Saturday, June 29, 2013

Inbee Park and In-Kyung Kim: Best of the LPGA's Class of 2007 Face Off Today

A lot of golf's been played since I last updated my ranking of the LPGA's Rookie Class of 2007 at the end of the 2001 season.  At the time, In-Kyung Kim was the #1 player in the class and Inbee Park was #4 (behind Song-Hee Kim and Eun-Hee Ji).  Obviously, a lot has changed in the last season and a half!

Let's take a look at the key career results for Inbee and IK:

Inbee Park, $6.79M (#24), 147/3/8/19/44/64/1/1/22/123 (.837)
In-Kyung Kim, $5.65M (#37), 152/0/3/17/55/80/1/0/19/132 (.868)

As you can see, In-Kyung has been a way more consistently elite golfer than Park, who's gone through more slumps than her compatriot.  But Inbee's peaks have been way higher than IK's.  World #1 Park has definitely done a much better job of converting good play into victories than the 15th-ranked Kim:

Wins/Top 20s:  Inbee 12.5%, IK 3.8%
Wins/Top 10s:  Inbee 18.2%, IK 5.5%
Wins/Top 3s:  Inbee 42.1%, IK 17.6%

When you looks at key performance stats this year, you'll see why IK has been so consistent and why Inbee has been so dominant:

Driving Accuracy:  IK 81.4% (#4), Inbee 71.9% (#55)
Greens in Regulation:  Inbee 71.6% (#17), IK 70.9% (#19)
Putts per Green in Regulation:  Inbee 1.702 (#1), IK 1.780 (#15)
Birdies per Round:  Inbee 4.72 (#3 in total birdies), IK 3.95 (#22)
Under-Par Rounds:  Inbee 73.8% (#2), IK 61.9% (#12)
Rounds in the 60s:  Inbee 54.8% (#1), IK 28.6% (#30)
Scoring Average:  Inbee 69.643 (#1), IK 70.595 (#11)

Clearly, Inbee's approach shots and putting have been light-years beyond IK's, even though IK's are both very very good by normal planetary standards.  Given that Sebonack's super-wide fairways take away IK's big driving accuracy advantage over Inbee, she's going to have to upgrade the rest of her game to continue competing with her over the last 2 rounds.  Obviously anything can happen in 36 holes at a U.S. Women's Open, but you have to say going by both career and more recent stats that Inbee has a big advantage over IK.

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