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Monday, April 5, 2010

Limerick Summary Bonus: 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship

Winner: Yani Tseng

"This is Casey Kasem, and you're listening to (the first of the) LPGAmerica's Top 4 Tournaments of 2010..."

I have only two questions: What did they do with the real Yani Tseng, and who was that girl they sent out in her place for Sunday's round? ;-)

So much for my statistical analysis. Tseng's accuracy not only jumped to 71% of her fairways on the front 9, but her GIR was nearly three times as good as Stupples (8 vs 3)-- something that her previous 3 rounds didn't even hint at. That chip-in eagle at 2 didn't hurt either. By the time they reached 11, Stupples was pretty much out of it and Pettersen was in desperate need of something, anything to happen.

In Round 4, everything changed. As Bill pointed out in the comments to yesterday's post, Stupples had been hitting fewer fairways than Tseng, but I was looking at how many more greens she was hitting despite that. Today, while Stupples hit 8 fairways and 10 greens (55%), Tseng hit 8 fairways and 17 greens (94%)! Given that they putted about the same -- Stupples's 32 vs Tseng's 31 putts -- it's no wonder that Tseng won.

Stupples fell apart Sunday. The announcers speculated that Saturday's emotional round may have taken its toll, but I chalk it up to two things: Relatively little play until recently (I mentioned her medical problems in yesterday's post) and her poor driving. Frankly, with nobody driving well this week, I had assumed the rough wasn't all that bad; but Tseng's driving is the only real explanation I can find for her improved GIR stats on Sunday. Even though Tseng's driving cooled down on the back nine, her GIR had been decisively bumped and she could just aim at the middle of the greens. Pettersen mounted a charge late in the round, but a missed tee shot on 17 pretty much killed her chances.

If Yani Tseng has proven anything in the past, it's that she's a formidable frontrunner. True to form, once she took the lead, she didn't give any shots back; and now, she enters the hallowed hall of double major winners. Her other major is the 2008 LPGA Championship (sponsored then by McDonald's, now by Wegmans).

"And now, Yani, here's your long distance dedication, from me to you, otherwise known as the Limerick Summary:"
Well, they'll Tseng how she won at the Kraft
And made all of her rivals look daft.
But I think, most of all,
It's her smirk I'll recall
As she gave my predictions the shaft.

4 comments:

  1. How hallowed is the hall. 23 of the last 41(Going back to 2000) LPGA Majors have been won by golfers(Annika, Webb, Pak, Ochoa, Inkster, Mallon, Steinhauer, Mallon, Tseng) who have 2 or more majors to their credit. If you go back 5 years only and this LPGA, its 13 to 8 in favor of one timers but that is 62-38 and hardly overwhelming.

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  2. My, my, aren't we feeling cynical today? ;-)

    Obviously we're approaching this from different mindsets, as you are only looking at the one-major gals who make it to two... while I'm looking at it in terms of the vast number of players who joined the Tour with dreams of just getting one, let alone two majors. I suspect the numbers are somewhat more "overwhelming" when you compare two-major winners to total number of past and present LPGA players, whether they have a major or not.

    For the rank-and-file, it's a hallowed hall indeed.

    And I also suspect that Yani Tseng feels somewhat more overwhelmed by her 2nd major than you do, Bill. ;-)

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  3. Mike,

    It's been a semi popular meme to berate the LPGA for its lack of star power since Annika retired. How many times have both of us read it?

    Last year's 4 major champions were used as example of such. None of them had won a major before. Beth Ann Baldry and Mark Reason both pointed this out and that's just two examples I can cite off the top of my head. Ryan took the same tact in a post at Waggleroom(Where he screwed up the facts in his post. Stupples has 3 not 1 not 3 top 3 finish on the LPGA tour since winning the 2004 WBO. Ryan also seemed to miss Tseng with Pettersen. He had her 'lurking'.) just last Sunday. There was nothing in your post to say you weren't going off down the same path as the 3 I cite above.

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  4. No offense was taken or meant, Bill -- that's why I included the smiley faces!

    I agree with you about the LPGA getting no respect. I get particularly pissed off when I hear the networks say that the LPGA isn't a "good draw" when the networks are the ones giving them minimal coverage... and only giving that as tape delay! I can't help but wonder if, say, the Super Bowl would be a "good draw" if it got only one hour of tape-delayed coverage four hours after it finished.

    Just to make my stance clear, I view the lack of a clearly dominant player as a measure of the LPGA Tour's depth. When you have only one or two dominant players, that indicates a huge gap in competitive abilities; if Tiger and Phil are playing, they are the odds-on favorites. Not so on the LPGA; there are several players who are solid bets week-in and week-out -- players who don't gripe that "the courses are too long" or that "it's a bomber's game." That's why I like watching the LPGA so much -- those ladies find a way to win.

    That's also why I recommend that weekend players who want to improve their games watch the LPGA instead of the PGA -- they'll learn more.

    As for Baldry and Reason's remarks... sure, you can argue that people "luck" their way into a single major. But a 2nd major proves you're more than lucky (another reason to call it the "hallowed halls"). If you've got the figures, I'd love for you to do a post comparing the number of 2-time PGA major winners vs the 2-time LPGA major winners (like you did in your first comment above); I suspect it'll show more depth in the women's game. I'll put it up as a guest post. If you're interested, get it together and email me when you're ready.

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