Guccifer 2.0 Google Search Result Weirdnesses

How is it possible that a few posts scattered here at Mostly Harmless and on some of my other blogs last night led to their being more easily findable on google than anything Studio Dongo has posted on Guccifer 2.0 over the last several weeks?  Anyone who understands google search algorithms better than me, please feel free to respond!

The Best on the LPGA without a Major, September 2014 Edition

With the Evian Championship starting in a couple of days, it’s about time I updated my July 2014 survey of who actually has had the best careers on the LPGA among those who have not yet won a major.  Lexi Thompson was ranked 3rd when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Michelle Wie was ranked 4th when she won the U.S. Women’s Open, but Mo Martin came out of practically nowhere at Royal Birkdale, so who knows who on this list may graduate from it by Sunday?

In what follows, I’ll be relying strongly on my career rankings spreadsheet and major rankings spreadsheet, but the question is how to combine the ranking systems.  Is it better to have a proven record of winning over the course of your LPGA career but not yet have converted that into a major win or is it better to have a history of near-misses in majors?  To me, that’s a judgment call, based on individual careers, so what I’ll do is simply add together the points players have earned in each system to sort players into rough groups, then adjust rankings within each group based on head-to-head comparisons between the players in each of them.  I’ll really fine-tune the future-oriented version of this post when I make my Evian Championship picks for the PakPicker competition at Seoul Sisters.com tomorrow.

[Note:  the numbers in parentheses following each player’s name represent total LPGA victories/KLPGA-JLPGA-LET victories, points in my major ranking system (rank), points in my career ranking system (rank).]

Simply the Best

1. Lydia Ko (4/2, 828 [#18], 3333 [#3]).  She’s the universal favorite for 2014 Rookie of the Year, #1 in the LPGA’s Club 36 (3-to-6-time winners), and already has done surprisingly well in majors, most notably in the Evian Championship last year and the Wegmans LPGA Championship this year.  Here are her best finishes in LPGA majors:

  • Kraft Nabisco Championship:  T25 (2013)
  • Wegmans LPGA Championship:  3rd (2014)
  • U.S. Women’s Open:  T15 (2014)
  • Ricoh Women’s British Open:  T17 (2012)
  • Evian Championship:  2nd (2013)

In January, I wrote, “I’d be shocked if she didn’t improve on her peak performances in 4 of the 5 LPGA majors in 2014.  No pressure, eh?”  So far she’s 2 for 4, but she’ll need to win the Evian to make it 3 for 5.

2. Ai Miyazato (9/17, 668 [#27], 2075 [#10]).  She’s #1 in the Class of 2006, #4 in the Tseng Dynasty, and now #2 in LPGA’s Club 79 (those with 7 to 9 wins on tour).  Her best finishes:

  • KNC  T15 (2007)
  • LPGA:  T3 (2006 and 2010)
  • USWO:  T6 (2009 and 2011)
  • WBO:  T3 (2009)
  • Evian:  T15 (2013) 

Of her 15 JLPGA victories, 2 came in majors, the Japan Women’s Open in 2005 and the Konica Minolta Cup in 2006.  Despite her struggles with her short game this season, her career record justifies her #2 position.  I think her game is finally starting to round into shape.  Let’s see if coming back to a place she’s won twice at can kick-start her year!

3. In-Kyung Kim (3/2, 972 [#15], 1701 [#12]).  She’s #2 in the Class of 2007, #5 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #6 in the LPGA’s Club 36.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  2nd (2012)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2010)
  • USWO:  2nd (2013)
  • WBO:  T3 (2010)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Although she has a better record in majors than many major winners, she’s had even more trouble closing the deal in them than in regular tournaments.  I have a feeling that once she finds the next oasis, it’ll make finding ones after it that much easier.  Why not at Evian?

The Contenders

4. Amy Yang (1/4, 742 [#26], 1245 [#19]):  She’s #5 in the Class of 2008, #8 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #1 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T4 (2012)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2013)
  • USWO:  2nd (2012)
  • WBO:  4th (2011)
  • Evian:  T67 (2013)

Although Yang won a KLPGA major in 2011 and finished 2013 hot, she hasn’t been all that impressive in 2014 thus far.  But odds are she’ll improve on last year’s finish at Evian by a lot!

5. Azahara Munoz (1/2, 422 [#40], 1278 [#18]).  She’s #2 in the Class of 2010, #7 in the New Blood Generation, and #2 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T4 (2014)
  • USWO:  T19 (2010)
  • WBO:  T12 (2014)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Even though she’s underperformed in majors relative to her overall career record, she’s on quite a roll in them this season.  In January, I wrote, “I expect her to set career high-water marks in most all of the 2014 majors.” 1 more good major would make her 4 for 5 in 2014!

6. Hee Kyung Seo (1/11, 522 [#32], 1170 [#24]):  She’s #1 in the Class of 2011, #5 among the LPGA’s New Blood, and #6 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T4 (2012)
  • LPGA:  T34 (2011)
  • USWO:  2nd (2011)
  • WBO:  T5 (2010)
  • Evian:  T64 (2013)

In addition to her strong performances in most every LPGA major, she won 3 KLPGA majors in 2009.  When she returns from maternity leave, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she pulled a Catriona Matthew!

7. Mika Miyazato (1/2, 441 [#39], 1121 [#25]):  She’s #5 in the Class of 2011, #6 among the LPGA’s New Blood, and #5 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2011)
  • LPGA:  T2 (2012)
  • USWO:  5th (2011)
  • WBO:  4th (2012)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Both her JLPGA victories have come at the most important major on their schedule, the Japan Women’s Open, so she’s another player I’d say is due to do even better in LPGA majors, except for the fact that her short game has been atrocious in 2014.

8. Hee Young Park (2/6, 442 [#38], 1065 [#27]).  She’s #4 in the Class of 2008, #11 in the Tseng Dynasty, and now #2 among the LPGA’s 2-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T14/14th (2011 and 2012)
  • USWO:  T9 (2009)
  • WBO:  T2 (2013)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

As much as she improved on her record in LPGA majors in 2013, I expected her to do even better in 2014.  Her last chance to do so is this week!

9. Lizette Salas (1/0, 294 [#51], 1198 [#21]).  After breaking through for her 1st career LPGA victory this year, Salas not only leapfrogged 3 players I predicted would do it before her (Caroline Hedwall, Chella Choi, and Carlota Ciganda), she’s become a real threat to do it again before Amy Yang and Azahara Munoz, my current top 2 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Plus she’s done great in majors already for someone ranked #3 in her Class of 2012:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T25 (2012)
  • USWO:  T15 (2011)
  • WBO:  6th (2013)
  • Evian:  T11 (2013)
She’s coming back from injuries and seems close to regaining her top form.  Let’s see if she make it happen at Evian.

10. Angela Stanford (5/0, 620 [#31], n.a. [n.r.]).  She’s the only LPGA veteran with a strong enough record to make it into this category.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T3 (2010)
  • LPGA:  T4 (2004)
  • USWO:  T2 (2003)
  • WBO:  T5 (2014)
  • Evian:  T6 (2013)

At the start of the year, you might have been tempted to think “what have you done for me lately?” when it comes to Stanford’s record in LPGA majors, but you’d have been dead wrong.  She has 8-straight top-20 finishes in the KNC (including a T7 this year), she’s finished in the top 35 in the LPGA Championship in 11 of her last 12 starts (with another top 5 in 2009), she got a top 10 in the USWO in 2005 and top 5s in 2 of her last 4 starts, and she’s got top 25s in the WBO in 5 of her last 6 starts (including a career-best finish this year).  I’m sure if I extended my career ranking system back to the Class of 2001 and the LPGA generation that bears her name, she’d be even higher on this list!

Quantum Leap Candidates

11. Jessica Korda (3/0, 260 [#56], 1173 [#23]).  As the newest member of the LPGA’s Club 36, I’d put her at #5 or #6 in that category if I were redoing the ranking today, and I’d probably be ranking her higher than #3 in the Class of 2011 and #10 in the New Blood generation, as well.  She posted her best finish in 5 consecutive LPGA majors until missing the cut at Pinehurst.

  • KNC:  T24 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T40 (2014)
  • USWO:  T7 (2013)
  • WBO:  T5 (2014)
  • Evian:  T37 (2013)

She’ll have to play well at Evian to extend her new streak to 3!

12. Brittany Lang (1/0, 506 [#34], 896 [#32]).  She’s #6 in the Class of 2006, #16 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #8 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T6 (2006)
  • LPGA:  T18 (2008)
  • USWO:  T2 (2005)
  • WBO:  2nd (2011)
  • Evian:  T57 (2013)

The KNC is definitely her most consistent major, as she finished in the top 21 between 2006 and 2010, but even there she’s been inconsistent of late.  Still, she can contend out of nowhere, as she did as an amateur at the USWO in 2005 and as a pro in 2010 and 2013, as well as at the 2011 WBO.  At the very least, she ought to improve on her Evian record this season.

13. Seon Hwa Lee (4/3, 245 [#58], 1173 [#22]).  Even with her pronounced slump of recent years, her career stats actually remain quite strong (she was still #4 in the very strong Class of 2006 at the start of 2014 and #10 in the Tseng Dynasty).  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  5th (2008)
  • LPGA:  T10 (2008)
  • USWO:  T25 (2007)
  • WBO:  T14 (2008)
  • Evian:  DNP (2013)

You can tell how bad her slump has been by the fact that she hasn’t made a cut in a major since the KNC in 2012 and has missed it in 8 of 11 starts in majors dating back to 2010.  Even worse, she failed to even qualify for 9 of the last 11 majors (including every single one this year).  Imagine how much higher she’d be ranked if she hadn’t fallen off the career cliff and instead been simply mediocre the last few seasons!

14. Jee Young Lee (1/1, 403 [#42], 950 [#31]).  She’s #5 in the Class of 2006, #15 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #11 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  And that’s despite a slump that’s been only a little shorter and shallower than her fellow Lee in the ’06ers.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T13 (2007)
  • LPGA:  T10 (2007)
  • USWO:  7th (2007)
  • WBO:  T2 (2007)
  • Evian:  WD (2013)

She’s failed to finish 8 of the last 13 majors she started and missed out on qualifying for 4 others during that stretch, which dates back to 2011.  Even though she’s started to pull out of her slump in regular tournaments, she hadn’t cracked the top 30 in an LPGA major since the 2010 USWO, until she got a T16 at Mission Hills this year.  Evian is her last shot at turning things around this year.

15. Chella Choi (0/0, 375 [#45], 882 [#33]).  She’s now the top player on the LPGA without a win, #6 in the Class of 2009, and #11 in the New Blood generation.  And she’s been pretty strong in every major:

  • KNC:  T16 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2013)
  • USWO:  T13 (2011)
  • WBO:  T10 (2012)
  • Evian:  T6 (2013)
Let’s see if she can improve on her great finish last year at Evian and put to rest the ridiculously overblown criticism she’s been facing for what seems like an isolated mistake.


16. Beatriz Recari (3/1, 192 [#68], 1057 [#28]):  She’s #1 in the Class of 2010 (but not when I update my ranking), #8 in the New Blood Generation, and #3 in Club 36.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T19 (2013)
  • USWO:  T27 (2011)
  • WBO:  T17 (2014)
  • Evian:  T9 (2013)

You can tell how well she’s been playing in the last few seasons by how recent her career bests in majors have been, but she’s still underperforming in majors compared to her achievements in regular tournaments.  Like Salas, she’s bouncing back from injuries, but she has the added bonus of helping Team Spain win the International Crown.

17. Julieta Granada (1/0, 359 [#47], 795 [#37]).  She’s flying up my rankings with top 6s in her last 2 LPGA majors.  At #7 in the Class of 2006, #18 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #13 among the tour’s 1-time winners at the start of the season, she’s on track to be in a better place at its end.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2011)
  • LPGA:  T6 (2014)
  • USWO:  T10 (2007)
  • WBO:  T5 (2014)
  • Evian:  T57 (2013)

It’s looking like she’ll establish her 3rd-straight career-best finish in an LPGA major this week!

18. Caroline Hedwall (0/5, 278 [#53], 869 [#35]).  Despite fine play at the International Crown, she’s still in a deep slump in stroke play events.  Her best finishes in majors aren’t that great (besides at the KNC), but they aren’t that bad, either:

  • KNC:  T3 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T37 (2013)
  • USWO:  T31 (2013)
  • WBO:  T27 (2010)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Maybe playing in Europe will be just what the doctor ordered for her!

19. Meena Lee (2/4, 237 [#59], 872 [#34]).  The veteran has been playing very good golf in 2014.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T29 (2006)
  • LPGA:  T6 (2011)
  • USWO:  T5 (2014)
  • WBO:  T11 (2013)
  • Evian:  T31 (2013)
She couldn’t quite manage career bests in Birkdale or Pittsford, but I have a feeling one is coming at Evian.

20. Jenny Shin (0/0, 271 [#55], 759 [#40]).  This Class of 2011er has been blossoming in recent years.  Many of her best finishes have come this season:

  • KNC:  T39 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T13 (2014)
  • USWO:  T10 (2014)
  • WBO:  T17 (2012 and 2013)
  • Evian:  T31 (2013)

I wouldn’t be surprised if she makes it 4 for 5 in 2014 at the end of this week!

The Best of the Rest

21. Sandra Gal (1/0, 274 [#54], 726 [#42]).
22. Kristy McPherson (0/0, 409 [#41], 565 [#51]).
23. Gerina Piller (0/0, 223 [#61], 740 [#41]).
24. Jennifer Johnson (1/0, 222 [#62], 681 [#44]).
25. Pornanong Phatlum (0/2, 210 [#63], 694 [#41]).
26. Caroline Masson (0/1, 330 [#49], 546 [#53]).
27. Ilhee Lee (1/0, 211 [#63], 638 [#45]).
28. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (0/0, 232 [#60], 594 [#47]).
29. Haeji Kang (0/0, 199 [#65], 537 [#54]).
30. Carlota Ciganda (0/3, 158 [#73], 582 [#48]).
31. Austin Ernst (1/0, 56 [#79], 620 [#46]).
32. Jane Park (0/0, 184 [#73], 458 [#56]).
33. Ji Young Oh (0/0, 77 [#78], 575 [#50]).
34. Mi Jung Hur (1/0, 55 [#80], 563 [#52]).
35. Chie Arimura (0/13, 187 [#70], 420 [#60]).
36. Vicky Hurst (0/0, 143 [#74], 474 [#55]).
37. Katie Futcher (0/0, 249 [#57], 365 [#65]).
38. Ayako Uehara (0/3, 187 [#70], 376 [#62]).
39. Natalie Gulbis (1/1, 486 [#35], n.a. [n.r.]).
40. Candie Kung (4/0, 483 [#37], n.a. [n.r.]).

So who would you add to this list, and where?  How would you suggest reordering it?  What do you think of my way of combining my 2 ranking systems?

The Best in LPGA Majors Since 2000, September 2014 Edition

The Best to Join the LPGA Since 2005, September 2014 Edition

It’s time to welcome Austin Ernst to the top 50 of my ranking of the best to join the LPGA since 2005, which I last updated in mid-August, before the Wegmans LPGA Championship.  For the full rundown, check out my spreadsheet.  The first number in brackets following each active player’s name and point total represents how many points they have gained or lost since my last ranking; the 2nd, how many they have gained or lost in 2014.

Simply the Best
1. Ya Ni Tseng (3702) [-45] [-222]

The Contenders
2. Ji-Yai Shin (3376)
3. Lydia Ko (3333) [-5] [n/a]
4. Stacy Lewis (3110) [-14] [+408]
5. Inbee Park (3090) [+227] [+365]
6. Na Yeon Choi (2705) [+17] [-119]
7. Paula Creamer (2678) [-17] [-17]
8. So Yeon Ryu (2606) [+221] [+142]

The Next Best
9. Lexi Thompson (2076) [-36] [+234]
10. Ai Miyazato (2075) [-23] [-143]
11. Michelle Wie (1906) [+/-0] [+549]

Quantum Leap Candidates
12. In-Kyung Kim (1701) [+14] [-58]
13. Anna Nordqvist (1688) [+18] [+241]
14. Shanshan Feng (1680) [-10] [+57]
15. Mirim Lee (1491) [-16] [n/a]

16. Brittany Lincicome (1474) [+35] [-13]

17. Morgan Pressel (1298) [-8] [-57]
18. Azahara Munoz (1278) [+41] [+97]
19. Amy Yang (1245) [-15] [+6]
20. Song-Hee Kim (1226)
21. Lizette Salas (11198) [-17] [+229]
T22. Seon Hwa Lee (1173) [+/-0] [-51]
T22. Jessica Korda (1173) [-23] [+311]
24. Hee Kyung Seo (1170) [+/-0] [-89]
25. Mika Miyazato (1121) [-21] [-106]
26. Angela Park (1114)
27. Hee Young Park (1065) [-10] [-123]
28. Beatriz Recari (1057) [-19] [-107]
29. Eun-Hee Ji (1046) [+2] [-1]
30. Sun Young Yoo (1013) [-9] [-52]
The Best of the Rest
31. Jee Young Lee (950) [-12] [-58]
32. Brittany Lang (896) [-7] [-41]
33. Chella Choi (882) [+22] [+100]
34. Meena Lee (872) [-2] [+21]
35. Caroline Hedwall (869) [-21] [-128]
36. Mo Martin (840) [+6] [~+436]
37. Julieta Granada (795) [+4] [+41]
38. Line Vedel (772) [+101] [n/a]
39. Momoko Ueda (765)
40. Jenny Shin (759) [-4] [+121]
41. Gerina Piller (740) [-1] [+48]
42. Sandra Gal (726) [-7] [-4]
43. Pornanong Phatlum (690) [+2] [+86]
44. Jennifer Johnson (681) [-11] [-7]
45. Ilhee Lee (638) [+7] [-88]
46. Austin Ernst (620) [n/a] [n/a]
47. Teresa Lu (606)
48. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (594) [-11] [-69]
49. Carlota Ciganda (582) [+18] [-186]
50. Ji Young Oh (575) [-7] [-37]

Ernst’s victory caused her to bump Kristy McPherson out of the top 50.  Ernst is the 65th player from the Classes of 2005 and up whose careers I track in detail.  I hope to move backwards to include Lorena Ochoa and Suzann Pettersen, both in the Class of 2003, in my end-of-the-year ranking.

The Best to Join the LPGA Since 2005, August 2014 Edition

It’s about time I welcomed Mo Martin, Mirim Lee, and Line Vedel to the top 50 of my ranking of the best to join the LPGA since 2005, which I last updated in early July, before the Women’s British Open.  For the full rundown, check out my spreadsheet.  The first number in brackets following each active player’s name and point total represents how many points they have gained or lost since my last ranking; the 2nd, how many they have gained or lost in 2014.

Simply the Best
1. Ya Ni Tseng (3747) [-12] [-177]

The Contenders
2. Ji-Yai Shin (3376)
3. Lydia Ko (3338) [+192] [n/a]
4. Stacy Lewis (3124) [-34] [+422]
5. Inbee Park (2863) [+36] [+138]
6. Paula Creamer (2695) [-22] [+/-0]
7. Na Yeon Choi (2688) [-36] [-136]

The Next Best
8. So Yeon Ryu (2385) [+39] [-79]
9. Lexi Thompson (2112) [-73] [+270]
10. Ai Miyazato (2098) [-19] [-120]
11. Michelle Wie (1906) [-20] [+549]

Quantum Leap Candidates
12. Shanshan Feng (1690) [+55] [+67]
13. In-Kyung Kim (1687) [-7] [-72]
14. Anna Nordqvist (1670) [-8] [+223]
15. Mirim Lee (1507) [n/a] [n/a]

16. Brittany Lincicome (1439) [-10] [-48]

17. Morgan Pressel (1306) [-11] [-49]
18. Amy Yang (1260) [+6] [+21]
19. Azahara Munoz (1237) [-8] [+56]
20. Song-Hee Kim (1226)
21. Lizette Salas (1215) [+/-0] [+246]
22. Jessica Korda (1196) [+26] [+334]
23. Seon Hwa Lee (1173) [+/-0] [-51]
24. Hee Kyung Seo (1170) [+/-0][-89]
25. Mika Miyazato (1142) [-6] [-85]
26. Angela Park (1114)
27. Beatriz Recari (1076) [+4] [-88]
28. Hee Young Park (1075) [-10] [-113]
29. Eun-Hee Ji (1044) [+12] [-3]
30. Sun Young Yoo (1022) [-6] [-43]
The Best of the Rest
31. Jee Young Lee (962) [-7] [-46]
32. Brittany Lang (903) [-6] [-34]
33. Caroline Hedwall (890) [-23] [-107]
34. Meena Lee (874) [-5] [+23]
35. Chella Choi (860) [-14] [+78]
36. Mo Martin (834) [n/a] [~+430]
37. Julieta Granada (791) [+21] [+37]
38. Momoko Ueda (765)
39. Jenny Shin (763) [-7] [+125]
40. Gerina Piller (741) [-12] [+49]
41. Sandra Gal (733) [+8] [+3]
42. Jennifer Johnson (692) [-12] [+4]
43. Pornanong Phatlum (688) [-6] [+84]
44. Line Vedel (671) [n/a] [n/a]
45. Ilhee Lee (631) [-11] [-95]
46. Teresa Lu (613)
47. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (605) [-19] [-58]
48. Ji Young Oh (582) [-7] [-30]
49. Kristy McPherson (568) [-8] [-36]
50. Carlota Ciganda (564) [+/-0] [-204]

The newbies bumped Mi Jung Hur, Haeji Kang, and Caroline Masson out of the top 50.  With Harukyo Nomura and Thidapa Suwannapura also joining my overall ranking, I now track 64 players’ careers in detail.  I hope to move backwards to include Lorena Ochoa and Suzann Pettersen, both in the Class of 2003, in my end-of-the-year ranking.

