Stats and Stuff: Kia Classic

March 21 2012, Ward Clayton

In this week's Stats and Stuff, Ward Clayton recaps the recent play on Tour.


Miyazato’s scoring average

Ai Miyazato has not won on the LPGA thus far this season, but she leads the LPGA in Scoring Average. In three starts, the 26-year-old Japanese star has finished second twice – both times behind Yani Tseng – and tied for sixth. In 12 rounds thus far, she has recorded nine rounds in the 60s, with a low of 65, and just one round over par (73). Her scoring average is 68.31. The Scoring Average leader at the end of the season receives the Vare Trophy.

The top five in Scoring Average thus far this season:

1 Ai Miyazato 68.31
2 Yani Tseng 68.95
3 Na Yeon Choi 69.06
4 Shanshan Feng 69.50
5 So Yeon Ryu 70.13


Tseng’s fast start

Yani Tseng’s fast start should be a concern for her competitors on the LPGA Tour. Since becoming a member of the LPGA in 2008, Tseng has won four times in her first four starts on the season (16 tournaments total). This year, she has won twice in the first four starts for her best career start to a season.

A look at Tseng’s first four tournament starts annually:
2008: 0 wins, 2 top-10 finishes
2009: 0 wins, 3 top-10 finishes
2010: 1 win, 3 top-10 finishes
2011: 1 win, 3 top-10 finishes
2012: 2 wins, 4 top-10 finishes

Close finishes continue

With last week’s one-stroke victory by Yani Tseng at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, the 2012 season is off to a historic competitive start, matching the 2002 season. The first four events this year have been determined in two playoffs and two with one-stroke victory margins. The 2002 season began with two playoffs and then had four consecutive tournaments won by one-stroke margins.

Another similarity between 2002 and this year is the dominance of one player. Annika Sorenstam won two of the first four events in 2002 on the way to an 11-win season. Tseng has won two of the first four tournaments this year.

A look at the 2002 start:

Tournament Winner Margin
LPGA Takefuji Classic Annika Sorenstam First hole of 2-player playoff
PING Banner Health Rachel Teske Second hole of 2-player playoff
Welch’s/Circle K Championship Laura Diaz 1 stroke
Kraft Nabisco Championship Annika Sorenstam 1 stroke
The Office Depot Challenge Se Ri Pak 1 stroke
Longs Drugs Challenge Cristie Kerr 1 stroke


Lincicome’s streak

Brittany Lincicome missed the cut at last week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. That was a rarity for the 26-year-old from Seminole, Fla. The last time Lincicome missed the cut was at the 2010 Kia Classic, a streak of 45 consecutive made cuts. During that time period, Lincicome has the following results:
• 2 wins (both in 2011)
• 4 runner-up finishes
• 13 top-10s
• 8 major championship starts, all of them in the top 30, with best of T9 at the 2010 Ricoh Women’s British Open
• Rounds in the 60s: 47 in 159 medal-play rounds (30 percent)
• Low round: 61, first round of 2010 CVS Pharmacy/LPGA Challenge (finished T8)
• High round: 78, second round 2010 U.S. Women’s Open (finished T25)

Additionally, Lincicome has become by far the longest driver on the LPGA. Nicknamed “Bam Bam” because of her length off the tee, she is averaging 290 yards, 16 yards ahead of second-place Jessica Korda.


Back at La Costa

The LPGA returns to La Costa Resort and Spa for this week’s Kia Classic. Because of a $50-million renovation project in 2011, the 2011 Kia Classic was played at Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms in the City of Industry, Calif.      
La Costa has renamed its two 18-hole layouts - the Champions Course and Legends Course. The new Champions Course, the former North Course, underwent a complete restoration project. The Legends Course, formerly the South Course, had four holes renovated and will be the site of the Kia Classic. The renovated holes on the Dick Wilson-designed course include Nos. 1, 9, 10 and 18. The routing remains unchanged.
Both Kia Classics have been won by first-time winners – rookie Hee Kyung Seo in 2010 as a sponsor exemption and Sandra Gal last year.


