Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Surprises and Disappointments 2011 - Part 2

It has been over four months since we took a look at the most pleasant surprises and the biggest disappointments of the 2011 season. The ladies have played eight more tournaments since then, four of those majors. Plenty has changed since that post. Ai Miyazato was listed as a disappointment, and although her game continues to be erratic, her victory at Evian eliminates her from that list. On the other side Juli Inkster was listed as a surprise, but her very poor play since then has her no longer on that list.

Let's take a look (these numbers are from the LPGA tour only):

Biggest Disappointments:

1- Song Hee Kim - Because of our high expectations, Song Hee remains number one here. Last year she led the tour with 15 top ten finishes; this year in 13 events she has just one. Incredibly she has just 3 top-30 finishes. Earlier this year she missed 3 consecutive cuts. Number seven on the money list last year, she is 26th now.

2- Jee Young Lee - A total bust this year. She has teed it up 11 times and her best finish is a T33. She has missed eight of 11 cuts. Number 19 on the money list last year, she currently resides at #111.

3- Gwladys Nocera - Her season has been nothing short of an embarrassment. In 11 tournaments this year she has missed 5 cuts; her best finish was also a T33. Currently #82 on the money list, her 2012 priority list ranking could fall dramatically.

4- Azahara Munoz - One of my favorite players and last year's Rookie of the Year has not come close to her expectations. She has not contended all season. In 13 starts, Azahara has just one top ten and has finished outside the top 40 ten times.

5- Christina Kim - Has not been in contention yet this year. In 13 starts has yet to finish in the top 10. Currently holding down the last automatic spot for the Solheim Cup team, her place isn't wrapped up yet.

6- Hee Young Park- After her fine 2010 season, I for one was expecting bigger things from her this year. What we have gotten from her has been a total meltdown. Has only finished in the top 30 once in 13 starts.

7- Haeji Kang- Number 59 on last year's money list, we haven't seen her contend yet this year. Currently #70 on this year's list and falling, her 2012 priority list ranking could suffer mightily.

8- Vicky Hurst - Her caddy is now Amanda Blumenherst's father. The change hasn't helped. Competing in all 13 tournaments this year, she has yet to finish higher than T18. Has the tools to be a Solheim Cup player, but not this year.

9- Hee-Won Han- Such a solid player last year, she has missed 8 cuts already this season.

10- Lee-Anne Pace - Won five times on the European Tour last year, but has been a non-factor in 6 LPGA events this year. Her best finish to date has been a poor T46 at the Kia Classic. Lee Anne wishes to become an LPGA member and has entered phase 2 of Qualifying School.

Not so honorable mentions: Laura Davies, Birdie Kim and Na On Min.

Biggest Surprises:

1- Stacy Lewis- Took a bit longer to be included with the "elite" players than many thought, but she is there now. Currently #3 on this year's money list, Stacy has six top-ten finishes and made her first win a Major Championship.

2- Sandra Gal- Had her number one on my last list, but she has tailed off some of late. That said, she is still having a breakthrough season. She has one victory this year, her first as a LPGA member, and four top tens. She finished 2010 #67 on the money list and has jumped all the way to #19 this year.

3- Ryann O'Toole - Who could have predicted this? A rookie this year, she has played in just 6 tournaments, but is #45 on the money list. Her priority list ranking has improved after both reshuffles, so she should get more opportunities to tee it up in the future. She opened up all eyes with a top ten finish at the U.S. Open.

4- Katie Futcher- Not sure anyone really knew her before this year. With three top-15 finishes in the Major Championships this year, we know her now. We will know her even better if she makes the Solheim team, which I believe is a sure thing.

5- So-Yeon Ryu - Has played in just 3 LPGA tournaments this year, making the cut each time. Won the 2011 U.S. Open in a playoff. Not an LPGA member, but look for her to follow in Hee Kyung Seo's footsteps (a non-LPGA winner last year) and play here next year.

Honorable Mentions: Mindy Kim and Karen Stupples.

Rolex Rankings Mover of the Week:

Shanshan Feng, winner on the JLPGA tour last week, jumps from #47 to #33.

Hard-to-believe fact of the week:

55.5% of Yani Tseng's LPGA victories (five out of nine), have been Major Championships.

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