Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Top 30 Player of the Year Predictions for 2014

We are just about a week away from the beginning of the 2014 LPGA season.
With 33 tournaments on the schedule (including the International Crown), this year promises to be the most interesting season ever.

Here are my top 30 picks for the 2014 LPGA Player of the Year: (last year's actual finish is in parenthesis)

1-  Stacy Lewis (3) - I kept going back and forth with this one because I truly believe that this might go back and forth all season, and anyone in my top six could win this Hall of Fame point. I finally decided on Stacy because she is just so consistent. I am thinking that she might turn more of those 19 top ten finishes into victories.

2-  Suzann Pettersen (2) - She was the best player on the planet the second half of last year. If she continues playing that way she will win it all. My gut feeling is she will duplicate last year's 2nd place finish, and be a bridesmaid again.

3-  Lydia Ko (Rookie) - This one is a tough call. Part of me says that she will win at least 4 times, with at least one major championship. The other part of me says the changing of her coach and the everyday grind may have a negative effect on her.

4-  Inbee Park (1) - I know most of you out there will have her repeating in 2014. I did get it correct when I picked her last year to win this award. I just don't feel it this year. Holding on to the #1 position has proved most difficult. Inbee slipped the second half of last season, although after winning 3 majors it was bound to happen. When that putter is hot there is no beating her, but the rest of her game, in my opinion, is not as good as the players I ranked ahead of her.

5-  Lexi Thompson (7) - She really seemed to find it the last part of the 2013 season. She won two of her last 5 starts. From tee to green she has the ability to dominate. If she putts like she did at year's end watch out.

6-  Shanshan Feng (4) - Wow! with Lydia & Lexi joining the "elite", there are so many really great players. Like I said above, any of my top 6 picks could win it all, and Shanshan is no exception. The only reason I pick her this low is that she skips way too many LPGA tournaments. If she sits out eight tournaments like she did last year, she can not beat out the players above her.

7-  Na Yeon Choi (10) - If anyone from here on down wins the award, it will be a huge surprise.
Na Yeon will win this year, but not finish enough of her chances to finish higher than this.

8-  So Yeon Ryu (5) -  I will rank her higher when she shows me that she can win again.

9-  Jessica Korda  (24) - Jessie was off to a great start last season before injuring her hand mid-season and preventing her from playing back to back weeks. Assuming she is healthy, look for her to have a breakout season.

10- Paula Creamer (19) - How does a player have 17 top twenty finishes, and finish in the 19th spot for Player of the Year? Well, Paula managed to do that last season. She also has made 66 consecutive cuts. One of the top 5 ball strikers on tour, I expect Paula to get that 10th win this year. That said, her putts per greens in regulation stat has to improve in order for her to finish this high.

11- I.K. Kim (9) - I still don't think she has fully recovered from that missed putt 2 years ago.

12- Chella Choi (T16) - Look for Chella's father to breathe a sigh of relief, as she gets her first LPGA victory.

13- Beatriz Recari (6) - Beatriz had a career year in 2013. A very solid player, and overachiever, I see her falling back a bit this year.

14- Amy Yang (T13) - Amy finally broke through and got her first win last year. Look for her to have another solid season.

15- Hee Young Park (8) - A very solid player who might just win again this year. I just think there are way too many great players this year for her to finish #8 again.

16- Pornanong Phatlum (21) - Like Chella above, I expect her to break through and get her first victory this year. Has won twice recently on other tours, but must show she can finish consistently on the LPGA tour.

17- Caroline Hedwall (22) - It's hard to believe that Caroline has not won an LPGA event yet. If she could only get herself psyched each week the way she does for the Solheim Cup, she would be much further up this list.

18- Gerina Piller (25) - Gerina had a breakthrough season in 2013, and I expect her to improve again this year.

19- Lizette Salas (T16) - Lizette had quite a few chances to win last year only to shoot awful scores on Sunday. It is a pattern that I need to see broken before I can rate her higher.

20- Carlotta Ciganda (T40) - A super talented player, Carlotta will warm up in time to make that Spanish team very hard to beat at the International Crown.

21- Karrie Webb (10) - Karrie proves me wrong every year, but this is the year she starts to slip.

22- Ai Miyazato (40) - Ai blew a tournament early on, to Stacy Lewis, and never seemed to play well after that. It doesn't take a genius to predict her to improve this year. It's how much she will improve that is the question. She will get 5 more chances to win that first major championship.

23- Anna Nordqvist (30) - Has yet to live up to that great first year that she had. She is ten yards longer off the tee than she was then, but can't find a way to win. I predict a win in 2014.

24- Angela Stanford (15) - Her better days are behind her. I see her slipping back this year.

25- Cristie Kerr (13) - Ditto.

26- Jodi Ewart Shadoff  (28) - Has the talent to finish much higher than this. Could be a real sleeper.

27- Karine Icher (26) - Came close to winning several times last year. I look for more of the same.

28- Michelle Wie (34) - That odd putting stance actually started to work last year. She contended several times late last year. Can she win this year? If she does she may finish much higher than this.

29- Morgan Pressel (27) - Morgan gives up so much length off the tee that it is hard for her to win. That said, she will contend a half dozen times, not win, and still make this list.

30- Azahara Munoz (38) - Once thought of as the best of the Spanish players, she has been passed up by Beatriz and Carlotta. She will have a better 2014 season, but will struggle to make the top 30.

Player that didn't make my list, that is most likely to make me look foolish..........Mika Miyazato.
Player that could be a pleasant surprise......Jaye Marie Green
Player most likely to disappoint.....Ihlee Lee (Her 36 hole win in the Bahamas made her year look better than it actually was.




6 comments:

  1. Well, Tony, you are certainly putting yourself out there with this list. Not because of your rankings but because of the detailed reasons for the predicted finishes. A little clairvoyance is most likely required to do this, something I lack as you know. It will be interesting to see how the CME points race will differ from the Rolex points marathon. The tournaments must be played to get an answer, so let's go ladies.

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  2. Replies
    1. Jiyai is no longer a member of the LPGA. She will be playing on the JLPGA.

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  3. Good picks. Bold with Lydia Ko, but I agree. I think Vicky Hurst will finish in top 20, maybe with a win. She is too good and is due for a breakout year. I would love to see Rebecca Lee-Bentham crack the top 30. Would like to see rookies Amy Anderson and Jaye Marie Green make top 50.

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  4. Come on Tony, where's Sandra Gal? This should be a big year for her. The girl's got great style and this should be a big year for her.

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    1. Sandra finished tied for 34th in the Player of the Year race in 2013. She just missed my list this year. In fact I had her #31.

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