How Big Were the LPGA’s Big 3 in 2013? Comparing Career vs. Single-Season Top-10 and Winning Percentages


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Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, and Stacy Lewis were clearly head and shoulders above even their lead chase pack on the LPGA in 2013.  But how impressive were their performances relative to their peers historically?

One way to look at how consistently excellent the LPGA’s Big 3 were is to consider how often they finished in the top 10.  Here are the top 5 players in 2013 by percentage of top-10 finishes:

1. Stacy Lewis 73.1% (up from 61.5% in 2012)
2. Suzann Pettersen 65.2% (up from 20.8% in 2012)
3. Shanshan Feng 52.6% (up from 42.1% in 2012)
4. Inbee Park 47.8% (down from 50.0% in 2012)
5. So Yeon Ryu 41.7% (down from 66.7% in 2012)

Here are the top 10 players in the rookie classes of 2005 through 2013 in top-10 percentage over the course of their LPGA careers:

1. So Yeon Ryu 54.2% (peak year 66.7% in 2012)
2. Ji-Yai Shin 46.9% (peak year: 77.8% in 2010)
3. Na Yeon Choi 45.8% (peak years: 65.2% in 2010; 57.1% in 2011)
4. Paula Creamer 44.1% (peak years: 57.7% in 2008; 54.2% in 2007; 51.9% in 2006)
5. Stacy Lewis 43.4% (peak years: 73.1% in 2013; 61.5% in 2012)
6. Ya Ni Tseng 43.0% (peak years: 63.6% in 2011; 51.9% in 2009)
7. In-Kyung Kim 35.6% (peak year: 57.1% in 2010)
8. Ai Miyazato 33.1% (peak year: 59.1% in 2009)
9. Inbee Park 30.4% (peak year: 57.9% in 2010)
10. Anna Nordqvist 27.7% (peak year: 40.7% in 2012)

Now let’s consider winning percentage.  Here are the top 5 from 2013:

1. Inbee Park 26.1% (up from 8.3% in 2012)
2. Suzann Pettersen 17.4% (up from 8.3% in 2012; peak year: 20.8% in 2007)
3. Stacy Lewis 11.5% (down from 15.4% in 2012)
4. Shanshan Feng 10.5% (up from 5.3% in 2012)
5. Lexi Thompson 8.3% (up from 0% in 2012)

Here are the top 10 from the Class of 2005 and up over the course of their LPGA careers:

1. Ji-Yai Shin 10.9% (peak year: 12.0% in 2009)
2. Ya Ni Tseng 10.6% (peak years: 31.8% in 2011; 15.8% in 2010)
3. Stacy Lewis 6.6% (peak years: 15.2% in 2012; 11.5% in 2013)
4. Lexi Thompson 6.3% (peak year: 8.3% in 2013)
5. Inbee Park 5.7% (peak years: 26.1% in 2013; 8.3% in 2012)
6. Ai Miyazato 5.1% (peak year: 23.8% in 2010)
7. Na Yeon Choi 4.9%
8. Paula Creamer 4.4% (peak years: 15.4% in 2008; 8.3% in 2007; 8.0% in 2005)
9. So Yeon Ryu 4.1%
10. Beatriz Recari 3.2%

What do we learn when we put just these two sets of stats together?

  • First, we probably ought to consider Feng as almost at the level of Park, Pettersen, and Lewis over the past 2 seasons.  Not quite.  But the closest to making it a “Big 4.”
  • Second, we definitely ought to marvel at Lewis’s ability to play very good golf week in and week out.  Only Ji-Yai Shin in 2010 did better at snagging top 10s than Lewis among those who joined the LPGA from 2005 on up.  Only Na Yeon Choi in 2010 and 2011 has been close to Lewis’s consistency in 2012 and 2013.  Only Paula Creamer from 2006-2008 has a chance of having a higher 3-year peak average than Lewis, and a slim chance at that given that Stacy’s carrying a double-digits top-10 streak into 2014.
  • Third, we definitely ought to marvel at Park’s ability to close the deal this year, exceeded among the LPGA’s ’05ers through ’13ers by Tseng in 2011.  But that year Tseng gave herself quite a few more chances to win than Park did this season.  This off-season is going to be key for Park, now that she’s coming out of her mini-slump in the 2nd half of 2013.  Can she be as consistently excellent as Tseng was in 2010-2011, or even as Lewis has been the last 2 seasons?  What does she need to do to find that consistency?
  • Fourth, we definitely ought to give a lot more credit to Pettersen, who got shut out of year-end honors and the Hall of Fame points that go with them this season, for how impressive she’s been at closing the deal the last 2 years.  I have a feeling 2014 will be the year she stops being the lady in waiting to a succession of #1 golfers.
  • Fifth, we definitely ought to marvel at how great for how long both Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa were.  Nobody in the current Big 3 or in the top-10 among ’05ers’-’13ers’ careers to date is even close to their level of sustained dominance.
What are you noticing about these figures?

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