Sunday, March 31, 2013

Can the United States Halt Asian Dominance in the Majors?

The LPGA will be playing its first major championship this week. It will be the first of five major championships this year. The Evian Championship has been upgraded to a major this year, giving the LPGA 5 majors for the first time.

Rancho Mirage, California will be the location this week for the the LPGA's first major championship.
I will have more on this championship in the next few days, for now let's look at some recent history.

The United States has struggled mightily in recent years, as Asia has dominated the victory circle of major championships. Here is a look at major winners dating back to the year 2000.

Year    Kraft Nabisco      LPGA Championship      U.S. Open             British Open  
2012    Sun Young Yoo     Shanshan Feng                  Na Yeon Choi        Jiyai Shin
2011    Stacy Lewis           Yani Tseng                        So Yeon Ryu         Yani Tseng
2010    Yani Tseng             Cristie Kerr                       Paula Creamer       Yani Tseng
2009    B. Lincicome          Anna Nordqvist                 Eun-Hee Ji             C. Matthew
2008    Lorena Ochoa        Yani Tseng                        Inbee Park              Jiyai Shin
2007    M. Pressel              S. Pettersen                      Cristie Kerr             L. Ochoa
2006    Karrie Webb          Se Ri Pak                         A. Sorenstam          S.Steinhauer
2005    A. Sorenstam         A. Sorenstam                    Birdie Kim              Jeong Jang
2004    Grace Park            A. Sorenstam                    Meg Mallon            K. Stupples
2003    P. M. Lebouc         A. Sorenstam                    Hilary Lunke           A. Sorenstam
2002    A. Sorenstam         Se Ri Pak                         Julie Inkster             Karrie Webb
2001    A. Sorenstam         Karrie Webb                    Karrie Webb           Se Ri Pak
2000    Karrie Webb          Julie Inkster                      Karrie Webb           Meg Mallon

Now let me break that down further by country:

South Korea - 13 wins
United States - 12 wins
Sweden - 9 wins (8 by Annika Sorenstam)
Australia - 6 wins (5 by Karrie Webb)
Taiwan - 5 wins  (all by Yani Tseng)
Mexico -2 wins
France - 1 win
England - 1 win
Norway - 1 win
Scotland - 1 win
Mainland China - 1 win

Over that 13 year period victories were spread out to 11 different countries, with no country really being dominant. As you could see, one dominant player could vault your country quite high in the standings.
Sweden with 9 victories, accomplished that with only 2 players winning for that country. On the other hand, South Korea's 13 victories were accumulated by 10 different players, and the United States 9.
The continent of Asia accounted for 19 wins, or 36.5%, The United States accounted for 23%.

Now let me break this down even further:

2000 - 2007 (8 year period):

Sweden - 9 wins
United States - 8 wins
South Korea - 6 wins
Australia - 6 wins
Mexico - 1 winsEngland - 1 win
France - 1 win

Still no dominance shown here by any one country. Annika Sorenstam was certainly the dominate player with 8 wins. The continent of Europe accounted for 11 wins, or 34.4%, leading the way over this period. The United States followed with 25%. Asia was third with 18.75%.

Now let me show you the most recent history, the last 5 years. This is where things have drastically changed:

2008 - 2012 (last 5 years)

South Korea - 7 wins
Taiwan - 5 wins
United States - 4 wins
Mainland China - 1
Norway - 1
Scotland - 1
Mexico -1

Now here is where Asia has become the dominant country in major championships. They have accounted for 65% of the victories over this period. The United States could only manage to win 20%.
To make matters worse for the United States, they have failed to win any of the last seven majors, with Asia winning them all.

Can the Asian countries continue thier dominance in 2013? Sure they can, but it will be more difficult because of the following reasons:

1- With 5 majors this year, there are more opportunities for other countries to shake things up.
2- Stacy Lewis has emerged as the top player in the world and could be a dominant factor.
3- Yani Tseng, who has contributed 5 of Asia's 13 wins over that 5 year period, isn't her dominant self.
4- Spain may very well be ready to break through and get their first major or two.

My prediction:

With great players such as Na-Yeon Choi, Inbee Park, Jiyai Shin, and So Yeon Ryu, South Korea is still the country to beat. That said, The United States has the most dominant player, and players such as Kerr and Creamer can't be counted out. They also have young players such as Jessica Korda, Gerina Mendoza, Danielle Kang, and Lizette Salas, who are coming in hot and could surprise. I think Spain will get that first major this year. When all is said and done I see 2 trophies being held up by the U.S. and South Korea, and one for Spain.

Other Major Facts:

In spite of the success by other Asian countries, Japan has not won a major championship since Chako, Higuchi in 1977. Ai Miyazato has not broken through as of  yet

Sandra Post won Canada's last major in 1968.

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