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Stats and Stuff: Pettersen making Player of the Year a race

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

October 29 2013, Ward Clayton

Pettersen making Player of the Year a race
With three tournaments remaining in the 2013 LPGA season, the Rolex Player of the Year competition has become more of a two-person race.

With Suzann Pettersen’s phenomenal stretch run, Inbee Park’s bid to become the first South Korean to win Player of the Year is a bit more tenuous. With a victory last week at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, the 32-year-old Pettersen has moved within 38 points of Park.

Pettersen has won three times and recorded two thirds in her last five starts. She hasn’t finished worse than seventh since the U.S. Women’s Open in late June. In 30 rounds beginning at the Manulife Financial Classic, Pettersen has recorded only three rounds over par. Park, who didn’t play last week, won six times by mid-summer, but has only one top-10 since that last victory in the U.S. Women’s Open in late June.

Pettersen will need to finish strong as there are only three tournaments remaining on the 2013 schedule. Park and Pettersen aren’t scheduled to play in the Mizuno Classic in Japan next week but are scheduled to participate in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico (Nov. 14-17) and the CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla. (Nov. 21-24). In those two starts, Pettersen would need to win and have at least a top-three finish and hope that Park doesn’t have a top-10 finish.

Points are awarded for top-10 finishes in tournaments: 30 for first, 12 for second; nine for third; seven for fourth; six for fifth, five for sixth, four for seventh, three for eighth, two for ninth and one for 10th.

Here’s a comparison on Park and Pettersen:
Category Inbee Park  Suzann Pettersen
Player of the Year 290 points 252 points
Rolex Rankings 11.97 (1st)  11.38 (2nd)
Wins 6 (3 majors) 4 (1 major)
Earnings $2,335,460 (1st) $2,241,847 (2nd)
Scoring  69.93 (3rd) 69.59 (2nd)
Top-10 Finishes 9 14

                   
Lewis is still in the running
Even though she would have to win all three remaining tournaments to tie Inbee Park (200 points, 90 behind), Stacy Lewis has a distant shot at the Rolex Player of the Year title for a second consecutive year. She would also have to hope that Park doesn’t finish in the top-10 in the final two events. Lewis is the defending champion next week in Japan.

Lewis, who has won three times this season, including the Ricoh Women’s British Open, is also in good position in other statistical categories.  She ranks first in Scoring Average (69.5), Rounds Under Par (62), Birdies (376) and Sub-par Holes (385).

A more realistic goal for Lewis would be the Vare Trophy, which goes to the player with the lowest Scoring Average. If she maintains her pace, Lewis’ current average would be the lowest since Lorena Ochoa’s 69.2 in 2006 and she would be the first American winner since Beth Daniel in 1994. However, Pettersen is just behind her (Lewis has a 69.5366 stroke average to Pettersen’s 69.5915).

Last year, Park closed with a 2-under-par 70 at the CME Group Titleholders to total a 70.21 average and nip Lewis (70.33). Jiyai Shin finished at 70.31 but did not have enough starts to qualify for the award.

In her bid to win the Vare Trophy for the first time, Lewis has continued the improvement of her scoring average. Here’s a look at her scoring average since joining the LPGA:

Year Average Rank
2009 72.2 43
2010 71.2 14
2011 70.3 7
2012 70.3 2
2013 69.5 1*
*-With three events remaining.

 
Etc.
Until this fall, Azahara Munoz was having a difficult season with only one top-10. However, in late September she won the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on the Ladies European Tour and then finished second to Suzann Pettersen last week in Taiwan. … Paula Creamer has made 64 consecutive cuts, the longest current streak on the LPGA. At No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, she is the second-highest ranked American (Stacy Lewis is third). … Here’s one for Lexi Thompson over her older brother Nicholas. When Lexi won the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia earlier this month on Kuala Lumpur Country Club’s East course, she finished at 19-under-par 265. Nicholas, playing in the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic last week on the West course at Kuala Lumpur, shot even-par 288 and finished T35.

Topics: Stats and Stuff

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