Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Top 30 – April 2008

You know the drill – time to rank the players again, blah, blah, 2008 stats count for 40%, blah, blah, last month’s ranking in parentheses. Let’s get to it:

#1 Lorena Ochoa (1)
What’s left to say? Hall of Fame, four straight wins, six wins in her last seven starts, 10 in her last 15. Already $1.6 million in earnings, with her next goal being the Senorita Slam.

#2 Suzann Pettersen (2)
The numbers say Pettersen is playing great, despite the fact she hasn’t really contended for a win so far in 2008 (blame #1 for that). Two Top 10s, Top 5 on the money list and a scoring average under 71 is by no means shabby. When/if Lorena ever falters, Suzann is likely to go on a run of her own.

#3 Paula Creamer (3)
Struggling. In her last three events Paula has finished T46, T21 and T66. Still solidly #3 though.

#4 Annika Sorenstam (5)
Annika should take Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak aside and ask them “How did YOU deal with this crap five years ago?”. Six starts, one win, five Top 10s, four Top 5s and all anyone can talk about is Ochoa. Annika’s playing great and I’m glad to see it, but the irony is sweet!

#5 Jeong Jang (8)
There is a widening gap between positions 4 and 5. #1 is beyond the stratosphere, 2-4 are a comparable group, as are 5-13. JJ isn’t playing great right now (no Top 10s since Fields) but she jumps Pressel, Peanut and Seon Hwa because her 2008 numbers are better and my emphasis on them increases every week.

#6 Seon Hwa Lee (7)
Got her first Top 10 at the Kraft Nabisco, where she was fifth. This Stone Buddah thing isn’t getting it done, TV-wise. Lee needs to start yelling at the ball to stick/get up, color her hair orange, or something to get some face-time. You say she’s been a Top 10 player ever since she teed it up as a rookie at the start of 2006? Never mind - don’t change a thing, babe.

#7 Morgan Pressel (4)
MC at Safeway, T38 at KNC, T25 at Ginn. Do Creamer and Pressel struggle at the same events because of their similar games? I come up with more study ideas than I have time to work on.

#8 Jee Young Lee (12)
Could only have played worse in her first four outings had she missed the cuts. She avoided those fates and got back on track by finishing second at Safeway (the fifth of her young career), T21 at the Kraft Nabisco and T17 at Ginn.

#9 Mi Hyun Kim (6)
Tied for sixth at the Kraft Nabisco but her other performances have been abysmal. T60 at Safeway, withdrew at HSBC, missed the cut at Ginn. She’s still recovering from knee surgery, and the good KNC showing leads me to believe she’s going to bounce back soon.

#10 Stacy Prammanasudh (9)
Stacy signed on with a Thai beer company and subsequently got dropped from Ping’s roster (they have a strict policy against sharing sponsorship with a manufacturer of alcohol). Adjusting to new clubs, Stacy finished T45, T67, and MC. Wow. Couldn’t she have continued to use her old sticks and just removed all Ping references from her bag and clothing? She got her first Top 10 of the year at Ginn (T8) so maybe she’s figured it out.

#11 Angela Stanford (13)
Example #173 of why predicting golf is so confounding: Angela has finished worse than T17 only once this year, when she missed the cut at the MasterCard. Which was by far the worst field she has faced (she didn’t play Corona).

#12 Cristie Kerr (10)
Hasn’t finished Top 20 since Hawaii. Not missing cuts like she did a year ago, but she still hasn’t gotten her swing changes down.

#13 Maria Hjorth (15)
Was about to leap into the Top 10 but stumbled over the last step. Maria tied for sixth at Safeway and came in fourth at KNC before missing the cut at Ginn.

#14 Angela Park (11)
A little birdie told me that Angela messed up her swing trying to add some distance, explaining her recent struggles. In a day or two, I’m going to attempt to show you why this type of adjustment is so unnecessary.

#15 Hee-Won Han (19)
Mom’s march continues. Han is still on target to reach the Top 10 by next month’s ranking. Her worst finish in seven starts this year was T22 at Safeway. Tied for sixth at KNC.

#16 Christina Kim (23)
Kim jumps seven spots, despite missing the cut at KNC and a T44 at Ginn. Her overall record in 2008 keeps pushing her up as those numbers increase in significance. Her three Top 10s trail only Lorena and Annika.

