February 9, 2009

Best Of The Bunch

Golf World's top 30 for 2009 (Rolex Ranking in parentheses)

1. LORENA OCHOA (1) Only one of her seven victories in '08 came in her last 13 starts. Still the one to beat.

2. PAULA CREAMER (3) Eight LPGA wins by age 22. Could make a serious run at POY. Looking for first major.

3. JIYAI SHIN (5) Three LPGA wins, with a major, and she's still a 20-year-old rookie. Could win both ROY and POY.

4. SUZANN PETTERSEN (4) Won twice in Europe but shut out on LPGA after five-win season in '07. Will bounce back.

5. YANI TSENG (2) Won a major in her rookie year with 10 top-10 finishes. Annika Sorenstam says Tseng will be No. 1 in three years. Only 20.

6. SEON-HWA LEE (10) Vastly underrated. Four wins in three LPGA seasons, two last year. Big-money events get her attention.

7. CRISTIE KERR (7) Eleven career wins. Dynamic player who makes birdies (second in putts per GIR).

8. ANGELA STANFORD (8) Swing changes kicked in late in '08. Two wins and no lower than sixth in last six events.

9. NA YEON CHOI (24) Started year non-exempt but was second in ROY—T-21 or better in all four majors. She's only 21.

10. KARRIE WEBB (9) Great ball-striker who struggles with putter. At 34, should add to her 35 career wins.

11. SONG-HEE KIM (33) Another 20-year-old who could be ready to break out. Seven top-10s in her second year and 10th in scoring (71.23).

12. HELEN ALFREDSSON (6) Healthy for the first time in years, won twice in '08 at age 43. T-119 in putts per GIR.

14. BRITTANY LANG (43) Closed with five consecutive top-10s. Good bet to become a first-time winner.

15. JEONG JANG (12) Won more than $1 million for fourth straight year. Short hitter (245.3 yards, T-84) but seventh in scoring at 71.09.

16. INBEE PARK (21) Made her first LPGA win a major ('08 U.S. Women's Open) at 19. Led tour in putts per GIR (1.74).

17. JEE YOUNG LEE (16) Long hitter (267.8, fourth) but winless because of accuracy off tee (140th). Huge potential if harnessed.

18. MINEA BLOMQVIST (63) If she learns to hit more fairways (T-130) and more greens (134), she'll be a winner. T-4 in putts per GIR.

19. MORGAN PRESSEL (19) Hits it straight (ninth) but short (229.8 yards—154th). Best on hard courses when par is good. Also only 20.

20. MOMOKO UEDA (17) Will pick up Terry McNamara as caddie (60-plus wins with Sorenstam) in Phoenix. Proven winner in Japan.

21. KATHERINE HULL (20) First career victory at Canadian Open triggered closing stretch with seven top-10s in 10 events.

22. SHANSHAN FENG (47) Missed cut in nine of her first 10 tournaments, then had five top-10s and one MC in last 12. She's 19.

23. IN KYUNG KIM (25) Short (106th) and crooked (T-78) but gets the ball in the hole (T-4 putts per GIR). Top 25 in last 11 events. A mere 20.

24. ANGELA PARK (26) T-3 in U.S. Open, T-2 at Evian Masters last year; T-2 in U.S. Open, fifth at McDonald's in '07. Also 20 years old.

25. JULI INKSTER (28) Turns 49 in June and wants one more Solheim Cup (11th on the points list). Might get it.

26. HEE-WON HAN (15) Nine top-10s in '08, including Kraft Nabisco (T-6) and Women's British (T-9). T-4 in putts per GIR.

27. SOPHIE GUSTAFSON (31) Long hitter (268.8 yards, second) with 13 LET and four LPGA wins. In the hunt often.

28. MARIA HJORTH (14) Hits it far (265.5 yards, seventh) and game has been on an upswing last two years. Lost McDonald's in playoff.

29. SE RI PAK (30) Little consistency (seven missed cuts in 17 starts). If she's healthy and happy, she'll win.

30. NATALIE GULBIS (38) Comes off poor year (six missed cuts, one top-10). Needs to get longer (240.7 yards, T-123) and straighter (T-93).