Saturday, January 2, 2010

The LPGA's Top Rivalries: Generation Gaps

Let's start setting up the LPGA's 2010 season by extending my looks at the careers of the LPGA's rookie classes of 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 out and back to examine how the tour's last 6 generations stack up. To keep it simple, I'll check out the career money list and wins/majors totals for the top players in the 4 older generations and use the wider variety of results stats for the players in the 2 younger generations that I've already generated. That way I keep the focus on the Sorenstam Era (1994-2008) and the overlapping Ochoa Era (2003-present) and the players active for the majority of their career in one or both of them. [Note: those players (and their stats) in [square brackets] have retired.]

1994-1996: The Sorenstam Generation
[Note: *=includes non-member win.]

[1. Annika Sorenstam (1994) $22.57M (#1), 72/10]
2. Karrie Webb (1996) $15.27M (#2), 36*/7
3. Lorie Kane (1996) $6.72M (#15), 4/0
4. Pat Hurst (1995) $6.53M (#16), 6/1
5. Catriona Matthew (1995) $5.98M (#19), 3/1
6. Wendy Ward (1996) $4.49M (#37), 4/0
7. Carin Koch (1995) $4.41M (#38), 2/0

Ward passed Koch, Matthew got her 1st major, and Hurst continued to close on Kane. Other than that, not much movement in '09, even with Webb's 36th win.

1997-1999: The Pak Generation

1. Se Ri Pak (1998) $10.60M (#5), 24/5
2. Cristie Kerr (1997) $10.46M (#6), 12/1
3. Mi Hyun Kim (1999) $8.38M (#10), 8/0
4. Rachel Hetherington (1997) $5.69M (#24), 8/0
5. Sophie Gustafson (1998) $5.34M (#28), 5/0
6. Laura Diaz (1999) $4.98M (#32), 2/0
7. Maria Hjorth (1998) $4.76M (#34), 3/0
8. Karen Stupples (1999) $3.21M (#55), 2/1

If Kerr hadn't let those 2 majors slip through her fingers on the final 9 in '09, she'd have passed Pak on the career money list. Between Kim's slow recovery from her knee surgery 2 winters ago and current maternity leave (she gave birth in November), it's looking more and more like she's going to have to settle for #3 in her generation. Meanwhile, Gustafson opened up some distance on Hjorth while her rival was on maternity leave and will make up more ground on Hetherington early next season as her rival recovers from a severely broken right ankle from a holiday skateboarding accident.

2000-2002: Seoul Sisters

1. Jeong Jang (2000) $6.17M (#17), 2/1
2. Hee-Won Han (2001) $6.09M (#18), 6/0
3. Grace Park (2000) $5.31M (#30), 6/1
4. Angela Stanford (2001) $4.91M (#33), 4/0
5. Candie Kung (2002) $4.49M (#36), 4/0
6. Natalie Gulbis (2002) $3.97M (#40), 1/0
7. Gloria Park (2000) $3.24M (#54), 2/0

Between surgery for Jeong (wrist) and Park (hip) and Han's continuing new mom status, we may have to start calling Stanford and Kung honorary Seoul Sisters.

2003-2005: The Ochoa Generation

1. Lorena Ochoa (2003) $14.69M (#3), 27/2
2. Paula Creamer (2005) $6.97M (#13), 8/0
3. Suzann Pettersen (2003) $5.31M (#31), 6/1
4. Christina Kim (2003) $3.48M (#47), 2/0
5. Stacy Prammanasudh (2003) $2.96M (#60), 2/0
6. Meena Lee (2005) $2.74M (#69), 2/0
7. Brittany Lincicome (2005) $2.61M (#73), 3/1
8. Shi Hyun Ahn (2004) $2.45M (#78), 1*/0
9. Young Kim (2003) $2.36M (#83), 1/0
10. Katherine Hull (2004) $2.07M (#95), 1/0
11. Lindsey Wright (2004) $1.98M (#101), 0/0

Prammanasudh's worst LPGA season and Wright's best mean that the bottom of the top of this generation is very tightly bunched, while the gaps between the top 4 stayed relatively stable. It's worth noting that Ochoa's "off" season netted her more wins (3) than most players get in their careers and that it takes the next 10 players in her generation to match her career total.

2006-2008: Young Guns
[Note: *=non-member win (not counted toward other stats).]

