February 4, 2008

2008 LPGA Preview: Cream Of The Crop

The top 30 players going into the 2008 LPGA season, as ranked by Golf World

1. Lorena Ochoa -- Followed British Open victory with four wins in her final eight events. Bursting with confidence.

2. Suzann Pettersen -- Won three of four in October. Has new-found consistency, finishing in top 11 in final eight events of '07.

3. Annika Sorenstam -- Healthy and hungry after injury-plagued '07. December Dubai win could launch effort to reclaim No. 1.

4. Cristie Kerr -- Nine wins in last four years. U.S. Open victory last year, where she held off Ochoa, could trigger a big 2008.

5. Paula Creamer -- Always in the hunt, making 73 of 76 cuts in three years on tour. Only thing missing is a major championship.

6. Karrie Webb -- One of the best when the putter behaves. Was 11th in GIR but only T-48 in putts per GIR.

7. Se Ri Pak -- Top 10 in three of four majors. Erratic off the tee (ranked No. 123) but gets the ball in the hole (T-3 in putts per GIR).

8. Morgan Pressel -- Needs to make more par-saves with the putter (T-51 in total putts despite being T-10 in putts per GIR).

9. Juli Inkster -- No better grinder. Must convert more birdie chances (16th in GIR but T-40 in birdies and T-48 in putts per GIR).

10. Catriona Matthew -- T-16 or better in all four majors, including T-2 in the Kraft Nabisco. T-1 in putts per GIR.

11. Jee Young Lee -- Best Korean since Pak? T-13 or better in all four majors. No. 2 in driving distance (273.1 yards).

12. Brittany Lincicome -- At 22 young enough to get better on the green (T-75 putts per GIR). Top 14 in all four majors.

13. Natalie Gulbis -- Got first victory at the Evian Masters. Three top-fives in last four starts after back problems much of the year.

14. Mi Hyun Kim -- Rarely misses fairways (seventh) or putts (T-3 per GIR). No one gets more out of her game. 15. Jeong Jang -- Hits fairways (22nd) and greens (13th) and scores (eighth). Won more than $1M last three years.

16. Nicole Castrale -- Picked up first victory in '07; had six other top-10s. Hits greens (seventh) and was T-10 in putts per GIR.

17. Stacey Prammanasudh -- T-10 in putts per GIR (T-13 total putts) offsets wildness off tee (T-120). Averaged 71.28 (fifth).

18. Seon Hwa Lee -- Short (T-104, 243.7 yards) but scores (71.56, 10th). Closed with six consecutive finishes of T-11 or better.

19. Maria Hjorth -- Seven top-10 finishes with win at the Navistar LPGA Classic, her first LPGA title since winning twice in 1999.

20. Pat Hurst -- Fell from 10th to 35th on money list; scoring average up nearly a stroke per round. But she's not done yet.

21. Angela Stanford -- Third in GIR but T-30 in putts per GIR, T-90 in total putts. Sixteen top-20 finishes in 24 starts in '07.

22. Shi Hyun Ahn -- 15th in scoring average (71.76) mostly because she was T-3 in putts per GIR. Enormous potential.

23. Sophie Gustafson -- Long (sixth at 268.8) but misses fairways (137th). T-10 in putts per GIR. Twenty-two wins worldwide.

24. Angela Park -- Rookie of the Year was fifth at the McDonald's and T-2 in the U.S. Open. Converted 34 of 38 sand saves.

25. Ai Miyazato -- After T-58 at British Open failed to finish next five events. Must be longer (239.9 yards, 128th) and straighter (107th).

26. Na On Min -- T-11 in British Open and third at McDonald's, where this 19-year-old played last seven holes in 23 strokes.

27. Sherri Steinhauer -- Made 21 of 22 cuts, including all four majors, and won the State Farm Classic at age 44.

28. Laura Diaz -- Hit greens (eighth) but was T-95 in putts per GIR. Also: 27th in scoring average; T-15 in rounds under par.

29. Christina Kim -- Seven top-10s, including a T-2 at the Safeway Classic. Will be motivated by U.S. Solheim Cup team snub.

30. Karin Sjodin-- Longest hitter on tour (275.8). Misses fairways (135th), putts (T-62 per GIR). She's a short game away.