Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2011 LPGA Highlights

As I wait here very impatiently for the LPGA to announce the 2012 schedule, I would like to look back at my biggest highlights of 2011.

I have narrowed my list to ten, although I know there were many more. Of course this list is very subjective, depending on who your favorite golfers are. A highlight for me may be a lowlight to someone else, if the golfer they were rooting for lost. I tend to put special emphasis on first-time winners.

So in reverse order, here we go:

10-Hee Young Park wins the Titleholders Championship. It took her longer than I thought (4 years and 79 tournaments), but she beat the best in the final tournament of the year.

9- LPGA announces 5th major. The Evian Masters will become the tour's 5th major, starting in 2013.

8- Sportsmanship shown in a competitive environment. Tiffany Joh becomes my first example. At the Navistar Classic, Tiffany had cut Lexi Thompson's 5-stroke lead to 2 strokes late in the 4th round. Lexi then made the shot of the tournament, putting her ball on the green just inches from the hole, pretty much sealing the victory. Tiffany, who was paired with Lexi, turned to her opponent and gave her (and the TV audience) a great big smile and laugh. You would never have known that it had eliminated any chance of her getting her first win. My second example was when Hee Young Park sank a putt on the 18th hole to beat Sandra Gal. Sandra actually ran up to Park, and was the first to congratulate her on her first LPGA victory.

7- Yani Tseng winning in Taiwan. The pressure was enormous, she was expected to win in her home country. That is not usually a good combination for winning. As we all know by now, Yani won it going away.

6- Watching Yani Tseng dominate. I tend to start rooting against a player when they start to dominate the way Yani did this year. I like to see more ladies win, as I am a believer in spreading the wealth. That said, I still have to put this high on my list as we experienced something truly special.

5- The Solheim Cup. The team I was rooting for lost. That did not change the fact that we got to see such quality golf. It was fiercely competitive, and made us look forward to the 2016 Olympics.

4- Sandra Gal wins the Kia Classic. This one came out of nowhere, setting the tone for Sandra's 2011 season. It was probably the most exciting finish of the year, as Sandra birdied 18 to take down "the final round queen," Jiyai Shin.

3- New Tournaments announced for 2012. We haven't seen the new schedule yet, but we know for sure it is going to be big news. We know losing the State Farm event, and getting the Jamie Farr back, will cancel each other out. Three new tournaments have already been announced in Canada, Australia, and Hawaii. Look for one or two more when the schedule is finally announced.

2- Stacy Lewis wins the Kraft Nabisco. We knew she was going to win soon. I also suspected it would be in 2011. Making her first win a major was certainly a surprise. Coming from behind and taking down Yani Tseng sure wasn't expected.

1- Lexi Thompson becomes youngest winner in LPGA history. I had no trouble at all putting this on the top of my list. Lexi won the Navistar Classic at the age of 16. We may not see that again in our lifetime. To show that it was no fluke (not that anyone actually thought it was), she won again on the European tour 2 months later.

Those are my top ten highlights. Feel free to add your own.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the week:
With no golf being played, the rankings are adjusting to the rolling 2-year period only. The biggest movement was in the top 10 as:

  • Stacy Lewis moved from #10 to #9.
  • Brittany Lincicome enters the top ten at #10.
  • Ai Miyazato took the biggest fall, dropping out of the top ten for the first time in awhile. She drops from #9 to #11.





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