Yun’s double eagle

Hannah Yun scored a rare double eagle last week at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. The 19-year-old Bradenton, Fla., resident holed a 3-wood from 232 yards on the 485-yard, par-5 15th hole in the second round on the way to a 74 and a missed cut. It was the 31st double eagle listed in LPGA history and the first since Angela Stanford at the 2008 Samsung World Championship.

Only two player in LPGA history has recorded two double eagles in competition. Sherri Turner did it on the same hole and same tournament five years apart, and Dawn Coe-Jones made hers in consecutive years.

A listing of the double eagles in LPGA history:
2*, Sherri Turner, 1993 Atlanta Women’s Championship, second round, par-5, 18th hole; 1998 Chick-fil-A Charity Championship, first round, par-5, 18th hole.
*same tournament, same hole
2, Dawn Coe-Jones, 1992 Sara Lee Classic, first round, par-5, 8th hole; 1993 du Maurier Classic, first round, par-5, 4th hole
1, Marilynn Smith, 1971 Lady Carling Open, first round, par-5, 1st hole
1, Sandra Post, 1978 du Maurier Classic, third round, par-5, 7th hole
1, Betsy King, 1982 Mayflower Classic, second round, par-5, 16th hole
1, Chris Johnson, 1985 Circle K LPGA Tucson Open, fourth round, par-5, 13th hole
1, Jackie Bertsch, 1985 LPGA Corning Classic, second round, par-5, 2nd hole
1, Patty Sheehan, 1989 Rochester International, third round, par-5, 17th hole
1, Kate Rogerson, 1990 Rail Charity Golf Classic, second round, par-5, 6th hole
1, Tina Barrett, 1991 MBS Classic, second round, par-5, 3rd hole
1, Lynn Adams, 1991 LPGA Corning Classic, third round, par-5, 2nd hole
1, Jody Anschutz, 1993 LPGA Corning Classic, third round, par-5, 2nd hole
1, Mary Beth Zimmerman, 1995 GHP Heartland Classic, third round, par-5, 5th hole
1, Nancy Lopez, 1996 LPGA Corning Classic, second round, par-5, 2nd hole
1, Gail Graham, 1996 Fieldcrest Cannon Classic, first round, par-5, 9th hole
1, Shani Waugh, 1997 Giant Eagle LPGA Classic, second round, par-5, 18th hole
1, Alison Nicholas, 1999 Australian Ladies Masters, third round, par-5, 3rd hole
1, Sophie Gustafson, 1999 Weetabix Women’s British Open, second round, par-5, 6th hole
1, Jen Hanna, 2001 Sybase Big Apple Classic Presented by GOLF MAGAZINE, second round, par-5, 15th hole
1, Asa Gottmo, 2002 Weetabix Women’s British Open, fourth round, par-5, 7th hole
1, Smriti Mehra, 2002 State Farm Classic, first round, par-5, 4th hole
1, Laura Davies, 2002 Mobile LPGA Tournament of Champions, second round, par-5, 13th hole
1, Karen Stupples, 2004 Weetabix Women’s British Open, fourth round, par-5, 2nd hole
1, Lorena Ochoa, 2006 Evian Masters, fourth round, par-5, 9th hole
1, Il Mi Chung, 2007 Corona Championship, first round, par-5, 8th hole
1, Momoko Ueda, 2007 Mizuno Classic, third round, par-5, 7th hole
1, Katherine Hull, 2008 Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill, fourth round, par-5, 7th hole
1, Angela Stanford, 2008 Samsung World Championship, second round, par-5, 4th hole
1, Hannah Yun, 2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, second round, par-5, 15th hole


China’s Shanshan Feng has made two starts on the LPGA this season, with all eight rounds under par, giving her the lead in the under-par category. She makes her 2012 American debut this week at the Kia Classic…Lexi Thompson has a new caddie for her rookie season on the LPGA, veteran Greg Johnston. Scott Thompson, Lexi’s father and former caddie, is now carrying the bag of older son Nicholas on the Nationwide Tour. Nicholas missed the cut in his first two starts on the Nationwide Tour this season.

Topics: Stats and Stuff, Kia Classic, Miyazato, Ai, Tseng, Yani, Lincicome, Brittany, Yun, Hannah [+]

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