By Ward Clayton
Park completes a double
For the second time in three years, the winner of the Vare Trophy and the earnings title was not the Rolex Player of the Year on the LPGA. Inbee Park captured the Vare Trophy (70.21 stroke average) and the earnings titles ($2,287,080) in the last event, the CME Group Titleholders, while Stacy Lewis accumulated the most points to win the Player of the Year honor.
When Na Yeon Choi won the Vare Trophy (69.87 stroke average) and the earnings title ($1,817,165) in 2010, Yani Tseng placed first in the Rolex Player of the Year standings. To find the next time a player doubled up on stroke average and earnings but didn't win the Player of the Year, you have to go back to 1970 when Kathy Whitworth won both and Sandra Haynie was Player of the Year.
Park's double was achieved in large part thanks to 10-consecutive top-10 finishes including two victories, three runner-ups and more than $1.8 million in earnings between June's Wegmans LPGA Championship and October's Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. She won the Sime Darby and earlier in the year won the Evian Masters.
Park's 70.21 stroke average was the highest winning stroke average since 1996 when Annika Sorenstam led at 70.41.
Park also swept the putting statistical categories - 1.72 Putts per Green in Regulation and and a 28.34 Putting Average (per round).
Na Yeon Choi's big paydays
Only 11 players won more during the 2012 season than Na Yeon Choi accumulated in her two victories at the U.S. Women's Open ($585,000) and the CME Group Titleholders ($500,000) for a $1,085,000 total. Those were the two events with the largest first-place checks on the 2012 schedule. The final payday at the CME Group Titleholders boosted Choi to second place on the money list behind Inbee Park.
Aging with the winners
- Winners this year on the LPGA ranged in age from 15 (amateur Lydia Ko at the CN Canadian Women's Open) to 35 (Cristie Kerr at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational).
- Only five of the winners in 2012 were not in their 20s. Here's a breakdown of the 2012 age groups:
Teens (2): Jessica Korda, Lydia Ko.
20s (13): Yani Tseng, Sun Young Yoo, Ai Miyazato, Stacy Lewis, Pornanong Phatlum, Azahara Munoz, Shanshan Feng, Brittany Lang, Na Yeon Choi, Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu, Mika Miyazato, Jiyai Shin.
30s (3): Angela Stanford, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen
- The second-youngest winner was American Jessica Korda (18 at the time of her Women's Australian Open). The two oldest winners were both Americans - 34-year-old Angela Stanford (HSBC Women's Champions) and 35-year-old Cristie Kerr (Lorena Ochoa Invitational).
Where they were from
Players from the United States and South Korea each won eight times on the 2012 LPGA. Winners hailed from the United States. (eight including Jessica Korda, Angela Stanford, Stacy Lewis - 4 wins, Brittany Lang and Cristie Kerr); Taiwan (three wins for Yani Tseng), South Korea (eight including Sun Young Yoo, Na Yeon Choi - 2 wins, Inbee Park - 2 wins, So Yeon Ryu, Jiyai Shin - 2 wins); Japan (three wins including Ai Miyazato - 2 wins, Mika Miyazato), Norway (two wins for Suzann Pettersen), Spain (Azahara Munoz), Thailand (Pornanong Phatlum) and China (Shanshan Feng).
Lincicome's long-driving prowess
Brittany Lincicome won the Driving Distance category for the third time in her career. She has never placed worse than third in the category since joining the LPGA in 2005.
Her 276-yard average this year was the second-highest of her career, falling behind the 278-yard average she had in 2006 when she placed second behind Karin Sjodin's record 284.5 mark.
Lincicome has also shown substantial improvement in Greens in Regulation over the last three years - averaging better than 71 percent. Lincicome was also the only player on the LPGA in 2012 with two holes in one.
Rolex Women's World Rankings
The 2012 season ends with Taiwan's Yani Tseng in first place in the Rolex Women's World Rankings for a 93rd consecutive week. But Na Yeon Choi (moved up two spots to second this week) and Stacy Lewis are closing ground on Tseng who hasn't won since March.
The top 10 includes players from Taiwan, South Korea, the United States, China, Norway and Japan. South Korea has four played ranked in the top 10 and 36 players in the top 100.
Etc.Besides being Player of the Year, Stacy Lewis led the LPGA in wins (four), top-10s with 16 (tied with So Yeon Ryu), rounds under par (58), birdies (362), eagles (12), rounds in the 60s (33) and sub-par holes (374). … Mika Miyazato led the Driving Accuracy category at 84.8 percent, the highest percentage since Donna Andrews hit 85.1 percent of the fairways in 2001. Miyazato hit 580 of 684 fairways during the year, an average of just less than two fairways missed per round. … Beatriz Recari led the LPGA in rounds played (99) and shared first for most events played, playing all 27 official tournaments along with Chella Choi, Vicki Hurst and Anna Nordqvist. The 99 rounds were the most played in a season since 2008. Recari had her the best season of her career with $444,620 in earnings and a 71.69 stroke average. She did not miss a cut. … Former two-time Driving Distance champion Karin Sjodin led the LPGA in Greens in Regulation at 76.1 percent.
Topics: Stats and Stuff