Here are the criteria from LPGA.com:
Check out how quickly Lorena Ochoa qualified in points in Hound Dog's follow-up post--although he couldn't have predicted then that she'd retire so soon, before actually meeting criterion #1! So assuming Laura Davies and Ochoa will either play their way in or be voted in, who are the top candidates for entry right now? Check me on this, but here's how I believe the current points breakdown stands:
- Must be/have been an "active" LPGA Tour member for 10 years:
- Must have won/been awarded at least one of the following - an LPGA major championship, the Vare Trophy or Rolex Player of the Year honors; and
- Must have accumulated a total of 27 points, which are awarded as follows - one point for each LPGA official tournament win, two points for each LPGA major tournament win and one point for each Vare Trophy or Rolex Player of the Year honor earned.
1. Ya Ni Tseng (23)
2. Cristie Kerr (18)
3. Suzann Pettersen (15)
4. Inbee Park (14)
5. Ji-Yai Shin (13)
6. Stacy Lewis (11)
7. Paula Creamer (10)
8. Na Yeon Choi (9)
8. Ai Miyazato (9) [the only one on this list who doesn't meet criterion #2]
As Tony Jesselli points out and as I expand on, the Player of the Year race is closer than most people imagine. Whereas only 3 golfers are in the running for that HOF point, the Vare Trophy HOF point race is pretty much a complete toss-up. Assuming everyone within a stroke of Suzann Pettersen's 69.700 scoring average now reaches the minimum threshold of 70 rounds (only Ai Miyazato is in real danger of not reaching it, barring disasters for everyone else), a lot can happen in 7 tournaments. True, Pettersen thrives in Asia and her 3 closest pursuers (Lewis, Park, Choi) have pretty darn good records there, as well, but who knows who will get hot and who will go cold?
As for my original question of who will be next, it's hard to imagine that Ya Ni Tseng won't get 4 more points before anyone else on this list, but there are certainly opportunities for Pettersen, Park, and Lewis to make up some serious ground on her while she's still struggling to emerge from her slump. Nor do I see why the colder players on this list (Shin, Creamer, Choi, Miyazato) can't heat up this fall. But if I had to predict who would get in in what order, I'd argue for:
And reserve judgment on the rest, although for now I believe Kerr still has a better chance than Lewis to make it....
Basically, though, you never know when injury or burnout or early retirement or pregnancy might interrupt someone's march toward the Hall, or throw her off the tracks entirely. Nothing's a sure thing in golf, that's for sure!