed cuts in 25 starts. The good money list finish guarantees we’ll be seeing her on Tour for at least two more seasons. Kim seems to be a good putter (T30) but her other stats need some work – T89 in distance, T79 in accuracy, 62 in GIR. I don’t usually pay any attention to a player’s birdie rank but it caught my eye to see Inky T16 in total birdies when she didn’t start an unusually high number of events. This may be an example of where a player could get better just by learning to how to manage the course better and avoid those blow-up holes.

Linda Wessberg
I mention Wessberg because of her outstanding Top 10 stat – three in only 13 starts. She missed my Top 30 primarily because of her tendency to miss the cut when she didn’t finish Top 10. We got to see her up close when she played in the final group with Ochoa on Sunday at the British Open and finished T7. Linda was a non-exempt player on the LPGA tour but has her card on the LET, where she won the Vediorbis Open de France and collected four Top 10s in six events in 2007. Wessberg finished 65th on the LPGA money list so she will be fully exempt in 2008.

Rachel Hetherington
In 2003, Rachel (then Teske) was the sixth best player on Tour by my reckoning. The four ensuing seasons have seen her progressively slip to about #40. This year, Hetherington collected five Top 10s in 25 starts, finished 31st in scoring, 36th on the money list and missed six cuts. Most of those MCs occurred early in the season, but she recovered well as four of her Top 10s came over the last six months.

The raw stats at only go back to 2004 when Rachel ranked #24, so I can only compare this season with that fairly good one. While her driving stats are nearly identical to 2004, she’s fallen off in GIR (30 to T44) while improving slightly in PPGIR (T72 to T62). Each year in between, her numbers fluctuated quite a bit which suggests she’s been tweaking some things to gain ground but the results have been mixed.

Reilley Rankin
When I first looked at the 32-player field for the ADT Championship and saw Reilley’s name, I went “WTF?” Then I realized she made it on second-half ADT points, due to her fine play in the Asian events and a fourth-place finish in the British Open. More than once during the ADT coverage, they showed the clip of Ochoa’s British Open celebration - that’s Rankin helping Lorena’s dad spray the Champ down with champagne.

Three of Reilley’s four Top 10s were Top 5s. She missed five cuts, finished 34th in money but only 47th in scoring. T108 in putting seems to indicate what she needs to work on. Rankin is a Georgia Bulldog, class of 2001, so she deserves a little more of my attention. You have probably already heard that she recovered from a diving accident several years ago which essentially broke her back.

Beth Bader
Included here because she finished 30th in scoring average but doesn’t rate well otherwise – only two Top 10s with five missed cuts and 46th on the money list. How do you score this well playing 24 events and not have any better results? Most of the players near her in scoring like Gulbis, Steinhauer and Hetherington either won an event or gathered a few more Top 10s. I expected to see a lot of finishes in the teens but Beth only totaled five Top 20s. Sometimes the answer to this kind of question is one of those clichés we love – “couldn’t put four good rounds together” or “luck”.

Despite the “bad luck”, Bader should feel like ’07 was a very positive season. With the Tour scoring average up from 2006, Bader improved from 72.94 to 72.33, the best in her career. Those two Top 10s doubled her previous career total spanning six seasons, and she had never previously missed fewer than nine cuts. She jumped from 83 to 46 on the money list. If Beth stays on her current path, you might soon see her crack somebody’s Top 30 list.

Candie Kung
Per TC’s request. Candie was the second-best rookie of 2002 behind Beth Bauer (not Bader – I’m always confusing them!) and about the 30th best overall but busted out in a big way in ’03 with three victories and a #11 HD ranking. She didn’t win in ’04 or ’05 but played about as well both seasons, finishing at #10 in 2005. 2006 saw her drop out of the Top 30 as her Top 10 total fell to only three. This year she played only a minimal schedule and not at all after August – 15 events, with no Top 10s, only a couple of Top 20s and three missed cuts. That line screams “injury!” but I’ve heard no info on any ailments. Some recent good news – Candie was selected for the Asian Lexus Cup team, so hopefully she is primed for a return to form in 2008.


Bill Roberts said...

I have a few favorites on tour Natalie, Paula and Mi Hyun are performing quite respectable. However, this has not been the case for other favorites like Carin Koch, Erica Blasberg and Ashley Hoagland. I had the opportunity to talk to both Erica and Ashley, on more than one occasion, they are very charming ladies who always have a smile for their fans and will go out of their way to say hello. Are they destined to become fringe players?

Hound Dog said...

I'll take a closer look at those three soon. Erica has been a fave of mine too.

The Constructivist said...

How about that In-Kyung Kim going undefeated at the Lexus Cup? Looks like she and Jane Park will be giving Angela Park a run for her money next season!

And not a bad performance by Candie Kung in Perth, either. Hopefully the start of her return to top form!