Hannah Yun and I have already started working on Part II of our interview, but I wanted to elaborate here today on one of my questions to her. I had been thinking about how I would revise my criteria for LPGA success post from September 2008, which suggested that if you were on another tour, you should try to enter LPGA Q-School if your scoring average was near 72, you were going under par at least a third of your rounds, you were averaging at least 3 birdies per round, you were hitting at least 2/3 of your greens in regulation, and you were averaging under 1.80 putts per greens in regulation. Back then, I suggested that meeting 3 of the 5 criteria would be enough to make you a top 40 player on the LPGA. Probably now it would be 4 of the 5. Since the Futures Tour publishes stats only on its top 15 players in each of its statistical categories, I didn't know where Hannah stood with respect to those criteria. But then I realized that I didn't even know something just as important about Hannah's game: just what kind of player was she?
My regular readers will know what I mean by this question. Over the years that I've been golf blogging, I've developed an informal taxonomy of kinds of women's golfers. There are bombers like Lorena Ochoa, Ya Ni Tseng, Michelle Wie, Suzanne Pettersen, Vicky Hurst, Maria Hjorth, and Brittany Lincicome who may struggle with accuracy off the tee more (Lincicome, Wie) or less (Ochoa), but who know how to take advantage of their length; there are straight shooters like Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang, Song-Hee Kim, and Sun Young Yoo who may not be quite as long as the bombers but reach the fairway much more reliably; and there are precision players like Paula Creamer, Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Seon Hwa Lee, Morgan Pressel, and Natalie Gulbis whose games are keyed by their ability to hit the fairway most of the time. Sure, there are players who are difficult to characterize--is Miyazato long enough off the tee to be considered a straight shooter instead of a precision player?--and the lines between kinds of players aren't that hard and fast. But generally the bombers average around 270 yards and hit the fairway less than 65% of the time; the straight shooters average between 255 and 265 yards and hit the fairway between 65% and 75% of the time; and the precision players average under 255 yards and hit the fairway over 75% of the time. In other words, to be successful on the LPGA, as all of the players I've named have been, you need to be more accurate the shorter a hitter you are and longer the less accurate a ball striker you are. It's not just about how many of the criteria for success on the LPGA that you meet, then, but how you meet them and what combination of ballstriking skills you meet them with.
So let me put to my readers some of the questions I put to Hannah. What do you think of this breakdown? What other categories of players or styles of play would you identify on the LPGA and other women's professional tours? Here's one I didn't ask Hannah: how would you suggest I incorporate putting into this taxonomy? In one sense, it's pretty variable, as most players have good runs and not-so-good runs with the flat stick and their averages can vary quite a bit from year to year. In another, there are definitely some players who have shown that they can maintain their touch on the greens over the years, such as Cristie Kerr and Inbee Park. Park is a good example here, because she doesn't stand out stats-wise with respect to ballstriking--she's either a not-very-straight-shooter or a very imprecise precision player--yet she's consistently one of the best on tour in putting (and not just because she's getting up and down a lot). Is she just an anomaly, or are there other players like her on tour?