Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Total Driving Update

When I first talked about Total Driving two months ago, one thing I liked about it was that it only took me a couple of hours to plug in the numbers for the 150+ LPGA players so updating it becomes easy whenever the urge strikes. On the eve of the U.S. Open – the event which above all others requires one to keep the ball in the fairway as well as hit it long – I present the current Top 30 in Total Driving:

1. Lorena Ochoa
2. Suzann Pettersen
3. Ji Young Oh
4. Becky Lucidi
5. Karen Stupples
6. Hee Young Park
7. Sophie Giquel
8. Annika Sorenstam
9. Alena Sharp
10. Na Yeon Choi
11. Katie Futcher
12. Eun-Hee Ji
13. Paula Creamer
14. Louise Friberg
15. Maria Hjorth
16. Nicole Castrale
17. Yani Tseng
18. Shanshan Feng
19. Sophie Gustafson
20. Giulia Sergas
21. Meena Lee
22. Teresa Lu
23. Wendy Ward
24. Lindsey Wright
25. Rachel Hetherington
26. Christina Kim
27. Kristy McPherson
28. Hee-Won Han
29. Brittany Lang
30. Jeong Jang

The players currently also in the HD Top 30 are bolded.

I’m not going to say this list suggests that Ji Young Oh or Hee Young Park should be considered dark horses to win this week (a player needs to hit some good iron shots and putt pretty well to do that) but I’d think twice about picking a player to win who ranks in the triple-digits. Using this info plus other factors such as recent performance, one might think a player like Teresa Lu or Giulia Sergas could make a run at this title. Here are the Total Driving positions of the rest of my Top 30 (except for Ji-Yai Shin, whose KLPGA stats aren’t applicable and LPGA stats aren’t available):

31. Sun Young Yoo
34. Jee Young Lee
37. Cristie Kerr
40. Angela Stanford
42. Jane Park
47. Song-Hee Kim
48. Juli Inkster
56. Laura Diaz
61. Seon Hwa Lee
62. Mi Hyun Kim
67. Karrie Webb
73. Stacy Prammanasudh
81. Morgan Pressel
98. Se Ri Pak
100. Inbee Park

In my
PakPicker, nine of my choices rank #37 or better while I also selected Shin, Pressel and Mi Hyun Kim for other reasons. I picked Paula Creamer to come out on top, but who do you think will win?


svenson said...

Great analysis, again. Off topic for a moment: Are there any LPGAers who are exempt from having to qualify for the open who are not playing this week?

The Constructivist said...

I picked Seon Hwa Lee on a hunch, so I'm sad to see her total driving rank is so low. Where does Miyazato rank, BTW?

I did go into more detail on the reasoning behind me picks this week.

My one thought on why total driving alone won't cut it has to do with the Donald Ross green areas, the number of short pars 4s and short par 5s on this long course, and the fact that even the best drivers miss the fairway about 1 out of every 5 holes: what's going to separate out those who are driving the ball well that week from each other are those other factors you mentioned!

Hound Dog said...

Svenson - to the best of my knowledge, the answer is no. I haven't heard of anybody passing it up (a la Inkster at the LPGA Champ). If anybody WDs because of physical reasons, I'm sure we'll hear about it Thursday.

TC - Ai ranks #109. Her accuracy is about average but at 241 a pop, she's down on the distance. Seon Hwa at #61 isn't bad but like Miyazato, she needs to hit more fairways if she's only going about 245.

I've recently resumed trying to figure out ways to show players' strengths isolated from other parts of their game - mainly the questions of PPGIR being influenced by the player's ability with irons, and GIR being influenced by a player's driving distance. If I can ever get near those answers, we may have the "other factors" in hand!

The Constructivist said...

Part of the problem is the PGA keeps stats the LPGA doesn't. Wanna know who hits their irons closest to the pins on average? Wanna know who's the best scrambler on tour? I sure do!

The Constructivist said...

Inbee's US Women's Open stats:

driving distance: 268.25 yds. (#17)
driving accuracy: 66% (#28)
GIR: 68% (#21)
putts: 28.75 (T2)

Kinda supports Golf Observer's claim that putting wins Opens, eh! But all the ballstriking figures are improvements on her season averages....