Monday, July 14, 2014

Attack on Titan(s) and Other Storylines of 2014 in the World of Women's Professional Golf

I've been looking for ways to put Mo Martin's Ricoh Women's British Open victory in perspective and in context off an on all day today, particularly by examining patterns among 2014's winners on the major female professional golf tours.  Here are a few attempts.

This Is No Cinderella Story--It's Attack on Titan(s).  Martin's win doesn't really fit the Cinderella scenario.  Nope, it's David and Goliath, or better yet, Jack the Giant-Slayer.  Taking down Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, and Shanshan Feng while other Titans crashed and burned at Royal Birkdale is a huge deal.  But it's not unprecedented in 2014, particularly on the JLPGA.  23-year-old Miki Sakai denied Sun-Ju Ahn her 4th victory of the year and 17th of her JLPGA career just a few weeks ago, while 22-year-old Yeon-Ju Jung held off 22-time winner on tour Sakura Yokomine the week before the WBO.  Back in May, Yoon Kyeong Heo defeated Ha Neul Kim, one of the KLPGA's big superstars.  And even further back, in January, Mi Hyang Lee went low to deny Lydia Ko a victory on the LET.  So for those who know the anime Attack on Titan, it makes sense to think of Martin as part of an elite group that's kept the world's superstars from gobbling up every single title in reach.  For those who haven't seen it, let me switch metaphors fast, because there's lots of actual gobbling in the anime.  Put it this way:  Martin's like the Han Solo of the group, though, because most of the winners have been as young as Luke Skywalker was in the original Star Wars movie.

The Global Youth Movement Accelerates.  I keep having to update my 22 Under 22 ranking this season because so many pros in the 21 and younger crowd keep on winning!  Since my latest update in mid-May, Jessica Korda, Misuzu Narita, Kyu-Jung Baek, and Hyo Joo Kim have won around the world.  Kim, in fact, has a 2-event win streak going on the KLPGA.  If it weren't for those pesky kids...

The Empire Strikes Back.  ...the world's elite golfers would have gotten away with all the titles this year!  Narita knocked off Shanshan Feng and Mika Miyazato in May to win her 1st JLPGA major.  15-year-old amateur Minami Katsu beat JLPGA and KLPGA star Bo-Mee Lee to become the youngest winner in JLPGA history.  And there's more.  But let's go through the roster of big-time world-wide winners:  Stacy Lewis and Sun-Ju Ahn have 3 wins each; Karrie Webb, Inbee Park, Michelle Wie, and Anna Nordqvist have 2 each; Paula Creamer, Ji-Yai Shin, Bo-Mee Lee, and In-Kyung Kim have 1 each.  But if you really think about it, I don't think anybody would deny that Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko, Ha Na Jang, and Hyo Joo Kim (all under 22) are also in the Empire, too.  Without them, the Empire has 18 worldwide wins in 2014.  With them, it has 22.  Out of 54.

So there you have it.  Roughly halfway through the year, those are the big patterns in women's golf.  Can you think of any others?

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