Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Best of the LPGA: October Edition

It's time to give a name to Mostly Harmless's answer to the BCS--our bimonthly attempt to combine the best systems for ranking the top LPGA golfers. They are the Rolex Rankings, the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, the LPGA Official Money List, and Hound Dog's Top 30. Since they've all been recently updated, and since I won't have time to do this for weeks if I don't do it now, here goes!

As before, one player is light-years ahead of the pack:

1. Lorena Ochoa: The consensus #1. For good reason.

What's new is that only one player is ranked in the top 5 in each system:

2. Suzann Pettersen: #2 money, #4 RR, #4 GSPI, #2 HD

Perhaps even more surprisingly, there's only one player in the top 10 in each system:

3. Paula Creamer: #4 money, #6 RR, #3 GSPI, #3 HD

And there are only a few in the top 10 in 3 of the 4 systems:

4. Mi Hyun Kim: #3 money, #11 RR, #6 GSPI, #4 HD
5. Cristie Kerr: #5 money, #5 RR, #19 GSPI, #8 HD
6. Jee Young Lee: #9 money, #13 RR, #8 GSPI, #9 HD
7. Se Ri Pak: #14 money, #7 RR, #9 GSPI, #10 HD
8. Morgan Pressel: #10 money, #10 RR, #11 GSPI, #5 HD

There are a couple of Hall of Famers among those in the top 10 in 2 of the 4 systems, but I argue they have been passed by a pair of Rookies of the Year and are in danger of getting passed by several others:

9. Seon Hwa Lee: #6 money, #18 RR, #21 GSPI, #6 HD
10. Angela Park: #8 money, #26 RR, #10 GSPI, #11 HD
11. Annika Sorenstam: #32 money, #3 RR, #2 GSPI, #14 HD
12. Karrie Webb: #21 money, #2 RR, #7 GSPI, #21 HD

Next we have golfers in the top 20 in all 4 systems:

13. Jeong Jang: #7 money, #12 RR, #12 GSPI, #12 HD
14. Stacy Prammanasudh: #15 money, #16 RR, #13 GSPI, #7 HD
15. Juli Inkster: #18 money, #8 RR, #17 GSPI, #20 HD

And in the top 20 in 3 of the 4 systems:

16. Nicole Castrale: #12 money, #25 RR, #20 GSPI, #13 HD
17. Brittany Lincicome: #11 money, #14 RR, #24 GSPI, #15 HD

And in the top 20 in 2 of the 4 systems or in the top 30 in all 4:

18. Angela Stanford: #19 money, #30 RR, #18 GSPI, #16 HD
19. Maria Hjorth: #13 money, #31 RR, #32 GSPI, #17 HD
20. Sherri Steinhauer: #23 money, #23 RR, #16 GSPI, #19 HD
21. Ai Miyazato: #16 money, #15 RR, #36 GSPI, #30 HD
22. Natalie Gulbis: #17 money, #29 RR, #30 GSPI, #25 HD

Then there are those ranked in the top 30 in 3 of the 4 systems:

23. Shi Hyun Ahn: #25 money, #35 RR, #22 GSPI, #18 HD
24. Catriona Matthew: #28 money, #28 RR, #14 GSPI, #23 HD
25. Sarah Lee: #20 money, #40 RR, #25 GSPI, #22 HD
26. Sophie Gustafson: #31 money, #27 RR, #27 GSPI, #27 HD
27. Christina Kim: #22 money, #46 RR, #29 GSPI, #26 HD
28. Laura Diaz: #26 money, #41 RR, #28 GSPI, #28 HD

Surprisingly, there is only one player ranked in the top 30 in 2 of the 4 systems:

29. Laura Davies: #24 money, #42 RR, #31 GSPI, #24 HD

Once Hee-Won Han retuns to action from her maternity leave, she should move as quickly back up these rankings as Catriona Matthew has this year--Han would be #14 in the GSPI if she had played in enough events this year, Hound Dog puts her in his top 30, and she's barely out of the Rolex top 30. She'll soon be joined by Eun-Hee Ji--#8 in the GSPI once she gets enough events in to qualify, #24 on the Rolex Rankings, and with a good chance to qualify for the ADT Championship and move even further up the LPGA money list from #49--particularly if my gut feeling is right that she's going to play full-time on the LPGA in 2008. And there are a few others knocking on the door, from rookie In-Kyung Kim to Super Soph Meaghan Francella to sweet-swinging Young Kim to veteran Pat Hurst. But at this late date in the season, the consensus is getting clearer and clearer. I'll be back with an end-of-the-season post in December!


spyder said...

Perhaps you could wrap up the year with a ranking scaled on the sponsorship and endorsement money? It appears from what i read in the marketing/advertising journals those who are getting the premium dollars are not the ones playing consistently well (and that doesn't seem to matter).

The Constructivist said...

Well, damn it, that's why I want to make it only based on actual performance on the course! How else are the people actually playing well going to get recognition than from Mostly Harmless? Jeez, when I put it that way, it sounds pretty hopeless, doesn't it?

spyder said...

No, not hopeless, but i do think an accurate comparative picture is needed along with statistical indices. When you examine the work you and others are doing it is important and valid; it increases in value when laid down next to the sponsorship and endorsement dollars. Tennis made a big mistake by trying to veil the "kournikova effect," and now are having to allow huge corporate sponsors glamorize and objectify those women players who get pr for their sport, simply because they can be glamorized and objectified. Henin will never sell as many products as Sharapova, Dementieva, Hantuchova, et al.

It seems to me that the LPGA is at a crossroads in this regard. US audiences aren't expanding (hence the fewer major network broadcasts this year than last); and when the market demographics evidence white males buying Natalie Gulbis calendars, and young girls wanna be the next Michelle Wie (instead of any of your supersophs), i would think marked pessimism can be validated.

The Constructivist said...

Well, Gulbis shed the Kournikova put-down in France and seems to be a much tougher cookie than I figured her to be when she first came on the tour. Neither she nor Creamer lived up to their starts to the season, Pressel has caught the Ai-chan slump bug, and Kerr salvaged an otherwise disappointing season at the Open, but I'm optimistic for the entire Blonde Brigade for next year. They're not my favorites in the world, but they have mucho game and can only get better over the next decade. As Inkster, Hurst, and Steinhauer exit during that period, it'll be interesting to see if Prammanasudh, Castrale, Lincicome, and Christina Kim can elevate their games to their level, and if Lang and Francella can get out of their funks to even think about doing that, or whether they'll all get passed by the American LPGA rookies, Futures Tour, college, and junior golfers coming up. So the state of American women's golf is quite good, even without Wie. And Wie will be back when she's ready.

The globalization of the LPGA has been a fact for over a decade now and the world (including Americans) has caught up with Sorenstam, Webb, and Pak. And the calendar girl thing has been around for even longer. Remember Jan Stephenson? Sally Little? In the long run, wins matter. And dramatic rivalries. Even if the current LPGA's are friendlier than most, they're going to have their share over the next decade. The networks will be fools to miss out on it. But they've been fools before and they will be again.

The LPGA has been making the right moves in Asia and Europe lately. I hope they figure out American someday.