Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Will the U.S. Women's Open Jinx Cost Inbee Park Player of the Year?

That the U.S. Women's Open jinx exists--and that it's many orders of magnitude worse than the Mostly Harmless jinx--is beyond question.  Just ask Hilary Lunke or Birdie Kim.  Even better, ask Eun-Hee Ji and Paula Creamer.  Ji won in 2009 for her 2nd LPGA career victory--and is still waiting for #3.  Creamer won it the very next year at Oakmont very soon after returning to action after surgery--and hasn't won since on the LPGA.  Even So Yeon Ryu and Na Yeon Choi, USWO winners in the next 2 years, went through little dry spells before returning to the winner's circle (although Choi's was probably the shortest on record!).  Heck, even Annika took 10 years to win her third USWO after winning it twice in a row in the mid-'90s.

Inbee Park understands the USWO jinx very well, having fallen victim to it very early in her LPGA career.  She made the USWO her 1st LPGA victory in 2008, went through a drought that lasted until the Evian in 2012, and most recently won it again for her 9th career win on the LPGA, her 3rd major and 3rd win in a row, and her 6th in 2013.  And she's been stuck on those numbers ever since.  It's not just that she's been a little bit off.  Nor has she been uniformly terrible.  She's been all over the place.  But her only good finishes since then have been a top 10 on the KLPGA, a top 3 in China, and a runner-up finish last Sunday again on the KLPGA.  In other words, only 1 of her 3 good finishes since winning the 2013 USWO have netted her any serious points in the LPGA's Player of the Year race.  That's a 1 for 8 top-10 rate since the USWO win, as opposed to an 8 for 13 rate up to it in 2013 (12.5% vs. 61.5%).  In short, those 4 top 10s that Inbee didn't get since the USWO could have virtually locked up the POY race for her (depending on how high she would have finished).

But that's in the past.  The issue now is how to break the USWO jinx.  Given that NYC beat the jinx by winning the CME Titleholders in the same year she won the USWO, my advice for Inbee is to shadow her for a couple of weeks and really pick her brain.  Either that, or hang out with Eun-Hee Ji and Paula Creamer a lot and hope her jinx is swallowed up by theirs.  The good news is, Inbee has overcome the jinx before, so maybe she's developed a resistance to it.  All I know is, she doesn't have 4 years to get out from under it.  More like less than 4 weeks!


Dave Andrews said...

Looks like Pettersen has overcome her putting "jinx" and that might have more of a bearing on Inbee's POY chances than an U S Open "jinx." :)

The Constructivist said...

Heh! Even with better putting, Pettersen can't win every week, and even if she had won more often than Inbee this year (in fact, the best she can do is tie her in total wins), that still wouldn't have allowed her to close the gap so quickly if Inbee had been racking up 2nds, 3rds, top 10s, etc., during that time. It's really the fact that Inbee has had so few top 10s in the 2nd half of the season that has allowed Pettersen a chance to get POY.