Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ranking the LPGA's Rookie Class of 2007, July 2013 Edition

Having recently reviewed the careers of the LPGA's rookie class of 2006, it's time to update last January's ranking of the Class of 2007--or what I'm starting to think of as "The Incredible Shrinking Rookie Class."  But who cares how small it becomes when you have Inbee Park and In-Kyung Kim in it?  (Besides the actual players and their friends and family and fans, that is.)  Seriously, though, this class has a lot of other interesting golfers in it, but most of them have been snakebit for a good portion of their LPGA careers.  I'd love to see what they're capable of when they're healthy and playing regular schedules!

Simply the Best

1. Inbee Park:  From #4 last ranking to #1 this one shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, given that she now has  9 LPGA wins and 4 majors, but it's still pretty amazing to see how much she's improved her other key stats:  she's now getting top 3s at a rate of almost 14%, top 10s at about a 30% rate, top 20s at about a 44% rate and avoiding missed cuts, withdrawals, or disqualifications (what I call racking up finishes) about 84% of the time.  The result of her much more consistent excellence, along with her new-found ability to consistently close the deal when in contention this past year, has been that she's now winning about $49.8K per start and over $59.4K per finish over the course of her career.

The Contender

2. In-Kyung Kim:  I'm amazed that win #4 is still eluding her, but it can't be far away.  She's got comparable or even better career stats than Park in most key categories:  top-3 finishes (almost 12% of her starts), top 10s (almost 37%), top 20s (about 53%), and overall finishes (about 87%).  Where the real difference shows up is that Inky is making only about $39.2K per start and $45.1K per finish.  That gap between her and Park shows what winning a lot--and winning multiple majors--means.

The Next Best

3. Eun-Hee Ji:  She just hasn't been on the last season and a half, but still, her key career stats are holding up pretty well:  top-3 rate (just over 4%), top 10s (almost 13%), top 20s (over 26%), overall finishes (about 80%).  Thanks to that consistency and her U.S. Women's Open win, she's averaging about $21.5K per start and $26.9K per finish.

Quantum Leap Candidates

4. Song-Hee Kim:  Yes, she's in a horrible slump with no end in sight, but even so she's light-years ahead of the other golfers in this category, who are catching up on her slowly (McPherson) and rather quickly (Park).  So long as she can find a way to keep decent status on the LPGA, she still has time to play her way through this valley and start climbing again.
5. Kristy McPherson:  Her comeback from elbow surgery has been very slow, but her 1st top 20 since the last ranking at the Wegmans LPGA Championship last month shows that she still can compete with the LPGA's best.
6. Jane Park:  It's not looking like she'll be making the U.S. Solheim Cup team this year, but at least she's finally starting to play like Jane Park again.  With 4 top 20s in the middle of the season and good performance stats across the board, I have high hopes for her in the 2nd half of the season.

On the Bottom Looking Up

7. Irene Cho:  She's had a tough time with injuries the last few seasons, so that out-of-the-blue runner-up finish in the Bahamas this season was a career-saver.  She's bought herself the next season and a half to really find her game.
8. Paige Mackenzie:  She's got a classic straight shooter's kind of game (think Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang), but she just doesn't take advantage of her ball-striking often enough.
9. Ji Young Oh:  She's started coming out her own deep slump and looks like she's going to keep her card for next year, but she hasn't gotten a top 20 in forever.

On the Outside Looking In

10. Angela Park:  From Rookie of the Year to no LPGA status in only 4 years is a very sad story.  In 2011, we heard that she was closing the books on her professional golfing career.  In 2012, we heard that she was attempting a comeback.  I haven't heard anything about her in 2013.  Have you?  I'd love to hear some happy news about her!
11. Na On Min:  She took a big step back in 2011, barely squeaking into the top 100 on the money list after missing 8 cuts in a row in the 1st half of the season.  And 2012 was worse, with only 2 made cuts in 15 starts.  This year, she has Category 20 status on the LPGA and some kind of status on the Symetra Tour, but hasn't teed it up on either tour all year.  I haven't noticed her name on Seoul's rundowns of KLPGA events in 2013, either, but I can't say I've been looking for it in particular.
12. Jin Joo Hong:  She decided to concentrate on the KLPGA full-time in 2011 and has been there ever since.
13. Sophie Giquel-Bettan:  After finishing #22 on the 2011 LET money list in 21 starts and #47 in 2012 in 21 starts, it seems she's fully committed to playing in Europe.  Let's see if she she can improve on her #48 position in 10 starts there this season.
14. Charlotte Mayorkas:  Last I heard (back before the 2011 season) she was recovering from a wrist injury and playing professionally in Canada.
15. Su A Kim:  Her Seoul bio reports that she played on the KLPGA in 2012 but lost her status and is playing on mini-tours this season.

Over and Out

16. Seo-Jae Lee:  Is she back on the KLPGA or out of professional golf?  Even Seoul lists her status as unknown!
17. Becky Lucidi:  Don't know what she's up to.
18. Jeanne Cho-Hunicke:  Seoul has her as an assistant coach at Duke since 2010.  She's listed as Jeanne Cho on the team's site.
19. Sarah Lynn Sargent:  The former Associate Head Coach at Coastal Carolina is now head coach at UNC Greensboro.
20. Cindy Pasechnik:  After finishing her MBA at the University of Calgary, she's now a crude oil scheduler for Philips 66.

