Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Who Will Be the Next to Enter the LPGA Hall of Fame?

The amazing runs of Ya Ni Tseng, Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, and Suzann Pettersen have got me thinking about an old Hound Dog LPGA question:  who will be the next player to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame?

Here are the criteria from
  1. Must be/have been an "active" LPGA Tour member for 10 years:
  2. 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
  3. 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.
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:

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:

1. Tseng
2. Pettersen
3. Park
4. Shin

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!


Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

I disagree that "Kerr still has a better chance than Lewis."

Kerr has 7 more points, but is 7 years older. At Stacy's current pace she may make that up in 2 years.

The Constructivist said...

Well, I guess it's unclear to me whether Stacy's amazing run will continue. Remember when Suzann Won so many events that one year late in the season after Lorena had sewn everything up, but then she went on a huge dry spell when it came to winning? I'm not saying that something like that will happen to Stacy, but there are plenty of examples of players who won in bunches and then stalled (Paula, Ai).

The thing about Cristie is that even in down years she finds a way to win at least one event. And I can't help but feel she's due to start playing better than she has been of late.

Let's see where everyone stands at the end of next season. Right now, Cristie's lead is pretty big on Stacy, but you're right that it could evaporate quickly!