#17 Karrie Webb (16)
I’ve almost given up on trying to figure out Karrie. Every time I think she’s playing well, she misses the cut at Safeway or finishes T38 at Ginn. Do the veteran players like Webb, Kerr and Pak focus so much on the majors that they really don’t give a damn about the other events, especially when they aren’t in contention on the weekend?

#18 Ji-Yai Shin (21)
Her only LPGA event in the last month was the Kraft Nabisco, where she finished T31. If I don’t watch out, someone will accuse my system of being Rolex-like where if you don’t play much, you move up. The girl’s got two Top 10s and is 30th on the money list despite only playing three events. Somebody will have to prove to me that she isn’t Top 20 material.

#19 Natalie Gulbis (20)
Two Top 20s in six starts with T13 at KNC being the best.

#20 Momoko Ueda (14)
I was right when I said I probably had Ueda ranked too high last month and I was right again when I said it would probably correct itself. I love it when I’m right, especially when I can turn something I do wrong into being right! This ranking seems to be accurate, even though Momoko has struggled in her last four events.

#21 Se Ri Pak (17)
Pak stopped the bleeding with a T10 at KNC, but then ripped away the tourniquet as she missed the cut (by eight shots!) at Ginn. I didn’t really expect a Player of the Year run out of her but I certainly didn’t expect this either.

#22 Yani Tseng (NR)
The first of four newcomers to the HD Top 30. Only two players have better 2008 stats than Tseng – Sorenstam and you-know-who. Three Top 10s with second-place finishes at MasterCard and Ginn. A T25 at Fields is her worst outing so far. Two rookies are now in the Top 30 with two more knocking on the door.

#23 Laura Diaz (24)
Laura has missed the last two cuts and finished T32 and T39 before that, all but negating the two Top 5s she posted earlier.

#24 Nicole Castrale (18)
Aside from the apparently injured Steinhauer, Nicole and Brittany Lincicome are the most likely Top 30 players on their way out. Neither has shown any signs so far in 2008 that they belong here. Nicole has missed two cuts with only one Top 20.

#25 Karen Stupples (NR)
Since the beginning of October, Stupples has finished no worse than T16 in seven LPGA events. The only player with a longer active Top 20 streak is Ochoa - 29!! Annika Sorenstam had a streak of 13 going until it was snapped at Ginn. If Karen can keep hers alive for a few more weeks, she could be in the Top 15 next month.

#26 Juli Inkster (26)
If Juli could putt, she’d be in the Top 15. If a frog had wings…

#27 Laura Davies (27)
T9 at Safeway, T55 at KNC, T44 at Ginn.

#28 Brittany Lincicome (22)
Brittany slowed down her freefall slightly with a T15 at Corona. If she had played that weaker-field event at the same level she was at this time last year, she probably would have given Ochoa a game. She’s been undergoing swing changes, I understand. Unfortunately she missed her third cut of the year at Ginn and is almost out of here.

#29 Lindsey Wright (NR)
Early last summer, I thought Lindsey was about make the jump into the Top 30. Top 5 finishes at the LPGA Championship and Wegmans along with a quarter-final appearance in the HSBC Match Play nearly put the Aussie there. Nine months later, here she is – third place at Fields, T9 at Safeway plus three other Top 20s got her over the hump.

#30 Sherri Steinhauer (25)
Until Louise Friberg missed the cut at Ginn, Sherri was going to fall out of April’s Top 30. She got some cortisone shots just prior to Safeway but apparently the bursitis in her hips is still a problem. Missed the cut at KNC and didn’t play at Corona or Ginn. Get well soon, Sherri.

Dropped Out: Shi Hyun Ahn (28), Catriona Matthew (29), Sarah Lee (30).

Bubbling Under: Na Yeon Choi, Song-Hee Kim, Inbee Park.


Sergio said...

Please explain how can you possibly rank Paula higher than Annika? As a big Lorena fan I can tell you that Paula does not scare me a bit, Annika still does...

Hound Dog said...

I'll be glad to. The rankings I just released are 60% from 2007, 40% from 2008. Paula had a much better year than Annika in 2007 (2 more wins and a lot more money earned accounts for that). I don't adjust for injuries, that's part of the game. This year, they both have one win, and Annika has more Top 10s. Her advantage in 2008 isn't enough to outweigh Paula's for 2007. If she maintains that advantage, she will overtake Paula in a few weeks. I increase the current season's emphasis 5% after each event and completely eliminate the previous season from the equation after 20 events.

Lorena hasn't had a problem with either of them so far.

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