Monday, August 5, 2013

Top Careers Among the LPGA Rookie Classes of 2005 through 2013, August 2013 Edition

After Stacy Lewis's decisive win at the Ricoh Women's British Open and the mini-controversy over Team USA's captain's picks for the Solheim Cup, I decided to update and expand the spreadsheet I use to rank the top golfers who are active members of the LPGA's rookie classes of 2005 through 2013.  The number in parentheses represents the points each player has earned in my system over the course of her career.

I explain the system in my "Best of the Tseng Dynasty" post, but in a nutshell each major is worth 100 points, each win is worth 40 points, each percentage point in winning rate is worth 32 points, each in top-3 rate is worth 16, each in top-10 rate is worth 8, each in top-20 rate is worth 4, and each in finish rate (no MC, DQ, or WD) is worth 1, while each $100 of winnings per start and finish is worth 1 point, as well.

Simply the Best
1. Ya Ni Tseng (4004)

The Contenders
2. Ji-Yai Shin (3499)
3. Na Yeon Choi (2906)
4. Paula Creamer (2744)
5. Inbee Park (2735)
6. Stacy Lewis (2617)
7. So Yeon Ryu (2530)

The Next Best
8. Ai Miyazato (2269)
9. In-Kyung Kim (1785)

Quantum Leap Candidates
10. Brittany Lincicome (1479)
11. Anna Nordqvist (1473)
12. Morgan Pressel (1384)
13. Michelle Wie (1372)
14. Mika Miyazato (1269)
15. Song-Hee Kim (1241)
16. Seon Hwa Lee (1233)
17. Hee Kyung Seo (1222)
18. Hee Young Park (1218)
19. Shanshan Feng (1202)
20. Azahara Munoz (1167)
21. Lexi Thompson (1161)
22. Beatriz Recari (1139)
23. Amy Yang (1099)
24. Eun-Hee Ji (1056)
25. Sun Young Yoo (1054)
26. Jee Young Lee (1039)

The Best of the Rest
27. Brittany Lang (958)
28. Carlota Ciganda (934)
29. Lizette Salas (901)
30. Meena Lee (876)
31. Jessica Korda (871)
32. Julieta Granada (776)
33. Momoko Ueda (775)
34. Chie Arimura (768)
35. Caroline Hedwall (740)
36. Sandra Gal (688)
37. Jenny Shin (684)
38. Chella Choi (683)
39. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (658)
40. Ilhee Lee (650)
41. Jennifer Johnson (648)
42. Ji Young Oh (621)
43. Kristy McPherson (618)
44. Ayako Uehara (610)
45. Mi Jung Hur (595)
46. Moriya Jutanugarn (584)
47. Gerina Piller (573)
48. Haeji Kang (556)
49. Vicky Hurst (534)
50. Pornanong Phatlum (481)
51. Jane Park (475)
52. Meaghan Francella (451)
53. Mina Harigae (398)
54. Katie Futcher (387)
55. Karin Sjodin (342)

I haven't yet ranked the rookie classes of 2011-2013, so I may have missed some candidates for the last category.  I also haven't gotten around to tallying totals for Paula Creamer's top classmates, Brittany Lincicome and Meena Lee, but it's highly likely they'll appear on this list when I do.

Obviously, in a system that values majors and wins quite a bit, it's going to be hard for younger players to move up it quickly.  On the other hand, if they haven't yet suffered through a slump, it can actually make it easier for them to climb to a certain point than players with longer careers.  I haven't actually checked to see if total purses between 2005 and 2013 have stayed in a limited and comparable range, but I'm assuming they have.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.

For all its problems, my system serves to demonstrate how much better a start to her LPGA career a young phenom is having compared to others merely having good starts, as evidenced by the gap between '12ers So Yeon Ryu and Lexi Thompson in this system, or between Ji Yai Shin and Stacy Lewis and Anna Nordqvist from the Class of 2009.  There's certainly room for arguing about who deserves to be ranked higher than whom when the points gap between them is small, but as a rough estimate, I think it's a pretty decent tool.

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