The Best on the LPGA without a Major, July 2014 Edition

With the Women’s British Open starting in a couple of days at Royal Birkdale, it’s about time I updated my June 2014 survey of who actually has had the best careers on the LPGA among those who have not yet won a major.  Lexi Thompson was ranked 3rd when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Michelle Wie was ranked 4th when she won the U.S. Women’s Open, so let’s see if we can keep the streak going this week!

In what follows, I’ll be relying strongly on my career rankings spreadsheet and major rankings spreadsheet, but the question is how to combine the ranking systems.  Is it better to have a proven record of winning over the course of your LPGA career but not yet have converted that into a major win or is it better to have a history of near-misses in majors?  To me, that’s a judgment call, based on individual careers, so what I’ll do is simply add together the points players have earned in each system to sort players into rough groups, then adjust rankings within each group based on head-to-head comparisons between the players in each of them.  I’ll really fine-tune the future-oriented version of this post when I make my WBO picks for the PakPicker competition at Seoul Sisters.com.

[Note:  the numbers in parentheses following each player’s name represent total LPGA victories/KLPGA-JLPGA-LET victories, points in my major ranking system (rank), points in my career ranking system (rank).]

Simply the Best

1. Lydia Ko (3/2, 624 [#28], 3146 [#4]).  She’s the universal favorite for 2014 Rookie of the Year, #1 in the LPGA’s Club 36 (3-to-6-time winners), and already has done surprisingly well in majors, most notably in the Evian Championship last year.  Her best finishes:

  • Kraft Nabisco Championship:  T25 (2013)
  • Wegmans LPGA Championship:  T17 (2013)
  • U.S. Women’s Open:  T15 (2014)
  • Ricoh Women’s British Open:  T17 (2012)
  • Evian Championship:  2nd (2013)

In January, I wrote, “I’d be shocked if she didn’t improve on her peak performances in 4 of the 5 LPGA majors in 2014.  No pressure, eh?”  She couldn’t do it at Mission Hills, but she did it at Pinehurst.  Let’s see how she handles Royal Birkdale!

2. Ai Miyazato (9/17, 694 [#24], 2117 [#10]).  She’s #1 in the Class of 2006, #4 in the Tseng Dynasty, and now #2 in LPGA’s Club 79 (those with 7 to 9 wins on tour).  Here are her best finishes in LPGA majors:

  • KNC  T15 (2007)
  • LPGA:  T3 (2006 and 2010)
  • USWO:  T6 (2009 and 2011)
  • WBO:  T3 (2009)
  • Evian:  T15 (2013) 

Of her 15 JLPGA victories, 2 came in majors, the Japan Women’s Open in 2005 and the Konica Minolta Cup in 2006.  Despite her struggles with her short game this season, her career record justifies her #2 position.

3. In-Kyung Kim (3/2, 998 [#14], 1694 [#12]).  She’s #2 in the Class of 2007, #5 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #6 in the LPGA’s Club 36.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  2nd (2012)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2010)
  • USWO:  2nd (2013)
  • WBO:  T3 (2010)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Although she has a better record in majors than many major winners, she’s had even more trouble closing the deal in them than in regular tournaments.  I have a feeling that once she finds the next oasis, it’ll make finding ones after it that much easier.  She won in England last week.  Can she make it back-to-back victories?

The Contenders

4. Amy Yang (1/4, 785 [#20], 1254 [#17]):  She’s #5 in the Class of 2008, #8 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #1 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T4 (2012)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2013)
  • USWO:  2nd (2012)
  • WBO:  4th (2011)
  • Evian:  T67 (2013)

Although Yang won a KLPGA major in 2011 and finished 2013 hot, she hasn’t been lighting it up in 2014 as of yet, but she’s coming off a very good performance at Pinehurst.

5. Hee Kyung Seo (1/11, 522 [#32], 1170 [#22]):  She’s #1 in the Class of 2011, #5 among the LPGA’s New Blood, and #6 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T4 (2012)
  • LPGA:  T34 (2011)
  • USWO:  2nd (2011)
  • WBO:  T5 (2010)
  • Evian:  T64 (2013)

In addition to her strong performances in most every LPGA major, she won 3 KLPGA majors in 2009.  When she returns from maternity leave, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she pulled a Catriona Matthew!

6. Azahara Munoz (1/2, 360 [#44], 1245 [#18]).  She’s #2 in the Class of 2010, #7 in the New Blood Generation, and #2 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T8 (2011)
  • USWO:  T19 (2010)
  • WBO:  T19 (2010)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Even though she’s underperformed in majors, she has a strong overall record and is on something of a roll again.  In January, I wrote, “I expect her to set career high-water marks in most all of the 2014 majors.”  She did at the KNC, but couldn’t at Pinehurst.  Let’s see about Royal Birkdale!

7. Mika Miyazato (1/2, 460 [#38], 1148 [#24]):  She’s #5 in the Class of 2011, #6 among the LPGA’s New Blood, and #5 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2011)
  • LPGA:  T2 (2012)
  • USWO:  5th (2011)
  • WBO:  4th (2012)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Both her JLPGA victories have come at the most important major on their schedule, the Japan Women’s Open, so she’s another player I’d say is due to do even better in LPGA majors, except for the fact that her short game has been atrocious in 2014.

8. Hee Young Park (2/6, 462 [#37], 1085 [#26]).  She’s #4 in the Class of 2008, #11 in the Tseng Dynasty, and now #2 among the LPGA’s 2-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T14/14th (2011 and 2012)
  • USWO:  T9 (2009)
  • WBO:  T2 (2013)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

As much as she improved on her record in LPGA majors in 2013, I expect her to do even better in 2014.  She couldn’t do it at Mission Hills or Pinehurst.  It’ll be a tall order for her to do it at Royal Birkdale, that’s for sure!

9. Lizette Salas (1/0, 307 [#47], 1215 [#20).  After breaking through for her 1st career LPGA victory this year, Salas not only leapfrogged 3 players I predicted would do it before her (Caroline Hedwall, Chella Choi, and Carlota Ciganda), she’s become a real threat to do it again before Amy Yang and Azahara Munoz, my current top 2 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Plus she’s done great in majors already for someone ranked #3 in her Class of 2012:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T25 (2012)
  • USWO:  T15 (2011)
  • WBO:  6th (2013)
  • Evian:  T11 (2013)
I’m sure she was very disappointed she had to withdraw at Pinehurst; I’m looking for her to come out strong at Royal Birkdale.

Quantum Leap Candidates

10. Angela Stanford (5/0, 595 [#30], n.a. [n.r.]).  She’s the only LPGA veteran with a strong enough record to make it into this category.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T3 (2010)
  • LPGA:  T4 (2004)
  • USWO:  T2 (2003)
  • WBO:  T13 (2002)
  • Evian:  T6 (2013)

You might be tempted to think “what have you done for me lately?” when it comes to Stanford’s record in LPGA majors, but you’d be dead wrong.  She has 8-straight top-20 finishes in the KNC (including a T7 this year), she’s finished in the top 35 in the LPGA Championship in 10 of her last 11 starts (with another top 5 in 2009), she got a top 10 in the USWO in 2005 and top 5s in 2 of her last 4 starts, and she’s got top 25s in the WBO in 4 of her last 5 starts.  I’m sure if I extended my ranking system back to the Class of 2001 and the LPGA generation that bears her name, she’d be even higher on this list!

11. Brittany Lang (1/0, 522 [#32], 909 [#32]).  She’s #6 in the Class of 2006, #16 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #8 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T6 (2006)
  • LPGA:  T18 (2008)
  • USWO:  T2 (2005)
  • WBO:  2nd (2011)
  • Evian:  T57 (2013)

The KNC is definitely her most consistent major, as she finished in the top 21 between 2006 and 2010, but even there she’s been inconsistent of late.  Still, she can contend out of nowhere, as she did as an amateur at the USWO in 2005 and as a pro in 2010 and 2013, as well as at the 2011 WBO.  Maybe she’ll find something at Royal Birkdale!

12. Seon Hwa Lee (4/3, 245 [#55], 1173 [#21]).  Even with her pronounced slump of recent years, her career stats actually remain quite strong (she was still #4 in the very strong Class of 2006 at the start of 2014 and #10 in the Tseng Dynasty).  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  5th (2008)
  • LPGA:  T10 (2008)
  • USWO:  T25 (2007)
  • WBO:  T14 (2008)
  • Evian:  DNP (2013)

You can tell how bad her slump has been by the fact that she hasn’t made a cut in a major since the KNC in 2012 and has missed it in 8 of 11 starts in majors dating back to 2010.  Even worse, she failed to even qualify for 6 of the last 8 majors (including this year’s KNC and USWO).  Imagine how much higher she’d be ranked if she hadn’t fallen off the career cliff and instead been simply mediocre the last few seasons!

13. Jee Young Lee (1/1, 420 [#40], 969 [#30]).  She’s #5 in the Class of 2006, #15 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #11 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  And that’s despite a slump that’s been only a little shorter and shallower than her fellow Lee in the ’06ers.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T13 (2007)
  • LPGA:  T10 (2007)
  • USWO:  7th (2007)
  • WBO:  T2 (2007)
  • Evian:  WD (2013)

She’s failed to finish 7 of the last 11 majors she started and missed out on qualifying for 4 others during that stretch, which dates back to 2011.  Even though she’s started to pull out of her slump in regular tournaments, she hadn’t cracked the top 30 in an LPGA major since the 2010 USWO, until she got a T16 at Mission Hills this year.  Let’s see if she can keep turning things around over the rest of 2014.

14. Jessica Korda (3/0, 181 [#68], 1170 [#22]).  As the newest member of the LPGA’s Club 36, I’d put her at #5 or #6 in that category if I were redoing the ranking today, and I’d probably be ranking her higher than #3 in the Class of 2011 and #10 in the New Blood generation, as well.  She posted her best finish in 5 consecutive LPGA majors until missing the cut at Pinehurst.

  • KNC:  T24 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T49 (2013)
  • USWO:  T7 (2013)
  • WBO:  T25 (2013)
  • Evian:  T37 (2013)

She’ll have to play well at Royal Birkdale to start a new streak!

15. Beatriz Recari (3/1, 167 [#69], 1072 [#27]):  She’s #1 in the Class of 2010 (but not when I update my ranking), #8 in the New Blood Generation, and #3 in Club 36.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T19 (2013)
  • USWO:  T27 (2011)
  • WBO:  T26 (2012)
  • Evian:  T9 (2013)

You can tell how well she’s been playing in the last few seasons by how recent her career bests in majors have been, but she’s still underperforming in majors compared to her achievements in regular tournaments.  And in 2014 that’s extended to regular-season events, as well, no thanks to a truly horrific short game thus far.  None of which bodes well for Royal Birkdale.

16. Chella Choi (0/0, 396 [#41], 874 [#34]).  She’s now the top player on the LPGA without a win, #6 in the Class of 2009, and #11 in the New Blood generation.  And she’s been pretty strong in every major:

  • KNC:  T16 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2013)
  • USWO:  T13 (2011)
  • WBO:  T10 (2012)
  • Evian:  T6 (2013)
T15 at Pinehurst is nothing to sneeze at.  Let’s see what she has up her sleeve for Royal Birkdale!

17. Caroline Hedwall (0/5, 306 [#48], 913 [#31]).  She’s in a deep slump but is due to come out of it soon!

  • KNC:  T3 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T37 (2013)
  • USWO:  T31 (2013)
  • WBO:  T27 (2010)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Playing in Europe may be just what the doctor ordered for this Solheim Cup star!

18. Meena Lee (2/4, 230 [#57], 879 [#33]).  The veteran has been on fire lately, capped off by a great T5 at Pinehurst.

  • KNC:  T29 (2006)
  • LPGA:  T6 (2011)
  • USWO:  T5 (2014)
  • WBO:  T11 (2013)
  • Evian:  T31 (2013)
Let’s see what she has in store for us at Royal Birkdale!

The Best of the Rest

19. Julieta Granada (1/0, 269 [#53], 770 [#36]).
20. Jenny Shin (0/0, 240 [#56], 770 [#35]).
21. Kristy McPherson (0/0, 427 [#39], 576 [#45]).
22. Sandra Gal (1/0, 285 [#51], 725 [#39]).
23. Gerina Piller (0/0, 215 [#60], 753 [#38]).
24. Jennifer Johnson (1/0, 228 [#58], 704 [#40]).
25. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (0/0, 270 [#52], 624 [#43]).
26. Pornanong Phatlum (0/2, 210 [#63], 694 [#41]).
27. Caroline Masson (0/1, 336 [#46], 531 [#50]).
28. Ilhee Lee (1/0, 223 [#59], 642 [#42]).
29. Haeji Kang (0/0, 210 [#61], 552 [#48]).
30. Carlota Ciganda (0/3, 119 [#73], 564 [#47]).
31. Ji Young Oh (0/0, 78 [#76], 589 [#44]).
32. Chie Arimura (0/13, 195 [#66], 459 [#52]).
33. Katie Futcher (0/0, 262 [#54], 370 [#59]).
34. Jane Park (0/0, 163 [#70], 459 [#53]).
35. Mi Jung Hur (1/0, 52 [#78], 566 [#46]).
36. Vicky Hurst (0/0, 143 [#71], 474 [#51]).
37. Ayako Uehara (0/3, 206 [#64], 386 [#58]).
38. Natalie Gulbis (1/1, 486 [#35], n.a. [n.r.]).
39. Candie Kung (4/0, 485 [#36], n.a. [n.r.]).
40. Lindsey Wright (0/0, 380 [#42], n.a. [n.r.]).

So that’s the 3rd edition of my top 40.  Who would you add to this list, and where?  How would you suggest reordering it?  What do you think of my way of combining my 2 ranking systems?

The Best in LPGA Majors Since 2000, July 2014 Edition

With the 3rd LPGA major of 2014 one week away, it’s time I unveiled my updated ranking of the top performers in LPGA majors since the start of the 2000 season (excepting the du Maurier, which last counted as an LPGA major that season).  What’s different than the April 2014 and June 2014 editions?  Just wins in the 1st 2 majors of the season by Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie!

You can find more details on my spreadsheet, which is basically a modification of my career ranking system of the LPGA’s rookie classes from 2005 to 2014, but in a nutshell its core idea is to reward both consistency and peak performances, with a special bonus for being able to win more than one major and an even bigger bonus for winning the same major more than once (it’s kind of like Yahtzee that way!).  The formula I use to put it all together results in the following ranking, with the number of points gained or lost since the last ranking [in brackets] following each player’s point total (in parentheses):

Simply the Best

1. Annika Sorenstam (3034)
2. Ya Ni Tseng (2084) [-55]
3. Karrie Webb (1971) [-23]
4. Inbee Park (1834) [-43]

The Contenders

5. Stacy Lewis (1643) [+73]
6. Lorena Ochoa (1569)

The Next Best

7. Ji-Yai Shin (1463)
8. So Yeon Ryu (1441) [+5]
9. Se Ri Pak (1358) [-16]
10. Suzann Pettersen (1344) [-23]
11. Cristie Kerr (1312) [-18]
12. Na Yeon Choi (1176) [-18]
13. Paula Creamer (1137) [-11]

Quantum Leap Candidates

14. In-Kyung Kim (998) [-24]
15. Michelle Wie (996) [+204]
16. Morgan Pressel (992) [-20]
17. Lexi Thompson (896) [+32]
18. Catriona Matthew (825) [+14]
19. Grace Park (795)
20. Amy Yang (785) [+26]
21. Juli Inkster (762) [new]
22. Eun-Hee Ji (754) [-26]
23. Anna Nordqvist (740) [-26]
24. Ai Miyazato (694) [-15]
25. Brittany Lincicome (690) [-1]
26. Angela Park (664)
27. Shanshan Feng (629) [+1]
28. Lydia Ko (624) [+4]
29. Song-Hee Kim (621)
30. Angela Stanford (595) [-7]
31. Jeong Jang (533)
T32. Brittany Lang (522) [-8]
T32. Hee Kyung Seo (522)

The Best of the Rest

34. Sun Young Yoo (498) [-11]
35. Natalie Gulbis (486) [-8]
36. Candie Kung (485) [-5]
37. Hee Young Park (462) [+6]
38. Mika Miyazato (460) [-13]
39. Kristy McPherson (427)
40. Jee Young Lee (420) [-8]
41. Chella Choi (396) [+9]
42. Lindsey Wright (380)
43. Christina Kim (376)
44. Azahara Munoz (360) [-10]
45. Hee-Won Han (353)
46. Caroline Masson (336) [-19]
47. Lizette Salas (307) [-24]
48. Caroline Hedwall (306) [-11]
49. Meaghan Francella (296)
50. Katherine [Hull] Kirk (295) [-3]

It’s interesting to see who performs better in majors than regular events and vice versa–although as you can see from the big movers, there’s a bit more volatility on this list than in my career ranking system.

The Best on the LPGA without a Major, June 2014 Edition

With the U.S. Women’s Open starting in a couple of days, it’s about time I updated my January 2014 survey of who actually has had the best careers on the LPGA among those who have not yet won a major.  Lexi Thompson was ranked 3rd last time, but she turned out to be the 1st to graduate from this list.  It’ll be interesting to see who’s next!

In what follows, I’ll be relying strongly on my career rankings spreadsheet and major rankings spreadsheet to do this, but the question is how to combine the ranking systems.  Is it better to have a proven record of winning over the course of your LPGA career but not yet have converted that into a major win or is it better to have a history of near-misses in majors and in other tournaments?  To me, that’s a judgment call, based on individual careers, so what I’ll do is simply add together the points players have earned in each system to sort players into rough groups, then adjust rankings within each group based on head-to-head comparisons between the players in each of them.

[Note:  the numbers in parentheses following each player’s name represent total LPGA victories/KLPGA-JLPGA-LET victories, points in my major ranking system (rank), points in my career ranking system (rank).]

Simply the Best

1. Lydia Ko (3/2, 620 [#28], 3020 [#3]).  She’s the universal favorite for 2014 Rookie of the Year, #1 in the LPGA’s Club 36 (3-to-6-time winners), and already has done surprisingly well in majors, most notably in the Evian Championship last year.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T17 (2013)
  • USWO:  T36 (2013)
  • WBO:  T17 (2012)
  • Evian:  2nd (2013)

In January, I wrote, “I’d be shocked if she didn’t improve on her peak performances in 4 of the 5 LPGA majors in 2014.  No pressure, eh?”  She couldn’t do it at Mission Hills.  Let’s see how she handles Pinehurst!

2. Ai Miyazato (9/17, 709 [#23], 2131 [#10]).  She’s #1 in the Class of 2006, #4 in the Tseng Dynasty, and now #2 in LPGA’s Club 79 (those with 7 to 9 wins on tour).  Here are her best finishes in LPGA majors:

  • Kraft Nabisco Championship:  T15 (2007)
  • Wegmans LPGA Championship: T3 (2006 and 2010)
  • U.S. Women’s Open:  T6 (2009 and 2011)
  • Ricoh Women’s British Open:  T3 (2009)
  • Evian Championship:  T15 (2013) 

Of her 15 JLPGA victories, 2 came in majors, the Japan Women’s Open in 2005 and the Konica Minolta Cup in 2006.  Despite her struggles with her short game this season, her career record justifies her #2 position.

