While staring at the leaderboard during the opening rounds at Safeway, I decided to keep busy by looking at my track record of picking winners and see if I could uncover any surprising (yet still trivial!) information.
Including the Safeway International, I have attempted to pick winners in the last 50 LPGA events (actually 51, but the ’07 Arkansas event didn’t officially happen so…). 13 times I’ve selected the winner outright (26%) and 11 other times one of my CYA choices came in first (48% combined). Neither of those stats is too shabby – I’m really surprised I have more outright winners than CYA ones - but I couldn’t have done any of it without the help of Lorena Ochoa.
I’ve picked Ochoa a total of 36 times over the last 20 months. Of the 22 times I’ve picked her outright she’s come through eight times, and she’s won five out of the 14 times I made her a CYA. 36 Ochoas out of 50 sounds like a lot, but it gets even worse – Lorena hasn’t been playing every week. When she has been in the field, I am currently on a streak of 24 consecutive events where I’ve picked Ochoa in some fashion. The last time I didn’t pick her was LAST year’s Safeway International. She won that week, of course, and I immediately took a vow to select her every time henceforth. I had picked Lorena for the 11 events she had played prior to the ’07 Safeway International, so that makes 35 out of the last 36! The only other event that Ochoa has played that I didn’t pick her at all was the 2006 British Open (she finished T4). Now, don’t try to tell me that picking the same person all the time is stupid or unsporting, or that I’m just blindly throwing her name out there every week. I have yet to pick her on a week when she wasn’t playing, so I’m at least looking at the damn field! My success rate has been pretty good so don’t expect me to be changing this trend anytime soon. Especially when her Top 10% is nearly 86% over these events.
You may have guessed that Paula Creamer is my second-favorite player to pick. 17 times I’ve listed her (three times to win outright) and while two wins might seem a pittance, Paula usually makes a good run at it – 12 Top 10s in the 17 attempts. Annika Sorenstam has finished in the Top 10 11 times out of the 14 I’ve picked her, but only once has she managed to win (’08 SBS). Cristie Kerr might be my MVP runner-up – with three wins (two outright) in 11 tries she’s got the numbers, but that was before her game started slipping last summer. Suzann Pettersen has won twice in the five times I’ve chosen her.
The picks that I’m most proud of were Kerr to win last year’s US Open, Young Kim as a CYA when she won Corning, and calling Annika’s win at SBS six weeks ago. My worst moments? So many to choose from, but I’ll go with the three “winners” who missed the cut – Mi Hyun Kim at the ’06 British, Shi Hyun Ahn at the ’07 State Farm and Jeong Jang at the ’07 British. While on the subject of Peanut and JJ – they are very prominent on my “unfulfilled expectations” list. I’ve picked no one more than JJ (nine times, one of them outright) without being right even ONCE. Peanut has failed me six times while both Karrie Webb and Stacy Prammanasudh are oh-fer-seven.
Am I getting any better with my prognosticating? I’m going to call the results “mixed”. I’m getting the winners right more often now than I did back in 2006 but that’s probably skewed by Ochoa’s dominance. On a related note – the three players I list here each week are also my top three choices in the PakPicker at the Seoulsisters message board. Last year I managed to win their season-long points championship but am off to a slow start so far in 2008. The competition has gotten really tough in recent months – nobody out there is picking just Korean golfers any more!
I read recently (I’m sure it was on somebody’s blog) that if you can correctly predict a tournament winner every week you must be watching tennis, and if you can’t ever predict a tournament winner you must be watching golf. The guy who originally made that statement must not have had Tiger Woods or Lorena Ochoa available to him because if I didn’t, that phrase would absolutely be true.