Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ranking the LPGA's Rookie Class of 2009, July 2013 Edition

Now that I've finished ranking the rookie classes from the LPGA that I (still) group under the moniker "Tseng Dynasty," it's time to turn my attention to the next generation, which I've been calling New Blood.  The 1st class in this generation is doing quite well for itself, with a lot of lower-level players at the start of their careers becoming mid-level golfers and some threatening to break through for their 1st victories on tour.  But they've got some way to go to catch up to the top 5 in the class, who stack up pretty well against the top golfers in any other rookie class, even if all of them are struggling to one degree or another and in different ways right now.

Simply the Best

1. Ji-Yai Shin.  She continues to lose ground on Stacy Lewis, but she's starting to make up ground on Ya Ni Tseng, the only player from the Tseng Dynasty ahead of her in the new career ranking system I unveiled yesterday.  Her winning rate is the highest among the rookies that started on the LPGA between 2006 and the present (11.7%), even higher than Tseng's.  Her top 20 rate (72.5%) is even higher than Na Yeon Choi's, who has the highest in the Tseng Dynasty.  Only Tseng makes top 3s at a higher rate or earns more per start or finish, only So Yeon Ryu makes top 10s at a higher rate, and only Choi makes cuts at a higher rate than Shin does.  Looks to me like she only needs to start hitting more greens to start winning again.
2. Stacy Lewis.  She's actually about as far behind Shin as Na Yeon Choi is behind Ya Ni Tseng in the Class of 2008, but given how recently she was a dominating player on tour, it's hard to justify dropping her down a category just yet.  Yes, she's had a few dodgy starts lately, but she's still playing great golf by any standard except staying #1 in the world.

The Contender

3. Anna Nordqvist.  For a player of her consistent excellence, it's a little surprising she hasn't contended more often on the LPGA.  Looking at her performance stats and results this season, I wouldn't at all be surprised if she went on a little run of her own.

The Next Best

4. Michelle Wie.  Last January, I looked ahead to Chapter 4 of her golfing career, when the LPGA becomes her full-time job, with some anticipation.  After a roller-coaster 1st 3 chapters (I: Young Phenom; II: Troubled Teen; III. Student-Athlete), the latest chapter has been really disappointing thus far.  There have been some signs of life here and there, but they've been few and far between.  Maybe the best thing that can happen to her now is that she fails to make the U.S. Solheim Cup team.  (Now I'm wishing I made my Wie-Adam Scott comparison on April Fool's Day!)
5. Mika Miyazato.  She's gone through a rocky spell of her own in the 1st half of 2013 and her emergence from it has been less consistently excellent than we've come to expect of her.  But the Okinawan usually plays better as the temperatures rise, so let's see whether she can heat up her putter the rest of the summer.

Quantum Leap Candidates

6. Chella Choi.  She's very quietly started playing some very good golf the last 2 and a half seasons and has gained a lot of experience in contention.  Her performance stats this season are even better than Shin's and comparable to Lewis's.  Now's the time to break through!
7. Haeji Kang.  She seems to play very good golf in bursts and she's in the middle of one right now.  Can she build on last week's T6 finish?  I'm thinking she can and will.
8. Vicky Hurst.  It's not that she's playing awful golf any more, as she did in the middle of 2012.  She's just not doing much with her rounds or her weeks in 2013 as of yet.  It seems to me that her putter is holding her back in a big way.
9. Mi Jung Hur.  My ranking system puts her ahead of several golfers in this category, but with 10 missed cuts in her last 13 starts, nothing is looking good for her right now and I can't justify putting her any higher than this.
10. Pornanong Phatlum.  If she can improve her ball-striking just slightly, I'm thinking the player who's made the 4th-most money in her class so far this season can become much more of a regular in the top 10 and better.

On the Bottom, Looking Up

11. Mindy Kim.  Her surprise T4 in the waterlogged Bahamas gives her a shot at staying in the top 100 on the money list by season's end, but she'll need to start playing a lot better golf to do it.
12. Jessica Shepley. At #159 on the priority status list, she's going to need some help getting into more events this season.
13. Kim Welch.  She's made only 1 cut in 9 starts this season, but will get more chances to keep trying from #132 on the priority status list.

