Monday, April 14, 2008

Corona Championship – Epilogue

Lorena Ochoa’s victory at Corona was her fourth win in five 2008 starts, the 21st of her career (tying her with Marilynn Smith for 24th on the all-time list), and the ninth win in her last 14 starts. I found a similar streak in Annika Sorenstam’s record – from September 2004 until June 2005, Annika won 10 times in 14 starts. As good as Ochoa’s been, she hasn’t blown Annika’s portfolio out of the water just yet.

In regards to margin-of-victory – Lorena IS blowing Annika out of the water. There have been only four double-digit victories since the beginning of 2004 – Annika has one and Lorena has the last three. Two of them have come in the last six weeks. To be fair, Annika did have one nine-shot and one eight-shot win during her dominant streak mentioned above. Also, Lorena reached $1 million in earnings in only five events, beating Annika’s 2005 record of six.

The overall scoring average at Corona was 74.68, more than a stroke higher than either of the last two years but not as high as 2005’s 75.5. How can a course average that high with a player threatening to break the all-time below-par record?

#1 – par was 73
#2 – the best player in the world was playing against a very thin field
#3 – the thin field was also a small field

Song-Hee Kim, Inbee Park and company managed double-digits under par primarily because of #1 (Kim would have been -10 had par been 72). But even adjusting for the one extra shot per round, Ochoa would have posted -21 and the six players in the Top 5 had only two rounds over 72 among them out of 24 total. That doesn’t sound like a difficult course. My theory is, the thin field made it appear difficult. 22 players finished under par but 22 others who made the cut finished at +10 or worse. And since the field was so small, the cut didn’t weed out as many of the “lesser” players (who weren’t playing well even for their standards) as it normally would so this “false-difficulty” effect was magnified. Let these “lesser” players keep playing and put up a couple more 78s and your average really goes up, not to mention the abysmal scoring of those who managed to MISS the cut. We have no way of knowing for sure, but I would bet that a full field of 144 players with a normal allotment of Top 30 talent would have averaged under 74 and might have approached 73.5 at Corona this weekend.

It was pointed out in the comments that Sophie Gustafson tied an LPGA record with three eagles on Sunday. Alice Ritzman and Nina Reis had been the only players with three in one round. Sophie piled up SIX eagles in the four rounds (more fodder for my stance that the course was easier than the average score indicates). The recap at doesn’t mention whether six is a record, so I’ll assume it is not – unless the guy researching that is the same one who put out the stat that said Ochoa was going to be the youngest HOF member.

I mentioned Song-Hee Kim’s career-high finish yesterday but wanted to give a shout-out to Kristy McPherson, another second-year player who finished seventh to register her career-high as well.

Life On Tour has
a shot of one of Corona’s promotional banners which someone unfortunately decided to deface. My only question is – does the vandal dislike Cristie Kerr or were they disappointed that the event was promoted with Cristie’s likeness despite the fact she was never entered?

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