Monday, April 4, 2011

Stacy comes alive in tournament number 5.

Now that the first LPGA Major Championship is in the books, let us take a look at the overachievers and underperformers so far this season. With 5 of the 24 tournaments completed there certainly have been many surprises.

Biggest disappointments:

1- Song Hee Kim – Is she the worst player on tour this year? No, she is not. Is she the biggest disappointment based on expectations? Yes, by a wide margin. Ranked #7 in the world at the beginning of the season, and picked by me at #7 in my player of the year predictions, she has not played anywhere near that level. Last year she seemed to contend every week and had an amazing 15 top 10 finishes. The only question was when she would win. This year the question is, when will we see her contend?

2- Inbee Park – Ranked just outside the top 10 in the world all year, her best finish on the LPGA to date is tied for 18th. [Note: She did win the JLPGA's 1st--and so far only--event of 2011! --TC]

3- Azuhara Munoz – The Rookie of the Year last year, she is looking like anything but. Her finishes this year (T51, T24, MC, T46, and T52) have me wondering if she has that bright future we thought she had.

4- Jee Young Lee – Started the year #38 in the Rolex Ranking but so far has failed to make a single cut.

5- Hee Young Park – Ranked #43 at the start of the year, her best finish in 5 starts has been a T37. The year's first major saw her finish T70.

6- Lee-Anne Pace - The LET Player of the Year last year seems to be completely overmatched in LPGA events. A 46th-place tie has been her best finish in 3 events.

7- Gwladys Nocera – She finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year standings last year. Her performance in 2011 has been just plain embarrassing. In 5 tournaments this year her best finish is T57 with 2 missed cuts. She shot under par in only 1 of 16 rounds this year for a combined total of 58 over par.

8- Nicole Castrale – Was given a pass last year because of health problems. Not sure what the problem is this year. With finishes of T57, T60, MC and T66 she has played herself off the Solheim Cup team.

9- Ai Miyazato – I have to put her on this list because she is an elite player. She has not been playing like one. A T14 at the HSBC does not hide the fact that she has not been in contention thus far this year.

10- Christina Kim – Her Solheim Cup spot could soon be in jeopardy if she doesn't right the ship very soon. Finishes of T53, T16, T72, T56 and a missed cut in the year's first major aren't going to get her many points.

Not very honorable mentions include Hee-Won Han, Na On Min, Haeji Kang and Jessica Korda.

Biggest Surprises:

1- Sandra Gal – The #128 ranked player in the Rolex Rankings at the start of the season shocked the world with a stunning victory at the Kia Classic. She had a top 10 finish the week before at the Founders cup and a very respectable T15 at the year's first major championship. She has made the jump all the way to #37 in the current Rankings.

2- Stacy Lewis – Starting the year as the #37 ranked player in the world, she took down the world's #1 this week at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Top 10 players in the world beware, Stacy is on her way.

3- Karrie Webb – Yes, she is still one of the better players on tour, but nobody expected 2 wins this early in the season. An early Player of the Year candidate.

4- Chie Arimura – I know she isn’t an LPGA member and probably shouldn’t be on this list. Too bad, it’s my list. A member of the JLPGA, she might be the tiniest golfer that I ever had the pleasure to meet. Her 2 appearances on the LPGA tour this year have resulted in a second-place finish at the HSBC and a T7 at the year's first Major. This woman can flat-out play.

5- Juli Inkster - Will someone please tell this lady that she is 50? She has moved up 10 places in the Rolex Rankings this year and into the top 40. She has two top-10 finishes and a T15 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship this week. You have to admire this lady.

Honorable Mentions include Mindy Kim, Pornanong Phatlum and Sun Young Yoo.

My 2011 Player of the Year Rankings so far this year look like this:

  1. Yani Tseng - 83.68

  2. Stacy Lewis - 77.08

  3. Karrie Webb - 72.10

  4. I.K. Kim - 54.66

  5. Michelle Wie - 49.64

  6. Morgan Pressel - 49.32

  7. Sandra Gal - 43.96

  8. Mika Miyazato - 38.70

  9. Angela Stanford - 38.64

  10. Chie Arimura - 38.20

  11. Katie Futcher - 33.88

  12. Cristie Kerr - 33.32

  13. Brittany Lincicome - 31.64

  14. Sun Young Yoo - 30.26

  15. Juli Inkster - 30.20

  16. Na Yeon Choi - 27.06

  17. Suzann Pettersen - 25.40

  18. Paula Creamer - 24.94

  19. Julieta Granada - 24.60

  20. Anna Nordqvist - 23.76

My hard to believe fact of the week:

I.K. Kim is the only LPGA player to finish in the top 10 in all of her tournaments this year.

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