Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top LPGA Stories of 2013

As we wait for the start of the 2014 season, which is only three weeks away, I would like to look back at what I consider to be the top stories of 2013.

It was a very interesting and exciting past year. There were multiple teenage winners, exciting playoffs, miraculous comebacks, engagements, marriages, and a number of first time winners.

I have narrowed it down to ten, although I know there were many more. This list is very subjective, depending on who your favorite golfers are. A top story for me may be one that someone else might want to forget.

Please feel free to add your own in the comments section. I would like to hear your opinions.

So in reverse order, here we go:

10- Lexi Thompson comes into her own.
She has had the "can't miss" label attached to her all her life. But haven't we seen that before?
Lexi really came on last season becoming a top ten player in the Rolex Rankings.
She finished in the top 22 in her her last eight starts, and won two of the last five tournaments she appeared in.

9- Stacy Lewis wins the Vare Trophy.
Stacy became the first American player to win this award since Beth Daniel in 1994. With her 3 wins, 1 major championship, and this award, she garnered 5 more Hall of Fame points this year.

8- Ariya Jutanugarn triple bogeys the 72nd hole.
Not all stories can be happy ones. Ariya teed off on the par five 72nd  hole of the Honda LPGA Thailand Championship, needing only a six to win the event. The seventeen year old Jutanugarn went on to make a triple bogey 8, leaving Inbee Park holding the winner's trophy.

7- Suzann Pettersen wins four times.
In previous years it seemed to always be about the ones she let get away. That was not the way it was in 2013 as she won 4 times (including a major championship), surging all the way up to #2 in the world rankings.

6- Caroline Hedwall goes undefeated in Solheim Cup play.
Europe retaining the Solheim Cup didn't quite make my final cut for this list, but Caroline's play certainly did.
She was the "Rock" for the European Team, winning all five of her matches.

5- Yani Tseng's collapse.
Nobody could have seen this coming. Yani had been so dominant that we thought she would be #1 forever.
There was one point in her stay at #1, where the #2 player in the world was closer in points to the #115 player, than she was to Yani Tseng. In her last 22 starts she had only 2 top ten finishes, while finishing out of the top forty, thirteen times. She not only lost her #1 ranking, but finished the year at #34.

4- Shanshan Feng eagles the final hole at the Reignwood Classic.
Call it fate, call it whatever you want. I call it the second best shot of the 2013 season. Needing a birdie on the final hole to force a playoff with Stacy Lewis, Shanshan eagled the par 5 18th in front of her home crowd to walk away with the trophy.

3- Stacy birdies the 17th at St. Andrews to win the British Open.
Because it was a major championship, and I was there to see it with my own two eyes, this was the shot of the year. Under very windy conditions, a par was a good score on this hole that day. Stacy not only birdied this very famous hole, but went on to birdie 18 also to win the championship.

2- Lydia Ko defends her Canadian Open championship.
No one really expected her to do it, after all she was just 16 years old. She not only defended her title, but hardly even seemed to break a sweat in doing it. On its own, this might not deserve to be ranked this high. Then you consider she had other finishes of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 9th, in only 10 starts. She has to be the #2 story.

1- Inbee Park wins 3 major championships.
This was a no-brainer. It was by far the biggest and most talked about story of the year. Not only did Inbee win 3 majors, but she won the first three. Getting media coverage is one of the biggest problems the LPGA faces. Inbee certainly did her part keeping this tour in the news.

Breaking News:

Just as I have finished posting the top stories of 2013, the first big story of 2014 has just been announced.

The LPGA has announced a new season long points race, similar to the FedEx Cup race that is run by the PGA. The winner of the Race to the Globe will win $1,000,000.

"The inaugural Race to the CME Globe will kick off the week of January 20 at the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic. Players will accumulate points at each official LPGA event from the Bahamas through the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex."

Here are some of the major highlights of this big announcement:

  • The previous format of three players qualifying each week has been eliminated.
  • Two big purses and two big winner’s payouts will be on the line during the final day of the CME Group Tour Championship. The winner of the CME Group Tour Championship will take home a $500,000 first-place prize, while the player who has accumulated the most points in the season-long points competition will be announced as the Race to the CME Globe champion with a $1 million unofficial money payout – the largest in all of women’s golf.
  • All tournaments will have the same point values in the Race to the CME Globe except for the five major championships, which will carry 25 percent more value.  The winner of all official LPGA events leading up to the CME Group Tour Championship will earn 500 points and the winner of each major championship will earn 625 points. Only LPGA Tour members are eligible to earn points in the Race
  • For all LPGA events with a cut, points will be awarded to LPGA members who make the cut. For all events without a cut (except for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex), points will be awarded to members who finish among the top 40 and ties. And for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex, points will be awarded to members who finish in the top 20 and ties.
  • The top 72 players on the race's point list after the Lorena Ochoa Invitational (November 13-16) will earn the right to play in this event.  If a non-LPGA player should win an event in 2014, they will be added to the field. Only the top 9 in points, however, will have a chance to win the $1,000,000 prize.
  • Before the start of the CME Group Tour Championship, the season long points will be reset, with the season long leader reset to 5,000 points, second place to 4,500, and third place to 4,000 with fewer points going down the line. Jon Podany, the LPGA's Chief Marketing Officer said, "We wanted to have a balance that valued season long performance, but obviously, we wanted to create drama and excitement for the final event."  The reset guarantees there will be no winner until the very last tournament, but still gives the advantage to those who played well all year. If any of the top 3 players, after the points are reset, wins the CME event, they are guaranteed the $1,000,000 first prize.
  • Only the top 3 point winners at the conclusion of the CME Group Tour Championship will earn money. First place will be $1,000,000, second place $150,000, third place $100,000. This is unofficial money and will not count towards a player's standing for the 2015 Priority List.
  •  If the new Race to the CME Globe would have been in place in 2013, Inbee Park would have won the it with Shanshan Feng second and Stacy Lewis third, according to the LPGA. Feng won the CME Group Titleholders in ‘13. 
Commissioner Michael Whan will be starting his 5th season with the LPGA. He earlier announced the 2014 schedule which included 5 new events (including the International Crown). When the Commissioner took over, the LPGA had 23 events. In 2014 it will have 32, plus the International Crown which is an unofficial event. This latest announcement will make the 2014 season even more exciting.

To read the Contructivist's view over at Mostly Harmless, here is the link.


  1. Pretty good list, Tony. Can't think of anything to add that can edge out a single one on your list. Nice work!

  2. Have to agree with Glen. Good list. The only two things I may have added were..... firstly, the havoc the weather played in the Bahamas, and secondly, the 36 holes the girls were expected to play on the final
    day of the Wegman's, leaving many of them at wit's end.

  3. Agree with the two people above! Great list! What an awesome and unpredictable moments in 2013. Good job Tony! :)

  4. I was wondering when the LPGA would introduce a season long race to the CME tour championship. This is exciting news and will certainly make each event even more competitive. Gotta love what Mike is doing!

    Jet Jockey

    1. Yes Mr. Whan has certainly been a difference maker.