Thursday, September 26, 2013

International Crown Standings Update



Back in January, LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan made what I think was the most important announcement of his entire tenure as Commissioner. He announced the details of a new tournament, beginning in 2014, called the International Crown. What made this so different from the several other new tournaments that he had previously announced? It gives all players, no matter what country they are from, the chance to represent their country in an Olympic type event.

Before this was announced the only competition between countries that the LPGA had on its schedule was the Solheim Cup. A competition between the United States and Europe. As a resident of the United States, it was my favorite tournament of the year. At the tournament's completion, it always made me sad that we had to wait two more years before it would be played again. But in truth, I was lucky that at least I got to see my country play. That could not be said for fans of players from South Korea, Japan, Australia, Thailand, and many other countries whose players could not compete.

Why shouldn't players like Ai Miyazato, Na Yeon Choi, Yani Tseng, and Pornanong Phatlum have an oppurtunity to play for their countries? Surely they are amongst the top players in the world.

With the announcement of the International Crown, all that has changed. Every country will now have a chance to compete. The tournament will be played on even numbered years, while the Solheim cup will continue to be played on odd numbered years.

"The final field of eight countries will be determined by the combined Rolex World Ranking of the top four players from each country as of the Rolex World Rankings published at the conclusion of the 2013 CME Group Titleholders." (Countries must have a minimum of four ranked players to be eligible.)

"The final field of 32 players will be determined after the Rolex World Rankings are published on the Monday of the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship week. At this point, the top 4 ranked players from each pre-qualified country will make up their respective country’s team."

This makes it very interesting because at the completion of the 2013 LPGA season, we will know who the 8 countries that are competing are, but we will have to wait until well into the 2014 season to know who the players are that will represent their respective countries. In fact a player playing well in 2013 could help get their country in, but not make the team themself  for playing poorly at the start of the 2014 season. Personally I think this is a stroke of genius on the commissioner's part. Not only will we be watching carefully at the end of this year to make sure our country gets in, but we will be following closely the following year rooting for our favorite players to get in.

Now it's time to take a look at the standings as they are today. Which countries would qualify as of right now. Here is a listing of the top eight countries with their top players' Rolex Ranking in parenthesis:

1- South Korea - 16 - Inbee Park (1), Na Yeon Choi (4), I.K. Kim (5), So Yeon Ryu (6)
2- United States - 40 - Stacy Lewis (3), Paula Creamer (11), Cristie Kerr (12), Lizette Salas (14)
3- Japan - 109 - Ai Miyazato (15), Mika Miyazato (20), Rikako Morita (36), Miki Saiki, (38)
4- Spain - 251 - Beatriz Recari (18), Azahara Munoz (32), Carlotta Ciganda (35), Belen Mozo (166)
5- Sweden - 279 - Anna Nordqvist (24), Caroline Hedwall (25), Pernilla Lindberg (107), Karin Sjodin (123)
6- Australia - 291 - Karrie Webb (7), Stacey Keating (94), Lindsey Wright (100), Katherine Hull Kirk (90)
7- Thailand - 325 - Ariya Jutanugarn (23), Pornanong Phatlum (58), Moriya Jutanugarn (101), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (143)
8- Chinese Taipei - Yani Tseng (19), Candie Kung (78), Theresa Lu (82), Hsuan-Yu Yau (161)

Those are the countries who would be in as of today. The following countries would fail to qualify:
9- England - 448 - Jodi Ewart-Shadoff (42), Charley Hull (136), Holly Clyburn (120), Trish Johnson (150)
10- France - 538 - Karine Icher (22), Gwladys Nocera (112), Joanna Klatten (185), Anne-Lise Caudal (219)

Unfortunately even this is not a perfect system, as players such as Suzann Pettersen (Norway), Shanshan Feng (Mainland China), Catriona Matthew (Scotland), Sandra Gal & Caroline Masson (Germany), Lee-Anne Pace (South Africa), and Lydia Ko (New Zealand), would not get a chance to play because their respective countries do not have 4 Rolex ranked players. That aside I think this tournament gives us all something to look forward to in 2014.

