Monday, November 4, 2013

LPGA Rookie of the Year Race Scenarios

With the top 6 rookies on the LPGA--Caroline Masson, Moriya Jutanugarn, Ayako Uehara, Chie Arimura, Austin Ernst, and Lisa McCloskey--all playing in the Mizuno Classic, Ward Clayton reminds us that the points breakdown for Rookie of the Year is much more generous than for any of the other LPGA points races (say, for Player of the Year or to make the Solheim Cup)--and hence the race is much closer than it may appear.

With a win worth 150 points, a runner-up finish worth 80, the next 3 spots worth 5 fewer points each, 6th through 10th worth 3 fewer points each, 11th through 20th worth 2 fewer points each, and 21st through 40th worth 1 fewer point each, with everyone else making the cut earning 5 points (so that 5th is worth 65 points, 10th is worth 50, 20th 30, 25th 25, 30th 20, 40th 10, and 41st+ 5), Masson can lose her lead to a few of those chasing her and open the door to many in her lead chase pack with a finish of 41st place or worse this week.

Masson's 26-point lead on Jutanugarn can be erased in the following scenarios:

  • Jutanugarn win, any Masson finish
  • Jutanugarn 2nd, Masson 9th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 3rd, Masson 11th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 4th, Masson 13th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 5th, Masson 16th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 6th, Masson 17th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 7th, Masson 19th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 8th, Masson 20th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 9th, Masson 23rd or worse
  • Jutanugarn 10th, Masson 26th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 11th, Masson 28th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 12th, Masson 30th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 13th, Masson 32nd or worse
  • Jutanugarn 14th, Masson 34th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 15th, Masson 36th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 16th, Masson 38th or worse
  • Jutanugarn 17th, Masson 40th or worse
By contrast, there's only one way Uehara can pass Masson:
  • Uehara win, Masson 7th or worse
If Uehara doesn't win, she'll need a lot of help from Masson.  Sure, if Uehara earns a silver and Masson finishes T41 or worse, for instance, Ayako would pull within 15 points of Caroline.  However, the worse Uehara finishes and the better Masson finishes, the more pressure there is on Uehara to drop out of the LPGA ROY race.  Here's why:  if Uehara's Mizuno winnings don't count on the JLPGA money list (which I read somewhere recently but now can't find the source), she'll stay at 51st, one spot out of a guaranteed card for 2014.  Now, she's not entered in Lorena's tournament (where Masson is 1st alternate), but has qualified for the CME Titleholders.  Meanwhile, on the JLPGA, Uehara also hasn't entered next week's Ito-En Ladies.  But to get into the Ricoh Cup, the final JLPGA major of the season, which is contested the week after the Titleholders, she needs to either win on the JLPGA, be in the top 25 on the JLPGA money list, or be ranked in the top 25 of the Rolex Rankings.  So if Uehara doesn't win this week and can't enter the Ito-En late, she's going to need to choose between the Daio Paper Elleair Ladies on the JLPGA and the Titleholders on the LPGA.  In short, it's looking like the only way Uehara has a chance to get 2013 LPGA ROY and keep her dual membership on the LPGA and JLPGA in 2014 is to win the Mizuno this week.  No pressure!

Things are simpler--and strangely enough, a little less pressured this week--for Uehara's fellow LPGA-JLPGA dual member, Chie Arimura, because Arimura has clearly decided to focus on the LPGA in 2014.  No matter how she does in the Mizuno, she won't play in enough events on the JLPGA this season to be eligible for a 2014 card.  Even if Arimura wins this week, qualifies for and wins the Ricoh, and ends up in the top 50 on the JLPGA money list, she will only have 5 JLPGA starts in 2013, whereas you need 8 to have started in at least 20% of the JLPGA's total number of tournaments (36).  So Arimura has this week and the Titleholders to make it to the finish line of the LPGA ROY race in 1st.  Here's what has to happen this week for her to have a chance:
  • Arimura win, Masson 41st or worse:  Arimura pulls within 32 points of Masson
  • Arimura runner-up, Masson 41st or worse:  Arimura pulls within 102 points of Masson
  • Arimura 3rd, Masson 41st or worse: Arimura pulls within 107 points of Masson
  • [and so on:  Arimura makes up less ground on Masson if she medals and Masson finishes 40th or better (up to 15th--for more details, see below); Arimura also makes up less ground if she finishes 4th or worse, down to 16th, so long as Masson finishes 41st or worse]
But if Arimura finishes 17th or worse this week, she can't catch Masson (who's guaranteed a minimum of 10 points in her last 2 events), no matter how badly Masson plays.

