Poking around LPGA.com's stats pages, I noticed that Lorena Ochoa notched several huge achievements in the final week of the 2009 season. Winning her 4th-straight Player of the Year award and Vare Trophy is huge, as it gives her a chance to match Annika Sorenstam's record for consecutive POYs and Mickey Wright's for consecutive Vares in 2010. But she also rose to the top of the heap in putts per green in regulation with 1.7457, beating Ji-Yai Shin (1.7495), Song-Hee Kim (1.7512), and Inbee Park (1.7538) for that honor. Ochoa also passed Michelle Wie for most birdies per round on tour, winning that race 4.18 to 4.15.
They turned out to be the only players to break the 4 bpr barrier this season: if Ji-Yai Shin (3.97), Suzann Pettersen (3.96), In-Kyung Kim (3.92), and Ai Miyazato (3.90) had made just a few more, the 2009ers could have broken the record set in 2004 when 4 players joined the 4 bpr club (Sorenstam, Ochoa, Grace Park, and Kerr). As for scoring average, 12 players averaged under 71 in 2009; if In-Kyung Kim hadn't hit it on the dot, the 2009ers would have broken the record set in 2004. Wonder what was in the water in 2004 and 2009? And how about 2005, when 25 players hit 70% of more of their greens in regulation, beating the '09ers by 2? Even with the tough economy, the loss of tournaments, and the shrinking of some purses, the 2009ers came this close to tying last year's record of 13 million-dollar winners. Song-Hee Kim brought this year's total to 11 players, while Karrie Webb, Eun-Hee Ji, and Michelle Wie just missed joining them.
With Anna Nordqvist's win, the rookie Class of 2009 notched 7 victories in 2009. Shin had 3 wins and could have had more; Nordqvist got 2 and never missed a cut; Wie and M.J. Hur both got 1; meanwhile, Shiho Oyama was held back by injuries all season, Vicky Hurst (your long-drive champion of '09) and Stacy Lewis never really hit their strides, Mika Miyazato only scratched the surface of her potential, and Haeji Kang, Chella Choi, and Mindy Kim played well enough to be playing full or almost-full schedules in 2010. Will this go down in history as the best rookie class's collective season ever? How about over the long run? They seem to be as deep as the '06ers and '07ers, but only time will tell.
Personally, while I was glad to see Ai Miyazato tie Lorena Ochoa for most top 10s and highest top 10 rate of 2009, I was saddened to see that Moira Dunn dropped to #81 on the money list with her missed cut this week. Sure, it's far far better than being #101 (that dubious honor goes to Joo Mi Kim), and she'll really only be just behind the Q-School medalist on the priority status list, so she'll get into most every full-field tournament that she wants to. And with the number of full-field events going down sharply in recent years, she really needed to be fighting for the top 50 to be guaranteed a full schedule in 2010. So missing the top 80 doesn't mean all that much, and she could always play her way to a higher status by getting into the top 40 early next season. But, man, I wanted to see her get her 3rd-straight top-80 finish!