Monday, June 16, 2014

Look Who's Ready for Pinehurst!

I didn't get a chance to watch much of the men in the U.S. Open the last several days, but what little I did see led me to believe that the key to scoring at Pinehurst is to hit greens, scramble well when you miss them, and of course putt well.  I know, I know, not exactly earth-shaking realizations, but bear with me for a second.

My question is, if this is true, then how do we tell which of the top players on the LPGA are best prepared to do this coming into this week?  After all, the LPGA keeps very few stats relative to the PGA Tour, so it's not like you can go to and look it up.  So what I did was develop ways of tracking (1) who has the best history of scrambling so far in 2014, (2) who has the best overall short game on tour thus far this season, and (3) who, therefore, is best prepared for the unique challenges Pinehurst offers.

Here's how I did it.  On (1), I decided to add together a player's rates of hitting greens in regulation and making sand saves and divide that total by their average total putts per round.  That formula would give me a rough measure of who best augments their GIR rate with good scrambling out of bunkers and good putting on the greens.  For ease of reference, and for reasons that will be clear in a few paragraphs, I multiplied each result by a thousand, and came up with the following ranking:

Scrambling Index
1. Lydia Ko (45.724)
2. Michelle Wie (45.063)
3. Karrie Webb (43.663)
4. Inbee Park (43.115)
5. Lizette Salas (42.939)
6. Lexi Thompson (42.682)
7. Line Vedel (42.089)
8. Catriona Matthew (41.950)
9. Chella Choi (41.923)
10. In-Kyung Kim (41.650)
11. Jenny Shin (41.759)
12. Julieta Granada (41.178)
13. Gerina Piller (41.148)
14. Stacy Lewis (41.125)
15. Jee Young Lee (40.891)
16. Azahara Munoz (40.839)
17. Morgan Pressel (40.500)
18. Mo Martin (40.413)
19. Harukyo Nomura (40.317)
20. Sun Young Yoo (40.108)

On (2), I wanted to take into account how well someone putts when they hit greens in regulation, via the putts per green in regulation stat the LPGA keeps.  I figured what better way to incorporate it than to multiply it by the divisor in (1)--average total putts per round--to further reward those with the strongest putting stats.  Here's what resulted from those calculations:

Short Game Index
1. Michelle Wie (25.517)
2. Lydia Ko (25.516)
3. Inbee Park (24.708)
4. Karrie Webb (24.530)
5. Lexi Thompson (23.898)
6. Lizette Salas (23.895)
7. Line Vedel (23.806)
8. Stacy Lewis (23.649)
9. Chella Choi (23.473)
10. Catriona Matthew (23.228)
11. Jenny Shin (23.164)
12. Julieta Granada (23.134)
13. Morgan Pressel (22.830)
14. Azahara Munoz (22.815)
15. Harukyo Nomura (22.765)
16. Gerina Piller (22.534)
17. Paula Creamer (22.483)
18. In-Kyung Kim (22.321)
19. Ya Ni Tseng (22.053)
20. Hee Young Park (22.042)

On (3), I decided to subtract each player's Short Game Index score from (2) from their scoring averages for the year.  Here's what happened when I did that (note for this one that the lower the player's rating, the higher-ranked that player is):

Overall Rating
1. Michelle Wie (43.781)
2. Lydia Ko (44.654)
3. Inbee Park (44.926)
4. Stacy Lewis (45.351)
5. Karrie Webb (46.906)
6. Lexi Thompson (46.151)
7. Chella Choi (46.640)
8. Jenny Shin (47.155)
9. Azahara Munoz (47.342)
10. Line Vedel (47.467)
11. Lizette Salas (47.579)
12. Catriona Matthew (47.746)
13. Julieta Granada (47.784)
14. Cristie Kerr (48.092)
15. Gerina Piller (48.139)
16. Suzann Pettersen (48.231)
17. Harukyo Nomura (48.279)
18. Paula Creamer (48.406)
19. Morgan Pressel (48.483)
20. Jessica Korda (49.040)

One way of thinking about this rating is that it roughly estimates how much a player's short game has contributed to her overall scoring average in 2014.

Very roughly!  And it does nothing to help anyone predict who will figure out Pinehurst the quickest and the longest.  But it's better than nothing.  Right?


Colin N.Z said...

Well done Bruce and before midnight! I can see the logic in it and it's thrown up all the major chances as far as I can see. Be nice to see Lydia top 10 but in a major any finish in the top 20 will be an honour. While the Steve Williams idea was not an option at least they kept to my idea of a caddie that went around Pinehurst last week. I'm sure if nothing else she will gain experience with Mike Cowan guiding her around. I did watch as much of the Open as I could. Thought it was quite funny at the end when Sandra Gal went out to do the traditional LPGA water dunking Kaymer looked a little stunned as Sandra kind of pulled out of it. The commentators appeared to not even know who it was or surely they would have said as they paused momentarily then continued. We LPGA fans knew...

Colin N.Z said...

For anyone interested in checking out what odds are on offer for their favourite players here in N.Z. After making some money on the first few tournaments they got onto my favourites and made them unbackable so is there someone at exceptionally good good odds?

Tommy Bradley said...

If the ranking are correct and Michelle Wie can win, it will do for women's golf than any win of all time. It will be interesting to see her make the three foot putts necessary to be champion.