Other Tidbits:
In a surprising announcement, the LPGA will be starting their 2014 schedule in January this year, and on east coast time. The second annual Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic has been moved up from last year's May spot, to January 20-26. Look for more exciting announcements regarding the 2014 schedule, including additional domestic event(s) in the next couple of months.




Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Year 2013 - Part 2

While we wait for the LPGA to return from a two week break, it gives us some time to step back and discuss some of the other things going on in the golf world. For some interesting news on Lydia Ko, I suggest you check out Ruthless Golf, and for a preview of this weekend's JLPGA tournament I would check out Mostly Harmless.

 Now that we have completed about 3/4 of the LPGA season, I would like to look at the players that have made the biggest leaps, and taken the biggest falls in the Rolex Rankings this year.

The Rolex Rankings system awards points to players based on an accumulated 104-week "rolling" period, with the points awarded in the most recent 13-week period carrying a stronger value.
A player is then ranked according to her average points per tournament, as determined by dividing her total number of points by the number of eligible tournaments played during the 104-week period. A minimum divisor (35) is also used.

I have gone back to the first Rolex Rankings of the year and compared them to the current rankings. The only requirement for my list is that a player must have been ranked in the top 100 at the start of the year, or be in the top 100 now. 


The Year's Biggest Gainers:
1- Lydia Ko - 2.40 to 7.41 = Gain of 5.01 (moved from #43 to #5)
2- Inbee Park - 8.03 to 12.53 = Gain of 4.50 (move 4 to 1)
3- Suzann Pettersen - 7.04 to 10.72 = Gain of 3.68 (move 6 to 2)
4- Lizette Salas - 1.47 to 4.74 = Gain of 3.27 (move 89 to 14)
5- Ariya Jutanugarn - 0.54 to 3.52 = Gain of 2.98 (move 236 to 23)
6- Beatriz Recari - 1.89 to 4.19 = Gain of 2.30 (move 57 to 18)
7- Hee Young Park - 2.62 to 4.44 = Gain of 1.82 (move 37 to 17)
8- Mamiko Higa - 0.68 to 2.34 = Gain of 1.66 (move 195 to 47)
9- Jessica Korda - 1.61 to 3.22 = Gain of 1.61 (move 78 to 27)
10- Sei Young Kim - 0.70 to 2.25 = Gain of 1.55 (move 189 to 51)
11- Jodi Ewart Shadoff - 1.00 to 2.48 = Gain of 1.48 (move 137 to 42)
12- Stacy Lewis -8.39 to 9.85 = Gain of 1.46 (move 3 to 3)
13- I.K. Kim - 4.28 to 5.64 = Gain of 1.36 (move 22 to 9)
14- Karrie Webb - 4.88 to 6.11 = Gain of 1.23 (move 17 to 7)
15- Ilhee Lee - 1.52 to 2.67 = Gain of 1.15 (move 84 to 37)

The Year's Biggest Decliners:
1- Yani Tseng - 10.58 to 4.19 = Loss of 6.39 (moved from #1 to #19)
2- Chie Arimura - 4.53 to 2.39 = Loss of 2.14 (move 20 to 46)
3- Ji-Hee Lee - 3.79 to 1.76 = Loss of 2.03 (move 25 to 65)
4- Azahara Munoz - 4.98 to 2.96 = Loss of 2.02 (move 16 to 32)
5- Sun Ju Ahn - 5.15 to 3.24 = Loss of 1.91 (move 13 to 26)
6- Amy Yang - 5.01 to 3.20 = Loss of 1.81 (move 15 to 28)
7- Brittany Lincicome - 4.60 to 2.80 = Loss of 1.80 (move 18 to 34)
8- Ai Miyazato - 6.54 to 4.75 = Loss of 1.79 (move 9 to 15)
9- Mika Miyazato - 5.80 to 4.15 = Loss of 1.65 (move 10 to 20)
10- Na Yeon Choi - 9.08 to 7.45 = Loss of 1.63 (move 2 to 4)
11- Shanshan Feng - 7.27 to 5.67 = Loss of 1.60 (move 5 to 8)
12- Jiyai Shin - 6.63 to 5.10 = Loss of 1.53 (move 8 to 13)
13- Sun Young Yoo - 4.08 to 2.57 = Loss of 1.51 (move 23 to 40)
14- Brittany Lang - 3.51 to 2.13 = Loss of 1.38 (move 29 to 54)
15- Mi-Jeong Jeon 4.34 to 3.10 = Loss of 1.24 (move 21 to 30)

Note: Lydia Ko has played in just 23 tournaments over the 104 week period. As stated above, her points are divided by a minimum of 35 appearances (259.43 points divided by 35 = her 7.41 score). If the 35 minimum rule wasn't used and her points were divided by her actual 23 appearances (259.43 divided by 23 = 11.28), she would be ranked #2 in the world. 





Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stats & Facts - Volume 15

The LPGA is taking a 2 week break before starting its Asian swing. That part of the tour will be taking us to China, Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. The 2013 tour will then conclude with tournaments in Mexico and Florida.

With only 7 tournaments left on the schedule, I think now is a good time to look at some key statistics and notes from the first 21 tournaments.

Rolex Player of the Year Standings: (winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
1- Inbee Park - 281 points
2- Suzann Pettersen - 204
3- Stacy Lewis - 183
4- So Yeon Ryu - 87
5- Beatriz Recari - 84
6- Hee Young Park - 78
7- I.K. Kim - 68
8- Na Yeon Choi - 58
9- Angela Stanford - 57
9- Karrie Webb - 57

Vare Trophy Standings: (winner receives a Hall of Fame point)
1- Suzann Pettersen - 69.700 average strokes per round
2- Stacy Lewis - 69.716
3- Inbee Park - 69.923
4- Na Yeon Choi - 70.145
5- Paula Creamer - 70.354
6- Lizette Salas - 70.373
7- So Yeon Ryu - 70. 381
8- I.K. Kim - 70.391
9- Jessica Korda - 70.542
10- Beatriz Recari - 70.591

Rolex Rookie of the Year Standings:
1- Caroline Masson - 424 points
2- Ayaka Uehara - 374
3- Moriya Jutanugarn - 364
4- Chie Arimura - 282
5- Austin Ernst - 212
6- Lisa McCloskey - 174
7- Katie Burnett - 109
8- Brooke Pancake - 97
9- Julia Boland - 41
10- Felicity Johnson - 35

Most Consecutive Tournaments Without a Missed Cut:
1- Paula Creamer - 61
2- Na Yeon Choi - 52
3- Stacy Lewis - 39
4- Anna Nordqvist - 27
5- I.K. Kim - 25
6- Jessica Korda - 21

Most Consecutive Missed Cuts: (actively playing)
1- Numa Gulyamitta - 11
1- Taylore Karl - 11
3- Ester Choe - 9
3- Amy Hung - 9
3- Daniella Iacobelli - 9
3- Marina Stuetz - 9

Most Wins in 2013
1- Inbee Park - 6
2- Stacy Lewis - 3
2- Suzann Pettersen - 3
4- Beatriz Recari - 2

Most Top 5 Finishes:
1- Suzann Pettersen - 8
2- Stacy Lewis - 7
2- Inbee Park - 7
4- I.K. Kim - 6
4- So Yeon Ryu - 6

 Most Top Ten Finishes:
1- Stacy Lewis - 14
2- Suzann Pettersen - 11
3- Inbee Park - 8
3- I.K. Kim - 8
5- Gerina Piller - 7
5- Na Yeon Choi - 7
5- So Yeon Ryu - 7

Most Top Twenty Finishes:
1- Paula Creamer - 15
1- Stacy Lewis - 15
3- Na Yeon Choi - 14
4- I.K. Kim - 12
4- Suzann Pettersen - 12

Most Wins By Country:
1- So. Korea - 9  (I. Park 6, Jiyai Shin 1, Ihlee Lee 1, HY Park 1)
2- United States - 5  (S. Lewis 3, Kerr 1, J. Johnson 1)
3- Norway - 3 (Pettersen 3)
4- Spain - 2  (Recari 2)
5- New Zealand - 1  (Ko)
5- Australia - 1  (Webb)

Solheim Cup Standings:  (for 2015 event)
1- Lexi Thompson - 53
2- Stacy Lewis - 52
3- Angela Stanford - 48
4- Lizette Salas - 41
5- Gerina Piller - 29
6- Jennifer Johnson - 26
7- Christie Kerr - 20
8- Brittany Lincicome - 19
9- Paula Creamer - 18
10 - Stacy Prammanasudh - 17

Other Tidbits:
Ai Miyazato continues to be the world's greatest player never to win an LPGA major championship. She will have to carry her 0 for 37 record into 2014.

