Number crunching 2011: Joh up, Kim down
UP: Tiffany Joh
Ranking/movement: +114 (No. 175 to No. 61)
Why the rise? After playing 16 Futures Tour events in 2010, Joh expected her rookie year on the LPGA to be a breeze. Instead, Joh played 14 LPGA events in 2011 and had seven starts in Futures events. The season involved stops in multiple time zones and countries.
Traveling, Joh says, is the biggest adjustment to full-time tour life. A season that began with Joh not knowing when or where she’d play ended with a stretch of three starts in Asia. It left Joh stressing the importance of patience.
“All you really need is one good week, and your good week can come at the beginning of the season where you get rolling or it can come kind of toward the end,” said Joh, who had a career-best runner-up finish at the Navistar LPGA Classic in September.
Joh led the tour with a putting average of 26.75. After struggling with her ballstriking last year, specifically off the tee, her putting became stronger by necessity. She began working with swing coach Chris Mayson in August, and focused on tempo and rhythm. Joh’s putting continued to give her an edge, and she reined in her misses off the tee (65.4 percent of fairways hit) to improve her scoring (72.75 average).
Joh says: “I think I’m a semi-stalker when it comes to the LPGA. I like to watch what a lot of the better players do, and I noticed a lot of them probably spend 80 percent of their practice time on their wedges. I think that’s probably the biggest place my game has improved.”
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DOWN: Song-Hee Kim
Ranking/movement: -48 (No. 4 to No. 52)
Why the fall? The second round of the CME Group Titleholders was a lonely one for Song-Hee Kim. An opening 81 – which included a quintuple-bogey 9 at the par-4 18th – left her in the last position on the leaderboard
But like Kim’s last two seasons on the LPGA, the following two rounds couldn’t have been more different than the first. Kim shot 71-66 to climb to a tie for 15th and into one of the final 10 groups to tee off for Sunday’s final round. Kim closed with a 75 and tied for 26th.
Kim ended the year with only two top 10s in 22 LPGA starts: a runner-up at the Avnet LPGA Classic in May and T-10 at Canadian Women’s Open in August. It’s a far cry from her 2010, when where Kim had 15 top 10s in 22 starts.
She attributes the difference to a significant swing change she never could quite grasp – changing her ball flight from a draw to a cut. She finished No. 102 in fairways hit (66.8 percent), down from a tie for 49th (68.4 percent) last year.
“I’ve been a little messed up, I don’t know how to hit a target,” Kim said.
Kim didn’t change any aspects of her short game, and continued to perform well around the greens. As she continued her work with personal trainer Andrea Doddato, Kim’s fitness also improved. She noticed it most at the end of the season, when she felt more gas in the tank. Aside from some rest in South Korea during the holidays and more practice, Kim has one more item on her offseason to-do list: Cheer up for next year.
Kim says: “I think I learned a lot this year, even though I played bad.”
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Other number-crunching stories
• PGA Tour (Dec. 19): Webb Simpson leaps forward, while Jim Furyk falls back. Story.
• LPGA Tour (Dec. 20): Stacy Lewis leaps forward, while Ai Miyazato falls back. Story.
• PGA Tour (Dec. 21): Cameron Tringale makes a big move forward, while Camilo Villegas drops off. Story.
• PGA Tour (Dec. 22): Gary Woodland powered his way up the rankings, while Sean O'Hair dipped considerably. Story.
• PGA Tour (Dec. 24): Kevin Streelman used a no-nonsense approach to move up the rankings while Heath Slocum struggled in 2011. Story.
• European Tour (Dec. 25): Thomas Bjorn surprised a lot of people with three wins in one season to move ahead, but Nick Dougherty and Oliver Wilson didn't have the same fortune. Story.
• Nationwide/Futures Tour (Dec. 26): Danny Lee had a comeback year in 2011, but Kathleen Ekey fell further backward. Story.