Things are even simpler for Ernst and McCloskey:  they need to win this week to have a chance to be ROY.  Anything but a win eliminates them from the race.  Plus they'll need help from Masson.  For Ernst, she's eliminated if Masson finishes 5th or better, period.  Even if McCloskey wins (and hence qualifies for the Titleholders), all Masson has to do is finish 28th or better to eliminate her.

Let's continue in this vein and see what else Masson has to do this week to eliminate more of her competition from the race.  If Masson wins the Mizuno, she clinches ROY; anything else keeps Jutanugarn alive.  

Things get a little more complicated with Uehara, who's eliminated in the following scenarios:
  • Masson 2nd, Uehara 26th or worse
  • Masson 3rd, Uehara 31st or worse
  • Masson 4th, Uehara 36th or worse
  • Masson 5th, Uehara 41st or worse
If Masson finishes 5th or worse, however, she can't eliminate Uehara.  A 5th-place finish for Masson and a 40th-place finish for Uehara means the best Uehara can do is tie Masson (and force a playoff by scoring average if they are tied for 1st), assuming Masson doesn't get into Lorena's tournament.  That said, the lower down the leaderboard Uehara finishes, the more likely she is to focus on the JLPGA the rest of 2013, even if Masson doesn't statistically eliminate her.

There are even more ways Masson can knock Arimura out of the ROY race this week:

  • Masson 2nd-10th, Arimura 2nd or worse
  • Masson 11th-13th, Arimura 3rd or worse
  • Masson 14th or 15th, Arimura 4th or worse
  • Masson 16th-18th, Arimura 5th or worse
  • Masson 19th, Arimura 6th or worse
  • Masson 20th-22nd, Arimura 7th or worse
  • Masson 23rd-25th, Arimura 8th or worse
  • Masson 26th-28th, Arimura 9th or worse
  • Masson 29th-31st, Arimura 10th or worse
  • Masson 32nd or 33rd, Arimura 11th or worse
  • Masson 34th or 35th, Arimura 12th or worse
  • Masson 36th or 37th, Arimura 13th or worse
  • Masson 38th or 39th, Arimura 14th or worse
  • Masson 40th, Arimura 15th or worse
It's statistically possible for Arimura and Masson to end the season in a tie (assuming Arimura wins the Titleholders and Masson comes in 41st or worse that week--another scenario in which scoring average is the tie-breaker), if any of the following Arimura/Masson combinations arise this week (and Masson doesn't get into Lorena's tournament):  2nd/11th, 6th/20th, 7th/23rd, 8th/26th, 9th/29th, 10th/32nd, 11th/34th, 12th/36th, 13th/38th, 14th/40th.  But remember, all this is moot if Arimura can't finish 16th or better in the Mizuno.

In short, even if Masson plays badly this week, she can still eliminate all her competition except Jutanugarn, because McCloskey and Ernst still need to win to stay alive, while Uehara needs to win or come very close and Arimura needs to finish 16th or better.  The better Masson plays, the more of her competition she eliminates this week.  A really good week eliminates everyone but Jutanugarn, practically no matter how well they all play.


Blue Falcon said...

Thank you, Constructivist, for this article. I can't imagine how much work went into making this. My head was spinning before I reached the end trying to keep up with all the possible scenarios. It's almost like the NFL near the end of the season trying to figure out who makes the playoffs.

The Constructivist said...

You're welcome! I thought this was going to be a simple little post when I started writing it, too!