STARTS/MAJORS/WINS/TOP 3s/TOP 10s/TOP 20s/WDs/DQs/MCs/FINISHES (RATE)
1. Seon Hwa Lee (2006), $3.64M (#43), 112/0/4/11/28/53/2/0/9/101 (.902)
2. Ai Miyazato (2006), $3.25M (#53), 91/0/1/8/30/44/1/0/13/77 (.846)
3. Ya Ni Tseng (2008), $3.05M (#58), 54/1/2/12/24/38/0/0/2/52 (.963)
4. Morgan Pressel (2006), $2.78M (#65), 98/1/2/9/28/46/0/0/12/86 (.878)
5. Jee Young Lee (2006), $2.70M (#70), 104/0/1*/7/27/54/5/0/8/91 (.875)
6. In-Kyung Kim (2007), $2.47M (#76), 77/0/2/7/22/34/0/0/13/64 (.831)
7. Na Yeon Choi (2008), $2.44M (#79), 53/0/2/8/20/35/0/0/0/53 (1.000)
8. Julieta Granada (2006), $2.21M (#89), 100/0/1/5/10/22/0/1/36/63 (.630)
9. Brittany Lang (2006), $2.19M (#90), 107/0/0/6/24/44/0/0/23/84 (.785)
10. Angela Park (2007), $2.11M (#92), 73/0/0/8/18/25/3/0/11/59 (.808)
11. Eun-Hee Ji (2007), $2.10M (#93), 56/1/2/5/15/22/0/3/7/46 (.821)
12. Song-Hee Kim (2007), $2.09M (#94), 69/0/0/5/19/31/0/0/15/54 (.783)
13. Inbee Park (2007), $1.79M (#110), 76/1/1/3/11/19/1/1/19/55 (.724)
14. Sun Young Yoo (2006), $1.67M (#114), 104/0/0/3/13/31/1/0/20/83 (.798)
15. Ji Young Oh (2007), $1.39M (#132), 76/0/2/2/8/17/0/0/21/55 (.724)
16. Kristy McPherson (2007), $1.30M (#139), 68/0/0/3/12/21/0/0/17/51 (.750)
17. Hee Young Park (2008), $1.14M (#160), 53/0/0/2/10/17/0/0/12/41 (.774)
18. Kyeong Bae (2006), $1.09M (#166), 95/0/0/2/9/16/4/0/27/64 (.674)
19. Teresa Lu (2006), $1.03M (#175), 91/0/0/1/6/20/1/0/21/69 (.758)
20. Meaghan Francella (2006), $.92M (#193), 74/0/1/1/6/14/0/0/28/46 (.622)
21. Jane Park (2007), $.89M (#202), 57/0/0/3/6/11/4/0/10/43 (.754)
22. Momoko Ueda (2008), $.83M (#211), 37/0/1*/1/5/12/0/0/6/31 (.838)

Bae, McPherson, Park, and Lu were the latest additions to this generation's Million Dollar Club, while those in the 20s on this list aren't far from joining them. Tseng, Choi, and Ji are the only younger players on pace to outdo Seon Hwa Lee, although Ji is suffering from a post-Open hangover. With 22 wins among these players in this generation, they already compare well to the top players in the Ochoa generation (27 wins excluding Ochoa) and the Seoul Sisters generation (25). It'll be interesting to see who, if any, break out with multiple multiple-win seasons in the 1st half of the new decade.

2009-2011: New Blood
[Note: *=non-member win; **=includes 3 non-member wins (not counted toward other stats).]

STARTS/MAJORS/WINS/TOP 3s/TOP 10s/TOP 20s/WDs/DQs/MCs/FINISHES (RATE)
1. Ji-Yai Shin (2009), $1.81M (#109), 25/1*/6**/7/12/19/1/0/1/23 (.920)
2. Michelle Wie (2009), $918.7K (#195), 19/0/1/5/8/10/1/0/1/17 (.895)
3. Anna Nordqvist (2009), $871.4K (#205), 17/1/2/2/5/10/0/0/0/17 (1.000)
4. M.J. Hur (2009), $445.0K (#283), 22/0/1/1/2/6/1/0/9/12 (.545)
5. Mika Miyazato (2009), $336.5K (#318), 22/0/0/0/3/4/0/0/6/16 (.727)
6. Vicky Hurst (2009), $305.8K (#330), 21/0/0/0/3/7/0/0/4/17 (.810)
7. Stacy Lewis (2009), $298.4K (#335), 23/0/0/0/2/4/0/0/7/16 (.696)
8. Haeji Kang (2009), $148.0K (#428), 16/0/0/0/1/1/0/0/6/10 (.625)
9. Shiho Oyama (2009), $122.5K (#444), 16/0/0/0/1/1/0/0/9/7 (.438)
10. Chella Choi (2009), $100.8K (#473), 17/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/6/11 (.647)

Once Miyazato, Hurst, Lewis, and Oyama get their LPGA sea legs under them, the '09ers could end up being the best LPGA class ever. Note that Shin has already caught Pat Hurst, Grace Park, and Suzann Pettersen in wins and majors.

[Update 1 (6:21 am): Interesting to see how many of Ryan Herrington's all-decade team from the NCAA have already made it onto this list--and how long it took some of them to make that transition from amateur to professional golf. Wonder if those not on this list can/will get there.]

3 comments:

Vince Spence said...

Wow! I cannot believe the Ochoa 'era' has been going on for six years. If I had to answer that question real quick I would have said 3-4 years at most.

Tempus fugit (Latin) when you are having fun (not Latin)...

Vince Spence said...

Bruce, did you realize you had 12 references to Japanese Country Music and only 8 to tearitudinality? What are you thinking, my man?

The Constructivist said...

On the question of "eras," I decided to go with rookie years for Annika and Lorena and not worry about overlaps, even though you could make a good argument that Annika's is really 1995-2005 and Lorena's 2006-present. But if you do that, you miss out on some pretty great years at the end of Annika's career and the beginning of Lorena's....

Will strive for more tearitudinality in 2010!