By Ward Clayton
Lang first on multiple fronts
When Brittany Lang won the Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada last week, it was the Texan's first LPGA victory, gave her a tremendous boost of confidence and also scored a victory for her alma mater, Duke University.
Lang, 26, voiced concern about not finishing tournaments strongly as she climbed the leaderboard during the week in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. She spent some time with caddie and brother Luke the week prior to the tournament on visualizing shots. The preparation paid off handsomely as Lang played the par-5 18th hole at Grey Silo Golf Course in 7-under par over seven trips - an eagle to complete the third round and three consecutive birdies during the sudden-death playoff.
"I hadn't been that good under pressure and I'm getting better, and I'm so thankful that it happened this week and I'll only get stronger from here," Lang said.
Even though Duke, located in Durham, N.C., has captured five NCAA titles and 16 ACC championships, no former Blue Devils had won on the LPGA (including 14 players) until Lang won the Canadian tournament last weekend. That group includes 2002 LPGA Rookie of the Year Beth Bauer and 1998 U.S. Women's Open runner-up Jenny Chuasiriporn. Golf Channel broadcasters Kelly Tilghman and Stephanie Sparks are also former Duke golfers.
"I still can't believe that I'm the first Dukie to ever win an LPGA tournament," Lang said. "That blows my mind with all the talent that comes out of there, but I'm very thankful and very honored."
Shin out with wrist injury
Jiyai Shin underwent left wrist surgery in early June and is out for a while. The 24-year-old South Korean won multiple tournaments from 2008 to 2010 on the LPGA, but failed to win in 2011 and thus far this season. In 2011, she changed her training regimen, coach and caddie at the beginning of the season. At midseason, she suffered a lower back injury that caused her to miss September's tournaments. Shin's 2011 season ended early when she returned home to South Korea for her late mother's memorial service and to rehabilitate her back for the 2012 season. She has recorded two third-place finishes this season.
Lewis expands lead; Ryu Rookie leader
With her tie for fifth finish at last week's Manulife LPGA Classic, Stacy Lewis expanded her lead in the Rolex Player of the Year race. Lewis has 129 points to lead second-place Yani Tseng (120 points) after overtaking Tseng three weeks ago at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Points are awarded based on top-10 finishes (30 for first, 12 for second down to one point for 10th) and doubled in the LPGA majors. The last American to win the Rolex Player of the Year honor was Beth Daniel in 1994.
In the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year standings, So Yeon Ryu of South Korea holds a 558-369 advantage over Lexi Thompson of the United States. Points are awarded to every rookie who makes the cut, with 150 points for first, 80 for second and on down in five-, three-, two- and one-point increments at various stages and double the award at LPGA majors. Only two Americans - Beth Bauer in 2002 and Paula Creamer in 2005 - have won the award in the last 10 years.
Tseng going for three
Yani Tseng will be going for a third consecutive Walmart NW Arkansas Championship title this week in Rogers, Ark. She has never won the same tournament three consecutive years in her five-year LPGA career. Later this summer, Tseng will be going for a third consecutive victory in the RICOH Women's British Open.
Tseng has recorded eight of nine rounds in the 60s during her visits to Arkansas. The only over-par round was a final-round 74 in 2009 when she finished T14.
Tseng's 12 career victories include:
|2008||McDonald's LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola|
|2009||LPGA Corning Classic|
|2010||Kraft Nabisco Championship,
RICOH Women's British Open,
P&G NW Arkansas Championship Presented by Walmart
|2011||Honda LPGA Thailand
LPGA State Farm Classic
Wegmans LPGA Championship
RICOH Women's British Open,
Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G
LPGA HanaBank Championship,
Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
|2012||Honda LPGA Thailand,
RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, Kia Classic
This week's tournament site
This week's tournament site, Pinnacle Country Club, offers a back nine with great variety as the tournament concludes. There are three par 3s on the back nine, including the signature 15th where the tee shot is elevated and shoots down to an island green. The finishing hole is a long, dogleg-left par 5 with water in play on the second shot. Pinnacle will play to par 71 and at 6,372 yards.
Pinnacle was designed in 1989 by Don Sechrest and renovated in 2009 by Randy Heckenkemper.
Canada's Maude-Aimee Leblanc has taken over first place in the Driving Distance category. Leblanc averages 282 yards compared to second-place Brittany Lincicome (279 average)…Yani Tseng leads the Rolex Women's World Rankings for the 72nd consecutive week. The only change in the top 10 occurred with China's Shanshan Feng moved ahead of South Korea's Na Yeon Choi at Nos. 3 and 4…Since her victory in the Wegmans LPGA Championship three weeks ago, China's Shanshan Feng has been asked often about how her home country has celebrated. She has stayed in the United States since the win, is playing this week and next week at the U.S. Women's Open before returning home to China.