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Saturday, June 12, 2010

And the #1 Woman Player Is...?

On the men's tour, the only real question seems to be whether Phil will take over #1 from Tiger or not. However, the women's world rankings have taken a very interesting twist this week. I've listed the Top 10 players on the Rolex Ranking right now, their point standing, and where they stand at the LPGA State Farm Classic this week:
  1. Jiyai Shin 9.24 out with appendectomy
  2. Ai Miyazato 9.04 missed cut
  3. Suzann Pettersen 8.88 out with hip injury
  4. Yani Tseng 8.57 T32 (-5)
  5. Cristie Kerr 7.43 T3 (-10)
  6. Anna Nordqvist 6.62 T7 (-9)
  7. Michelle Wie 6.58 T23 (-6)
  8. Karrie Webb 6.54 T42 (-4))
  9. Angela Stanford 6.46 T61 (-2)
  10. Na Yeon Choi 5.87 T3 (-10)
Interesting, eh? The leader and 2nd at the State Farm are M.J. Hur (-12) and Amy Yang (-11), and the leaderboard is bunched, as you can tell. Yang is #41 (2.73) and Hur #46 (2.44) on the Rolex, so they aren't a threat to the Top 10.

While I don't know the extent of Pettersen's injury (it's been nagging her for a few months now), I suspect it will end up being an on-and-off thing for a while and probably won't affect her ranking much.

Shin's emergency appendectomy this week has thrown the whole thing into chaos, however. The timing couldn't be worse for her, in that this is the beginning of a stretch of 5 LPGA tournaments, the longest so far this year. One of her spokespeople said she hopes to be back in 2 weeks -- in time for the Wegmans LPGA Championship, and the US Women's Open 2 weeks later. That's about the best she can hope for, though; Karen Stupples had the procedure not too long ago and she said it was 6 weeks before she was ready to play.

In that case, Shin would miss 5 tournaments, 2 of them majors. She's played 60 tournaments during the ranking period, but the 2008 tournaments weren't LPGA events, so I don't know if she'll lose any existing points or stay where she is.

Ai Miyazato shocked everyone by missing the cut. Only .2 back, she had the best chance to take the lead; since this tournament will count against her, I'm guessing she'll lose ground in next week's ranking.

So who has the most to gain? Tseng has proven to be explosive; a couple of great rounds this weekend could blast her up in the rankings. The same goes for Cristie Kerr, who's been in the Top 10 for 321 weeks. (I think that's pretty impressive.)

Ironically, Nordqvist and Wie could make big moves also, simply because they haven't played as many tournaments. At 31 and 33 tournaments, respectively, versus Kerr's 45 and Tseng's 54 over the same time period, they could make up ground big time. (Choi has played 51, so the win wouldn't help her as much.) But since Wie is still getting comfortable with her new Pelz-inspired putting routine, I don't look for her to be a big factor yet.

I don't know exactly how many points are up for grabs this week, or whether any of their previous tournaments might drop off. But given some oddball info I found -- and a little guesstimating -- I think Nordqvist has the most to gain with a win. Because of her low tournament count (Rolex counts wins from 5 different tours), I think she could actually leapfrog into the Top 5 with a win, while Kerr could maybe move up to #4 if she wins and Tseng loses ground. That's all a function of how many tournaments they've played. In fact, the next person with a lower tournament total than Nordqvist's 31 is rookie Amanda Blumenherst's 20... all the way down at #82 in the rankings!

Nordqvist is up so high in the rankings because her 31 tournaments have a lot of good finishes, including the 2009 McDonalds LPGA Championship (a major) and the 2009 Rolex LPGA Tour Championship (the last event of the year). She also has a T10 in the first major this year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She tends to play well in the big events; that's why she's ranked so high.

Keep a watch on Yani Tseng. At #4 in the rankings, she could have a rough couple of weeks coming up if she doesn't play well. She won the Kraft Nabisco Championship a few weeks ago, giving her two majors that count in her points. Her 1st major, the 2008 McDonalds LPGA Championship drops off when they head there in 2 weeks.

So, look for Anna Nordqvist and Cristie Kerr (in that order) to make the best moves toward the top this week. Although Jiyai Shin will probably still be #1 when the dust settles, the next 5 or 6 spots could look radically different.


  1. OK! MIKE

    This is one of the smarter blogs I have met online. Really insightful and clever analysis of 'how things are' on the LPGA. Fits with the facts as I understand/know them.

    Pardon, while I vent... am not a big fan of most male bloggers vav LPGA, the rather condescending core of their analyses just burns my heart. Very little fact and tons of ego-inflated opinions seem to rule on most sites penned by guys. I do not mind opinions as such but the tendency is to slide into the "My opinion is a report of how it really is" stance.
    And usually includeds the obligatory dig at Michelle Wie on one pretense of kindly concern or another.

    Your column here is a very refreshing surprise and I do appreciate not only your sticking to facts, and your intelligence but also your tone and your fine writing skills. Thanks again.

    I hope I bump into you again sometime.

    Thanks for the good work.

  2. Thanks, E! And if you pop by very often, you'll find that I'm not only a huge fan of the women, but generally recommend that all weekend players (men especially!) watch the women because they are more likely to learn shots that they can actually use.

    Thanks again for the positive feedback!