Titleholders Update:
Cindy LaCrosse, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, and Katherine Hull-Kirk, are the latest to qualify. Azahara Munoz continues to be the highest ranked player yet to qualify.

Rolex Movers of the Week:
Suzann Pettersen jumps over Stacy Lewis into the #2 spot this week. Lydia Ko continues her amazing leap to the top, moving from #8 to #5. Lexi Thompson achieves her highest ranking to date with a jump from #26 to #21, while Se Ri Pak vaults from #41 to #29. On the downside Catriona Matthew drops from #7 to #10. Yani Tseng, who started the year #1, and missed another cut this week, has now fallen all the way down to #19.

Who's Hot:
Suzanne Pettersen has not only won 2 consecutive tournaments, but has finished in the top 7 in each of her last 5 appearances.
Angela Stanford has 7 consecutive top 20 finishes.

Who's Not:
Yani Tseng has missed the cut in 5 of her last 7 tournaments.
Amy Yang has failed to record a top 30 finish in her last 5 tournaments.
Julieta Granada has failed to finish in the top 50 in her last 6 tournaments, with 4 missed cuts.
In a strange reversal of fortune, Giulia Sergas, who had 7 top 20 finishes in her first 10 events, has failed to finish in the top 40 in her last ten appearances.




                                                        
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Monday, September 9, 2013

The Evian Championship Preview & Pairings

After a one week break, the LPGA moves to France and resumes its schedule with the playing of The Evian Championship. This championship, formerly called the Evian Masters, is now a major championship. It is the fifth and final LPGA major of the 2013 season.

This will be tournament #21 of 28 on this year's LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:

Course:  Evian Masters Golf Club
Location:  Evian-Les-Bains, France
Defending Champion:  Inbee Park
Winning Score:  71-64-70-68=271(-17)

Final Field:   120 Players
Par:  36/35 = 71
Yardage:  6,428
Purse:  $ 3,250,000

My strength of field rating is 86%, making it the 5th strongest field of the year. The only fields that were stronger this year were the other four majors which all had larger fields. Chie Arimura and Nicole Castrale are the two biggest names missing from this week's tournament.

Here are the television times:
Sept 12 - GC 7:30 AM-12:30 PM ET
Sept 13 - GC 7:30 AM-12:30 PM ET
Sept 14 - GC 6:30 AM-11:30 AM ET
Sept 15 - GC 8:30 AM-12:00 PM ET
Sept 15 - NBC 12:00 PM-1:30 PM ET

I correctly picked the winner of the CN Canadian Open, my fourth correct pick this year. Here are my picks for this week. I am currently in third place in the PakPicker standings. There are 23 participants.
1- Stacy Lewis
2- Suzann Pettersen
3- Na Yeon Choi
4- Inbee Park
5- So Yeon Ryu
6- Lydia Ko
7- Ai Miyazato
8- Lizette Salas
9- Paula Creamer
10- Jiyai Shin
11- I.K. Kim
12- Karine Icher


For all the scores, all the time, see the link on top of this page.

Other tidbits:
Sophie Gustafson, Amanda Blumenherst, and Stacy Prammanasudh have all announced their retirement from the LPGA after this year. Sophie will continue playing on the LET Tour.

Ai Miyazato will be trying to break an 0 for 36 streak in major championship play. She won the Evian in both 2009 and 2011, when it was not a major championship. 

Who's Hot:
Caroline Masson has finished 7th and 5th in her last 2 tournaments. She now leads the Rolex Rookie of the Year standings.

Who's Not:
Momoko Ueda has not finished higher than 37th place in any of her 15 starts this year. Her #96 position on this year's money list is definitely a cause for concern.


