By Ward Clayton
Lewis retains 40-point Rolex lead
Stacy Lewis' lead in the Rolex Player of the Year standings with four tournaments remaining in the season is still 40 points after only two players in the Rolex top 10 finished in the top 10 last week at the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship.
Lewis failed to finish in the top 10 in South Korea, but held on to a substantial lead as second-place Inbee Park also didn't have a top-10. Only two-time defending Rolex champion Yani Tseng (nine points for a third-place finish, moving to third) and So Yeon Ryu (four points for a T7 finish) scored points among the leaders.
Rolex Player of the Year points are earned with top-10 finishes in tournaments, ranging from 30 for first place to 1 for 10th. Therefore, Lewis will retain first place for another week no matter what happens in Taiwan this week. Five of the top-10 players are not in this week's field, including Lewis, Jiyai Shin, Shanshan Feng, Mika Miyazato and Sun Young Yoo.
A look at the top 10:
|1 (184)||1 (184)||Stacy Lewis||Only third time this year failed to score points in consecutive events|
|2 (144)||2 (144)||Inbee Park||Streak of 10 top-10 finishes broken with T15 finish in South Korea|
|3 (129)||4 (120)||Yani Tseng||Third-place finish in South Korea broke 11-tournament top-10 drought|
|4 (128)||3 (128)||Jiyai Shin||Since consecutive wins has two finishes out of top-10|
|5 (113)||5 (113)||Na Yeon Choi||T39 last week second-worst finish of the 2012 season (T40 twice)|
|T6 (112)||T6 (112)||Ai Miyazato||T20 last week after first-round 66|
|T6 (112)||T6 (112)||Shanshan Feng||Hasn't been in contention in five consecutive starts|
|8 (108)||9 (104)||So Yeon Ryu||T7 last week fourth consecutive top-10 finish|
|9 (107)||8 (107)||Mika Miyazato||Three consecutive top-10s for LPGA's most accurate driver|
|10 (81)||10 (81)||Sun Young Yoo||Kraft Nabisco winner's four top-10s all came before summer|
Race for the Vare Trophy
Because Jiyai Shin is not playing in this week's Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, the leader for the Vare Trophy (scoring average) will have to play the final three tournaments this season to qualify. Shin leads the LPGA in scoring average at 70.22, followed closely by Stacy Lewis (70.39), Inbee Park (70.4) and Na Yeon Choi (70.47).
When Shin missed nearly two months of this season after undergoing wrist surgery, she fell below the standard of rounds played to qualify. According to LPGA guidelines, a player must compete in a minimum of 70 rounds or 70 percent of official LPGA tournament rounds, whichever is less, during the LPGA year. Shin has played 58 of a possible 84 (69 percent). She cannot meet the minimum in rounds played as she would get to 69 over the last three tournaments. But she can qualify with a 70-percent rate by playing nine of the final 11 rounds this season. Shin has played 70-plus rounds in a season only one time in her career, in 2009 (89).
Suzann Pettersen rolling '9s'
With Suzann Petterson's playoff victory in the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship, the Norwegian golfer developed quite a trend with the number nine. The win was the ninth of Pettersen's LPGA career and she moved to ninth on the LPGA career money list at just more than $9 million. Alas, her win moved her from ninth in the Rolex Women's World Rankings to seventh.
Additionally, Pettersen was impressive in her green jacket, which goes to the winner of the KEB-HanaBank Championship.
Tseng warming up for title defense
After a streak of 11 consecutive tournaments out of the top 10, Yani Tseng rallied last week at the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship to record a third-place finish. It was her best finish since a third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship on April 1. Tseng shot three sub-par rounds and then made the trip home to Taiwan for this week's Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. Tseng won by five strokes last year in the inaugural tournament that drew approximately 67,000 fans over the four days of competition. The field for the 72-hole tournament includes 78 players and no cut.
Sunrise Golf Course's second go-round
Sunrise Golf Course was the site of the last year's inaugural Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. The Robert Trent Jones Jr., design, which plays to approximately 6,400 yards and to par 72, ends with a 520-yard par 5 and a green guarded on the right and in the front by a pond.
This week will mark the first official event on the 2012 schedule that Stacy Lewis has missed. Lewis has played in every official event since early in the 2009 season, her rookie year on the LPGA, when she didn't play in the second and third events of the year in Singapore and Thailand. … Se Ri Pak finished fourth at last week's LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship, her best finish since a fourth at the 2011 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. … Scotland's Catriona Matthew, the runner-up to Suzann Pettersen in a three-hole playoff last week, was vying to become the first age 40-plus winner on the LPGA since she won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last fall at age 42. Matthew, 43, is the only 40-year-old winner on the LPGA in the last four years, dating back to when Helen Alfredsson won twice at age 43 during the 2008 season. Angela Stanford, 34, is the oldest winner this season on the LPGA (at the HSBC Women's Championship).