Thursday, January 10, 2008

1991 Player Rankings

Oh no! Not another Player of the Year controversy!

This one is much more debatable than the ’93 and ’94 awards. Pat Bradley won the Vare Trophy, was the leading money winner and won four tournaments. The Rolex system named her POY. Meg Mallon also won four times but two of her victories were the US Open and the LPGA Championship, arguably the two biggest events of the season. None of Bradley’s wins were majors, but she finished Top 10 in 21 of her 26 events (Meg was 12 of 26). Bradley finished second three times and was runner-up to Mallon both at the Open and the LPGA. Pat also collected three thirds – one of those at the Kraft Nabisco. Both players missed one cut, so that’s a wash.

In my point system, Mallon beats Bradley 87 to 84. Usually that kind of margin is good enough for me to call a winner but the closer look at the peripheral data really swayed me. I don’t give credit for finishing second or third beyond the money boost the player gets from that finish but…damn, Bradley coming so close in three majors has to count for something and she does beat Mallon in three of the five categories I rate with.

The Top 30 Players of 1991 are:

1. Pat Bradley
2. Meg Mallon
3. Beth Daniel
4. Danielle Ammaccapane
5. Betsy King
6. Dottie Pepper
7. Ayako Okamoto
8. Patty Sheehan
9. Deb Richard
10. Colleen Walker
11. Rosie Jones
12. Jane Geddes
13. Amy Alcott
14. Nancy Lopez
15. Judy Dickenson
16. Tammie Green
17. Brandie Burton
18. Juli Inkster
19. Nancy Scranton
20. Caroline Keggi
21. Dawn Coe-Jones
22. Vicki Fergon
23. Kristi Albers
24. Cindy Rarick
25. Ok-Hee Ku
26. Sherri Steinhauer
27. Laura Davies
28. Christa Johnson
29. Elaine Crosby
30. Cathy Morse

Player of the Year – Pat Bradley
Rookie of the Year – Brandie Burton
Fluke Victory of the Year – Melissa McNamara

I hated to do that to Meg. ’91 was the best season of her career (she would rank fourth in 2000 and 2004) and was one heck of a breakout year. Like Suzann Pettersen 16 years later, Mallon entered her fifth season on Tour with no fanfare whatsoever and by mid summer, was a consensus Top 3 player. From 1992 through 2005, she made every U.S. Solheim team. Meg needs only five more points to secure Hall-of-Fame status but with no POY or Vare Trophies on her mantle, I don’t see her being voted in by the Veterans Committee.

Brandie Burton was an easy Rookie of the Year choice. Her closest competitor was Michelle Estill, who ranked #33 overall. The other two majors in 1991 were won by Amy Alcott (KNC) and Nancy Scranton (du Maurier). As you probably know, Scranton is still a regular on Tour with her twin children in tow most weeks. Nancy has won two more times since that du Maurier title – in 1992 and 2000 – and came pretty close in a couple of other majors, tying for third in two straight LPGA Championships (’99 and ’00). The #19 ranking she posted in 1991 is the best of her career.

No comments: