Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hall of Fame Candidates

When I first wrote about this topic nearly a year ago, Lorena Ochoa had 13 Hall of Fame points and I picked her as the most likely player to reach the necessary total of 27. Little did I know it would take less than 11 months for her to do it! Great players can make even the wildest predictions come true sometimes.

She’s off the board now so it’s time to update where the various other candidates stand. Here are the active leaders in Hall of Fame points through the Stanford International:

Laura Davies 25
Meg Mallon 22
Liselotte Neumann 14
Cristie Kerr 11
Sherri Steinhauer 10
Grace Park 8
Rachel Hetherington 8
Mi Hyun Kim 8
Suzann Pettersen 6
Pat Hurst 6
Hee-Won Han 6
Paula Creamer 5

The players in bold have already completed the secondary qualification of: a) winning a major, b) winning a Player of the Year award, or c) winning a Vare Trophy. I’ll assume that all of these players eventually complete the 10-year minimum requirement on Tour. I stopped listing players at five arbitrarily – that doesn’t mean Morgan Pressel or Jeong Jang aren’t going to make the HOF, I had to stop somewhere. For anybody with less than five points, let’s wait until they build up more credentials before we start assessing their chances for the Hall. There are at least a couple of other players out there with five or seven wins who are still active (initials are D.A. and H.A.) but I've elected to not consider them here as their careers are winding down - slam me if you feel it necessary.

The biggest mover since last May has been Suzann Pettersen. Five career wins, one of them a major. I’m not quite ready to anoint her as the most likely next member, but another year like 2007 will earn her that distinction. Cristie Kerr moved a big gorilla out of the way – the U.S. Open win counts two points plus it fulfilled that secondary qualification I was talking about in the last paragraph. If she can repeat 2006 a couple more times, she’ll be knocking on the door.

Laura Davies has been pounding on that door since 2001. She was leading or tied with a hole or two to play twice in 2007 (Ginn Open and Thailand) but came up empty both times. Even before her erratic start to 2008, I was guessing that ’07 was Laura’s last hurrah. She may pull an Inkster on us but I’m not expecting that. Having said that - if I had a Veterans Committee vote, I’d give it to Davies right now. She should really only be one point short because
she didn’t win POY in 1994, even though she was certainly the best player. Getting only slightly off track – my second imaginary Veterans Committee vote would go to Jane Blalock, who won 27 times between 1970 and 1985 but never won a major or POY or Vare. So she won the Colgate Dinah Shore before it was a major – big deal, put her in anyway. UPDATE: I withdraw my vote for Blalock - see the comments.

Back on topic…Meg Mallon and Liselotte Neumann are in the same position as they were last year, except that they are now one year older (sorry, I just had to mention that). Sherri Steinhauer is averaging a point a year over the last four – a pace that isn’t good enough to get her to 27 either. Grace Park is still young enough to make a run but hasn’t collected a point in over three years. Rachel Hetherington isn’t quite as young as Grace and has gone nearly five years without a point. I believe Pat Hurst has a win or two left in her but even getting 10 points would be a stretch.

Without considering any potential Veterans Committee selections, the active players who are most likely to make it into the Hall of Fame are:

1. Cristie Kerr
2. Suzann Pettersen
3. Paula Creamer
4. Laura Davies
5. Mi Hyun Kim
6. Hee-Won Han


Albert said...

My list:

1. Paula Creamer (21) - 5 wins and no majors, but she is much younger than other candidates and is winning regularly already.

2. Suzann Pettersen (27) - 6 wins and a major, but needs to convince me that last season was not a fluke. Still has plenty of time, but needs to win at least 2-3 events a year from now on.

3. Cristie Kerr (30) - she already has a major, but time is running out. I don't see ger winning often enough to get there.

4. Laura Davies (44) - she deserves to get in, but I don't think she has two more wins in her. She will have to rely on veterans committee votes.

5. Hee Won Han (29)
6.Mi Hyun Kim (31)

I put Hee Won ahead of Kimmie, because she is younger and more likely to win a major, but I am 90%sure both of them will fall short. Despite Lorena's recent accomplishments, it's still very very difficult to win enough to qualify for Hall of Fame (and it should be difficult!)

The Florida Masochist said...


Good article. Jane Blalock is unlikely to make the Hall by a Veterans vote. Remember the allegations of cheating and then her lawsuit against the LPGA? Those are two big millstones around her neck so far as the HOF goes.


The Constructivist said...

I would also put Han ahead of Kim and Creamer ahead of Pettersen. The latter two are in a race to be the Webb to Ochoa's Sorenstam, so to speak. Kim is really in Kerr's generation in terms of time on tour and I don't think either can come close to matching Pak's record. Han, Grace Park, and Jeong Jang are in a younger generation and I think Han has the most upside in the bunch, although Park seems to be joining Koch and Hetherington and Kung on the comeback trail this year.

sag said...

Blalock can be ruled out altogether. You still need a major, POY, or Vare to be considered by the Veteran's Committee.

Hound Dog said...

Albert - I disagree that time is "running out" on Kerr, other than the sense that time is "running out" on all of us. She's could have as many as 15 good seasons left in the tank.

Good points by all about Creamer. Her only knock is "no majors", but there's plenty of time for that.

I should have realized that the major-POY-Vare qualification would apply to Veterans selections. I don't recall seeing that in print anywhere, though. I definitely need to dig up those Blalock stories, Bill. I hadn't heard about them.

sag said...

HD, I got the Veteran's Committee requirements off the LPGA web site. Click on Players then in the left column click Hall of Fame. There's a link on that page you can follow.

The gist of the Blalock situation is on her Wikipedia page. After having marked her ball on the green, she allegedly moved her ball closer to the hole while replacing it. This was alleged to have been witnessed by several players during several tournaments.

Albert said...

Actually you are right about Kerr. After looking at it closer I give her 10 more years (players winning consistently in their early 40-ties are rare). Up to now she has been winning 1.7 times per year (starting from her first win in 2002). If she can keep it up for 10 more years she is in. Very big IF...

Another interesting fact - in the last 50 years only one player has managed to get into Hall of Fame without having at least one 5+ win season (Amy Alcott is the exception and she won 4 times in three separate years).

Hound Dog said...

That makes sense, Albert. A player needs one or two of those monster seasons during their prime to get enough points. That's another element that Creamer will likely need to accomplish.

Sag, I read up on the Blalock situation last night (thanks for the link, Bill) and you can consider my HOF plug for Jane withdrawn.

The Florida Masochist said...

I doubt Cristie will make the HOF via the 27 pt requirement.

Another factor no one is considering, she's married. I'm betting within 5 years Cristie loses most of a year due to having a baby. If she and Eric decide to have two, that's two years and most likely this would happen before Cristie turns 40.

Nancy Lopez and Juli Inkster are HOF golfers and mothers, but they are an exception not the rule.