Here are the final results:
1 Suzann Pettersen -10 66 69 68 203 $0
2 Lydia Ko -8 68 67 70 205 $0
3 Lexi Thompson -6 72 67 68 207 $0
T4 Se Ri Pak -5 66 71 71 208 $0
T4 So Yeon Ryu -5 71 66 71 208 $0
T6 Angela Stanford -4 69 71 69 209 $0
T6 Stacy Lewis -4 69 67 73 209 $0
T6 Chella Choi -4 70 67 72 209 $0
T9 Jennifer Johnson -3 70 70 70 210 $0
T9 Beatriz Recari -3 69 69 72 210 $0
T11 Shanshan Feng -2 70 72 69 211 $0
T11 Lizette Salas -2 70 71 70 211 $0
T11 Ilhee Lee -2 70 71 70 211 $0
T11 Rebecca Lee-Bentham -2 75 66 70 211 $0
T15 Cindy LaCrosse -1 73 70 69 212 $0
T15 Ai Miyazato -1 75 68 69 212 $0
T15 Katherine Hull-Kirk -1 71 71 70 212 $0
T15 Karrie Webb -1 68 72 72 212 $0
T19 Mi Hyang Lee E 73 70 70 213 $0
T19 Caroline Hedwall E 74 68 71 213 $0
T19 Azahara Munoz E 70 71 72 213 $0
T19 Sandra Gal E 66 74 73 213 $0

Monday, September 2, 2013

Rating the Rookies 2013 - "Part 2"

Three months have passed since I last did a report card on this year's rookies.

I would like to change this up a bit this time, by strictly rating these girls on their chances of retaining LPGA cards for the 2013 season. Any successes or failures on other tours are not considered here. My only concern here is, are they safe for the upcoming season, or will they have to go back to qualifying school?

For those of you who might need some information on how the LPGA "Priority List" works, here is a brief explanation:

If you finish in the top 80 on the 2013 money list, that will be your priority rating for 2014. In other words, if a player finishes #45 on the money list this year, she will be #45 on the priority list next year. That also means she will be eligible for all tournaments, since even limited fields have more than 45 players.It starts to get  real tricky after that as the top 10 players on the Symetra tour money list earn playing cards and are given the next ten spots on the Priority List. Players who finish 81-100 on the LPGA money list are then added, followed by the top 20 finishes from qualifying school. All of these players should still get into most tournaments in 2014.

If you finish 101-125 on the 2013 money list you are then added to the priority list. Unfortunately, although you get to keep your playing card, you will get into very few tournaments. In fact many of these players will choose to go back to qualifying school to try to improve their priority rating, or even choose to play on another tour.

The above is a general explanation, as trying to list all the categories on the priority list is too time-consuming and potentially confusing. The official LPGA website explains it in more detail.


Very Secure:
1- Caroline Masson - Caroline is now the leader in the 2013 Rolex Rookie of the Year race. Her #41 position on this year's money list guarantees her full time status next year. She is currently red hot, with a 7th and 5th place finish in her last 2 starts. Her first LPGA victory can't be too far away.

2- Chie Arimura - Chie has had an up and down season making 9 cuts in the 16 events she has played in. When she's good she is real good as her 3 top tens will attest. She is only ranked 135th in driving distance, which is a concern. That could be the reason she has missed the cut in 3 majors this year. Still, she is 47th on the money list and she should be playing on the LPGA for years to come.

3- Moriya Jutanugarn - Moriya got off to a blazing start this year and looked like the runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year Award. She has not been the same player in the second half of the season. She has failed to finish in the top 50 in her last 4 tournaments. The big start has her at #44 on the money list, and her spot as an everyday player next year is very secure.

4- Ayaka Uehara - Currently #3 in the Rookie of the Year race, Ayaka would probably be higher if she decided to play more tournaments on the LPGA tour. She has made the cut in 10 of the 12 tournaments she has played in, and is #54 on the money list. Her best finish this year was a T9 at the Shoprite Classic. A steady player, look for her to be a mainstay on the LPGA for several years.

Looking Very Good:
1- Austin Ernst - Austin is having a good rookie season, making the cut in 10 of the 18 tournaments she has entered. She is currently #68 on the money list, and it appears she has earned full time status for 2014.

2- Lisa McCloskey - Lisa has been somewhat of a surprise this year, making 9 of 16 cuts. Her best finish was a T19 at the Mobile classic, and her 89th position on the money list pretty much assures her of a playing card next year.