3. In-Kyung Kim (3/1, 1022 [#14], 1699 [#11]).  She’s #2 in the Class of 2007, #5 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #6 in the LPGA’s Club 36.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  2nd (2012)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2010)
  • USWO:  2nd (2013)
  • WBO:  T3 (2010)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Although she has a better record in majors than many major winners, she’s had even more trouble closing the deal in them than in regular tournaments.  I have a feeling that once she finds the next oasis, it’ll make finding ones after it that much easier.  But she’s going to have to find something on Pinehurst’s greens that she hasn’t found on many others this season to do it this week.

4. Michelle Wie (3/0, 792 [#19], 1607 [#14]).  She’s #4 in the Class of 2009, #4 in the LPGA’s New Blood generation, and #3 in the LPGA’s Club 36.  Although her best finishes in majors mostly date back from before she joined the LPGA, she’s made career marks in the last 2 majors she’s competed in:

  • KNC:  2nd (2014)
  • LPGA:  2nd (2005)
  • USWO:  T3 (2006)
  • WBO:  T3 (2005)
  • Evian:  T37 (2013)

Can a major victory be far away?  On paper, either she or Lydia Ko has the best chance to graduate from this list this week!

The Contenders

5. Amy Yang (1/4, 759 [#22], 1229 [#19]):  She’s #5 in the Class of 2008, #8 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #1 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T4 (2012)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2013)
  • USWO:  2nd (2012)
  • WBO:  4th (2011)
  • Evian:  T67 (2013)

Although Yang won a KLPGA major in 2011 and finished 2013 hot, she hasn’t been lighting it up in 2014 as of yet, but USWO’s typically suit her game.

6. Hee Kyung Seo (1/11, 522 [#32], 1170 [#23]):  She’s #1 in the Class of 2011, #5 among the LPGA’s New Blood, and #6 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T4 (2012)
  • LPGA:  T34 (2011)
  • USWO:  2nd (2011)
  • WBO:  T5 (2010)
  • Evian:  T64 (2013)

In addition to her strong performances in most every LPGA major, she won 3 KLPGA majors in 2009.  When she returns from maternity leave, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she pulled a Catriona Matthew!

7. Azahara Munoz (1/2, 370 [#43], 1256 [#17]).  She’s #2 in the Class of 2010, #7 in the New Blood Generation, and #2 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T8 (2011)
  • USWO:  T19 (2010)
  • WBO:  T19 (2010)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Even though she’s underperformed in majors, she has a strong overall record and is on something of a roll again.  In January, I wrote, “I expect her to set career high-water marks in most all of the 2014 majors.”  She did at the KNC; let’s see if she can do it at Pinehurst!  I’m very likely to put her among my projected top 15 at Pinehurst!

8. Mika Miyazato (1/2, 473 [#36], 1163 [#24]):  She’s #5 in the Class of 2011, #6 among the LPGA’s New Blood, and #5 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2011)
  • LPGA:  T2 (2012)
  • USWO:  5th (2011)
  • WBO:  4th (2012)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Both her JLPGA victories have come at the most important major on their schedule, the Japan Women’s Open, so she’s another player I’d say is due to do even better in LPGA majors, except for the fact that her short game has been atrocious in 2014.

9. Lizette Salas (1/0, 331 [#46], 1248 [#18).  After breaking through for her 1st career LPGA victory this year, Salas not only leapfrogged 3 players I predicted would do it before her (Caroline Hedwall, Chella Choi, and Carlota Ciganda), she’s become a real threat to do it again before Amy Yang and Azahara Munoz, my current top 2 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Plus she’s done great in majors already for someone ranked #3 in her Class of 2012:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T25 (2012)
  • USWO:  T15 (2011)
  • WBO:  6th (2013)
  • Evian:  T11 (2013)
Now that she’s really got her short game back in gear, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see her contend at Pinehurst.

10. Hee Young Park (2/6, 456 [#37], 1080 [#27]).  She’s #4 in the Class of 2008, #11 in the Tseng Dynasty, and now #2 among the LPGA’s 2-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T14/14th (2011 and 2012)
  • USWO:  T9 (2009)
  • WBO:  T2 (2013)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

As much as she improved on her record in LPGA majors in 2013, I expect her to do even better in 2014.  She couldn’t do it at Mission Hills; she’s in my projected top 25 at Pinehurst but I haven’t decided whether I’ll pick her in Seoul Sisters.com’s PakPicker competition.

 

Quantum Leap Candidates

11. Angela Stanford (5/0, 602 [#29], n.a. [n.r.]).  She’s the only LPGA veteran with a strong enough record to make it into this category.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T3 (2010)
  • LPGA:  T4 (2004)
  • USWO:  T2 (2003)
  • WBO:  T13 (2002)
  • Evian:  T6 (2013)

You might be tempted to think “what have you done for me lately?” when it comes to Stanford’s record in LPGA majors, but you’d be dead wrong.  She has 8-straight top-20 finishes in the KNC (including a T7 this year), she’s finished in the top 35 in the LPGA Championship in 10 of her last 11 starts (with another top 5 in 2009), she got a top 10 in the USWO in 2005 and top 5s in 2 of her last 3 starts, and she’s got top 25s in the WBO in 4 of her last 5 starts.  I’m sure if I extended my ranking system back to the Class of 2001 and the LPGA generation that bears her name, she’d be even higher on this list!  The only thing holding me back about picking her at Pinehurst is how bad her short game has been thus far this season.

12. Brittany Lang (1/0, 530 [#31], 912 [#32]).  She’s #6 in the Class of 2006, #16 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #8 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T6 (2006)
  • LPGA:  T18 (2008)
  • USWO:  T2 (2005)
  • WBO:  2nd (2011)
  • Evian:  T57 (2013)

The KNC is definitely her most consistent major, as she finished in the top 21 between 2006 and 2010, but even there she’s been inconsistent of late.  Still, she can contend out of nowhere, as she did as an amateur at the USWO in 2005 and as a pro in 2010 and 2013, as well as at the 2011 WBO.  I’d be surprised if it happened at Pinehurst, however, given the way her short game has been in 2014.

13. Jee Young Lee (1/1, 428 [#38], 976 [#30]).  She’s #5 in the Class of 2006, #15 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #11 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  And that’s despite a slump that’s been only a little shorter and shallower than her fellow Lee in the ’06ers.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T13 (2007)
  • LPGA:  T10 (2007)
  • USWO:  7th (2007)
  • WBO:  T2 (2007)
  • Evian:  WD (2013)

She’s failed to finish 7 of the last 10 majors she started and missed out on qualifying for 4 others during that stretch, which dates back to 2011.  Even though she’s started to pull out of her slump in regular tournaments, she hadn’t cracked the top 30 in an LPGA major since the 2010 USWO, until she got a T16 at Mission Hills this year.  Let’s see if she can keep turning things around over the rest of 2014.

14. Jessica Korda (3/0, 202 [#63], 1195 [#21]).  As the newest member of the LPGA’s Club 36, I’d put her at #5 or #6 in that category if I were redoing the ranking today, and I’d probably be ranking her higher than #3 in the Class of 2011 and #10 in the New Blood generation, as well.  She’s posted her best finish in 5 consecutive LPGA majors:

  • KNC:  T24 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T49 (2013)
  • USWO:  T7 (2013)
  • WBO:  T25 (2013)
  • Evian:  T37 (2013)

But she’ll need to play really well at Pinehurst to keep that streak alive!

15. Seon Hwa Lee (4/3, 245 [#54], 1177 [#22]).  Even with her pronounced slump of recent years, her career stats actually remain quite strong (she was still #4 in the very strong Class of 2006 at the start of 2014 and #10 in the Tseng Dynasty).  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  5th (2008)
  • LPGA:  T10 (2008)
  • USWO:  T25 (2007)
  • WBO:  T14 (2008)
  • Evian:  DNP (2013)

You can tell how bad her slump has been by the fact that she hasn’t made a cut in a major since the KNC in 2012 and has missed it in 8 of 11 starts in majors dating back to 2010.  Even worse, she failed to even qualify for 6 of the last 8 majors (including this year’s KNC and USWO).  Imagine how much higher she’d be ranked if she hadn’t fallen off the career cliff and instead been simply mediocre the last few seasons!

16. Beatriz Recari (3/1, 169 [#66], 1084 [#26]):  She’s #1 in the Class of 2010, #8 in the New Blood Generation, and #3 in Club 36.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T19 (2013)
  • USWO:  T27 (2011)
  • WBO:  T26 (2012)
  • Evian:  T9 (2013)

You can tell how well she’s been playing in the last few seasons by how recent her career bests in majors have been, but she’s still underperforming in majors compared to her achievements in regular tournaments.  And in 2014 that’s extended to regular-season events, as well, no thanks to a truly horrific short game thus far.  None of which bodes well for Pinehurst.

17. Chella Choi (0/0, 387 [#40], 853 [#34]).  She’s now the top player on the LPGA without a win, #6 in the Class of 2009, and #11 in the New Blood generation.  And she’s been pretty strong in every major:

  • KNC:  T16 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2013)
  • USWO:  T13 (2011)
  • WBO:  T10 (2012)
  • Evian:  T6 (2013)
Plus, she’s got the short game to contend at Pinehurst!

The Best of the Rest

18. Caroline Hedwall (0/5, 317 [#47], 929 [#31]).
19. Julieta Granada (1/0, 273 [#52], 761 [#37]).
20. Kristy McPherson (0/0, 427 [#39], 578 [#46]).
21. Meena Lee (2/4, 173 [#65], 856 [#33]).
22. Sandra Gal (1/0, 290 [#50], 726 [#39]).
23. Gerina Piller (0/0, 222 [#58], 763 [#36]).
24. Jennifer Johnson (1/0, 233 [#56], 705 [#40]).
25. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (0/0, 284 [#51], 637 [#43]).
26. Jenny Shin (0/0, 149 [#68], 747 [#38]).  She’s got the short game to compete at Pinehurst!
27. Ilhee Lee (1/0, 231 [#57], 651 [#42]).
28. Caroline Masson (0/1, 355 [#44], 532 [#49]).
29. Haeji Kang (0/0, 214 [#60], 557 [#48]).
30. Pornanong Phatlum (0/2, 110 [#72], 656 [#41]).
31. Carlota Ciganda (0/3, 120 [#71], 584 [#45]).
32. Chie Arimura (0/13, 220 [#59], 481 [#51]).
33. Ji Young Oh (0/0, 78 [#75], 590 [#44]).
34. Ayako Uehara (0/3, 237 [#55], 396 [#58]).
35. Katie Futcher (0/0, 262 [#53], 371 [#59]).
36. Jane Park (0/0, 167 [#67], 464 [#53]).
37. Mi Jung Hur (1/0, 52 [#77], 562 [#47]).
38. Vicky Hurst (0/0, 143 [#69], 477 [#52]).
39. Natalie Gulbis (1/1, 494 [#34], n.a. [n.r.]).
40. Candie Kung (4/0, 490 [#35], n.a. [n.r.]).

So that’s the 2nd edition of my top 40.  Who would you add to this list, and where?  How would you suggest reordering it?  What do you think of my way of combining my 2 ranking systems?

The Best on the LPGA without a Major, June 2014 Edition

With the U.S. Women’s Open starting in a couple of days, it’s about time I updated my January 2014 survey of who actually has had the best careers on the LPGA among those who have not yet won a major.  Lexi Thompson was ranked 3rd last time, but she turned out to be the 1st to graduate from this list.  It’ll be interesting to see who’s next!

In what follows, I’ll be relying strongly on my career rankings spreadsheet and major rankings spreadsheet to do this, but the question is how to combine the ranking systems.  Is it better to have a proven record of winning over the course of your LPGA career but not yet have converted that into a major win or is it better to have a history of near-misses in majors and in other tournaments?  To me, that’s a judgment call, based on individual careers, so what I’ll do is simply add together the points players have earned in each system to sort players into rough groups, then adjust rankings within each group based on head-to-head comparisons between the players in each of them.

[Note:  the numbers in parentheses following each player’s name represent total LPGA victories/KLPGA-JLPGA-LET victories, points in my major ranking system (rank), points in my career ranking system (rank).]

Simply the Best

1. Lydia Ko (3/2, 620 [#28], 3020 [#3]).  She’s the universal favorite for 2014 Rookie of the Year, #1 in the LPGA’s Club 36 (3-to-6-time winners), and already has done surprisingly well in majors, most notably in the Evian Championship last year.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T17 (2013)
  • USWO:  T36 (2013)
  • WBO:  T17 (2012)
  • Evian:  2nd (2013)

In January, I wrote, “I’d be shocked if she didn’t improve on her peak performances in 4 of the 5 LPGA majors in 2014.  No pressure, eh?”  She couldn’t do it at Mission Hills.  Let’s see how she handles Pinehurst!

2. Ai Miyazato (9/17, 709 [#23], 2131 [#10]).  She’s #1 in the Class of 2006, #4 in the Tseng Dynasty, and now #2 in LPGA’s Club 79 (those with 7 to 9 wins on tour).  Here are her best finishes in LPGA majors:

  • Kraft Nabisco Championship:  T15 (2007)
  • Wegmans LPGA Championship: T3 (2006 and 2010)
  • U.S. Women’s Open:  T6 (2009 and 2011)
  • Ricoh Women’s British Open:  T3 (2009)
  • Evian Championship:  T15 (2013) 

Of her 15 JLPGA victories, 2 came in majors, the Japan Women’s Open in 2005 and the Konica Minolta Cup in 2006.  Despite her struggles with her short game this season, her career record justifies her #2 position.

3. In-Kyung Kim (3/1, 1022 [#14], 1699 [#11]).  She’s #2 in the Class of 2007, #5 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #6 in the LPGA’s Club 36.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  2nd (2012)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2010)
  • USWO:  2nd (2013)
  • WBO:  T3 (2010)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Although she has a better record in majors than many major winners, she’s had even more trouble closing the deal in them than in regular tournaments.  I have a feeling that once she finds the next oasis, it’ll make finding ones after it that much easier.  But she’s going to have to find something on Pinehurst’s greens that she hasn’t found on many others this season to do it this week.

4. Michelle Wie (3/0, 792 [#19], 1607 [#14]).  She’s #4 in the Class of 2009, #4 in the LPGA’s New Blood generation, and #3 in the LPGA’s Club 36.  Although her best finishes in majors mostly date back from before she joined the LPGA, she’s made career marks in the last 2 majors she’s competed in:

  • KNC:  2nd (2014)
  • LPGA:  2nd (2005)
  • USWO:  T3 (2006)
  • WBO:  T3 (2005)
  • Evian:  T37 (2013)

Can a major victory be far away?  On paper, either she or Lydia Ko has the best chance to graduate from this list this week!

The Contenders

5. Amy Yang (1/4, 759 [#22], 1229 [#19]):  She’s #5 in the Class of 2008, #8 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #1 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T4 (2012)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2013)
  • USWO:  2nd (2012)
  • WBO:  4th (2011)
  • Evian:  T67 (2013)

Although Yang won a KLPGA major in 2011 and finished 2013 hot, she hasn’t been lighting it up in 2014 as of yet, but USWO’s typically suit her game.

6. Hee Kyung Seo (1/11, 522 [#32], 1170 [#23]):  She’s #1 in the Class of 2011, #5 among the LPGA’s New Blood, and #6 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T4 (2012)
  • LPGA:  T34 (2011)
  • USWO:  2nd (2011)
  • WBO:  T5 (2010)
  • Evian:  T64 (2013)

In addition to her strong performances in most every LPGA major, she won 3 KLPGA majors in 2009.  When she returns from maternity leave, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she pulled a Catriona Matthew!

7. Azahara Munoz (1/2, 370 [#43], 1256 [#17]).  She’s #2 in the Class of 2010, #7 in the New Blood Generation, and #2 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T8 (2011)
  • USWO:  T19 (2010)
  • WBO:  T19 (2010)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Even though she’s underperformed in majors, she has a strong overall record and is on something of a roll again.  In January, I wrote, “I expect her to set career high-water marks in most all of the 2014 majors.”  She did at the KNC; let’s see if she can do it at Pinehurst!  I’m very likely to put her among my projected top 15 at Pinehurst!

8. Mika Miyazato (1/2, 473 [#36], 1163 [#24]):  She’s #5 in the Class of 2011, #6 among the LPGA’s New Blood, and #5 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2011)
  • LPGA:  T2 (2012)
  • USWO:  5th (2011)
  • WBO:  4th (2012)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

Both her JLPGA victories have come at the most important major on their schedule, the Japan Women’s Open, so she’s another player I’d say is due to do even better in LPGA majors, except for the fact that her short game has been atrocious in 2014.

9. Lizette Salas (1/0, 331 [#46], 1248 [#18).  After breaking through for her 1st career LPGA victory this year, Salas not only leapfrogged 3 players I predicted would do it before her (Caroline Hedwall, Chella Choi, and Carlota Ciganda), she’s become a real threat to do it again before Amy Yang and Azahara Munoz, my current top 2 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Plus she’s done great in majors already for someone ranked #3 in her Class of 2012:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T25 (2012)
  • USWO:  T15 (2011)
  • WBO:  6th (2013)
  • Evian:  T11 (2013)
Now that she’s really got her short game back in gear, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see her contend at Pinehurst.

10. Hee Young Park (2/6, 456 [#37], 1080 [#27]).  She’s #4 in the Class of 2008, #11 in the Tseng Dynasty, and now #2 among the LPGA’s 2-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T7 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T14/14th (2011 and 2012)
  • USWO:  T9 (2009)
  • WBO:  T2 (2013)
  • Evian:  T19 (2013)

As much as she improved on her record in LPGA majors in 2013, I expect her to do even better in 2014.  She couldn’t do it at Mission Hills; she’s in my projected top 25 at Pinehurst but I haven’t decided whether I’ll pick her in Seoul Sisters.com’s PakPicker competition.

 

Quantum Leap Candidates

11. Angela Stanford (5/0, 602 [#29], n.a. [n.r.]).  She’s the only LPGA veteran with a strong enough record to make it into this category.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T3 (2010)
  • LPGA:  T4 (2004)
  • USWO:  T2 (2003)
  • WBO:  T13 (2002)
  • Evian:  T6 (2013)

You might be tempted to think “what have you done for me lately?” when it comes to Stanford’s record in LPGA majors, but you’d be dead wrong.  She has 8-straight top-20 finishes in the KNC (including a T7 this year), she’s finished in the top 35 in the LPGA Championship in 10 of her last 11 starts (with another top 5 in 2009), she got a top 10 in the USWO in 2005 and top 5s in 2 of her last 3 starts, and she’s got top 25s in the WBO in 4 of her last 5 starts.  I’m sure if I extended my ranking system back to the Class of 2001 and the LPGA generation that bears her name, she’d be even higher on this list!  The only thing holding me back about picking her at Pinehurst is how bad her short game has been thus far this season.

12. Brittany Lang (1/0, 530 [#31], 912 [#32]).  She’s #6 in the Class of 2006, #16 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #8 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T6 (2006)
  • LPGA:  T18 (2008)
  • USWO:  T2 (2005)
  • WBO:  2nd (2011)
  • Evian:  T57 (2013)

The KNC is definitely her most consistent major, as she finished in the top 21 between 2006 and 2010, but even there she’s been inconsistent of late.  Still, she can contend out of nowhere, as she did as an amateur at the USWO in 2005 and as a pro in 2010 and 2013, as well as at the 2011 WBO.  I’d be surprised if it happened at Pinehurst, however, given the way her short game has been in 2014.

13. Jee Young Lee (1/1, 428 [#38], 976 [#30]).  She’s #5 in the Class of 2006, #15 in the Tseng Dynasty, and #11 among the LPGA’s 1-time winners.  And that’s despite a slump that’s been only a little shorter and shallower than her fellow Lee in the ’06ers.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T13 (2007)
  • LPGA:  T10 (2007)
  • USWO:  7th (2007)
  • WBO:  T2 (2007)
  • Evian:  WD (2013)

She’s failed to finish 7 of the last 10 majors she started and missed out on qualifying for 4 others during that stretch, which dates back to 2011.  Even though she’s started to pull out of her slump in regular tournaments, she hadn’t cracked the top 30 in an LPGA major since the 2010 USWO, until she got a T16 at Mission Hills this year.  Let’s see if she can keep turning things around over the rest of 2014.