On the Outside, Looking In

14. Shiho Oyama.  Although she hasn't won again on the JLPGA since coming back from elbow surgery with that 2011 win, she's in the top 20 on the JLPGA money list this season and has contended fairly often.
15. Samantha Richdale.  She's #18 on the Symetra Tour money list, so is busy fighting for an LPGA card for next season.
16. Angela Oh.  At #166 on the priority status list, she's technically an LPGA member, but hasn't made a start there, on the Symetra Tour, or on the LET this season.  Anyone know what she's up to?
17. Tania Elosegui.  Having dropped to #62 on the 2013 LET order of merit, a return engagement on the LPGA is looking increasingly unlikely.
18. Nontaya Srisawang.  She's #31 on the LET order of merit this season, so let's see if she can move up it in the 2nd half of the season.

Over and Out

19. Jeehae Lee. Well, she gave the LPGA and the LET the ol' college try, but wasn't seeing the results she needed to keep her professional golf experiment alive any longer.
20. Sunny Oh. Working as a teaching professional at the Lakes at El Segundo.
21. Song Yi Choi.  I haven't noticed her name in Seoul's overviews of KLPGA events the last 2 seasons, so I'm assuming she's retired from competitive golf.

For your reference--and mine--here are the stats on which I'm basing the July 2013 ranking.

2013 LPGA Money List (rank), scoring average (rank), birdies per round average (rank [in total birdies]), greens in regulation rate (rank): I focus on four key indicators of how well someone has been playing this season--how much money they've made, how they've scored, how many birdies they've averaged per round, and how many greens they've hit in regulation on average per round, plus how they rank in each category (except for birdies, which ranks by total and not by average). I figure I can figure out how well they're hitting their irons and putting by comparing the last three figures, so I don't include putts per green in regulation here. Some of the figures Hound Dog thinks are the most important I'm looking at in the career stats (below), where I think they belong. These stats are all about the present and future.

1. Stacy Lewis, $885.3K (#3), 69.845 (#2), 4.55 (#1), 73.9% (#6)
2. Ji-Yai Shin, $459.6K (#14), 70.583 (#11), 3.71 (#18), 69.1% (#34)
3. Anna Nordqvist, $421.9K (#18), 70.914 (#13), 3.74 (#3), 72.3% (#15)
4. Pornanong Phatlum, $329.9K (#20), 71.380 (#26), 3.58 (#17), 68.0% (#42)
5. Haeji Kang, $304.8K (#23), 71.400 (#27), 3.80 (#12), 67.4% (#46)
6. Chella Choi, $302.2K (#24), 70.929 (#14), 3.50 (#7), 74.3% (#2)
7. Mika Miyazato, $274.1K (#28), 72.500 (#65), 2.64 (#96), 68.5% (#37)
8. Michelle Wie, $125.8K (#54), 72.116 (#51), 3.42 (#44), 66.8% (#57)
9. Vicky Hurst, $85.2K (#68), 72.549 (#68), 2.86 (#45), 68.0% (#43)
10. Mi Jung Hur, $60.4K (#83), 73.976 (#131), 2.93 (#58), 56.6% (#144)
11. Mindy Kim, $60.2K (#85), 73.962 (#130), 2.77 (#116), 60.7% (#127)
12. Jessica Shepley, $5.1K (#148), 73.929 (#129), 2.62 (#151), 61.1% (#121)
13. Kim Welch, $2.7K (#155), 75.000 (#144), 2.95 (#136), 61.7% (#117)

Career LPGA Money List (rank), # of LPGA events started/majors/wins/top 3s/top 10s/top 20s/withdrawals/disqualifications/missed cuts/finished events (rate): About the only thing these stats are useful for is comparing people who entered the LPGA in the same year (although if you count generations by 3 years, it can be interesting). Between inflation, changing purses, and length/timing of careers, it's very hard to compare and contrast winnings across generations of LPGA greats. Fortunately the '09ers all started at the same time, so the career money list is a decent stat for comparing them, even if it's a bit unfair to players who have not been exempt every season (although that in itself is an indication of how someone's career has been going!). What would really be great is if we had a world money list in inflation-adjusted dollars, with inflation- and exchange-adjusted other cash denominations added in (or just totalled up  separately to avoid comparing dollars and yen), which included all each golfer earned as a professional on any tour. But even the guys don't have that, so that'll have to remain a dream for now--although Thomas Atkins posted an inflation-adjusted LPGA Career Top 50 as of the end of the 2008 season and a Best of All Time ranking over at Hound Dog LPGA. In any case, I include the other ways of seeing how the '09ers finished relative to their competition in the tournaments they entered because they reveal a lot about how well someone is able to compete at every level, from just making cuts to grinding out top 20s and top 10s to contending for wins. Many thanks to the LPGA for updating their 2013 performance chart after every event. [Note: *=includes non-member major victory; **=includes 3 non-member victories]