On the Borderline:
1- Brooke Pancake: Labeled as a "can't miss" coming into this season, Brooke has struggled most of the year. She has made just 5 of 15 possible cuts, and her #93 position on the money list means she still has some work to do to secure a top 100 spot.

2- Katie Burnett - Because of a poor priority rating, Katie did not get a start until the 8th tournament of the season, where she tied for 12th at the Kingsmill Championship. Fortunately for her, that was the week before the first reshuffle of the priority list, and gave her a chance to play regularly. She has taken advantage of that by making 6 cuts in the 10 tournaments she has played. Despite the limited number of tournaments, she has moved up to #97 on the money list and has a chance to secure full playing privileges for next year.

Not Looking Good:
1- Felicity Johnson - Felicity, in my opinion, is the most disappointing rookie on this list. With 2 victories and 10 top tens on the LET tour, she was supposed to be a contender for rookie of the year. So far this year she has made only 5 of 17 cuts, and has failed to finish higher than 35th. Currently #114 on the money list, Felicity will have limited opportunities to secure a card that will get her into many tournaments next year. My guess is that she will be playing on the LET again next year.

2- Julia Boland - Julie has made just 4 of 15 cuts this year, which has her ranked #121 on the money list. Must do something spectacular very quickly or she may be heading back to Q-School.

3- Daniela Iacobelli - Daniela has struggled all season long, making just 2 of 15 cuts this year and missing her last nine. Her #130 money list ranking will probably have her back in Q-school later this year.

4- Sara-Maude Juneau - Making just 4 of 15 cuts, with a season's best T54, Sara finds herself  #131 on the money list. She has little hope of retaining her playing card.

5- Lauren Doughtie - Laura has not been competitive all year, missing 12 of 15 cuts. She is currently #133 on the money list and is looking at a return to Q-School this fall.

6- Paz Echeverria - Has not taken advantage of her limited opportunities in 2013, missing the cut in all but 2 of her 9 events this year. Time is of the essence, as she must improve her #134 money list ranking immediately.

Looking Dismal:
The following rookies have little or no chance of retaining their playing cards for next year. Qualifying School is definitely in their future. (In alphabetical order)

1- Marina Alex - Missed all 3 cuts.
2- Frances Bondad - Missed all 6 cuts
3- Esther Choe - Symetra Tour player of the year has missed all 11 cuts.
4- Perrine Delacour - Missed cut in her only event.
5- Brianna Do - Brianna didn't, missing the cut in her only tournament.
6- Victoria Elizabeth - Has missed 11 of 12 cuts and is #154 on money list.
7- Breanna Elliot - Missed 5 of 7 cuts and is #141 on money list.
8- Marita Engzelius - Missed all 4 cuts this year.
9- Jordan Hardy - Missed the cut in her only tournament this year.
10- Kelly Jacques - Missed 4 of 5 cuts and is #156 on the money list.
11- Taylore Karl - Made only 1 cut in 14 appearances and is #155 on money list.
12- Sue Kim - Made 2 of 7 cuts this year and ranks #140 on money list.
13- Jiayun Li - Missed cut in her only tournament.
14- Inhong Lim - Made one cut in 2 appearances, a T58. Ranks #156 on money list.
15- Alezandra Llaneza - She missed the cut in both appearances this year.
16- Haley Milsap - Played 3 times, missed 3 cuts.
17-Kayla Mortellaro - Made 3 of 11 cuts and ranks #143 on money list.
18- Stephanie Na - Na, it didn't happen for her. She missed the cut in both her appearances.
19- Garrett Phillips - Missed the cut in her only chance this year.
20- Nicole Smith - Made just 2 of 11 cuts and sits at #150 on money list.
21- Marina Stuetz - Judy Rankin's pick for ROY, missed all 11 cuts.

Other Tidbits:

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
Lizette Salas moves from #18 to #15, while Caroline Masson leaps from #51 to #45.

Titleholders Update:
Sandra Gal, Dewi Claire Schreefel, and Sandra Changkija are the latest to qualify. Azahara Munoz remains the highest ranked player yet to qualify.