In this week's Stats and Stuff, Ward Clayton breaks down the beginning of the 2012 season and previews the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.
Close calls highlight 2012 start
The 2012 LPGA season began in February with two large playoffs and a one-stroke victory, establishing quite a competitive landscape for the season. Jessica Korda won a record-tying, six-player playoff in the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open to begin the season, Yani Tseng captured the Honda LPGA Thailand by one stroke and Angela Stanford took a four-player playoff in Singapore at the HSBC Women's Champions to complete the Asian swing that began the season.
In LPGA history, only four other seasons have begun with two playoffs in the first three events and only two of those involved two playoffs and a one-stroke win (2002 and 2006). Here's a look at the seasons with two playoffs in the first three events:
|ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open||Jessica Korda||Second hole of 6-player playoff|
|Honda LPGA Thailand||Yani Tseng||1 stroke|
|HSBC Women's Champions||Angela Stanford||Third hole of 4-player playoff|
|SBS Open at Turtle Bay||Joo Mi Kim||Second hole of 3-player playoff|
|Fields Open in Hawaii||Meena Lee||Third hole of 2-player playoff|
|MasterCard Classic||Annika Sorenstam||1 stroke|
|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|
|Chrysler-Plymouth Tournament of Champions||Annika Sorenstam||4 strokes|
|HealthSouth Inaugural||Michelle McGann||First hole of 2-player playoff|
|Dr Pepper National Pro-Am||Kelly Robbins||Second hole of 2-player playoff|
|Whirlpool Championship of Deer Creek||Sandra Palmer||2 strokes|
|Elizabeth Arden Classic||Sally Little||Third hole of 3-player playoff|
|S&H Golf Classic||JoAnne Carner||First hole of 2-player playoff|
When Jessica Korda won the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, she was part of a record-tying, six-player playoff that also included Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Hee Kyung Seo, So Yeon Ryu and Julieta Granada. The record-setting playoff occurred at the 1999 Jamie Farr Kroger Classic when Se Ri Pak birdied the first hole to defeat Carin Koch, Kelli Kuehne, Mardi Lunn, Sherri Steinhauer and Karrie Webb.
Record scoring in Arizona
The state of Arizona appears quite often in the LPGA record book's scoring category, especially when it comes to March tournaments. So be prepared for some low scoring at this week's RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, scheduled for the Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix. Last year, Karrie Webb finished 12-under in the 54-hole tournament to win by one stroke. Moon Valley Country Club (10 miles away) and the Dell Ulrich Golf Course (130 miles away in Tucson), the sites of the 72-hole, 18-hole and nine-hole marks, are within easy driving distance of Wildfire.
Here are the prominent LPGA scoring records that took place in Arizona:
72 holes (In relation to par)
-27, 261 (65-59-69-68) Annika Sorenstam, Moon Valley Country Club, Phoenix, Ariz., March 15-18, 2001 Standard Register PING, par 72
72 holes (Raw score)
258, -22 (63-66-66-63) Karen Stupples, Dell Urich Golf Course, Tucson, Ariz., March 11-14, 2004 Welch's/Fry's Championship, par 70
259, -21 (65-62-67-65) Wendy Doolan, Dell Urich Golf Course, Tucson, Ariz., March 13-16, 2003 Welch's/Fry's Championship, par 70
59, Annika Sorenstam, Moon Valley Country Club, Phoenix, Ariz., second round, March 16, 2001 Standard Register PING, par 72
9 holes (In relation to par)
-8 (28) Annika Sorenstam, Moon Valley Country Club, Phoenix, Ariz., March 16, 2001 Standard Register PING, par 36; she shot 59 (shared with three others)
Webb's career marks
Karrie Webb, the defending champion of this week's RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, is also the active leader in many prominent categories on the LPGA. This is the 17th year on the LPGA for the 38-year-old Australian and World Golf Hall of Fame member. Here is a look at how she stands in career categories:
1. Annika Sorenstam $22,573,192.00
2. Karrie Webb $16,517,244.75
The last seven years have produced some of the youngest winners in the history of the LPGA. With Jessica Korda's victory at the ISPS Women's Australian Open earlier this year at age 18, the LPGA has seen players age 18 or younger win five times since 2005. This ranges from Lexi Thompson's win in the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic at age 16 to Paula Creamer's Evian Masters win in 2005 at almost age 19.
Thompson turned 17 earlier this year during the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, and Korda turned 19 on Feb. 27.
Here is a listing of the youngest winners in LPGA history:
Lexi Thompson, 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic (72-hole event) at 16 years, 8 months, 8 days
Marlene Hagge, 1952 Sarasota Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 14 days
Marlene Hagge, 1952 Bakersfield Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 2 months, 15 days
Paula Creamer, 2005 Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury (72-hole event) at 18 years, 9 month, 17 days
Morgan Pressel, 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship (72-hole event) at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days
Jessica Korda, 2012 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open (72-hole event) at 18 years, 11 months, 16 days
Paula Creamer, 2005 Evian Masters (72-hole event), 18 years, 11 months, 18 days
Amy Alcott, 1975 Orange Blossom Classic (54-hole event) at 19 years, 1 day
Inkster out for a while
Juli Inkster is mending from right elbow surgery that took place on Jan. 27 and is expected back on the LPGA sometime in late summer. The World Golf Hall of Famer and 31-time LPGA winner had a torn tendon in her right elbow and required reattachment of the tendon and repair of the ulnar nerve.
Inkster, 51, said her elbow began bothering her at the end of the 2010 season when she was fighting tendinitis. She stayed away from golf at the end of the 2011 season but still required surgery when the injury persisted. Inkster, entering her 30th season as an LPGA member, has played a full schedule every year except for 1990 and 1994 when her daughters were born.
Rolex Rookie of the Year leaders
So Yeon Ryu is the reigning U.S. Women's Open champion and also a candidate for the 2012 Rolex Rookie of the Year award. Ryu, from South Korea, was not an LPGA member last year therefore her eligibility for Rookie of the Year in 2012. Through three events, Ryu is in first place with 128 points, followed by Lexi Thompson with 68 points.
Tseng's 2012 start
Yani Tseng is off to another great start in 2012. She finished T8 at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open (two strokes out of a playoff), won the Honda Thailand and finished T5 at the HSBC Champions (one stroke out of a playoff) to take the lead in earnings. In the first two international events to start the 2011 season, Tseng finished first and third on the way to seven victories and the Rolex Player of the Year award.
Michelle Wie is scheduled to complete her degree in Communications from Stanford this month with graduation ceremonies scheduled for June…Brittany Lincicome leads the LPGA in the Driving Distance category with a whopping 296-yard average, nearly 20 yards longer than No. 2 Paige Mackenzie (278.5)…What do Yani Tseng and Rory McIlroy have in common besides their No. 1 world rankings? They are both tutored in putting by former PGA Tour player Dave Stockton.