14. Jessica Korda (3/0, 202 [#63], 1195 [#21]).  As the newest member of the LPGA’s Club 36, I’d put her at #5 or #6 in that category if I were redoing the ranking today, and I’d probably be ranking her higher than #3 in the Class of 2011 and #10 in the New Blood generation, as well.  She’s posted her best finish in 5 consecutive LPGA majors:

  • KNC:  T24 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T49 (2013)
  • USWO:  T7 (2013)
  • WBO:  T25 (2013)
  • Evian:  T37 (2013)

But she’ll need to play really well at Pinehurst to keep that streak alive!

15. Seon Hwa Lee (4/3, 245 [#54], 1177 [#22]).  Even with her pronounced slump of recent years, her career stats actually remain quite strong (she was still #4 in the very strong Class of 2006 at the start of 2014 and #10 in the Tseng Dynasty).  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  5th (2008)
  • LPGA:  T10 (2008)
  • USWO:  T25 (2007)
  • WBO:  T14 (2008)
  • Evian:  DNP (2013)

You can tell how bad her slump has been by the fact that she hasn’t made a cut in a major since the KNC in 2012 and has missed it in 8 of 11 starts in majors dating back to 2010.  Even worse, she failed to even qualify for 6 of the last 8 majors (including this year’s KNC and USWO).  Imagine how much higher she’d be ranked if she hadn’t fallen off the career cliff and instead been simply mediocre the last few seasons!

16. Beatriz Recari (3/1, 169 [#66], 1084 [#26]):  She’s #1 in the Class of 2010, #8 in the New Blood Generation, and #3 in Club 36.  Her best finishes:

  • KNC:  T25 (2013)
  • LPGA:  T19 (2013)
  • USWO:  T27 (2011)
  • WBO:  T26 (2012)
  • Evian:  T9 (2013)

You can tell how well she’s been playing in the last few seasons by how recent her career bests in majors have been, but she’s still underperforming in majors compared to her achievements in regular tournaments.  And in 2014 that’s extended to regular-season events, as well, no thanks to a truly horrific short game thus far.  None of which bodes well for Pinehurst.

17. Chella Choi (0/0, 387 [#40], 853 [#34]).  She’s now the top player on the LPGA without a win, #6 in the Class of 2009, and #11 in the New Blood generation.  And she’s been pretty strong in every major:

  • KNC:  T16 (2014)
  • LPGA:  T5 (2013)
  • USWO:  T13 (2011)
  • WBO:  T10 (2012)
  • Evian:  T6 (2013)
Plus, she’s got the short game to contend at Pinehurst!

The Best of the Rest

18. Caroline Hedwall (0/5, 317 [#47], 929 [#31]).
19. Julieta Granada (1/0, 273 [#52], 761 [#37]).
20. Kristy McPherson (0/0, 427 [#39], 578 [#46]).
21. Meena Lee (2/4, 173 [#65], 856 [#33]).
22. Sandra Gal (1/0, 290 [#50], 726 [#39]).
23. Gerina Piller (0/0, 222 [#58], 763 [#36]).
24. Jennifer Johnson (1/0, 233 [#56], 705 [#40]).
25. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (0/0, 284 [#51], 637 [#43]).
26. Jenny Shin (0/0, 149 [#68], 747 [#38]).  She’s got the short game to compete at Pinehurst!
27. Ilhee Lee (1/0, 231 [#57], 651 [#42]).
28. Caroline Masson (0/1, 355 [#44], 532 [#49]).
29. Haeji Kang (0/0, 214 [#60], 557 [#48]).
30. Pornanong Phatlum (0/2, 110 [#72], 656 [#41]).
31. Carlota Ciganda (0/3, 120 [#71], 584 [#45]).
32. Chie Arimura (0/13, 220 [#59], 481 [#51]).
33. Ji Young Oh (0/0, 78 [#75], 590 [#44]).
34. Ayako Uehara (0/3, 237 [#55], 396 [#58]).
35. Katie Futcher (0/0, 262 [#53], 371 [#59]).
36. Jane Park (0/0, 167 [#67], 464 [#53]).
37. Mi Jung Hur (1/0, 52 [#77], 562 [#47]).
38. Vicky Hurst (0/0, 143 [#69], 477 [#52]).
39. Natalie Gulbis (1/1, 494 [#34], n.a. [n.r.]).
40. Candie Kung (4/0, 490 [#35], n.a. [n.r.]).

So that’s the 2nd edition of my top 40.  Who would you add to this list, and where?  How would you suggest reordering it?  What do you think of my way of combining my 2 ranking systems?

Look Who’s Ready for Pinehurst!

I didn’t get a chance to watch much of the men in the U.S. Open the last several days, but what little I did see led me to believe that the key to scoring at Pinehurst is to hit greens, scramble well when you miss them, and of course putt well.  I know, I know, not exactly earth-shaking realizations, but bear with me for a second.

My question is, if this is true, then how do we tell which of the top players on the LPGA are best prepared to do this coming into this week?  After all, the LPGA keeps very few stats relative to the PGA Tour, so it’s not like you can go to LPGA.com and look it up.  So what I did was develop ways of tracking (1) who has the best history of scrambling so far in 2014, (2) who has the best overall short game on tour thus far this season, and (3) who, therefore, is best prepared for the unique challenges Pinehurst offers.

Here’s how I did it.  On (1), I decided to add together a player’s rates of hitting greens in regulation and making sand saves and divide that total by their average total putts per round.  That formula would give me a rough measure of who best augments their GIR rate with good scrambling out of bunkers and good putting on the greens.  For ease of reference, and for reasons that will be clear in a few paragraphs, I multiplied each result by a thousand, and came up with the following ranking:

Scrambling Index
1. Lydia Ko (45.724)
2. Michelle Wie (45.063)
3. Karrie Webb (43.663)
4. Inbee Park (43.115)
5. Lizette Salas (42.939)
6. Lexi Thompson (42.682)
7. Line Vedel (42.089)
8. Catriona Matthew (41.950)
9. Chella Choi (41.923)
10. In-Kyung Kim (41.650)
11. Jenny Shin (41.759)
12. Julieta Granada (41.178)
13. Gerina Piller (41.148)
14. Stacy Lewis (41.125)
15. Jee Young Lee (40.891)
16. Azahara Munoz (40.839)
17. Morgan Pressel (40.500)
18. Mo Martin (40.413)
19. Harukyo Nomura (40.317)
20. Sun Young Yoo (40.108)

On (2), I wanted to take into account how well someone putts when they hit greens in regulation, via the putts per green in regulation stat the LPGA keeps.  I figured what better way to incorporate it than to multiply it by the divisor in (1)–average total putts per round–to further reward those with the strongest putting stats.  Here’s what resulted from those calculations:

Short Game Index
1. Michelle Wie (25.517)
2. Lydia Ko (25.516)
3. Inbee Park (24.708)
4. Karrie Webb (24.530)
5. Lexi Thompson (23.898)
6. Lizette Salas (23.895)
7. Line Vedel (23.806)
8. Stacy Lewis (23.649)
9. Chella Choi (23.473)
10. Catriona Matthew (23.228)
11. Jenny Shin (23.164)
12. Julieta Granada (23.134)
13. Morgan Pressel (22.830)
14. Azahara Munoz (22.815)
15. Harukyo Nomura (22.765)
16. Gerina Piller (22.534)
17. Paula Creamer (22.483)
18. In-Kyung Kim (22.321)
19. Ya Ni Tseng (22.053)
20. Hee Young Park (22.042)

On (3), I decided to subtract each player’s Short Game Index score from (2) from their scoring averages for the year.  Here’s what happened when I did that (note for this one that the lower the player’s rating, the higher-ranked that player is):

Overall Rating
1. Michelle Wie (43.781)
2. Lydia Ko (44.654)
3. Inbee Park (44.926)
4. Stacy Lewis (45.351)
5. Karrie Webb (46.906)
6. Lexi Thompson (46.151)
7. Chella Choi (46.640)
8. Jenny Shin (47.155)
9. Azahara Munoz (47.342)
10. Line Vedel (47.467)
11. Lizette Salas (47.579)
12. Catriona Matthew (47.746)
13. Julieta Granada (47.784)
14. Cristie Kerr (48.092)
15. Gerina Piller (48.139)
16. Suzann Pettersen (48.231)
17. Harukyo Nomura (48.279)
18. Paula Creamer (48.406)
19. Morgan Pressel (48.483)
20. Jessica Korda (49.040)

One way of thinking about this rating is that it roughly estimates how much a player’s short game has contributed to her overall scoring average in 2014.

Very roughly!  And it does nothing to help anyone predict who will figure out Pinehurst the quickest and the longest.  But it’s better than nothing.  Right?

The Best in LPGA Majors Since 2000, June 2014 Edition

With the 2nd LPGA major of 2014 and probably the biggest tournament in women’s golf one week away, it’s time I unveiled my updated ranking of the top performers in LPGA majors since the start of the 2000 season (excepting the du Maurier, which last counted as an LPGA major that season).  What’s different than the April 2014 edition?  Just the Kraft Nabisco Championship!  You can find the details on my spreadsheet, which is basically a modification of my career ranking system of the LPGA’s rookie classes from 2005 to 2014.  Its core idea is to reward both consistency and peak performances, with a special bonus for being able to win more than one major and an even bigger bonus for winning the same major more than once (it’s kind of like Yahtzee that way!).

Here’s how my major ranking formula works.  As in my career ranking formula, I determine how often players win, finish in the top 3, top 10, and top 20, and avoid WDs, DQs, and MCs in LPGA majors, and I turn those rates into points as follows:  each percentage point in winning rate is worth 32 points, each in top-3 rate is worth 16, each in top-10 rate is worth 8, each in top-20 rate is worth 4, and each in finish rate is worth 1.  Instead of keeping track of career winnings and winnings per start and finish, however, I instead assign points to career best finishes in each of the LPGA’s 5 majors:  whereas a player earns 100 points each time she wins a major, the maximum points she can earn for non-winning high water marks are 50 for a silver medal, 40 for a bronze, 30 for 4th place, 25 for 5th place, 20 for 6th- through 10th-place finishes, and 10 for 11th- through 20th-place finishes.  The other big difference from my career ranking formula is that players can earn points in this one for every LPGA major they competed in, whether or not they were members of the LPGA at the time (only non-member wins are counted in my other system, which, after all, focuses on LPGA careers).

This results in the following ranking, with the number of points gained or lost [in brackets] following each player’s point total (in parentheses):

Simply the Best

1. Annika Sorenstam (3034)
2. Ya Ni Tseng (2139) [-62]
3. Karrie Webb (1994) [-16]
4. Inbee Park (1877) [-45]

The Contenders

5. Stacy Lewis (1570) [+68]
6. Lorena Ochoa (1569)

The Next Best

7. Ji-Yai Shin (1463) [-27]
8. So Yeon Ryu (1436) [-94]
9. Se Ri Pak (1374) [+17]
10. Suzann Pettersen (1367)
11. Cristie Kerr (1330) [+5]
12. Na Yeon Choi (1194) [-19]
13. Paula Creamer (1148) [-21]
14. In-Kyung Kim (1022) [-25]
15. Morgan Pressel (1012) [-7]

Quantum Leap Candidates

16. Lexi Thompson (864) [+418]
17. Catriona Matthew (811) [-2]
18. Grace Park (795)
19. Michelle Wie (792) [+64]
20. Eun-Hee Ji (770) [-18]
21. Anna Nordqvist (766) [-6]
22. Amy Yang (759) [+28]
23. Ai Miyazato (709) [-14]
24. Brittany Lincicome (691) [-12]
25. Angela Park (664)
26. Shanshan Feng (628) [+55]
27. Song-Hee Kim (621)
28. Lydia Ko (620) [-64]
29. Angela Stanford (602) [+17]

The Best of the Rest

30. Jeong Jang (533)
31. Brittany Lang (530) [-12]
32. Hee Kyung Seo (522) [-24]
33. Sun Young Yoo (509) [-9]
34. Natalie Gulbis (494) [-8]
35. Candie Kung (490) [-6]
36. Mika Miyazato (473) [-15]
37. Hee Young Park (456) [-17]
38. Jee Young Lee (428) [+7]
39. Kristy McPherson (427)
40. Chella Choi (387) [+21]
41. Lindsey Wright (380) [-8]
42. Christina Kim (376) [+6]
43. Azahara Munoz (370) [+73]
44. Caroline Masson (355) [+21]
45. Hee-Won Han (353) [-4]
46. Lizette Salas (331) [-29]
47. Caroline Hedwall (317) [-12]
48. Katherine [Hull] Kirk (298) [-6]
49. Meaghan Francella (296)
50. Sandra Gal (290) [-5]

It’s interesting to see who performs better in majors than regular events and vice versa–although as you can see from the big movers, there’s a bit more volatility on this list than in my career ranking system.  More in this vein tomorrow, with a focus on those who haven’t yet won a LPGA major!

The Best to Join the LPGA Since 2005, June 2014 Edition

In the midst of an off-week before the U.S. Women’s Open follows the guys at Pinehurst, it’s a fine time to take another look at how the best players to join the LPGA since 2005 stack up against each other, something I haven’t done since April.  For the full rundown, check out my spreadsheet.  The numbers in brackets following the player’s name and point total represent how many points they have gained or lost since my last ranking.

Simply the Best
1. Ya Ni Tseng (3790) [-30]

The Contenders
2. Ji-Yai Shin (3376)
3. Lydia Ko (3020) [+662]
4. Stacy Lewis (2975) [+218]
5. Inbee Park (2843) (2762) [+81]
6. Na Yeon Choi (2722) [-46]
7. Paula Creamer (2719) [-33]

The Next Best
8. So Yeon Ryu (2295) [-72]
9. Lexi Thompson (2179) [+20]
10. Ai Miyazato (2131) [-24]

Quantum Leap Candidates
11. In-Kyung Kim (1699) [-35]
12. Anna Nordqvist (1696) [+42]
13. Shanshan Feng (1642) [+44]
14. Michelle Wie (1607) [+55]

15. Brittany Lincicome (1446) [-8]

16. Morgan Pressel (1323) [-23]
17. Azahara Munoz (1256) [-8]
18. Lizette Salas (1248) [+165]
19. Amy Yang (1229) [-8]
20. Song-Hee Kim (1226)
21. Jessica Korda (1195) [+136]
22. Seon Hwa Lee (1177) [-26]
23. Hee Kyung Seo (1170) [-10]
24. Mika Miyazato (1163) [-22]
25. Angela Park (1114)
26. Beatriz Recari (1084) [-31]
27. Hee Young Park (1080) [-14]
28. Eun-Hee Ji (1036) [-8]
29. Sun Young Yoo (1034) [-9]
The Best of the Rest
30. Jee Young Lee (976) [-20]
31. Caroline Hedwall (929) [-14]
32. Brittany Lang (912) [-6]
33. Meena Lee (856) [+18]
34. Chella Choi (853) [-2]
35. Momoko Ueda (765)
36. Gerina Piller (763) [+22]
37. Julieta Granada (761) [+5]
38. Jenny Shin (747) [+88]
39. Sandra Gal (726) [-8]
40. Jennifer Johnson (705) [+58]
41. Pornanong Phatlum (656) [+16]
42. Ilhee Lee (651) [-33]
43. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (637) [+7]
44. Ji Young Oh (590) [-12]
45. Teresa Lu (585)
46. Carlota Ciganda (584) [-45]
47. Kristy McPherson (578) [-16]
48. Mi Jung Hur (562) [-15]

49. Haeji Kang (557) [+27]

50. Caroline Masson (532) [-1]

As you can see, the top point-gainers since April have been Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Lizette Salas, Jessica Korda, Jenny Shin, Inbee Park, Jennifer Johnson, Michelle Wie, and Shanshan Feng.  (Ko’s gain is so astronomical because she has so few events under her belt as an LPGA member.  Look for less volatility from her ranking by this time next year!)  The golfers losing the most points since the last ranking are So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, Carlota Ciganda, In-Kyung Kim, Paula Creamer, and Ilhee Lee.  These are the golfers playing much better (or worse) in the last couple of months than their career averages would lead you to expect.

The Best to Join the LPGA since 2005, April 2014 Edition

With Lexi and Wiesy winning the last 2 LPGA events, it’s a good time to take another look at how the best players to join the LPGA since 2005 stack up against each other, something I haven’t revisited since the end of last season.  For the full rundown, check out my spreadsheet.  The numbers in brackets following the player’s name and point total represent how many points they have gained or lost since my November ranking.

Simply the Best
1. Ya Ni Tseng (3820) [-44]

The Contenders
2. Ji-Yai Shin (3376)
3. Na Yeon Choi (2768) [-56]
4. Inbee Park (2762) [+37]
5. Stacy Lewis (2757) [+55]
6. Paula Creamer (2752) [+57]

The Next Best
7. So Yeon Ryu (2367) [-97]
8. Lydia Ko (2358)
9. Lexi Thompson (2159) [+317]
10. Ai Miyazato (2155) [-63]

Quantum Leap Candidates
11. In-Kyung Kim (1734) [-25]
12. Anna Nordqvist (1654) [+107]
13. Shanshan Feng (1598) [-25]
14. Michelle Wie (1552) [+195]

15. Brittany Lincicome (1454) [-33]

16. Morgan Pressel (1346) [-9]
17. Azahara Munoz (1264) [+83]
18. Amy Yang (1237) [-2]
19. Song-Hee Kim (1226)
20. Seon Hwa Lee (1203) [-21]
21. Mika Miyazato (1185) [-42]
22. Hee Kyung Seo (1180) [-79]
23. Beatriz Recari (1115) [-49]
24. Angela Park (1114)
25. Hee Young Park (1094) [-94]
26. Lizette Salas (1083) [+114]
27. Jessica Korda (1059) [+197]
28. Eun-Hee Ji (1044) [-3]
29. Sun Young Yoo (1043) [-22]
The Best of the Rest
30. Jee Young Lee (996) [-12]
31. Caroline Hedwall (943) [-54]
32. Brittany Lang (918) [-19]
33. Chella Choi (855) [+73]
34. Meena Lee (838) [-13]
35. Momoko Ueda (765)
36. Julieta Granada (756) [+2]
37. Gerina Piller (741) [+49]
38. Sandra Gal (734) [+4]
39. Ilhee Lee (682) [-44]
40. Jenny Shin (659) [+21]
41. Jennifer Johnson (647) [-41]
42. Pornanong Phatlum (640) [+36]
43. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (630) [-33]
44. Carlota Ciganda (629) [-139]
45. Ji Young Oh (602) [-10]
46. Kristy McPherson (594) [-10]
47. Mi Jung Hur (577) [-20]
48. Teresa Lu (587)
50. Caroline Masson (533) [-49]

As you can see, my system ranks Thompson, Korda, Wie, Salas, Nordqvist, Munoz, and Chella Choi as the hottest players to join the tour since 2005, while Ciganda, Ryu, Hee Young Park, Seo, Ai Miyazato, NYC, Hedwall, Recari, and Masson are playing the furthest below their career averages.  It’ll be interesting to see where Ko ends up at the end of this season, given how volatile her ranking will be this year.

Are the Bombers Taking Over the LPGA?

Luke Kerr-Dineen just made an interesting point about the players who went under par at Augusta last week:  Bubba Watson was the outlier rather than the norm among them when it came to driving distance.  Most of those who played well enough to win the Masters relied more on accuracy off the tee and into the greens; what set Bubba apart from that group may have been his length relative to them–or it may have been his ability to hit good recovery shots and make clutch putts.  Bottom line:  we shouldn’t assume just because a bomber won this year’s Masters that being a bomber is an advantage in general, at Augusta or anywhere.

This is a point I’ve been making for about the entire time I’ve been blogging on women’s golf at Mostly Harmless.  And it’s a point worth reiterating in the wake of Lexi Thompson’s victory over Michelle Wie and the rest of the field at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  Tony Jesselli is one of many who have been suggesting the last few years that the LPGA is shifting to courses and course set-ups that benefit bombers like Thompson, Wie, and Ya Ni Tseng, who (in their view) are an ever-increasing segment of a tour that used to be dominated by precision players like Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, and In-Kyung Kim and straight shooters like Karrie Webb, Cristie Kerr, and Angela Stanford.  If he and others who believe this are right, we should see the pathways to success on the LPGA narrowing for everyone but the bombers.

But look at who’s won in the world of women’s golf in 2014 and their key performance stats (length and accuracy off the tee, greens in regulation rate, putts per green in regulation, and birdies per round, with ranks for each):

Precision Players (0 wins)
Paula Creamer used to be in this category, but she’s actually gotten long enough–and inaccurate enough–off the tee, relative to her career averages, to be considered a straight shooter in 2014.

