Tuesday, April 7, 2009

LPGA Showdown: Senior Standouts vs. Junior Mints

I've gotta admit it: as happy as I am for Brittany Lincicome and as much respect as I have for Cristie Kerr, I was rooting for Junior Mint Kristy McPherson last weekend at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, not least because I would have loved the irony of her proving me wrong and right at the same time. At the end of March, I had this to say about McPherson:

Showing signs of building toward a breakthrough this spring. She has the talent to win on tour, particularly once her putter comes around. Playing in her 1st KNC, though, so I'm not expecting that much out of her this week.

If McPherson had made that short birdie putt on Mission Hills's long, tough par-3 17th and taken a 2-shot lead into the final hole, the Junior Mints might well have taken the lead in class majors against what Hound Dog and I consider to be the strongest rookie class in LPGA history, the Senior Standouts. If McPherson had become the 5th Junior Mint to enter the winner's circle in just over 2 seasons on tour, her class would have pulled out of that tie with the Senior Standouts, as well. As it is, they remained stuck at half the total number of wins of the Class of 2006ers, with no multiple winners against 2 for the Senior Standouts. It's pretty clear the Junior Mints are not as deep or as large a class as the Senior Standouts, but their top 9 and even top 12 stack up pretty well against their slightly more experienced peers.

Here's a rundown of how the top players in each class have fared thus far this season:

Angela Park vs. Seon Hwa Lee: Advantage Park. She already has 2 top 3s and 3 top 10s this season, while Lee has not cracked the top 10 and missed the cut in Phoenix.

Eun-Hee Ji vs. Morgan Pressel: Advantage Ji. Her T36 at the KNC was her only finish outside the top 20 all season, whereas Pressel has yet to break into the top 20.

In-Kyung Kim vs. Jee Young Lee: Advantage Lee. Although Kim has a better top finish (3rd in Phoenix) than Lee (T9 in Mexico), Lee's worst finish (T27 in Phoenix) is almost as good as Kim's 2nd best finish (T26 in Singapore).

Inbee Park vs. Ai Miyazato: Advantage Miyazato. Although Park seems to be coming out of the worst of her slump, she still has one missed cut to zero and one top 20 to 2 top 10s for Ai-chan.

Song-Hee Kim vs. Brittany Lang: Advantage Lang. Both golfers have been playing great this year, but Lang has played in one more event and has 4 top 20s to 3 for Kim.

Jane Park vs. Sun Young Yoo: Advantage Yoo. She's been more consistent than Park, with no missed cuts to one for Park and a 5-event top 20 streak.

Ji Young Oh vs. Teresa Lu: Advantage Oh. Her best finish (T6 in Mexico) outdoes's Lu's best (T11 in Thailand). Although Lu has played one more event than Oh and has one more top 20, she also has one more missed cut and two finishes worse than Oh's worst.

Kristy McPherson vs. Hye Jung Choi: Advantage McPherson. Her worst finish (T31 in Singapore) is better than Choi's best finish (T33 in Phoenix).

Jin Joo Hong vs. Julieta Granada: Advantage Hong. Granada has not made the cut in any of her 4 events this season, and while Hong has missed the last 2 in a row, she finished T40 in Thailand and 62nd in Singapore.

Na On Min vs. Meaghan Francella: Advantage Francella. Her T5 at the KNC outdoes Min's best finish, T11 in Phoenix; while both have missed one cut, Francella's worst finish in her other two events is much better than Min's only ther made cut (T36 vs. T50 in Mexico).

Charlotte Mayorkas vs. Allison Fouch: Advantage Fouch. Her best finish of the year by far came last week (T25), but she hasn't missed any cuts and has played in every event thus far, whereas Mayorkas has only played 3 events, missing the cut twice and finishing 70th in Mexico.

Irene Cho vs. Kyeong Bae: Advantage Bae. Both have played only 3 events in 2009, but whereas Bae missed the cut in Phoenix, finished T65 in Mexico, and T26 in Hawaii, Cho missed the cut in the latter two events and finished T25 in Phoenix.

So the Senior Standouts come out ahead, 7-5. For now....

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