Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ranking the LPGA's Rookie Class of 2010, July 2013 Edition

Azahara Munoz was Rookie of the Year in the Class of 2010, the 2nd of 3 classes in what I'm calling the "New Blood" generation on the LPGA.  But Beatriz Recari has been chasing her down the last year or so.  Has she caught her fellow Spaniard?  Who else is stepping up in this large but so far not very accomplished rookie class?

Simply the Best

1. Azahara Munoz:  After a fantastic 2012, she's been struggling to hang with the best players on tour this season, but she's still making a lot of cuts and getting her fair share of top 30s.  Combined with solid performance stats, I'd say she's playing pretty well, but not great.  Looks like all she needs to start contending again is to heat up her putter....
2. Beatriz Recari:  Her amazing made cut streak came to an end at Sebonack (and with it a 4-event top-20 run, as well), but after a week off she's right back at it in Sylvania, OH, this afternoon.  With the most wins in her class (2), she's shown the ability to close the deal when she's in contention.  The next step is for her to get into contention more often.  The key for her is to get those putts to drop!

The Contenders

3. Ilhee Lee:  She's exploded (briefly) twice in the past 2 seasons, last year going T4 at the U.S. Women's Open and T9 in Evian and this year by following up a T3 at Kingsmill with a win a couple of weeks later in the Bahamas.  But I'm still not convinced she's the real deal, as she hasn't had many other good finishes and misses way more cuts than elite players tend to do.  Her play following her win hasn't been all that impressive, either.  Let's see if she can play better golf more consistently the rest of the season.  It starts with hitting more greens.
4. Gerina Piller:  She's another one who plays very well in bursts, but her average finishes are better and her good runs tend to last for longer than Lee's.  Still, Lee has that win and 2 top 3s and Piller's drawn blanks in those areas.  But now with a spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup at stake, it's looking like she's on another good run (she just opened the Marathon Classic with a 67).
5. Mina Harigae:  She's still not as consistent in hitting greens as I'd like to see, but she's become a full-fledged LPGA regular over the last year and a half.  She's kind of plateaued a bit this season, but this summer's the time to start getting used to racking up top 20s and top 10s.  I'd say she's about ready to make the same kind of leap that Recari did.

Quantum Leap Candidates

6. Alison Walshe:  She's another one from this class who's made herself into an LPGA regular and is ready to transition to that next stage.  And I'm not just saying that because she shot the low morning round in the Marathon Classic today.
7. Mariajo Uribe:  She came back from the brink and proved she belongs on the LPGA.  She had an uncharacteristically bad stretch this season where it appeared that injuries were bothering her, but she's got 2 solid starts under her belt and is getting ready for the WBO by taking this week off.
8. Dewi Claire Schreefel:  She's proved she can make her share of cuts, but will need to hit more greens to start racking up more top 20s.
9. Amanda Blumenherst:  She's still struggling mightily, but maybe fighting to keep her card for next season will focus her talents.
10. Cindy LaCrosse:  Another player who's moving in the wrong direction of late, she's missed the cut in 7 of her last 10 starts.

On the Bottom, Looking Up

11. Pernilla Lindberg:  She's still the golfer I'm most disappointed in out of everyone in her class (despite finishing #18 on the LET Order of Merit the last 2 seasons in a row), but at least things started moving in the right direction for her on the LPGA over the past year and a half.  Unfortunately, she's taken a big step backwards lately, missing the cut in 6 of her last 9 starts.  Here's hoping she gets back on track soon!
12. Paola Moreno:  She's riding a 5-event made-cut streak, the 1st sustained run of solid golf we've seen from her in a long while.  Let's see what happens when her putter really gets hot....
13. Maria Hernandez:  She's only played 1 LPGA event and 2 Symetra Tour events this season, missing the cut in the very 1st LPGA tournament of the year.  She hasn't teed it up on any professional tour since late March.  I'm guessing she's not over her injuries from the last few years.