Straight Shooters (5 wins)

  • Karrie Webb (2):  258 yds. (#30), 76.5% fairways (#38), 72.2% greens (#38), 1.750 ppgir (#3), 4.04 bpr (#11)
  • Anna Nordqvist (2):  256 (#45), 74.4% (#69), 77.3% (#6), 1.769 (#10), 3.88 (#13)
  • Paula Creamer (1):  257 (#43), 76% (#51), 73.8% (#24), 1.753 (#5), 3.96 (#4)

Bombers (2 wins)

  • Jessica Korda (1):  262 yds. (#18), 64% fairways (#123), 69.7% greens (#69), 1.764 ppgir (#8), 3.79 bpr (#15)
  • Lexi Thompson (1):  275 (#1), 64% (#122), 76.9% (#8), 1.781 (#14), 4.15 (#5)

My takeaway from these few examples is that it doesn’t matter how you give yourself birdie opportunities on the LPGA; it matters how many you give yourself and how many you convert.

Consider Michelle Wie as another key example here.  Wie is averaging 256 yards off the tee this year and is ranked #46 in driving distance.  She’s hitting almost 70% of her fairways, a huge upgrade for her, but still only #93 on a tour known for its accuracy off the tee.  That improvement, however, helps explains why she leads the tour in greens in regulation at almost 81%.  If she can keep improving her putting, which is a respectable but not elite 1.799 putts per green in regulation (#41), she can make even more birdies than her current average per round (3.79, #15).  Basically, Wie has turned herself from a bomber into a straight shooter.  She’s sacrificed distance for accuracy and is starting to see results from that change.

Paula Creamer made the opposite decision:  she sacrificed accuracy for distance and is also starting to see results from that change.  I would put Morgan Pressel in that same category, by the way.  Although Pressel hasn’t gained enough distance to graduate from being a precision player to being a straight shooter, she has gained a lot (like on the order of 7 to 10 yards).  Yet Pressel, who’s usually among the most accurate off the tee on tour, is down at #95 in 2014.  Hitting fewer than 70% of your fairways is usually a kiss of death for someone who averages only 251 yards off the tee.  So what is an even bigger factor for Pressel’s success in 2014 than her increase in distance?  She’s getting the ball in the hole quickly when she hits greens (1.761, #7) and therefore making plenty of birdies (4.25, #2).

The common thread in all these examples is that putting for dough remains way more important than driving for show on the LPGA.  That’s true of everyone, but especially true of precision players.  Since Ai Miyazato is Tony’s key example of a struggling precision player, it’s worth pointing out that her ball-striking stats are pretty close to her career averages and that she’s actually hitting more greens in regulation than in recent years.  But she’s making only 2.58 birdies per round and a lot of that is attributable to poor putting:  she’s averaging a horrific (by her standards) 1.885 putts per green in regulation, which puts a player who’s accustomed to being ranked among the very best on tour in that category at #119 thus far this season.  It’s pretty clear that the problem lies not with the longest club in Ai-sama’s bag but in the shortest.

I would suggest the same problem with the flat stick is afflicting other top precision players in my career ranking of LPGA rookies since 2005:  it’s certainly the case for In-Kyung Kim (1.873 ppgir [#109], 2.92 bpr [#91]).  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the fact that Inbee Park and Lizette Salas (now both precision players, a bit of a surprise since Park gained length off the tee in the run-up to and during her stretch of dominating the tour) are not putting as amazingly well as they did last year, and that the prototypical straight shooter Cristie Kerr’s putting stats are way off from her career averages, helps explain why they haven’t quite gotten it together yet in 2014 far far better than any other stat.

Hence, while you might be able to make the case that more LPGAers are doing what it takes to become straight shooters, the key to success remains hitting greens and especially making putts.  Given how long it’s taken Wie, Creamer, and Pressel to groove swing changes designed to turn them into straight shooters, I still believe that the short hitters on tour are better off working on their short games than trying to gain a few yards off the tee.  And I definitely disagree with the proposition that the bombers are taking over the LPGA.

Now, if Lexi improves her accuracy off the tee, giving herself better looks at pins, I’d expect to see her ppgir go down and her birdie rate go up.  If that happens, I’d also expect to see her in the winner’s circle a lot more often.  But if that happens, Lexi would transcend the “bomber” category and become someone you rarely see on the LPGA:  a straight-up bomber in the mold of Annika, Lorena, and, for shorter periods of time thus far in their careers, Ya Ni Tseng and Suzann Pettersen.  This is probably the best modern path to becoming an LPGA legend.  Nevertheless, it’s not the only one, as Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak can testify.

As the LPGA returns to Hawaii, the key for players is what it’s always been:  giving yourself a lot of good looks at birdie or better and making more of them than everyone else.

The Best in LPGA Majors Since 2000, April 2014 Edition

With the 1st LPGA major of 2014 fast approaching, it’s time I unveiled my updated ranking of the top performers in LPGA majors since the start of the 2000 season (excepting the du Maurier, which last counted as an LPGA major that season).  What’s different than the January 2014 edition?  I added in the top players who joined the LPGA before 2000, but only counted their results in this century/millennium.  Here’s the spreadsheet, which is basically a modification of my career ranking system of the LPGA’s rookie classes from 2005 to 2014.  Its core idea is to reward both consistency and peak performances, with a special bonus for being able to win more than one major and an even bigger bonus for winning the same major more than once (it’s kind of like Yahtzee that way!).

Here’s how my major ranking formula works.  As in my career ranking formula, I determine how often players win, finish in the top 3, top 10, and top 20, and avoid WDs, DQs, and MCs in LPGA majors, and I turn those rates into points as follows:  each percentage point in winning rate is worth 32 points, each in top-3 rate is worth 16, each in top-10 rate is worth 8, each in top-20 rate is worth 4, and each in finish rate is worth 1.  Instead of keeping track of career winnings and winnings per start and finish, however, I instead assign points to career best finishes in each of the LPGA’s 5 majors:  whereas a player earns 100 points each time she wins a major, the maximum points she can earn for non-winning high water marks are 50 for a silver medal, 40 for a bronze, 30 for 4th place, 25 for 5th place, 20 for 6th- through 10th-place finishes, and 10 for 11th- through 20th-place finishes.  The other big difference from my career ranking formula is that players can earn points in this one for every LPGA major they competed in, whether or not they were members of the LPGA at the time (only non-member wins are counted in my other system, which, after all, focuses on LPGA careers).

This results in the following ranking:

Simply the Best

1. Annika Sorenstam (3034)
2. Ya Ni Tseng (2201)
3. Karrie Webb (2010)
4. Inbee Park (1922)

The Contenders

5. Lorena Ochoa (1569)
6. So Yeon Ryu (1530)
7. Stacy Lewis (1502)
8. Ji-Yai Shin (1490)

The Next Best

9. Suzann Pettersen (1367)
10. Se Ri Pak (1357)
11. Cristie Kerr (1325)
12. Na Yeon Choi (1213)
13. Paula Creamer (1169)
14. In-Kyung Kim (1047)
15. Morgan Pressel (1019)

Quantum Leap Candidates

16. Catriona Matthew (813)
17. Grace Park (795)
18. Eun-Hee Ji (788)
19. Anna Nordqvist (772)
20. Amy Yang (731)
21. Michelle Wie (728)
22. Ai Miyazato (723)
23. Brittany Lincicome (703)

The Best of the Rest

24. Lydia Ko (684)
25. Angela Park (664)
26. Song-Hee Kim (621)
27. Angela Stanford (585)
28. Shanshan Feng (573)
29. Hee Kyung Seo (546)
30. Brittany Lang (542)
31. Jeong Jang (533)
32. Sun Young Yoo (518)
33. Natalie Gulbis (502)
34. Candie Kung (496)
35. Mika Miyazato (488)
36. Hee Young Park (473)
37. Lexi Thompson (446)
38. Kristy McPherson (427)
39. Jee Young Lee (421)
40. Lindsey Wright (388)
42. Christina Kim (370)
42. Chella Choi (366)
43. Lizette Salas (360)
44. Hee-Won Han (357)
45. Caroline Masson (334)
46. Caroline Hedwall (329)
47. Katherine Hull-Kirk (304)
48. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (303)
49. Azahara Munoz (297)
50. Meaghan Francella (296)

It’s interesting to see who performs better in majors than regular events and vice versa.  More in this vein tomorrow, with a focus on those who haven’t yet won a LPGA major!

The Best in LPGA Majors Since 2000, January 2014 Edition

As part of my 2014 preview series, I’ve been preparing an update of my June 2013 predictions on who was most likely to break through for their 1st LPGA major last season.  I’ll post a rather modified version of that update tomorrow, but along the way I got interested in developing a formula to get a rough sense of who’s performed best in LPGA majors since the Women’s British Open became the tour’s 4th major in 2001–and I thought I’d share the spreadsheet based on it with everyone today.  It’s basically a modification of my career ranking system of the LPGA’s rookie classes from 2005 to 2013.  Its core idea is to reward both consistency and peak performances, with a special bonus for being able to win more than one major.

Here’s how my major ranking formula works.  As in my career ranking formula, I determine how often players win, finish in the top 3, top 10, and top 20, and avoid WDs, DQs, and MCs in LPGA majors, and I turn those rates into points as follows:  each percentage point in winning rate is worth 32 points, each in top-3 rate is worth 16, each in top-10 rate is worth 8, each in top-20 rate is worth 4, and each in finish rate is worth 1.  Instead of keeping track of career winnings and winnings per start and finish, however, I instead assign points to career best finishes in each of the LPGA’s 5 majors:  whereas a player earns 100 points each time she wins a major, the maximum points she can earn for non-winning high water marks are 50 for a silver medal, 40 for a bronze, 30 for 4th place, 25 for 5th place, 20 for 6th- through 10th-place finishes, and 10 for 11th- through 20th-place finishes.  The other big difference from my career ranking formula is that players can earn points in this one for every LPGA major they competed in, whether or not they were members of the LPGA at the time (only non-member wins are counted in my other system, which, after all, focuses on LPGA careers).

This results in the following ranking:

Simply the Best

1. Ya Ni Tseng (2201)
2. Inbee Park (1922)

The Contenders

3. Lorena Ochoa (1569)
4. So Yeon Ryu (1530)
5. Stacy Lewis (1502)
6. Ji-Yai Shin (1490)

The Next Best

7. Suzann Pettersen (1367)
8. Na Yeon Choi (1213)
9. Paula Creamer (1169)
10. In-Kyung Kim (1047)
11. Morgan Pressel (1019)

Quantum Leap Candidates

12. Grace Park (795)
13. Eun-Hee Ji (788)
14. Anna Nordqvist (772)
15. Amy Yang (731)
16. Michelle Wie (728)
17. Ai Miyazato (723)
18. Brittany Lincicome (703)

The Best of the Rest

19. Lydia Ko (684)
20. Angela Park (664)
21. Song-Hee Kim (621)
22. Angela Stanford (585)
23. Shanshan Feng (573)
24. Hee Kyung Seo (546)
25. Brittany Lang (542)
26. Jeong Jang (533)
27. Sun Young Yoo (518)
28. Natalie Gulbis (502)
29. Candie Kung (496)
30. Mika Miyazato (488)
31. Hee Young Park (473)
32. Lexi Thompson (446)
33. Kristy McPherson (427)
34. Jee Young Lee (421)
35. Lindsey Wright (388)
36. Christina Kim (370)
37. Chella Choi (366)
38. Lizette Salas (360)
39. Hee-Won Han (357)
40. Caroline Masson (334)
41. Caroline Hedwall (329)
42. Katherine Hull-Kirk (304)
43. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (303)
44. Azahara Munoz (297)
45. Meaghan Francella (296)
46. Sandra Gal (295)
T47. Ayako Uehara, Julieta Granada (280)
49. Katie Futcher (262)
50. Chie Arimura (253)

It’s interesting to see who performs better in majors than regular events and vice versa.  More in this vein tomorrow, with a focus on those who haven’t yet won a LPGA major!

The Best in LPGA Majors Since 2000, January 2014 Edition

As part of my 2014 preview series, I’ve been preparing an update of my June 2013 predictions on who was most likely to break through for their 1st LPGA major last season.  I’ll post a rather modified version of that update tomorrow, but along the way I got interested in developing a formula to get a rough sense of who’s performed best in LPGA majors since the Women’s British Open became the tour’s 4th major in 2001–and I thought I’d share the spreadsheet based on it with everyone today.  It’s basically a modification of my career ranking system of the LPGA’s rookie classes from 2005 to 2013.  Its core idea is to reward both consistency and peak performances, with a special bonus for being able to win more than one major.

Here’s how my major ranking formula works.  As in my career ranking formula, I determine how often players win, finish in the top 3, top 10, and top 20, and avoid WDs, DQs, and MCs in LPGA majors, and I turn those rates into points as follows:  each percentage point in winning rate is worth 32 points, each in top-3 rate is worth 16, each in top-10 rate is worth 8, each in top-20 rate is worth 4, and each in finish rate is worth 1.  Instead of keeping track of career winnings and winnings per start and finish, however, I instead assign points to career best finishes in each of the LPGA’s 5 majors:  whereas a player earns 100 points each time she wins a major, the maximum points she can earn for non-winning high water marks are 50 for a silver medal, 40 for a bronze, 30 for 4th place, 25 for 5th place, 20 for 6th- through 10th-place finishes, and 10 for 11th- through 20th-place finishes.  The other big difference from my career ranking formula is that players can earn points in this one for every LPGA major competed in, whether or not they were members of the LPGA for a given major (only non-member wins are counted in my other system, which, after all, focuses on LPGA careers).

This results in the following ranking:

Simply the Best

1. Ya Ni Tseng (2201)
2. Inbee Park (1922)

The Contenders

3. Lorena Ochoa (1569)
4. So Yeon Ryu (1530)
5. Stacy Lewis (1502)
6. Ji-Yai Shin (1490)

The Next Best

7. Suzann Pettersen (1367)
8. Na Yeon Choi (1213)
9. Paula Creamer (1169)
10. In-Kyung Kim (1047)
11. Morgan Pressel (1019)

Quantum Leap Candidates

12. Grace Park (795)
13. Eun-Hee Ji (788)
14. Anna Nordqvist (772)
15. Amy Yang (731)
16. Michelle Wie (728)
17. Ai Miyazato (723)
18. Brittany Lincicome (703)

The Best of the Rest

19. Lydia Ko (684)
20. Angela Park (664)
21. Song-Hee Kim (621)
22. Angela Stanford (585)
23. Shanshan Feng (573)
24. Hee Kyung Seo (546)
25. Brittany Lang (542)
26. Jeong Jang (533)
27. Sun Young Yoo (518)
28. Candie Kung (496)
29. Mika Miyazato (488)
30. Hee Young Park (473)
31. Lexi Thompson (446)
32. Kristy McPherson (427)
33. Jee Young Lee (421)
34. Christina Kim (370)
35. Chella Choi (366)
36. Lizette Salas (360)
37. Hee-Won Han (357)
38. Caroline Masson (334)
39. Caroline Hedwall (329)
40. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (303)

It’s interesting to see who performs better in majors than regular events and vice versa.  More in this vein tomorrow, with a focus on those who haven’t yet won a LPGA major!

Ranking the LPGA’s Rookie Class of 2013, January 2014 Edition

This is the 1st time I’m ranking the Class of 2013, the 2nd of 3 classes in what I’m calling the LPGA’s “Generation Prodigy.”  So far nobody among the ’13ers lives up to that moniker, but there are some pretty good candidates.  And it’s really too soon to tell, even for those who aren’t among the 20 of 35 members who will have some sort of LPGA status in 2014.  (Compare that to 20 from the Class of 2012, 17 from the Class of 2011, 13 from the Class of 2010, 12 from the Class of 2009, and 10 from the classes of 20082007, and 2006.)  So let’s wait and see before we assume Rookie of the Year Moriya Jutanugarn will continue to be the standard-bearer for the ’13ers or guess at how many will have productive LPGA careers.  I gotta say, though, it’s not looking good for most of them right now.

The Contenders

1. Caroline Masson:  According to my career ranking system, she was the clear winner of the 2013 LPGA Rookie of the Year race, finishing 60 points clear of Ayako Uehara and almost 100 ahead of the actual ROY, Moriya Jutanugarn, despite playing at the end of the season with a broken thumb.  This season, I’m looking for her to improve on her #48 standing on the LPGA money list (in 22 starts) and #40 position on the LET Order of Merit (in 8 starts).  Her LPGA scoring average was quite high for someone who made as many birdies as she did in 2013.  If she can do a better job of minimizing the big numbers and keep making incremental improvements in her game, she should benefit from–and build on–this past year’s experience.  Whether that’ll be enough to keep her #1 in her class is another story!
2. Ayako Uehara:  I was surprised when this 3-time winner on the JLPGA decided to try for the LPGA and even more surprised that the Okinawa native made a smoother transition than Chie Arimura.  What kept her from doing more than making cuts consistently was a very weak iron game; between a low greens in regulation rate and non-elite putting stats, she had trouble breaking into the top 25 in 2013.  But I expect her to improve in both areas in 2014.
3. Chie Arimura:  This 13-time JLPGA champion had a disastrous 2014 by her standards, breaking into the top 10 only 3 times in 20 LPGA starts and not even getting into the top 25 in her 4 JLPGA starts.  But she’s doubling down on her LPGA quest in 2014.  To make it more successful, the bottom line is that she needs to putt better and make more birdies.  Forget rejoining the world’s elite this season; she’s only the 9th-ranked Japanese woman golfer right now.  The good news is she stayed in the LPGA’s ROY race almost to the bitter end despite all her struggles.  If she gets to 75% of capacity in 2014, she’ll be the #1 player in her class by the end of the season.
4. Moriya Jutanugarn:  She showed a lot of grit at the end of the season to chase down Masson and beat her by a single point to take ROY.  But like I said at the start of the season, she needs to improve her birdie rate to become a top-30 player on the LPGA.  The culprit seems to be her putter, but I think improving her iron play should also be a high priority for 2014.  Let’s see if she can do it!

The Next Best

5. Lisa McCloskey:  She’s the only other player in her class making cuts at a rate that suggests she has a long-term future on the LPGA, but she’ll need to drastically improve her iron play in 2014 to start breaking into the top 20 more often.
6. Austin Ernst:  As badly as she putted in 2013, she showed flashes of what she’s capable of with a pair of top 10s in the middle of the season.

Quantum Leap Candidates

7. Katie Burnett (#115 on 2014 LPGA Priority Status List):  She barely finished in the top 100 on the LPGA money list last season, but she’ll get as many starts as she wants this one.  The key for her in 2014 is to give herself more and better birdie chances.  Only Caroline Masson among her classmates putted better than she did in 2013.
8. Brooke Pancake (#114):  She also squeaked into the top 100 on the money list, but unless she improves her ball-striking dramatically in 2014, she may find herself in Q-School come December.  She showed plenty of grit by following up a 7-event missed-cut streak with a T13, so we know she has it in her!

