It seems like just yesterday, that I was writing a post asking if anyone would step up and challenge Yani Tseng. My, how things have changed. In a few short months, Yani has gone from complete dominance to completely out of contention. Let us look at her season so far. I am going to break it down into three parts.
First 5 tournaments:
Top fives: 4
Top tens: 5
Missed Cuts: 0
Broke par in: 12 of 16 rounds or 75%
Per round average: 69.15
Next 4 tournaments:
Top fives: 1
Top tens: 3
Missed Cuts: 0
Broke par in: 63.6% of rounds played.
Per round average: 70.36
Last 4 tournaments:
Top fives: 0
Top tens: 0
Missed cuts: 2
Broke par in: 1 of 12 rounds or 8.3%
Per round average: 74.75
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see the steep drop that has occurred. The per round average is alarming. Last year she led the tour with a per round average of 69.66.
Earlier in the year it seemed to me that just about everyone, including myself, was pointing to her as the next great golfer. We had her following in the footsteps of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. Did we all jump the gun?
I started to wonder if Annika or Lorena had suffered through any slumps like this after becoming the best female player in the game. Here is what I found:
You have to look long and hard to find anything resembling a slump after Annika soared to the top.
The worst period I could find was back in 1999, when over a 4-tournament span, she failed to finish in the top ten and posted a per round average of 72.80. Not up to her standards, but not all that bad either.
Lorena became the top player in the world and retired without ever having a slump. Her worst period would be in 2009, when over a period of four tournaments she finished 16th, 6th, 40th, and had a rare missed cut. Her per round average over that period was still a stellar 70.9.
The above shows that neither of those superstars ever had to go through what Yani is going through now.
Some might say that while this makes for a good story, it is too early to draw any conclusions. I say that this bears watching. We have seen examples in all sports that when a player loses confidence, it sometimes takes a very long time to get it back. Sometimes it never comes back. Look at Song-Hee Kim, who in 2010 had more top-10 finishes than anyone on the tour. She now is a long shot to retain her playing card for next year.
One more thought on the subject. A few weeks back I wrote an article on the Americans underachieving, to which I got a huge response. The general consensus was that the Asian players are far outworking the Americans. That opinion seemed unanimous, coming from Asians, Americans, and some of the players themselves. Being around the game as much as I am, I can't disagree. But will they burn themselves out at an early age? Is that what is happening here?
I welcome all opinions on the subject.
Inbee Park has five consecutive top-ten finishes.
The tour's next stop will be in Ohio for the playing of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, which I will be attending. An unusual amount of players will be skipping this event. They include Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen, Karrie Webb, Hee Young Park, Catriona Matthew, Maria Hjorth, Sun Young Yoo, Sophie Gustafson, Karen Stupples, Shanshan Feng, Juli Inkster, Caroline Hedwall and Lexi Thompson. Incredibly, there is no television broadcast for this tournament.