On the Outside, Looking In

14. Gwladys Nocera:  She's back on the LET and, with her win at the Slovak Open in late June, took back the top spot on their Order of Merit.
15. Marianne Skarpnord:  She's #14 on the LET Order of Merit in 10 starts.
16. Christine Song: At #13 on the Symetra Tour money list, she's fighting to make it back to the LPGA.
17. Jean Reynolds:  Back on the Symetra Tour again this year, she had her best start of the season in Albany last week and is now #35 on their money list.
18. Katie Kempter:  She's #63 on the Symetra Tour money list this season.
19. Cathryn Bristow:  She's #66 on the Symetra Tour money list in only 2 starts this season (a T5 in late June and a MC in Albany last week), but doing better there than on the LET, where she's #129 on their Order of Merit in 6 starts.
20. Misun Cho:  She's #74 on the Symetra Tour money list in 6 starts this season.
21. Mallory Blackwelder:  She's #92 on the Symetra Tour in 8 starts this season.
22. Tanya Dergal:  She's #114 on the Symetra Tour money list in 9 starts this season.
23. Nannette Hill:  She's #132 in 4 starts on the Symetra Tour this year.
24. Lisa Meldrum:  She's missed the cut in her 3 starts on the Symetra Tour this season and hasn't teed it up since early May.  I'm guessing she's hurt.

Missing in Action

25. Adrienne White:  She's listed as a former player on the Symetra Tour and I can't find out anything else about her with a quick search.
26. Yoo Kyeong Kim:  She lost her card in 2012 and isn't playing on the Symetra Tour this season, either.  Even Seoul doesn't know what she's up to....

Over and Out

27. Whitney Wade:  She was an assistant coach at Coastal Carolina in 2012 and was just named assistant coach at the University of Georgia in May 2013.
28. Jane Chin:  Assistant golf coach at University of California, Irvine.

For your reference--and mine--here are the stats on which I'm basing the July 2013 ranking.  See also the google spreadsheet I've created to compare the top players from all the rookie classes from 2006 to 2013.

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. Beatriz Recari, $589.0K (#6), 70.745 (#12), 3.43 (#21), 70.5% (#25)
2. Ilhee Lee, $320.6K (#22), 72.600 (#73), 3.44 (#36), 64.4% (#98)
3. Gerina Piller, $252.2K (#31), 71.260 (#22), 3.56 (#18), 72.8% (#10)
4. Azahara Munoz, $166.2K (#44), 71.560 (#34), 3.50 (#21), 72.4% (#13)
5. Mina Harigae, $134.6K (#50), 71.980 (#47), 3.14 (#34), 65.9% (#71)
6. Mariajo Uribe, $127.8K (#103), 72.436 (#63), 3.41 (#54), 63.4% (#109)
7. Alison Walshe, $120.0K (#55), 71.522 (#32), 3.57 (#29), 65.7% (#79)
8. Dewi Claire Schreefel, $95.0K (#63), 72.381 (#61), 3.26 (#49), 65.1% (#90)
9. Paola Moreno, $74.2K (#74), 72.029 (#49), 3.06 (#82), 67.3% (#48)
10. Pernilla Lindberg, $63.9K (#81), 72.763 (#82), 3.05 (#69), 66.8% (#54)
11. Cindy LaCrosse, $45.0K (#93), 74.070 (#133), 2.56 (#71), 63.7% (#107)
12. Amanda Blumenherst, $42.9K (#95), 73.700 (#120), 2.87 (#102), 65.0% (#91)
13. Maria Hernandez, $0K (n.r.), 73.500 (n.r.), 2.00 (n.r.), 69.0% (n.r.)

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 '10ers 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 '10ers 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!