On the Bottom, Looking Up

9. Felicity Johnson (#150):  Amazingly, she averaged slightly more birdies per round than the LPGA Rookie of the Year despite taking over 1.93 putts per green in regulation.  With finishes outside the top 100 on the LPGA money list in 17 starts and outside the top 70 on the LET Order of Merit in 14 starts last season, it’s clear whatever the 2-time winner on the LET was doing in 2013 wasn’t working.  On the bright side, she should get into her share of LPGA events in 2014, if she so chooses.
10. Julia Boland (#156):  After winning on the Symetra Tour in 2012 and earning her LPGA card for 2013, the Aussie had a better putting year but a horrible ball-striking year and will most likely be splitting her time between the 2 tours in 2014.
11. Sue Kim (#91):  She moved from 23rd on the Symetra Tour money list in 2012 to 6th in 2013 by winning her 1st event there and making incremental improvements in every aspect of her game.  She didn’t see those kind of results in her 7 LPGA starts last season, but look for her to improve when she plays her 1st full season on tour.
12. Paz Echeverria (#134):  The pride of Chile did everything well on the LPGA last season except putt, but she still needed to go back to Q-School, where she finished T13 and stamped her 2014 LPGA passport.  If she can get her putter going this season, watch out for her.
13. Kayla Mortellaro (#133):  Injuries cut short her rookie season (and probably affected her play), so she’s on a medical exemption at roughly the same spot on the priority status list in 2014 as she was in 2013.  Let’s see what this 10-time winner from the University of Idaho does from it this time around.
14. Nicole Smith (#98):  I don’t understand how a medical exemption from a shoulder injury moves her into Category 11 on the 2014 priority status list when she was in Category 9 in 2013.  Be that as it may, she gets a blank slate for her sophomore campaign, as well.  Looking at her Symetra Tour stats from 2010-2012, I’m impressed at how she’s managed to increase her length off the tee without sacrificing accuracy.  If she’s healthy in 2014, and can get her putter going, she could very well surprise a lot of people.
15. Victoria Elizabeth (#129):  After nearly being skunked in her rookie season on the LPGA, she turned it around at the final stage of Q-School, finishing T13, so she’ll be back on a full schedule on the big tour in 2014.  Going from her stellar career as a junior golfer and solid performance stats in 4 seasons on the Symetra Tour (where she won once in 2012), I’d say she has a decent chance to turn things around and go back to being the “straight shooter” style of player she’s been in the past.
16. Alejandra Llaneza (#162):  She’s a classic precision player who improved from 2012 to 2013 on the Symetra Tour while only getting 3 LPGA starts (making her only cut as a sponsor exemption at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, so the money she won was unofficial).  Look for her to continue improving, mostly in the minor leagues, in 2014.
17. Marina Alex (#88):  This precision player from Vanderbilt actually lost a little distance and accuracy from 2012 to 2013 on the Symetra Tour, but moved up from 39th on the 2012 money list in 7 starts to 3rd on the 2013 money list in 14 starts because she improved her putting.  If she can keep doing that on the big tour in 2014, she should be able to keep her card.
18. Perrine Delacour (#93):  This French straight shooter spent 2013 on the Symetra Tour, where she finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year race and 8th on the year-end money list.  If she can bring that kind of game to the LPGA in 2014, watch out for her!
19. Brianna Do (#171):  The 2011 Publinx champion and UCLA grad has had a couple of seasons of seasoning on the Symetra Tour already, and will have another in 2014.  The precision player will need to improve her iron play to get better status on the LPGA in 2015.
20. Haley Millsap (#165):  For the 2nd year in a row, she earned a Category 17 LPGA card via Q-School, so she’ll (mostly) be back on the Symetra Tour in 2014.

On the Outside, Looking In

21. Breanna Elliott:  She had a bad final round at the final stage of LPGA Q-School and ended up T60.  The Aussie will need to improve her iron play on the Symetra Tour in 2014 to add to her 7 LPGA starts in 2015.
22. Lauren Doughtie:  This ’09 NC State grad missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School and will be back on the Symetra Tour in 2014, trying to follow up on her 2012 victory there (her 1st).
23. Sara-Maude Juneau:  This 5-time winner at the University of Louisville improved her iron play from 2011 to 2012 on the Symetra Tour, squeaking into the top 10 on their money list in her sophomore campaign, but her rookie season on the LPGA was a serious step backward.  The Symetra Tour precision player couldn’t find the green in 2013 and will be back in the minor leagues in 2014 after finishing just outside the 72-hole cut line at the final stage of LPGA Q-School.
24. Daniela Iacobelli:  This bomber broke through with a win during her 3rd season on the Symetra Tour in 2012, but finished outside the top 125 on the LPGA money list in 2013 and missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of Q-School, so it’s back to the minor leagues in 2014.
25. Inhong Lim:  A world traveller who made it to the LPGA in 2013 from South Korea to New Zealand to Australia to Ohio State to the Symetra Tour, she got 2 starts last season and made 1 cut, but given her struggles to even break the top 100 on the Symetra Tour money list in her 2 seasons there or make the top 140 after 72 holes at LPGA Q-School’s final stage this past December, this precision player may just not have the distance to compete successfully as a professional.
26. Kelly Jacques:  Although she never played a full season on the Symetra Tour in 2009, 2011, or 2012, she made it to the LPGA in 2013, getting 5 starts and making 1 cut.  After finishing well outside the 72-hole cut line at the final stage of Q-School, it’ll be interesting to see if she focuses on the Symetra Tour in 2014 and keeps improving her iron play.
27. Taylore Karle:  She made it to the LPGA by getting the final spot in a multi-player playoff at 2012 LPGA Q-School, but then nearly got skunked in her 14 starts in the big leagues and came DFL after 72 holes at Q-School.  Will she take the opportunity to refocus on the Symetra Tour in 2014?  She’s only played 1 event there in her career.
28. Jiayun Li:  A standout on the CLPGA (finishing 3rd on their money list in 2011 and 21st in 2012), she finished 84th in 9 starts on the LET Order of Merit in 2013 but missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School.  I wonder if she’ll focus on the Symetra Tour in 2014?
29. Stephanie Na:  This long-time ALPG and Symetra Tour member finished 83rd on the LET Order of Merit in 17 starts last season and just missed the 72-hole cut at LPGA Q-School, so is likely to split her time between both tours in 2014.
30. Frances Bondad:  Another Aussie who’s been bouncing around the ALPG, Symetra Tour, and LET the last several years, she got 6 starts on the LPGA, 5 on the LET, 8 on the ALPG, and 9 on the Symetra Tour in 2013.  After missing Category 17 by a single shot at LPGA Q-School’s final stage, it’s looking like she’ll put together a similar schedule in 2014, minus the LPGA starts.
31. Jordan Hardy:  She’s back on the Symetra Tour this season after missing the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School.  Will need to vastly improve her game to extend her professional career.
32. Garrett Phillips:  This long-time Symetra Tour member missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School, so she’ll face the decision of returning for her 5th season (it looks like she sat out 2012) or looking for other work.
33. Marita Engzelius:  She got 4 starts on the LPGA and 6 starts on the Symetra Tour in 2013 and after missing the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School, she’ll be looking to improve on the latter in 2014.
34. Esther Choe:  After turning pro as a teenager, she toiled on mini-tours and the Symetra Tour for years before breaking through in 2012 with 2 victories and a #1 finish on their season-ending money list.  But she went 0 for 12 on the LPGA and badly missed the 72-hole cut at Q-school’s final stage.  Wonder what 2014 has in store for her?

Status Unknown

35. Marina Stuetz: After going 0 for 11 on the LPGA in 2013, she didn’t enter Q-School.


For your reference–and mine–here are the stats on which I’m basing the January 2014 ranking.

2013 LPGA Money List (rank), scoring average (rank), birdies per round average (rank [in total birdies]), greens in regulation rate (rank): I focus on five key indicators of how well someone played last season–how much money they won, how they scored, how many birdies they’ve averaged per round, how many greens they hit in regulation on average per round, and how many putts per green in regulation they took on average, plus how they ranked in each category (except for birdies, which LPGA.com ranks by total and not by average). Some of the figures Hound Dog thinks are the most important I’ve incorporated into my career ranking (below), where I think they belong. These stats are all about the immediate past and future.

NAME/$$/SCORING AVE./BIRDIES PER ROUND/GIR/PPGIR (ranks)
1. Moriya Jutanugarn, $293.2K (#47), 72.085 (#53), 2.87 (#47), 68.2% (#40), 1.847 (#92)
2. Caroline Masson, $287.8K (#48), 72.646 (#74), 3.38 (#57), 66.5% (#61), 1.807 (#32)
3. Ayako Uehara, $212.8K (#58), 71.964 (#45), 3.02 (#82), 63.5% (#105), 1.814 (#41)
4. Chie Arimura, $202.3K (#61), 72.467 (#67), 2.97 (#74), 67.8% (#44), 1.831 (#65)
5. Austin Ernst, $142.0K (#72), 72.821 (#86), 3.38 (#55), 66.8% (#54), 1.845 (#89)
6. Lisa McCloskey, $123.9K (#78), 72.233 (#55), 3.13 (#68), 63.1% (#108), 1.814 (#39)
7. Brooke Pancake, $63.6K (#98), 72.953 (#91), 2.51 (#106), 61.6% (#120), 1.836 (#73)
8. Katie Burnett, $53.4K (#99), 71.909 (#42), 3.27 (#106), 65.3% (#82), 1.807 (#31)
9. Felicity Johnson, $27.8K (#114), 73.548 (#120), 2.88 (#101), 67.2% (#49), 1.933 (#147)
10. Julia Boland, $22.7K (#122), 74.000 (#132), 2.82 (#116), 54.9% (#142), 1.821 (#50)
11. Daniela Iacobelli, $17.3K (#130), 73.688 (#123), 2.47 (#131), 63.0% (#109), 1.909 (#144)
12. Sara-Maude Juneau, $15.8K (#131), 74.441 (#138), 2.68 (#121), 60.6 (#128), 1.881 (#135)
13. Lauren Doughtie, $14.2K (#133), 74.735 (#139), 2.59 (#125), 64.1% (#103), 1.898 (#140)
14. Paz Echeverria, $13.9K (#134), 72.300 (#57), 3.05 (#143), 70.8% (#21), 1.863 (#111)
15. Sue Kim, $11.5K (#140), 73.063 (n.r.), 2.63 (#152), 60.0% (n.r.), 1.885 (n.r.)
16. Breanna Elliott, $11.1K (#141), 74.857 (n.r.), 2.43 (#156), 52.0% (n.r.), 1.909 (n.r.)
17. Kayla Mortellaro, $9.9K (#143), 75.727 (#145), 2.18 (#150), 57.6% (#140), 1.899 (#141)
18. Nicole Smith, $5.7K (#150), 74.333 (#135), 2.83 (#138), 64.4% (#96), 1.885 (#137)
19. Victoria Elizabeth, $3.9K (#154), 75.652 (#144), 2.52 (#145), 57.7% (#139), 1.866 (#118)
20. Taylore Karle, $3.4K (#155), 76.536 (#147), 2.25 (#141), 49.8% (#146), 1.879 (#129)
21. Kelly Jacques, $3.4K (#156), 73.100 (n.r.), 2.08 (#161), 63.0% (n.r.), 1.825 (n.r.)
22. Inhong Lim, $3.4K (#156), 72.667 (n.r.), 2.17 (#169), 63.0% (n.r.), 1.853 (n.r.)
23. Brianna Do, $0 (n.r.), 72.500 (n.r.), 1.50 (#188), 64.0% (n.r.), 1.913 (n.r.)
24. Frances Bondad, $0 (n.r.), 72.900 (n.r.), 2.38 (#158), 67.0% (n.r.), 1.850 (n.r.)
25. Jiayun Li, $0 (n.r.), 73.000 (n.r.), 2.67 (#166), 59.0% (n.r.), 1.781 (n.r.)
26. Marina Alex, $0 (n.r.), 73.333 (n.r.), 2.50 (#168), 72.0% (n.r.), 1.910 (n.r.)
27. Alejandra Llaneza, $0 (n.r.), 73.500 (n.r.), 2.56 (#162), 67.0% (n.r.), 1.806 (n.r.)
28. Garrett Phillips, $0 (n.r.), 73.500 (n.r.), 2.00 (#182), 69.0% (n.r.), 1.920 (n.r.)
29. Stephanie Na, $0 (n.r.), 74.750 (n.r.), 2.00 (#175), 42.0% (n.r.), 1.900 (n.r.)
30. Jordan Hardy, $0 (n.r.), 75.000 (n.r.), 2.50 (#181), 83.0% (n.r.), 2.200 (n.r.)
31. Marina Stuetz, $0 (n.r.), 75.111 (#142), 3.22 (#145), 59.0% (#136), 1.838 (#76)
32. Perrine Delacour, $0 (n.r.), 75.500 (n.r.), 2.00 (#182), 69.0% (n.r.), 2.000 (n.r.)
33. Marita Engzelius, $0 (n.r.), 76.167 (n.r.), 2.17 (#169), 55.0% (n.r.), 1.949 (n.r.)
34. Esther Choe, $0 (n.r.), 76.368 (#146), 2.20 (#151), 39.8% (#147), 1.809 (#35)
35. Haley Millsap, $0 (n.r.), 76.500 (n.r.), 2.29 (#166), 53.0% (n.r.), 1.842 (n.r.)

Career Ranking:  Between inflation, changing purses, and length/timing of careers, it’s very hard to compare and contrast winnings across generations of LPGA greats. Fortunately, the members of the Class of 2013 started at the same time, even if some of them have not had full status last season or this one (although that in itself is an indication of how someone’s career has been going!). What would really be great is if we had a world money list in inflation-adjusted dollars, with inflation- and exchange-adjusted other cash denominations added in (or just totalled up separately to avoid comparing dollars and yen), which included all each golfer earned as a professional on any tour. But even the guys don’t have that, so that’ll have to remain a dream for now–although Thomas Atkins posted an inflation-adjusted LPGA Career Top 50 as of the end of the 2008 season and a Best of All Time ranking over at Hound Dog LPGA. In any case, building on an old analysis of finishes, I’ve developed a career ranking formula (the details you can check out on my spreadsheet), but since that includes only the top 4 players in the class, I’ll give the details on the lower-ranked players here.

NAME/$$/START/MAJOR/WIN/TOP3/TOP10/TOP20/WD/DQ/MC/FIN (RATE)
1. Caroline Masson, 582 points.
2. Ayako Uehara, 522.
3. Chie Arimura, 502.
4. Moriya Jutanugarn, 489.
5. Austin Ernst, $.14M (#424), 23/0/0/0/2/2/0/0/10/13 (.565)
6. Lisa McCloskey, $.12M (#443), 20/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/5/15 (.750)
7. Brooke Pancake, $.06M (#521), 17/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/11/6 (.353)
8. Katie Burnett, $.05M (#534), 11/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/5/6 (.545)
9. Felicity Johnson, $.03M (#591), 17/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/11/6 (.353)
10. Julia Boland, $.02M (#603), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/11/4 (.267)
11. Daniela Iacobelli, $.02M (#624), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/13/2 (.133)
12. Sara-Maude Juneau, $.02M (#631), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/11/4 (.267)
13. Lauren Doughtie, $.01M (#642), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/12/3 (.200)
14. Paz Echeverria, $.01M (#644), 9/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/7/2 (.222)
15. Sue Kim, $.01M (#657), 7/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/5/2 (.286)
16. Breanna Elliott, $.01M (#658), 7/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/5/2 (.286)
17. Kayla Mortellaro, $9.9K (#666), 11/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/7/3 (.273)
18. Nicole Smith, $5.7K (#693), 11/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/9/2 (.182)
19. Victoria Elizabeth, $3.9K (#705), 12/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/11/1 (.083)
20. Taylore Karle, $3.4K (#709), 14/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/13/1 (.071)
21. Kelly Jacques, $3.4K (#710), 5/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/4/1 (.200)
22. Inhong Lim, $3.4K (#710), 2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/1 (.500)
23. Jiayun Li, $0 (n.r.), 2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/1 (.500)
24. Alejandra Llaneza, $0 (n.r.), 3/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/1 (.333)
25. Perrine Delacour, $0 (n.r.), 1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0 (.000)
26. Brianna Do, $0 (n.r.), 1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0 (.000)
27. Garrett Phillips, $0 (n.r.), 1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0 (.000)
28. Jordan Hardy, $0 (n.r.), 1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0 (.000)
29. Stephanie Na, $0 (n.r.), 2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/0 (.000)
30. Marina Alex, $0 (n.r.), 3/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/3/0 (.000)
31. Haley Millsap, $0 (n.r.), 3/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/3/0 (.000)
32. Marita Engzelius, $0 (n.r.), 4/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/4/0 (.000)
33. Frances Bondad, $0 (n.r.), 6/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/6/0 (.000)
34. Marina Stuetz, $0 (n.r.), 11/0/0/0/0/0/2/0/9/0 (.000)
35. Esther Choe, $0 (n.r.), 12/0/0/0/0/0/3/0/9/0 (.000)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Rankings points (as of 1/13/14) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index score (as of 1/12/14) and rank, International Wins (on JLPGA, KLPGA, LET as of 1/13/14): This is a way of seeing how those ’13ers who sometimes or regularly or often compete on other tours stack up over the course of their careers to date (the RR includes results over the past 104 weeks on the LPGA, JLPGA, KLPGA, LET, ALPG, Symetra Tour, LETAS, and CLPGA; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on the LPGA, JLPGA, LET, and Symetra Tour).

1. Caroline Masson, 1.79 (#60), 72.70 (#122); 1 (LET)
2. Chie Arimura, 1.61 (#66), 72.91 (#135); 13 (JLPGA)
3. Ayako Uehara, 1.25 (#84), 71.08 (#41); 3 (JLPGA)
4. Moriya Jutanugarn, 1.24 (#85), 71.82 (#77); 0
5. Austin Ernst, .70 (#162), 73.35 (#164); 0
6. Lisa McCloskey, .54 (#194), 72.61 (#118); 0
7. Katie Burnett, .49 (#209), 73.20 (#150); 0
8. Brooke Pancake, .29 (#271), 74.37 (#227); 0
9. Felicity Johnson, .24 (#291), 74.62 (#254); 2 (LET)
10. Jiayun Li, .21 (#313), n.r.; 0
11. Stephanie Na, .19 (#331), 76.12 (#354); 0
12. Daniela Iacobelli, .16 (#350), 75.67 (#332); 0
13. Alejandra Llaneza, .16 (#333), 73.96 (#198); 0
14. Sue Kim, .14 (#372), 73.95 (#197); 0
15. Esther Choe, .13 (#384), 77.42 (#405); 0
16. Julia Boland, .13 (#386), 75.14 (#306); 0
17. Marina Alex, .11 (#412), 73.60 (#176); 0
18. Frances Bondad, .11 (#415), 76.08 (#351); 1 (LET)
19. Perrine Delacour, .11 (#419), 74.78 (#273); 0
20. Paz Echeverria, .07 (#473), 74.62 (#253); 0
21. Breanna Elliott, .07 (#486), 76.33 (#362); 0
22. Sara-Maude Juneau, .09 (#439), 75.31 (#312); 0
23. Lauren Doughtie, .07 (#496), 75.88 (#339); 0
24. Victoria Elizabeth, .05 (#532), 76.95 (#394); 0
25. Nicole Smith, .04 (#575), 75.53 (#352); 0
26. Kayla Mortellaro, .02 (#659), 75.69 (n.r.); 0
27. Garrett Phillips, .02 (#714), 75.48 (#319); 0
28. Inhong Lim, .01 (#734), 76.50 (#368); 0
29. Brianna Do, .01 (#744), 75.73 (#336); 0
30. Marita Engzelius, .01 (#766), 76.86 (n.r.); 0
31. Kelly Jacques, n.r., 74.72 (#268); 0
32. Haley Millsap, n.r., 76.18 (#358); 0
33. Taylore Karle, n.r., 76.94 (#393); 0
34. Jordan Hardy, n.r., 78.31 (#438); 0
35. Marina Stuetz, n.r., 76.17 (n.r.); 0

Ranking the LPGA’s Rookie Class of 2013, January 2014 Edition

This is the 1st time I’m ranking the Class of 2013, the 2nd of 3 classes in what I’m calling the LPGA’s “Generation Prodigy.”  So far nobody among the ’13ers lives up to that moniker, but there are some pretty good candidates.  And it’s really too soon to tell, even for those who aren’t among the 20 of 35 members who will have some sort of LPGA status in 2014.  (Compare that to 20 from the Class of 2012, 17 from the Class of 2011, 13 from the Class of 2010, 12 from the Class of 2009, and 10 from the classes of 20082007, and 2006.)  So let’s wait and see before we assume Rookie of the Year Moriya Jutanugarn will continue to be the standard-bearer for the ’13ers or guess at how many will have productive LPGA careers.  I gotta say, though, it’s not looking good for most of them right now.