For your reference--and mine--here are the stats on which I'm basing the July 2013 ranking.

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. Inbee Park, $2.11M (#1), 69.674 (#1), 5.18 (#2), 71.4% (#15)
2. In-Kyung Kim, $.88M (#2), 70.630 (#6), 4.38 (#14), 71.0% (#18)
3. Jane Park, $154.7K (#45), 71.886 (#38), 3.81 (#38), 66.7% (#47)
4. Irene Cho, $136.2K (#48), 73.500 (#104), 3.61 (#113), 57.3% (#139)
5. Eun-Hee Ji, $97.8K (#60), 72.265 (#49), 3.70 (#23), 64.6% (#80)
6. Kristy McPherson, $75.6K (#71), 72.824 (#67), 3.57 (#70), 64.7% (#78)
7. Ji Young Oh, $45.9K (#89), 73.241 (#93), 3.75 (#87), 63.8% (#96)
8. Paige Mackenzie, $37.0K (#98), 72.971 (#78), 3.22 (#66), 64.9% (#75)
9. Song-Hee Kim, $5.0K (#147), 74.071 (#124), 3.16 (#21), 65.1% (#69)

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 the career money list is 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 Class of 2007 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 has 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).  (Knowing how many events a player has started and finished--by making the cut and not being disqualified or withdrawing--can also help make the career money list more relevant, as I discuss above.)  In any case, I include the other ways of seeing how the '07ers 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. Inbee Park, $7.37M (#20), 148/4/9/20/45/65/1/1/22/124 (.838)
2. In-Kyung Kim, $6.00M (#30), 153/0/3/18/56/81/1/0/19/133 (.869)
3. Song-Hee Kim, $3.67M (#58), 131/0/0/11/36/54/3/0/30/98 (.748)
4. Eun-Hee Ji, $2.93M (#81), 136/1/2/6/17/36/1/3/23/109 (.801)
5. Angela Park, $2.12M (#110), 84/0/0/8/18/25/5/0/18/61 (.726)
6. Kristy McPherson, $2.04M (#115), 145/0/0/4/16/31/0/0/40/105 (.724)
7. Ji Young Oh, $1.58M (#133), 132/0/2/2/8/18/2/0/48/82 (.621)
8. Jane Park, $1.22M (#165), 113/0/0/3/7/15/5/1/31/76 (.673)
9. Na On Min, $.73M (#239), 100/0/0/1/3/9/2/0/42/56 (.560)
10. Paige Mackenzie, $.64M (#254), 118/0/0/0/2/6/0/0/49/69 (.585)
11. Irene Cho, $.60M (#261), 101/0/0/1/4/7/5/0/45/51 (.505)
12. Jin Joo Hong, $.58M (#?), 60/0/0/0/2/7/6/0/17/37 (.617)
13. Charlotte Mayorkas, $.28M (#?), 56/0/0/0/0/4/1/0/22/33 (.589)
14. Sophie Giquel-Bettan, $.12M (#?), 39/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/21/17 (.436)
15. Becky Lucidi $.10M (#465), 35/0/0/0/0/2/0/1/25/9 (.257)
16. Su A Kim, $.07M (#501), 26/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/13/12 (.462)
17. Seo-Jae Lee, $.07M (#552), 25/0/0/0/0/0/2/0/13/10 (.400)
18. Sarah Lynn Sargent, $.05M (#539), 26/0/0/0/0/0/14/12 (.462)
19. Jeanne Cho-Hunicke, $.02M (#598), 34/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/29/4 (.118)
20. Cindy Pasechnik, $.02M (#620), 19/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/14/5 (.263)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Rankings points (as of 7/8/13) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index score (as of 7/7/13) and rank, International Wins (as of today). This is a way of seeing how those '07ers 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 Symetra Tour; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on all these tours except the KLPGA).

1. Inbee Park, 13.31 (#1), 68.59 (#1); 5 (4 JLPGA, 1 LET)
2. In-Kyung Kim, 5.79 (#9), 69.70 (#10); 1 (LET)
3. Eun-Hee Ji, 1.48 (#80), 72.28 (#98); 4
4. Jane Park, 1.15 (#104), 71.31 (#44); 0
5. Irene Cho, 1.11 (#108), 73.13 (#141); 0
6. Kristy McPherson, .67 (#175), 73.25 (#149); 0
7. Jin Joo Hong, .48 (#226), 73.96 (#194); 2
8. Paige Mackenzie, .47 (#230), 72.97 (#130); 0
9. Ji Young Oh, .42 (#242), 73.02 (#134); 0
10. Sophie Giquel-Bettan, .34 (#274), 75.25 (#304); 1
11. Song-Hee Kim, .24 (#323), 75.71 (n.r.); 0
12. Na On Min, .07 (#482), 77.01 (n.r.); 0

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