1. Ji-Yai Shin, $6.01M (#30), 91/2*/11**/22/45/66/1/0/2/88 (.967)
2. Stacy Lewis, $4.95M (#43), 112/1/7/15/44/61/0/0/14/98 (.875)
3. Anna Nordqvist, $3.01M (#78), 101/1/2/5/30/54/0/0/6/95 (.941)
4. Mika Miyazato, $2.86M (#83), 97/0/1/7/23/43/0/0/17/80 (.825)
5. Michelle Wie, $2.72M (#89), 96/0/2/10/23/34/3/0/21/72 (.750)
6. Chella Choi, $1.46M (#143), 96/0/0/3/12/27/0/0/20/76 (.792)
7. Vicky Hurst, $1.40M (#148), 110/0/0/1/9/24/0/0/28/82 (.746)
8. Mi Jung Hur, $1.17M (#174), 99/0/1/3/7/14/3/0/34/62 (.626)
9. Haeji Kang, $1.15M (#176), 91/0/0/1/9/20/0/0/24/67 (.736)
10. Pornanong Phatlum, $.71M (#243), 64/0/0/2/3/11/0/0/12/52 (.813)
11. Mindy Kim, $.58M (#265), 85/0/0/0/7/11/3/0/41/41 (.482)
12. Shiho Oyama, $.14M (#422), 20/0/0/0/1/1/0/0/10/10 (.500)
13. Samantha Richdale, $.07M (#501), 38/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/25/13 (.342)
14. Jessica Shepley, $.06M (#523), 30/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/19/11 (.367)
15. Jeehae Lee, $.03M (#583), 28/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/22/6 (.214)
16. Angela Oh, $.03M (#586), 26/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/18/7 (.269)
17. Tania Elosegui, $.03M (#?), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/12/3 (.200)
18. Kim Welch, $4.9K (#701), 15/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/13/2 (.133)
19. Sunny Oh, $0K (n.r.), 2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/0 (.000)
20. Nontaya Srisawang, $0K (n.r.), 4/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/4/0 (.000)
21. Song Yi Choi, $0K (n.r.), 17/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/16/0 (.000)

See also my google spreadsheet for all the top rookies from 2006 to the present, if you want to compare the best from this class with those in their generation and the preceding one.

Other Career Measures: Rolex Rankings (as of 7/15/13) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of 7/14/13) and rank; International Wins (as of today): This is a way of seeing how those '09ers who sometimes or regularly or often compete on other tours stack up over the course of their careers to date (the RR includes results over the past 104 weeks on the LPGA, LET, JLPGA, KLPGA, and Futures Tour; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on all these tours except the KLPGA).

1. Stacy Lewis, 8.17 (#2), 68.96 (#3); 0
2. Ji-Yai Shin, 5.68 (#8), 69.63 (#10); 28 (21 KLPGA, 5 JLPGA, 3 LET)
3. Mika Miyazato, 4.51 (#15), 70.41 (#24); 1
4. Anna Nordqvist, 3.54 (#23), 70.23 (#21); 0
5. Chella Choi, 2.82 (#36), 70.28 (#23); 0
6. Haeji Kang, 2.67 (#38), 70.76 (#32); 0
7. Pornanong Phatlum, 2.13 (#51), 71.17 (#41); 0
8. Shiho Oyama, 1.66 (#66), 71.48 (#55); 12 (all JLPGA)
9. Michelle Wie, 1.47 (#81), 72.52 (#113); 0
10. Vicky Hurst, 1.17 (#105), 72.48 (#109); 0
11. Mi Jung Hur, .82 (#154), 73.55 (#172); 0
12. Nontaya Srisawang, .70 (#169), 72.50 (#111); 0
13. Mindy Kim, .63 (#183), 73.76 (#188); 0
14. Tania Elosegui, .24 (#327), 75.35 (#323); 1
15. Samantha Richdale, .12 (#409), 73.92 (#200); 0
16. Jessica Shepley, .12 (#420), 75.50 (#338); 0
17. Angela Oh, .06 (#523), 73.02 (n.r.); 0
18. Kim Welch, .01 (#756), 76.07 (#374); 0


Jim C said...

In 8 events since April 22, 2013 Wie has two top 10s(T9s) and another top 20 in her last event(T16). She is looking a lot better now than she was when you suggested she might be a good captain's pick in April.51

The Constructivist said...

Yeah, but her bad results have been very bad and she hasn't appreciably outplayed golfers who are more reliable than she has been lately. She's going to need to play her way onto the team by getting top 3s in her last 2 events, IMHO.