The two-week break in the LPGA schedule makes this a great time to update the HD Top 30. Not much has changed at the top but the teens and twenties have shuffled a bit.
#1 Lorena Ochoa (1)
Has failed to win in her last seven starts. There are about 140 other exempt players for whom that statement is also true. Unlike Ochoa, not a single one of those other 140 has finished Top 10 in six of their last seven starts. Since the beginning of 2006, Lorena has played in 66 tournaments and finished in the Top 10 in 55 of them.
#2 Annika Sorenstam (2)
A few weeks ago on Inside The LPGA I said that Annika hasn’t been the same since she announced her “steppingaway-ment” and that it wouldn’t surprise me if she didn’t win any more this season. So far I’ve been correct, although I started to wonder when Sorenstam got within two shots at Safeway on Sunday afternoon. Her putter let her down again so I’ll reiterate – Annika’s win at Kingsmill in May was the last of her career.
#3 Paula Creamer (3)
Early last week Rolex said Yani Tseng was the #3 player in the world, ahead of Pettersen AND Creamer. I’ll leave Suzann out of this discussion – she won five times last year and that still counts in the Rolex formula. Paula has three wins, Yani’s win is a major. Even if you consider those two achievements equal (try to convince me, I dare ya), Paula still finishes Top 10 more often and is ahead of Yani by a small margin on the money list despite all of those top two finishes that boost Tseng’s record. Considering that all of 2007 still factors into the Rolex ranking and Paula was a Top 10 player then while Yani was non-existent, putting Tseng ahead of Creamer is ridiculous.
#4 Yani Tseng (4)
Missed the cut at the Safeway Classic, her first MC of the season (and is still Rolex #3). Psychologically speaking, this two-week break could be coming at the worst possible time for the ROY front-runner.
#5 Cristie Kerr (15)
I expected the Safeway win to give Cristie a bump but was surprised to see this much of an effect. She ranks ninth on the money list, seventh in scoring, seventh in Top 10% and hasn’t missed a cut all year. Choi is the only player really pushing her for this spot and since NYC hasn’t won, Kerr gets the nod.
#6 Na Yeon Choi (8)
Choi is now the only rookie with more than four starts who has yet to miss a cut. The only other Tour regulars with no MCs are Ochoa, Sorenstam, Creamer, Kerr and Pettersen.
#7 Seon Hwa Lee (5)
You would think having two victories would guarantee a Top 5 ranking but the Buddah’s uncharacteristic inconsistency (two MCs, only five Top 10s) costs her a couple of spots.
#8 Inbee Park (6)
What is it about the U.S. Open? Since Inbee’s win, she’s managed only one Top 20 and missed her fourth cut of the year at the British. I’ve mentioned Kerr’s troubled 2007 aside from winning that title and recounted the tales of Lunke and Birdie many times. I wouldn’t exactly call it a curse but…
#9 Suzann Pettersen (7)
It doesn’t seem like Suzann is having a Top 10 year but these stats say otherwise – fifth in scoring average, sixth in GIR, T4 in PPGIR, sixth in rounds under par, 11th on the money list. I’m willing to bet she’ll successfully defend one of those titles she won last October.
#10 Ji-Yai Shin (22)
The British Open victory all but guarantees that this KLPGA star will be an LPGA rookie in 2009. We already knew that she would be the odds-on favorite for ROY if she got her Tour card. Now she’ll have to win at least a couple of times to avoid the dreaded “disappointment” label.
#11 Jeong Jang (9)
The wrist injury is finally showing up in JJ’s results. T48 at Evian, WD at British, T44 at Safeway. I haven’t heard yet if any of her doctors know what they should do about it.
#12 Eun-Hee Ji (11)
After her brilliant run which culminated with a T3 at the British, Ji struggled the last two weeks – T29 in Canada and T44 at Safeway.
#13 Hee-Won Han (13)
Fails to move up solely because of the victories by Kerr and Shin. Han is riding three straight Top 10 finishes into the Labor Day break. She and Pettersen are the players most likely to get their first 2008 victory in the coming weeks.
