Monday, March 7, 2011

Future Hall of Famers?

While I continue to suffer from LPGA withdrawal, it gives me extra time to analyze the success of some of the top players.

Which golfers have hit their peaks? Who has the brightest future? Are we watching any future Hall of Famers?

That is what I would like to focus on now, the Hall of Fame.

First, let's look at the requirements:

1- Must have 10 years of service on the LPGA tour.
2- Must have won or been awarded one of the following: an LPGA major championship, the Vare Trophy or Rolex Player of the Year honors.
3- Must have accumulated 27 points, which are awarded as follows – 1 point for each LPGA official tournament win, two points for each LPGA major championship win and one point for each Vare Trophy or Rolex Player of the Year honor earned.

Now, let's look at the players still playing regularly who have already met those requirements.

Julie Inkster 38 points (31 wins, 7 Majors, 0 Vare, 0 POY)
Karrie Webb 49 points (37 wins, 7 Majors, 3 Vare, 2 POY)
Se Ri Pak 31 points (25 wins, 5 Majors, 1 Vare, 0 POY)

This is a very short list indeed. I might mention that Lorena Ochoa has accumulated more than enough points (37) but retired before putting in her 10 years.

Now for the fun part: I am going to play odds maker and try to handicap the 10 players I feel have some sort of a chance to qualify in the future.

Brittany Lincicome (Odds 10-1) If you have ever seen her play live, you’'ll know why the other players call her Bam-Bam. Swings as hard as any female I have ever seen on tour. Her driving average of 266.6 yards tied her for 2nd in 2010. Unfortunately she hit less than 57% of her fairways which ranked 122nd. At the age of 25 she has 3 wins, 1 which is a major, but unless she can gain control of that big drive of hers real soon I'm afraid the Hall of Fame is not the cards.

Suzanne Pettersen (Odds 7-1) The most frustrating person to watch in all of golf. Seems to do everything but win. She finished 1st in greens in regulation in 2010. She shot under par in 67% of her rounds, ranking 5th on tour. She finished 2nd 6 times without a single win. How is that even possible? She did win 5 times in 2007 but only once since. At age 29 she is in the middle of her prime years. Only 7 Hall of Fame points to date tells me she'd better turn things around quickly.

Laura Davies (Odds 6-1) I'd vote her in tomorrow. She has accomplished it all. 20 LPGA wins, 4 of those majors, and a Player of the Year. Unfortunately she is 2 points short. She spent lots of years playing both the LPGA and LET, which cost her many points. She needs 2 more victories or 1 major win. I hope she gets it, but at 47 years old it's not likely.

Ai Miyazato (Odds 9-2) If she gets hot could prove me wrong and get there very quickly. She was the best player in the world the first part of the 2010 season. A mediocre second half resulted in her not winning any of the major awards. She is 25 years old and has 6 wins to date without a major. Need to see more before I lower the odds.

Michelle Wie (Odds 3-1) I can't figure out if she is the most overrated player in golf history or the most amazing since she flies back and forth from school. She averaged 275 yards off the tee in 2010, which ranked her number 1 by a comfortable margin. Finally broke through in Mexico in 2009 and won again in Canada in 2010. At 21 years young I see lots of wins in her future.

Cristie Kerr (Odds 3-1) Some people have her as a sure shot, I say not so fast. She has 14 wins of which 2 are majors. In 2010 she played some of the best golf of her career. The end of the season had to be a major disappointment as going into the final event of the season the Vare and Player of the Year were in her reach. Needless to say she won neither and two big Hall of Fame points slipped away. She is going to be 34 this year and is still 11 points shy of entry. Time is not on her side.

Na Yeon Choi (Odds 1-1) I like her chances. At 23 years old, she's already among the best in the world. Has 4 wins in her pocket (no majors) and won the 2010 Vare Trophy. She has unlimited potential.

Jiyai Shin (Odds 3-5) Hard to believe she is only 22. Has a major championship among her 7 wins. It's not a matter of if she gets in, it's when.

Paula Creamer (Odds 3-5) Have to admit at being slightly biased about my favorite player, but the numbers are all in her favor. At the age of 24 she has amassed 10 points and included in her 9 victories is the 2010 U.S. Open. Health problems at the end of 2009 and all of 2010 kept us from seeing her at her best, which made the victory at Oakmont all the more amazing. If they gave points for the time she gives to her fans she would be in the Hall already. As it is she'll be there soon.

Yani Tseng (Odds 2-5) She is 22 years old and already has 6 wins. You think that's impressive? Three of those wins are majors! She was Player of the Year in 2010. She has already won on the LPGA in 2011. She is currently ranked number one in the world. Open the doors because Yani is taking the fast track.


diane said...

Pretty good analysis, Tony. My only issue would be Michelle Wie. My personal opinion is that she's mostly bored with golf but feels obliged by contractual obligations to play at a certain level. I wish that wasn't the case, because when she's on her game she's amazing to watch. My prediction: She'll "retire" by her 25th birthday.

Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

Diane, that is a very interesting observation. I hope you are wrong because Michelle retiring would be a big blow to the game.

Glen said...

Not much to quarrel with here, Tony. No need to apologize to me where Paula is concerned, I think I might have known that! But I see more people all the time thinking, as I do, that Michelle is here for a good time not a long time. I say she hangs until the Olympics and that's it.

Rodney said...

I have no argument with your rankings, but I think your odds for all these players are way too low, i.e., way too optimistic. I doubt anyone would make a bet with you at your odds, the returns are way too low.

Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

Glen, the LPGA took a big hit the past few years with Annika and Lorena retiring. I hope everyone is wrong about Michelle because that would put even more pressure on Paula. We need someone else to step up and help carry the load. At least until Lexi gets out here full time.

Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

Rodney... Since this is "just for fun" I'm not to worried about anyone making a bet with me.

WooIsMe said...

I agree with Rodney's point, but you've already addressed that.

For older players, they have to be close to the magic 27 points to make the HOF and still gaining points at a decent clip.

For the young players who have 8-10 HOF points, they're only a third of the way there. Imagine a 27 year old baseball player with 250 home runs--still a long way to go to break the HR record. Injury, starting a family, or the Ian Baker-Finch problem can happen quickly. For Creamer/Shin/Tseng, you'd neither be surprised if they make it nor if they fall short.

Laura Davies is the really interesting case; she is on the HOF cut line. Although she has been stuck 2 points short for the past 10 years, she is still racking up wins elsewhere. Her 50 LET + JLPGA wins would easily qualify on the International Ballot. If she had never played in the LPGA, she'd probably be in the HOF. Davies' case is better than Okamoto.

I believe after Davies retires, the HOF gets rejiggered, and she is in.

The Constructivist said...

Tony, Ji-Yai already has 8 wins! But I agree with Rodney and WoolsMe that too much could happen between now and 27 points for the under-25 crowd to be so confident about their chances for entry. Given how many of them have the game to do it, it's going to make winning majors, Vare Trophies, and POY awards all the harder....

Golfer54 said...

Love your analysis. The competition on tour is going to make it very difficult to pick up HOF points in bunches. I think the 27 points required might be lowered in the future. Tony I'm not sure I always agree with your views, but they always make for interesting reading. Keep up the good writing.