The Contenders

1. Caroline Masson:  According to my career ranking system, she was the clear winner of the 2013 LPGA Rookie of the Year race, finishing 60 points clear of Ayako Uehara and almost 100 ahead of the actual ROY, Moriya Jutanugarn, despite playing at the end of the season with a broken thumb.  This season, I’m looking for her to improve on her #48 standing on the LPGA money list (in 22 starts) and #40 position on the LET Order of Merit (in 8 starts).  Her LPGA scoring average was quite high for someone who made as many birdies as she did in 2013.  If she can do a better job of minimizing the big numbers and keep making incremental improvements in her game, she should benefit from–and build on–this past year’s experience.  Whether that’ll be enough to keep her #1 in her class is another story!
2. Ayako Uehara:  I was surprised when this 3-time winner on the JLPGA decided to try for the LPGA and even more surprised that the Okinawa native made a smoother transition than Chie Arimura.  What kept her from doing more than making cuts consistently was a very weak iron game; between a low greens in regulation rate and non-elite putting stats, she had trouble breaking into the top 25 in 2013.  But I expect her to improve in both areas in 2014.
3. Chie Arimura:  This 13-time JLPGA champion had a disastrous 2014 by her standards, breaking into the top 10 only 3 times in 20 LPGA starts and not even getting into the top 25 in her 4 JLPGA starts.  But she’s doubling down on her LPGA quest in 2014.  To make it more successful, the bottom line is that she needs to putt better and make more birdies.  Forget rejoining the world’s elite this season; she’s only the 9th-ranked Japanese woman golfer right now.  The good news is she stayed in the LPGA’s ROY race almost to the bitter end despite all her struggles.  If she gets to 75% of capacity in 2014, she’ll be the #1 player in her class by the end of the season.
4. Moriya Jutanugarn:  She showed a lot of grit at the end of the season to chase down Masson and beat her by a single point to take ROY.  But like I said at the start of the season, she needs to improve her birdie rate to become a top-30 player on the LPGA.  The culprit seems to be her putter, but I think improving her iron play should also be a high priority for 2014.  Let’s see if she can do it!

The Next Best

5. Lisa McCloskey:  She’s the only other player in her class making cuts at a rate that suggests she has a long-term future on the LPGA, but she’ll need to drastically improve her iron play in 2014 to start breaking into the top 20 more often.
6. Austin Ernst:  As badly as she putted in 2013, she showed flashes of what she’s capable of with a pair of top 10s in the middle of the season.

Quantum Leap Candidates

7. Katie Burnett (#115 on 2014 LPGA Priority Status List):  She barely finished in the top 100 on the LPGA money list last season, but she’ll get as many starts as she wants this one.  The key for her in 2014 is to give herself more and better birdie chances.  Only Caroline Masson among her classmates putted better than she did in 2013.
8. Brooke Pancake (#114):  She also squeaked into the top 100 on the money list, but unless she improves her ball-striking dramatically in 2014, she may find herself in Q-School come December.  She showed plenty of grit by following up a 7-event missed-cut streak with a T13, so we know she has it in her!

On the Bottom, Looking Up

9. Felicity Johnson (#150):  Amazingly, she averaged slightly more birdies per round than the LPGA Rookie of the Year despite taking over 1.93 putts per green in regulation.  With finishes outside the top 100 on the LPGA money list in 17 starts and outside the top 70 on the LET Order of Merit in 14 starts last season, it’s clear whatever the 2-time winner on the LET was doing in 2013 wasn’t working.  On the bright side, she should get into her share of LPGA events in 2014, if she so chooses.
10. Julia Boland (#156):  After winning on the Symetra Tour in 2012 and earning her LPGA card for 2013, the Aussie had a better putting year but a horrible ball-striking year and will most likely be splitting her time between the 2 tours in 2014.
11. Sue Kim (#91):  She moved from 23rd on the Symetra Tour money list in 2012 to 6th in 2013 by winning her 1st event there and making incremental improvements in every aspect of her game.  She didn’t see those kind of results in her 7 LPGA starts last season, but look for her to improve when she plays her 1st full season on tour.
12. Paz Echeverria (#134):  The pride of Chile did everything well on the LPGA last season except putt, but she still needed to go back to Q-School, where she finished T13 and stamped her 2014 LPGA passport.  If she can get her putter going this season, watch out for her.
13. Kayla Mortellaro (#133):  Injuries cut short her rookie season (and probably affected her play), so she’s on a medical exemption at roughly the same spot on the priority status list in 2014 as she was in 2013.  Let’s see what this 10-time winner from the University of Idaho does from it this time around.
14. Nicole Smith (#98):  I don’t understand how a medical exemption from a shoulder injury moves her into Category 11 on the 2014 priority status list when she was in Category 9 in 2013.  Be that as it may, she gets a blank slate for her sophomore campaign, as well.  Looking at her Symetra Tour stats from 2010-2012, I’m impressed at how she’s managed to increase her length off the tee without sacrificing accuracy.  If she’s healthy in 2014, and can get her putter going, she could very well surprise a lot of people.
15. Victoria Elizabeth (#129):  After nearly being skunked in her rookie season on the LPGA, she turned it around at the final stage of Q-School, finishing T13, so she’ll be back on a full schedule on the big tour in 2014.  Going from her stellar career as a junior golfer and solid performance stats in 4 seasons on the Symetra Tour (where she won once in 2012), I’d say she has a decent chance to turn things around and go back to being the “straight shooter” style of player she’s been in the past.
16. Alejandra Llaneza (#162):  She’s a classic precision player who improved from 2012 to 2013 on the Symetra Tour while only getting 3 LPGA starts (making her only cut as a sponsor exemption at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, so the money she won was unofficial).  Look for her to continue improving, mostly in the minor leagues, in 2014.
17. Marina Alex (#88):  This precision player from Vanderbilt actually lost a little distance and accuracy from 2012 to 2013 on the Symetra Tour, but moved up from 39th on the 2012 money list in 7 starts to 3rd on the 2013 money list in 14 starts because she improved her putting.  If she can keep doing that on the big tour in 2014, she should be able to keep her card.
18. Perrine Delacour (#93):  This French straight shooter spent 2013 on the Symetra Tour, where she finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year race and 8th on the year-end money list.  If she can bring that kind of game to the LPGA in 2014, watch out for her!
19. Brianna Do (#171):  The 2011 Publinx champion and UCLA grad has had a couple of seasons of seasoning on the Symetra Tour already, and will have another in 2014.  The precision player will need to improve her iron play to get better status on the LPGA in 2015.
20. Haley Millsap (#165):  For the 2nd year in a row, she earned a Category 17 LPGA card via Q-School, so she’ll (mostly) be back on the Symetra Tour in 2014.

On the Outside, Looking In

21. Breanna Elliott:  She had a bad final round at the final stage of LPGA Q-School and ended up T60.  The Aussie will need to improve her iron play on the Symetra Tour in 2014 to add to her 7 LPGA starts in 2015.
22. Lauren Doughtie:  This ’09 NC State grad missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School and will be back on the Symetra Tour in 2014, trying to follow up on her 2012 victory there (her 1st).
23. Sara-Maude Juneau:  This 5-time winner at the University of Louisville improved her iron play from 2011 to 2012 on the Symetra Tour, squeaking into the top 10 on their money list in her sophomore campaign, but her rookie season on the LPGA was a serious step backward.  The Symetra Tour precision player couldn’t find the green in 2013 and will be back in the minor leagues in 2014 after finishing just outside the 72-hole cut line at the final stage of LPGA Q-School.
24. Daniela Iacobelli:  This bomber broke through with a win during her 3rd season on the Symetra Tour in 2012, but finished outside the top 125 on the LPGA money list in 2013 and missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of Q-School, so it’s back to the minor leagues in 2014.
25. Inhong Lim:  A world traveller who made it to the LPGA in 2013 from South Korea to New Zealand to Australia to Ohio State to the Symetra Tour, she got 2 starts last season and made 1 cut, but given her struggles to even break the top 100 on the Symetra Tour money list in her 2 seasons there or make the top 140 after 72 holes at LPGA Q-School’s final stage this past December, this precision player may just not have the distance to compete successfully as a professional.
26. Kelly Jacques:  Although she never played a full season on the Symetra Tour in 2009, 2011, or 2012, she made it to the LPGA in 2013, getting 5 starts and making 1 cut.  After finishing well outside the 72-hole cut line at the final stage of Q-School, it’ll be interesting to see if she focuses on the Symetra Tour in 2014 and keeps improving her iron play.
27. Taylore Karle:  She made it to the LPGA by getting the final spot in a multi-player playoff at 2012 LPGA Q-School, but then nearly got skunked in her 14 starts in the big leagues and came DFL after 72 holes at Q-School.  Will she take the opportunity to refocus on the Symetra Tour in 2014?  She’s only played 1 event there in her career.
28. Jiayun Li:  A standout on the CLPGA (finishing 3rd on their money list in 2011 and 21st in 2012), she finished 84th in 9 starts on the LET Order of Merit in 2013 but missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School.  I wonder if she’ll focus on the Symetra Tour in 2014?
29. Stephanie Na:  This long-time ALPG and Symetra Tour member finished 83rd on the LET Order of Merit in 17 starts last season and just missed the 72-hole cut at LPGA Q-School, so is likely to split her time between both tours in 2014.
30. Frances Bondad:  Another Aussie who’s been bouncing around the ALPG, Symetra Tour, and LET the last several years, she got 6 starts on the LPGA, 5 on the LET, 8 on the ALPG, and 9 on the Symetra Tour in 2013.  After missing Category 17 by a single shot at LPGA Q-School’s final stage, it’s looking like she’ll put together a similar schedule in 2014, minus the LPGA starts.
31. Jordan Hardy:  She’s back on the Symetra Tour this season after missing the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School.  Will need to vastly improve her game to extend her professional career.
32. Garrett Phillips:  This long-time Symetra Tour member missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School, so she’ll face the decision of returning for her 5th season (it looks like she sat out 2012) or looking for other work.
33. Marita Engzelius:  She got 4 starts on the LPGA and 6 starts on the Symetra Tour in 2013 and after missing the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School, she’ll be looking to improve on the latter in 2014.
34. Esther Choe:  After turning pro as a teenager, she toiled on mini-tours and the Symetra Tour for years before breaking through in 2012 with 2 victories and a #1 finish on their season-ending money list.  But she went 0 for 12 on the LPGA and badly missed the 72-hole cut at Q-school’s final stage.  Wonder what 2014 has in store for her?

Status Unknown

35. Marina Stuetz: After going 0 for 11 on the LPGA in 2013, she didn’t enter Q-School.


For your reference–and mine–here are the stats on which I’m basing the January 2014 ranking.

2013 LPGA Money List (rank), scoring average (rank), birdies per round average (rank [in total birdies]), greens in regulation rate (rank): I focus on five key indicators of how well someone played last season–how much money they won, how they scored, how many birdies they’ve averaged per round, how many greens they hit in regulation on average per round, and how many putts per green in regulation they took on average, plus how they ranked in each category (except for birdies, which LPGA.com ranks by total and not by average). Some of the figures Hound Dog thinks are the most important I’ve incorporated into my career ranking (below), where I think they belong. These stats are all about the immediate past and future.

NAME/$$/SCORING AVE./BIRDIES PER ROUND/GIR/PPGIR (ranks)
1. Moriya Jutanugarn, $293.2K (#47), 72.085 (#53), 2.87 (#47), 68.2% (#40), 1.847 (#92)
2. Caroline Masson, $287.8K (#48), 72.646 (#74), 3.38 (#57), 66.5% (#61), 1.807 (#32)
3. Ayako Uehara, $212.8K (#58), 71.964 (#45), 3.02 (#82), 63.5% (#105), 1.814 (#41)
4. Chie Arimura, $202.3K (#61), 72.467 (#67), 2.97 (#74), 67.8% (#44), 1.831 (#65)
5. Austin Ernst, $142.0K (#72), 72.821 (#86), 3.38 (#55), 66.8% (#54), 1.845 (#89)
6. Lisa McCloskey, $123.9K (#78), 72.233 (#55), 3.13 (#68), 63.1% (#108), 1.814 (#39)
7. Brooke Pancake, $63.6K (#98), 72.953 (#91), 2.51 (#106), 61.6% (#120), 1.836 (#73)
8. Katie Burnett, $53.4K (#99), 71.909 (#42), 3.27 (#106), 65.3% (#82), 1.807 (#31)
9. Felicity Johnson, $27.8K (#114), 73.548 (#120), 2.88 (#101), 67.2% (#49), 1.933 (#147)
10. Julia Boland, $22.7K (#122), 74.000 (#132), 2.82 (#116), 54.9% (#142), 1.821 (#50)
11. Daniela Iacobelli, $17.3K (#130), 73.688 (#123), 2.47 (#131), 63.0% (#109), 1.909 (#144)
12. Sara-Maude Juneau, $15.8K (#131), 74.441 (#138), 2.68 (#121), 60.6 (#128), 1.881 (#135)
13. Lauren Doughtie, $14.2K (#133), 74.735 (#139), 2.59 (#125), 64.1% (#103), 1.898 (#140)
14. Paz Echeverria, $13.9K (#134), 72.300 (#57), 3.05 (#143), 70.8% (#21), 1.863 (#111)
15. Sue Kim, $11.5K (#140), 73.063 (n.r.), 2.63 (#152), 60.0% (n.r.), 1.885 (n.r.)
16. Breanna Elliott, $11.1K (#141), 74.857 (n.r.), 2.43 (#156), 52.0% (n.r.), 1.909 (n.r.)
17. Kayla Mortellaro, $9.9K (#143), 75.727 (#145), 2.18 (#150), 57.6% (#140), 1.899 (#141)
18. Nicole Smith, $5.7K (#150), 74.333 (#135), 2.83 (#138), 64.4% (#96), 1.885 (#137)
19. Victoria Elizabeth, $3.9K (#154), 75.652 (#144), 2.52 (#145), 57.7% (#139), 1.866 (#118)
20. Taylore Karle, $3.4K (#155), 76.536 (#147), 2.25 (#141), 49.8% (#146), 1.879 (#129)
21. Kelly Jacques, $3.4K (#156), 73.100 (n.r.), 2.08 (#161), 63.0% (n.r.), 1.825 (n.r.)
22. Inhong Lim, $3.4K (#156), 72.667 (n.r.), 2.17 (#169), 63.0% (n.r.), 1.853 (n.r.)
23. Brianna Do, $0 (n.r.), 72.500 (n.r.), 1.50 (#188), 64.0% (n.r.), 1.913 (n.r.)
24. Frances Bondad, $0 (n.r.), 72.900 (n.r.), 2.38 (#158), 67.0% (n.r.), 1.850 (n.r.)
25. Jiayun Li, $0 (n.r.), 73.000 (n.r.), 2.67 (#166), 59.0% (n.r.), 1.781 (n.r.)
26. Marina Alex, $0 (n.r.), 73.333 (n.r.), 2.50 (#168), 72.0% (n.r.), 1.910 (n.r.)
27. Alejandra Llaneza, $0 (n.r.), 73.500 (n.r.), 2.56 (#162), 67.0% (n.r.), 1.806 (n.r.)
28. Garrett Phillips, $0 (n.r.), 73.500 (n.r.), 2.00 (#182), 69.0% (n.r.), 1.920 (n.r.)
29. Stephanie Na, $0 (n.r.), 74.750 (n.r.), 2.00 (#175), 42.0% (n.r.), 1.900 (n.r.)
30. Jordan Hardy, $0 (n.r.), 75.000 (n.r.), 2.50 (#181), 83.0% (n.r.), 2.200 (n.r.)
31. Marina Stuetz, $0 (n.r.), 75.111 (#142), 3.22 (#145), 59.0% (#136), 1.838 (#76)
32. Perrine Delacour, $0 (n.r.), 75.500 (n.r.), 2.00 (#182), 69.0% (n.r.), 2.000 (n.r.)
33. Marita Engzelius, $0 (n.r.), 76.167 (n.r.), 2.17 (#169), 55.0% (n.r.), 1.949 (n.r.)
34. Esther Choe, $0 (n.r.), 76.368 (#146), 2.20 (#151), 39.8% (#147), 1.809 (#35)
35. Haley Millsap, $0 (n.r.), 76.500 (n.r.), 2.29 (#166), 53.0% (n.r.), 1.842 (n.r.)

Career Ranking:  Between inflation, changing purses, and length/timing of careers, it’s very hard to compare and contrast winnings across generations of LPGA greats. Fortunately, the members of the Class of 2013 started at the same time, even if some of them have not had full status last season or this one (although that in itself is an indication of how someone’s career has been going!). What would really be great is if we had a world money list in inflation-adjusted dollars, with inflation- and exchange-adjusted other cash denominations added in (or just totalled up separately to avoid comparing dollars and yen), which included all each golfer earned as a professional on any tour. But even the guys don’t have that, so that’ll have to remain a dream for now–although Thomas Atkins posted an inflation-adjusted LPGA Career Top 50 as of the end of the 2008 season and a Best of All Time ranking over at Hound Dog LPGA. In any case, building on an old analysis of finishes, I’ve developed a career ranking formula (the details you can check out on my spreadsheet), but since that includes only the top 4 players in the class, I’ll give the details on the lower-ranked players here.

NAME/$$/START/MAJOR/WIN/TOP3/TOP10/TOP20/WD/DQ/MC/FIN (RATE)
1. Caroline Masson, 582 points.
2. Ayako Uehara, 522.
3. Chie Arimura, 502.
4. Moriya Jutanugarn, 489.
5. Austin Ernst, $.14M (#424), 23/0/0/0/2/2/0/0/10/13 (.565)
6. Lisa McCloskey, $.12M (#443), 20/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/5/15 (.750)
7. Brooke Pancake, $.06M (#521), 17/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/11/6 (.353)
8. Katie Burnett, $.05M (#534), 11/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/5/6 (.545)
9. Felicity Johnson, $.03M (#591), 17/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/11/6 (.353)
10. Julia Boland, $.02M (#603), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/11/4 (.267)
11. Daniela Iacobelli, $.02M (#624), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/13/2 (.133)
12. Sara-Maude Juneau, $.02M (#631), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/11/4 (.267)
13. Lauren Doughtie, $.01M (#642), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/12/3 (.200)
14. Paz Echeverria, $.01M (#644), 9/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/7/2 (.222)
15. Sue Kim, $.01M (#657), 7/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/5/2 (.286)
16. Breanna Elliott, $.01M (#658), 7/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/5/2 (.286)
17. Kayla Mortellaro, $9.9K (#666), 11/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/7/3 (.273)
18. Nicole Smith, $5.7K (#693), 11/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/9/2 (.182)
19. Victoria Elizabeth, $3.9K (#705), 12/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/11/1 (.083)
20. Taylore Karle, $3.4K (#709), 14/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/13/1 (.071)
21. Kelly Jacques, $3.4K (#710), 5/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/4/1 (.200)
22. Inhong Lim, $3.4K (#710), 2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/1 (.500)
23. Jiayun Li, $0 (n.r.), 2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/1 (.500)
24. Alejandra Llaneza, $0 (n.r.), 3/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/1 (.333)
25. Perrine Delacour, $0 (n.r.), 1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0 (.000)
26. Brianna Do, $0 (n.r.), 1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0 (.000)
27. Garrett Phillips, $0 (n.r.), 1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0 (.000)
28. Jordan Hardy, $0 (n.r.), 1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0 (.000)
29. Stephanie Na, $0 (n.r.), 2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/0 (.000)
30. Marina Alex, $0 (n.r.), 3/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/3/0 (.000)
31. Haley Millsap, $0 (n.r.), 3/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/3/0 (.000)
32. Marita Engzelius, $0 (n.r.), 4/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/4/0 (.000)
33. Frances Bondad, $0 (n.r.), 6/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/6/0 (.000)
34. Marina Stuetz, $0 (n.r.), 11/0/0/0/0/0/2/0/9/0 (.000)
35. Esther Choe, $0 (n.r.), 12/0/0/0/0/0/3/0/9/0 (.000)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Rankings points (as of 1/13/14) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index score (as of 1/12/14) and rank, International Wins (on JLPGA, KLPGA, LET as of 1/13/14): This is a way of seeing how those ’13ers who sometimes or regularly or often compete on other tours stack up over the course of their careers to date (the RR includes results over the past 104 weeks on the LPGA, JLPGA, KLPGA, LET, ALPG, Symetra Tour, LETAS, and CLPGA; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on the LPGA, JLPGA, LET, and Symetra Tour).