1. Azahara Munoz, $2.32M (#104), 86/0/1/6/16/37/0/0/14/72 (.837)
2. Beatriz Recari, $1.52M (#136), 82/0/2/3/15/28/0/0/15/67 (.817)
3. Ilhee Lee, $.80M (#230), 61/0/1/2/5/9/0/0/24/37 (.607)
4. Mina Harigae, $.72M (#242), 73/0/0/0/3/13/0/0/20/53 (.726)
5. Gerina Piller, $.61M (#258), 52/0/0/0/8/12/0/0/14/38 (.731)
6. Gwladys Nocera, $.61M (#260), 41/0/0/1/2/4/0/0/17/24 (.585)
7. Amanda Blumenherst, $.53M (#273), 78/0/0/0/4/10/0/0/30/48 (.615)
8. Mariajo Uribe, $.52M (#275), 62/0/0/0/3/11/1/0/24/37 (.597)
9. Alison Walshe, $.44M (#299), 56/0/0/0/2/9/0/0/21/35 (.625)
10. Cindy LaCrosse, $.41M (#304), 59/0/0/0/0/5/0/0/21/38 (.644)
11. Dewi Claire Schreefel, $.38M (#312), 48/0/0/0/0/8/0/0/12/36 (.750)
12. Pernilla Lindberg, $.29M (#352), 58/0/0/0/0/5/0/1/28/29 (.500)
13. Maria Hernandez,  $.18M (#399), 34/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/21/13 (.382)
14. Paola Moreno, $.11M (#447), 33/0/0/0/0/1/1/0/17/15 (.455)
15. Jean Reynolds, $.08M (#495), 23/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/18/5 (.217)
16. Lisa Meldrum, $.05M (#532), 24/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/13/11 (.458)
17. Yoo Kyeong Kim, $.05M (#533), 26/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/20/6 (.231)
18. Misun Cho, $.04M (#566), 14/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/11/2 (.143)
19. Christine Song, $.04M (#571), 27/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/20/7 (.259)
20. Adrienne White, $.02M (#610), 10/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/4/6 (.600)
21. Marianne Skarpnord, $.02M (#613), 16/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/12/4 (.250)
22. Tanya Dergal, $.01M (#661), 23/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/18/5 (.217)
23. Katie Kempter, $7.3K (#681), 13/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/11/2 (.154)
24. Nannette Hill, $2.2K (#734), 4/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/3/1 (.250)
25. Whitney Wade, $0K (n.r.), 3/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/3/0 (.000)
26. Mallory Blackwelder, $0K (n.r.), 4/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/4/0 (.000)
27. Cathryn Bristow, $0K (n.a.), 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0 (.000)
28. Jane Chin, $0K (n.a.), 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0 (.000)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Rankings (as of 7/15/13) points and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of 7/14/13) score and rank; International Wins (as of today): This is a way of seeing how those '10ers 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. Azahara Munoz, 3.34 (#25), 70.82 (#33); 1
2. Beatriz Recari, 3.31 (#26), 69.86 (#14); 1
3. Ilhee Lee, 2.63 (#40), 71.80 (#73); 0
4. Gerina Piller, 2.01 (#57), 71.19 (#44); 0
5. Mina Harigae, 1.39 (#86), 71.96 (#86); 0
6. Alison Walshe, 1.31 (#90), 71.24 (#46); 0
7. Mariajo Uribe, 1.22 (#97), 72.23 (#100); 0
8. Dewi Claire Schreefel, 1.15 (#106), 71.61 (#61); 0
9. Gwladys Nocera, 1.04 (#119), 72.62 (#120); 11
10. Pernilla Lindberg, .94 (#131), 72.53 (#114); 0
11. Cindy LaCrosse, .77 (#163), 73.15 (#150); 0
12. Paola Moreno, .59 (#197), 72.96 (#137); 0
13. Amanda Blumenherst, .43 (#243), 73.90 (#198); 0
14. Marianne Skarpnord, .29 (#295), 74.67 (#262); 2
15. Christine Song, .13 (#400), 75.09 (#305); 0
16. Cathryn Bristow, .08 (#471), 77.29 (#423); 0
17. Misun Cho, .08 (#475), 74.69 (#266); 0
18. Maria Hernandez, .07 (#486), 74.50 (#245); 1
19. Tanya Dergal, .03 (#638), 76.67 (#403); 0
20. Jean Reynolds, .01 (#760), 74.73 (#240); 0
21. Katie Kempter, n.r., 76.34 (#348); 0
22. Nannette Hill, n.r., 77.32 (#425); 0
23. Mallory Blackwelder, n.r., 76.94 (n.r.); 0
24. Lisa Meldrum, n.r., 77.83 (n.r.); 0

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