#14 Karrie Webb (10)
Karrie’s season is straddling the line. If she wins or tacks on a couple more Top 5s before the end of the year, she should consider 2008 a success. If she misses another cut or two and only earns a couple more Top 10s, I think her frustration will be even greater than it was a year ago. You could flip a coin and be more accurate than any prediction I might make on this subject.
#15 Song-Hee Kim (12)
Missed her fourth cut of the year at the British but collected her fourth Top 5 at the Canadian.
#16 Angela Park (NR)
Jumps like this are usually reserved for players who win golf tournaments (see #17). Last month Angela was just outside the Top 30 going to Evian and her tie for second there gave her money list standing a huge boost. T6 at Safeway didn’t hurt either. Another big reason for this jump - the players from 17-30 are separated by only nine rating points. If not for a bogey at 17 on Sunday, Sophie Gustafson would be sitting in this spot right now.
#17 Helen Alfredsson (NR)
Won Evian to show us the U.S. Open runner-up wasn’t a fluke, then just missed taking Safeway. As I said yesterday, Helen is your Comeback Player of the Year. She could make this her first Top 10 season since 1993 despite having missed six cuts (only one since April).
#18 Karen Stupples (14)
Stumbling a bit. Karen withdrew from Evian, T24 at the British, missed the cut in Canada and T17 at Safeway.
#19 Laura Diaz (24)
I must confess, I don’t know how Laura does it. She’s 16th in scoring, 20th on the money list and 13th in rounds under par, but her driving stats are downright awful (62 in distance and only 111 in accuracy), she’s only 73rd in GIR, and her putting doesn’t make up the difference (27 and 28 in average and PPGIR respectively). I suppose if the LPGA had a “Scrambling” stat like the PGA does, Diaz would be near the top.
#20 Ji-Young Oh (17)
T44 at Evian and T17 at the British Open. Skipped both Canada and Safeway – the 19 consecutive events started prior to that probably explains why.
#21 Jee Young Lee (18)
Still sliding because she missed the cut at Evian despite her Top 20 finishes at the British, Canada and Safeway. Jelly has gone 11 straight events without a Top 10.
#22 Christina Kim (16)
T20 at Evian, T64 at British, T45 in Canada, MC at Safeway. The trend is troubling.
#23 Jane Park (20)
Something tells me my prediction for Jane last month might have been faulty. T48 at Evian, T24 at British, DNS in Canada, T44 at Safeway.
#24 Sun Young Yoo (NR)
Back in the Top 30 after a month’s hiatus, Yoo finished T11 at Evian and T4 at the Canadian Open. She also T45’d the British and T65 at Safeway but in this range of players, two excellent finishes make quite a difference.
#25 Stacy Prammanasudh (19)
Unfortunately, Stacy is following X-Tina’s lead – T24 at British, T61 in Canada, MC at Safeway.
#26 Maria Hjorth (21)
T17 at Safeway was Maria’s best finish since the playoff at the LPGA Championship. Since she’s only played five LPGA events in the last 11 weeks, those lackluster performances hurt her ranking even more.
#27 Stacy Lewis (25)
Since nobody wants to give an NCAA Champion who finished third in the U.S. Open a sponsor’s exemption (she only has Kapalua lined up with three others unused), Stacy has played a couple of Futures Tour events. She finished third in both of them and now has status on that tour secured if her LPGA attempt falls short.
#28 Katherine Hull (NR)
The Canadian Open victory put Hull in the neighborhood and her fourth place at Safeway moves her into the Top 30 for the first time. Katherine has missed the cut eight times this year but has finished in the top six three times in her last six starts.
#29 Sophie Gustafson (NR)
Sophie’s back in the rankings thanks to her playoff loss at Safeway. A dozen players are within a playoff loss of taking this spot away from her, as well.
#30 Mi Hyun Kim (23)
T62 at Evian and a respectable T24 at the British. Mi Hyun didn’t play Canada or Safeway – hopefully the five-week break will do her good.
Dropped Out: Lindsey Wright (26), Nicole Castrale (27), Angela Stanford (28), Morgan Pressel (29), Teresa Lu (30)
Bubbling Under: Candie Kung