1. Caroline Masson, 1.79 (#60), 72.70 (#122); 1 (LET)
2. Chie Arimura, 1.61 (#66), 72.91 (#135); 13 (JLPGA)
3. Ayako Uehara, 1.25 (#84), 71.08 (#41); 3 (JLPGA)
4. Moriya Jutanugarn, 1.24 (#85), 71.82 (#77); 0
5. Austin Ernst, .70 (#162), 73.35 (#164); 0
6. Lisa McCloskey, .54 (#194), 72.61 (#118); 0
7. Katie Burnett, .49 (#209), 73.20 (#150); 0
8. Brooke Pancake, .29 (#271), 74.37 (#227); 0
9. Felicity Johnson, .24 (#291), 74.62 (#254); 2 (LET)
10. Jiayun Li, .21 (#313), n.r.; 0
11. Stephanie Na, .19 (#331), 76.12 (#354); 0
12. Daniela Iacobelli, .16 (#350), 75.67 (#332); 0
13. Alejandra Llaneza, .16 (#333), 73.96 (#198); 0
14. Sue Kim, .14 (#372), 73.95 (#197); 0
15. Esther Choe, .13 (#384), 77.42 (#405); 0
16. Julia Boland, .13 (#386), 75.14 (#306); 0
17. Marina Alex, .11 (#412), 73.60 (#176); 0
18. Frances Bondad, .11 (#415), 76.08 (#351); 1 (LET)
19. Perrine Delacour, .11 (#419), 74.78 (#273); 0
20. Paz Echeverria, .07 (#473), 74.62 (#253); 0
21. Breanna Elliott, .07 (#486), 76.33 (#362); 0
22. Sara-Maude Juneau, .09 (#439), 75.31 (#312); 0
23. Lauren Doughtie, .07 (#496), 75.88 (#339); 0
24. Victoria Elizabeth, .05 (#532), 76.95 (#394); 0
25. Nicole Smith, .04 (#575), 75.53 (#352); 0
26. Kayla Mortellaro, .02 (#659), 75.69 (n.r.); 0
27. Garrett Phillips, .02 (#714), 75.48 (#319); 0
28. Inhong Lim, .01 (#734), 76.50 (#368); 0
29. Brianna Do, .01 (#744), 75.73 (#336); 0
30. Marita Engzelius, .01 (#766), 76.86 (n.r.); 0
31. Kelly Jacques, n.r., 74.72 (#268); 0
32. Haley Millsap, n.r., 76.18 (#358); 0
33. Taylore Karle, n.r., 76.94 (#393); 0
34. Jordan Hardy, n.r., 78.31 (#438); 0
35. Marina Stuetz, n.r., 76.17 (n.r.); 0

Ranking the LPGA’s Rookie Class of 2012, January 2014 Edition

This is the 1st time I’m ranking the Class of 2012, the 1st of 3 classes in what I’m calling the LPGA’s “Generation Prodigy.”  We’ve got at least 2 of ’em here–and potentially more.  But the vast majority of the ’12ers have also been struggling a lot during their 1st 2 years on tour–and, frankly, even among the top players, probably only Lizette Salas has overachieved and Mo Martin, Jacqui Concolino, and Thidapa Suwannapura have exceeded expectations.  Even so, 20 out of the class’s 33 members will have some kind of status on the LPGA next season.  (Compare that to 17 from the Class of 2011, 13 from the Class of 2010, 12 from the Class of 2009, and 10 from the classes of 20082007, and 2006.)  Is that evidence that attrition is inevitable in the next few years or a sign that the talent in this class really runs deep?  Only time will tell!

Simply the Best

1. So Yeon Ryu:  In the last few years, she’s proven she’s one of the best golfers in the world (she’s in the top 7 on most every performance stat I track on my career ranking spreadsheet–and tops in top-10 rate!), but she’s been snakebit when it comes to winning lately, getting beaten by 2 eagles in 10 holes on a September Sunday on the KLPGA last season and just missing the cigar multiple times as an LPGA member.  I think 2014 is the year she jumps out of that particular rut.  It’s just a matter of getting the key putts to drop.

The Contender

2. Lexi Thompson:  Those 2 wins late in 2013 have gotten everyone excited she’s going to go on a tear in 2014.  Count me in.  As her short game continues to mature, look for her birdie rate to skyrocket and her putts per green in regulation rate to plunge–and her victory total to increase!

The Next Best

3. Lizette Salas:  She had a hot putter in 2013 and rode it across the $1M mark in career winnings in only her 2nd season on tour.  If she can keep improving her ball-striking, watch out for her in 2014!
4. Carlota Ciganda:  Even without really hitting her stride as a professional, she’s racked up 3 wins on the LET.  I’d like to see her play less over there in 2014, however, as it’s not a Solheim Cup year and she can do more to secure a spot on the 2015 European team by gaining experience against the best in the world and moving up the Rolex Rankings.  Her 2013 performance stats on the LPGA were kind of blah, but she showed what she’s capable of with her silver in Texas, bounceback in the Solheim Cup, and 5-event top-25 run at the end of the season (broken by a disappointing Titleholders).

Quantum Leap Candidates

5. Danielle Kang:  It’s been a real struggle for the 2-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion on the LPGA, but she’s never lost her confidence or sense of humor.  In the wake of her father’s recent passing, 2014 is going to be a really emotional year for her and her many fans.  I wish her the best!  (And a hot putter!) 
6. Mo Martin:  She’s a classic precision player who’s gotten more attention for her awesome grandfather and skill with the long putter than her unexpectedly strong start out of the gates on the LPGA after years toiling away on the Symetra Tour (where she’s won 3 times and is 6th on their career money list).  2014 is going to be a key season for her, as she can either keep improving all aspects of her game and establish herself as a bona fide LPGA regular or raise doubts about her future on tour….
7. Sydnee Michaels:  I’ve been really high on her from the get-go, but she has yet to really click on the LPGA.  Hopefully she got that mid-season sophomore slump out of her system and will be ready for 2014!

On the Bottom, Looking Up

8. Jacqui Concolino:  Her performance stats were really unimpressive last season, but I see signs that her top 5 in Ohio was not a fluke.  Let’s see if I’m right!
9. Thidapa Suwannapura:  Another player whose performance stats make her achievements as an LPGA member rather surprising.  Whereas Michaels and Concolino have had more high finishes than her, Suwannapura has a made-cut rate that suggests she has a real future on the LPGA.  Only time will tell!
10. Rebecca Lee-Bentham:  That T11 at the Evian is intriguing, but her overall performance stats raise plenty of red flags.  Let’s see what she brings to the table in season 3.
11. Mi Hyang Lee:  Her top 20 at the Evian last season has been the only real bright spot in her LPGA career thus far, but it kept her in the top 100 on the 2013 money list, so she’ll have a full schedule in 2014.
12. Maude-Aimee Leblanc:  Although she was unable to improve on her #148 position on the 2014 LPGA Priority Status List at Q-School (where she finished T32), she should get plenty of starts.
13. Kathleen Ekey:  Her T7 finish at Q-School jumped her about 20 spots up the priority list, which means she has a chance to build on her surprising ability to make birdies despite having a cold putter last season.  Points to a pretty accurate iron game!
14. Sandra Changkija:  Her dominating victory in the SunCoast Series kickoff event for 2014 is a good sign, but even more impressive is that she managed to break 70 twice on a par 73 in very cold conditions.  It’s a good sign for someone like Ekey who averaged over 3 birdies for round despite taking over 1.86 putts per green in regulation.  
15. Cydney Clanton:  She finished 5th on the 2013 Symetra Tour money list so will have a full dance card in 2014 for the 1st time as an LPGA member.  Let’s see what she does with the opportunity.
16. Victoria Tanco:  At #173 on the priority status list, her ability to get LPGA starts is dependent on (many) others ahead of her on the list deciding not to start.  Most likely she’ll be trying to regain her confidence on the Symetra Tour in 2014 after a bruisingly bad 2013 on the LPGA.
17. P.K. Kongkraphan:  She finished 1st on the Symetra Tour money list last season, so like Clanton has a great chance to show what she’s capable of on the LPGA this season.
18. Katy Harris:  At #181 on the priority status list, this mother of 2 is basically in the same boat as Tanco, just a bit further from the exit.
19. Veronica Felibert:  She’s another one who makes more birdies than you’d expect from her other performance stats.  And at #153 on the priority status list, she’s a lot closer to the exit than Tanco or Harris.
20. Jane Rah:  At #158…well, you get the picture.
21. Hanna Kang:  At #152…you know the drill.  It’s a pity that she hasn’t gotten more starts on the LPGA or done more with the ones she’s had, as her performance stats last season were much better than many of her peers in this category and the next.

On the Outside, Looking In

22. Numa Gulyanamitta:  I thought from the quality of her collegiate record that she’d make a smooth transition to the professional ranks.  But after badly missing the 72-hole cut at the final stage of Q-School, she’s heading to the Symetra Tour this coming season.
23. Min Seo Kwak:  She finished T65 at Q-School, which means she has great status on the Symetra Tour for 2013.
24. Mitsuki Katahira:  She finished T60 at Q-School, so ditto.
25. Hannah Yun:  She finished 64th at Q-School, so ditto again.
26. Karlin Beck:  She finished T49 at Q-School (1 shot out of Category 17–ouch!), so ditto her up, too.
27. Valentine Derrey:  She played 15 times on the LET in 2013 and broke through with a bronze and 2 silvers late in the season, which bumped her up to #10 on their Order of Merit.  She didn’t enter LPGA Q-School, so she’ll be focusing on the LET in 2014.

28. Tzu-Chi Lin:  She just missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School, so she’ll have Symetra Tour status this coming season.
29. Elisa Serramia:  She was T136 in LPGA Q-School’s 2nd stage, so will have marginal status at best on the Symetra Tour in 2014.
30. Lacey Agnew:  
She missed the 72-hole cut at the final stage of LPGA Q-School, so she’ll have Symetra Tour status this coming season.
31. Kirby Dreher:  She was T177 in LPGA Q-School’s 2nd stage, so will have marginal status at best on the Symetra Tour in 2014.
32. Stephanie Kono:  After missing the cut in all 14 of her LPGA starts, she didn’t enter Q-School.  She will have strong Symetra Tour status in 2014 based on her #55 position on their 2013 money list.

Status Unknown

33. Juliana Murcia Ortiz:  She didn’t enter LPGA or LET Q-School.  Finishing #116 on the Symetra Tour’s money list last year will give her some kind of status there this year, but it’ll be very low on their priority list when it’s released.

For your reference–and mine–here are the stats on which I’m basing the January 2014 ranking.

2013 LPGA Money List (rank), scoring average (rank), birdies per round average (rank [in total birdies]), greens in regulation rate (rank): I focus on five key indicators of how well someone played last season–how much money they won, how they scored, how many birdies they’ve averaged per round, how many greens they hit in regulation on average per round, and how many putts per green in regulation they took on average, plus how they ranked in each category (except for birdies, which LPGA.com ranks by total and not by average). Some of the figures Hound Dog thinks are the most important I’ve incorporated into my career ranking (below), where I think they belong. These stats are all about the immediate past and future.

NAME/$$/SCORING AVE./BIRDIES PER ROUND/GIR/PPGIR (ranks)
1. So Yeon Ryu, $1.28M (#5), 70.294 (#4), 3.99 (#6), 73.3% (#2), 1.788 (#20)
2. Lexi Thompson, $1.21M (#6), 70.881 (#18), 3.68 (#15), 73.9% (#8), 1.825 (#55)
3. Lizette Salas, $759.3K (#15), 70.709 (#12), 3.76 (#9), 70.5% (#24), 1.759 (#3)
4. Carlota Ciganda, $355.9K (#40), 71.985 (#49), 3.15 (#58), 67.8% (#43), 1.816 (#44)
5. Mo Martin, $319.2K (#46), 71.702 (#34), 2.92 (#41), 66.0% (#67), 1.820 (#47)
6. Danielle Kang, $221.6K (#57), 72.176 (#54), 3.05 (#52), 66.7% (#57), 1.841 (#84)
7. Jacqui Concolino, $150.6K (#70), 73.449 (#114), 2.88 (#59), 62.9% (#111), 1.840 (#80)
8. Thidapa Suwannapura, $137.6K (#73), 72.969 (#93), 2.87 (#65), 64.3% (#97), 1.841 (#82)
9. Rebecca Lee-Bentham, $118.4K (#80), 72.923 (#90), 2.83 (#89), 61.4% (#121), 1.837 (#74)
10. Sydnee Michaels, $107.4K (#84), 72.879 (#88), 2.97 (#78), 64.6% (#94), 1.823 (#53)
11. Mi Hyang Lee, $69.2K (#92), 72.978 (#95), 2.82 (#95), 63.4% (#106), 1.859 (#106)
12. Sandra Changkija, $52.7K (#100), 72.583 (#72), 3.06 (#105), 65.4% (#80), 1.866 (#117)
13. Kathleen Ekey, $50.9K (#101), 73.047 (#99), 3.09 (#97), 67.4% (#47), 1.864 (#115)
14. Maude-Aimee Leblanc, $29.8K (#111), 73.281 (#107), 2.94 (#120), 62.8% (#112), 1.856 (#102)
15. Hanna Kang, $25.3K (#116), 72.438 (n.r.), 3.13 (#149), 65% (n.r.), 1.835 (n.r.)
16. Veronica Felibert, $24.6K (#118), 73.308 (#108), 3.05 (#99), 65.7% (#73), 1.876 (#133)
17. Jane Rah, $20.9K (#125),73.152 (#103), 2.67 (#121), 59.1% (#135), 1.863 (#114)
18. Min Sweo Kwak, $8.9K (#146), 72.200 (n.r.), 3.08 (#154), 69% (n.r.), 1.839 (n.r.)
19. Karlin Beck, $5.0K (#152), 75.138 (#143), 2.21 (#139), 61.9% (#117), 1.910 (#145)
20. Mitsuki Katahira, $4.7K (#153), 72.667 (n.r.), 3.08 (#155), 67% (n.r.), 1.814 (n.r.)
21. Victoria Tanco, $3.2K (#158), 75.818 (n.r.), 2.36 (#157), 51% (n.r.), 1.780 (n.r.)
22. Cydney Clanton, $3.1K (#159), 73.500 (n.r.), 2.13 (#165), 77% (n.r.), 1.973 (n.r.)
23. Hannah Yun, $0 (n.r.), 77.300 (n.r.), 1.90 (#164), 49% (n.r.), 1.921 (n.r.)
24. Numa Gulyanamitta, $0 (n.r.), 74.893 (#140), 2.96 (#130), 54.6% (#144), 1.833 (#67)

Career Ranking:  Between inflation, changing purses, and length/timing of careers, it’s very hard to compare and contrast winnings across generations of LPGA greats. Fortunately, the members of the Class of 2012 started at the same time, even if some of them have not had full status every season (although that in itself is an indication of how someone’s career has been going!). What would really be great is if we had a world money list in inflation-adjusted dollars, with inflation- and exchange-adjusted other cash denominations added in (or just totalled up separately to avoid comparing dollars and yen), which included all each golfer earned as a professional on any tour. But even the guys don’t have that, so that’ll have to remain a dream for now–although Thomas Atkins posted an inflation-adjusted LPGA Career Top 50 as of the end of the 2008 season and a Best of All Time ranking over at Hound Dog LPGA. In any case, building on an old analysis of finishes, I’ve developed a career ranking formula (the details you can check out on my spreadsheet), but since that includes only the top 6 players in the class, I’ll give the details on the lower-ranked players here.

NAME/$$/START/MAJOR/WIN/TOP3/TOP10/TOP20/WD/DQ/MC/FIN (RATE)
1. So Yeon Ryu, 2464 points.
2. Lexi Thompson, 1842.
3. Lizette Salas, 969.
4. Carlota Ciganda, 768.
5. Danielle Kang, 471.
6. Mo Martin, 432.
7. Sydnee Michaels, $.30M (#349), 40/0/0/0/2/6/0/0/17/23 (.575)
8. Jacqui Concolino, $.21M (#392), 34/0/0/0/1/4/0/0/17/17 (.500)
9. Thidapa Suwannapura, $.14M (#426), 22/0/0/0/1/3/0/0/7/15 (.682)
10. Rebecca Lee-Bentham, $.13M (#433), 32/0/0/0/0/2/0/0/20/12 (.375)
11. Veronica Felibert, $.13M (#437), 31/0/0/0/1/1/1/0/18/12 (.387)
12. Sandra Changkija, $.09M (#484), 26/0/0/0/2/2/0/0/18/8 (.308)
13. Jane Rah, $.08M (#489), 31/0/0/0/1/1/0/1/21/9 (.290)
14. Mi Hyang Lee, $.08M (#499), 22/0/0/0/0/1/1/0/10/10 (.455)
15. Maude-Aimee Leblanc, $.07M (#503), 24/0/0/0/0/0/1/1/12/10 (.417)
16. Numa Gulyanamitta, $.07M (#506), 30/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/21/9 (.300)
17. Kathleen Ekey, $.06M (#523), 31/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/20/11 (.355)
18. Victoria Tanco, $.03M (#584), 22/0/0/0/0/0/1/1/14/6 (.273)
19. Cydney Clanton, $.03M (#586), 18/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/13/5 (.278)
20. Hannah Yun, $.03M (#588), 20/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/16/4 (.200)
21. Hanna Kang$.03M (#592), 13/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/11/2 (.154)
22. Min Seo Kwak, $.02M (#627), 12/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/10/2 (.167)
23. Karlin Beck, $.02M (#636), 28/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/23/5 (.179)
24. Mitsuki Katahira, $7.7K (#677), 9/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/7/2 (.222)
25. Elisa Serramia, $7.0K (#683), 13/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/12/1 (.077)
26. P.K. Kongkraphan, $5.2K (#696), 5/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/4/1 (.200)
27. Valentine Derrey, $3.1K (#717), 3/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/1 (.333)
28. Katy Harris, $3.0K (#718), 6/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/5/1 (.167)
29. Lacey Agnew, $3.0K (#719), 7/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/6/1 (.143)
30. Tzu-Chi Lin, $3.0K (#723), 4/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/3/1 (.250)
31. Juliana Murcia Ortiz, $0 (n.r.), 1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0 (.000)
32. Kirby Dreher, 
$0 (n.r.), 5/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/4/0 (.000)
33. Stephanie Kono, $0 (n.r.), 14/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/14/0 (.000)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Rankings points (as of 1/6/14) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index score (as of 1/5/14) and rank, International Wins (on JLPGA, KLPGA, LET as of 1/11/14): This is a way of seeing how those ’12ers who sometimes or regularly or often compete on other tours stack up over the course of their careers to date (the RR includes results over the past 104 weeks on the LPGA, JLPGA, KLPGA, LET, ALPG, Symetra Tour, LETAS, and CLPGA; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on the LPGA, JLPGA, LET, and Symetra Tour).

1. So Yeon Ryu, 6.56 (#5), 69.55 (#7); 8 (KLPGA)
2. Lexi Thompson, 4.86 (#9), 70.43 (#22); 1 (LET)
3. Lizette Salas, 3.70 (#20), 70.08 (#14); 0
4. Carlota Ciganda, 2.51 (#39), 71.28 (#48); 3 (LET)
5. Mo Martin, 1.21 (#89), 71.67 (#66); 0
6. Danielle Kang, 1.13 (#99), 72.45 (#109); 0
7. Thidapa Suwannapura, .93 (#123), 72.73 (#125); 1 (LET)
8. Valentine Derrey, .77 (#148), 72.99 (#141); 0
9. Sydnee Michaels, .75 (#154), 73.79 (#184); 0
10. Jacqui Concolino, .74 (#156), 74.21 (#212); 0
11. Rebecca Lee-Bentham, .53 (#204), 73.89 (#191); 0
12. P.K. Kongkraphan, .39 (#238), 73.57 (#174); 0
13. Sandra Changkija, .36 (#253)74.28 (#221); 0
14. Mi Hyang Lee, .34 (#257), 73.84 (#188); 0
15. Jane Rah, .24M (#293), 74.69 (#263); 0
16. Veronica Felibert, .23 (#300), 74.53 (#243); 0
17. Kathleen Ekey, .20 (#321), 73.99 (#200); 0
18. Maude-Aimee Leblanc, .20 (#326)74.41 (#231); 0
19. Hanna Kang, .15 (#358), 75.41 (#315); 0
20. Hannah Yun, .13 (#388), 76.12 (#355); 0
21. Junthima Gulyanamitta, .13 (#394), 76.54 (#369); 0
22. Tzu-Chi Lin, .12 (#406), 75.56 (n.r.); 0
23. Katy Harris, .08 (#468), 76.55 (#327); 0
24. Cydney Clanton, .07 (#474), 74.71 (#267); 0
25. Min Seo Kwak, .06 (#504), 74.69 (#264); 0
26. Mitsuki Katahira, .05 (#529), 75.67 (#334); 0
27. Victoria Tanco, .04 (#586), 75.97 (n.r.); 0
28. Stephanie Kono, .02 (#694), 76.89 (#387); 0
29. Lacey Agnew, .03 (#643), 76.82 (#383); 0
30. Karlin Beck, .01 (#775), 76.48 (#367); 0
31. Juliana Murcia Ortiz, .01 (#810), 74.67 (n.r.); 0
32. Kirby Dreher, .00 (#833), 78.22 (#435); 0
33. Elisa Serramia, n.r., 76.72 (#379); 0