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Golf Tidbits: American women struggling

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - To quote The Guess Who, "American woman gonna mess your mind."

The LPGA Tour is one-third of the way through its season, and there has only been one American winner, with that lone victory coming in an unofficial event.

The perception is that there are more quality American women golfers then ever, yet a quick glance at the top of the Women's World Golf Rankings, and you will find just 20 Americans among the top-100.

In that group are Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis - huge names to be sure - but that fame hasn't translated to a lot of titles lately.

Wie owns the last win by an American, last November, which was 10 official tour events ago.

Creamer is easily the most accomplished of the above trio, with eight LPGA Tour titles, but has basically missed the entire season after withdrawing from the first event with an injury.

In the midst of her ninth season, Gulbis has been the poster girl for the tour since her first appearance. However, she has won just one event thus far.

This season's drought follows a campaign in which the American women as a group were victorious in only five events, although the Americans did win the Solheim Cup last year.

The main cause for this lack of success? How about the explosion of young talent arriving on the tour, largely from Asia, which has taken control.

A look at the rankings bears that out, and also raises questions about the relative strength of the Americans in that group.

Cristie Kerr, the second-most accomplished active American woman, owns 12 LPGA Tour victories, including one in each of the last three years. At 32, she is at a crossroads in her career. Currently ranked No. 5 in the world, Kerr got married last year and the questions about starting a family are swirling.

Wie is next in the rankings at No. 7. Her well-documented career has yielded two wins, one as an amateur and one as a professional.

Angela Stanford, ranked ninth, might be playing better than any of her countrywomen. She won twice in 2008 and once last year. Stanford has tallied 15 top-10 finishes since the start of the '09 season, including six top-three finishes.

In addition to the players mentioned above, the group of Americans in the running to snap the losing streak includes two-time winner Morgan Pressel, three-time champ Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Lewis, who has an unofficial win in a rain-shortened LPGA event as an amateur, and 2009 Q-school winner Amanda Blumenherst. Lewis is the oldest of the group at 25.

Other Americans that are among the top-100 in the rankings are three women on the downside of their careers - Juli Inkster, Pay Hurst and Michele Redman. Not to demean anything those three have accomplished, but they're not the future.

Inkster was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame 10 years ago and has won 31 times on the LPGA Tour. Recently named as an assistant captain for the U.S. Solheim Cup team, Inkster could qualify for next year's team on points, and if she does, it would be her eighth straight appearance on the U.S. team.

Hurst, nine years younger than Inkster, claimed her sixth tour win last year, but has only two top-20s this year. She made five Solheim Cup squads.

Redman made more Solheim Cup teams (3) than she owns wins (2). Dating to the 2008 season, she has finished inside the top-20 only eight times.

Overall, in the last two seasons, the Americans have six wins, one of which was unofficial, and 19 runner-up finishes.

You could say they are right there on the verge of success, but there is also plenty of talent they'll have to overcome. Team success in the Solheim Cup is fine, but the American women need to get back in the winners circle quickly.

DONALD, ALLENBY, AND THE WORLD RANKINGS

Luke Donald, world No. 9, and Robert Allenby, world No. 13, unquestionably are two of the better players in golf, but are their world rankings skewed?

There has been plenty of debate this week over whether Donald is the ninth-best player in the world. Most feel that he isn't, though according to the world ranking system, his win last week at the Madrid Masters gave him enough points to move up four places to No. 9 in the world.

The win also knocked Allenby down a notch to 13th this week.

The world ranking system is difficult to understand, but basically it is a two- year points system where more points are available at the better tournaments, i.e. majors and World Golf Championships.

If you break down their finishes, Allenby has slightly better stats, but Donald has the most recent win. From the start of the 2008 season, Donald owns 13 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour and five more in Europe.

That is two less than Allenby, who has 16 top-10s on the PGA Tour and four more worldwide. Outside of his win at the 2009 Nedbank Golf Challenge, which was a 12-player field, Allenby's last worldwide title was back in 2005, when he swept the three major Australian events -- Aussie Open, Aussie PGA and Aussie Masters.

Donald has won once on the PGA Tour, at the 2006 Honda Classic, and once in Europe last week, since Allenby's last visit to the winner's circle in a full- field event.

Are they both among the best players in the game? No doubt. I have a hard time saying they are the ninth and 13th best players in the game though. I would take No. 14 Padraig Harrington, a three-time major champion, ahead of either Donald or Allenby if I had to choose.

MINI-TIDBITS

- The United States Golf Association bailed out Vijay Singh on Wednesday. The USGA granted Singh an exemption into the U.S. Open, meaning his streak of consecutive majors played will move to 64. That is the longest active streak.

- The PGA Tour is losing one of its best characters this week as Mark Calcavecchia is making his final PGA Tour start. The 1989 British Open champion collected 13 PGA Tour wins and was always won of the best quotes on tour.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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