By Ward Clayton
Who's hot entering Wegmans LPGA
Entering this week's Wegmans LPGA Championship, there are a number of favorites, but recent play has to factor into who will fare well at Locust Hill Country Club. Here is a trio of players whose games are in great shape entering the second major championship of the year:
• Stacy Lewis - Lewis has become the top American in the Rolex Women's World Rankings after winning twice in the last three starts. Lewis, 27, in now third in the world. Her only recent setback was a quarterfinal loss to another hot player, Azahara Munoz, in the Sybase Match Play Championship (still a tie for fifth, her career-best finish in that event). Lewis is in the top five in Greens in Regulation, Birdies and Eagles this season.
Here's a look at Lewis' surge:
|1||Mobile Bay LPGA Classic Second career victory; fended off Lexi Thompson in final round|
|5||Sybase Match Play Lost to Azahara Munoz in quarterfinals|
|1||ShopRite LPGA Classic Rounds of 65-65-71 included a double bogey in each round|
• Azahara Munoz - The 24-year-old Spanish star may be the hottest player on the LPGA, sans Stacy Lewis. In her last four starts, the worst finish was a tie for fourth at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and she won her first LPGA title, at the Sybase Match Play Championship. She is second in earnings to Yani Tseng and ranks in the top 10 in Greens in Regulation and Birdies.
Here's a look at Munoz's hot streak:
|T2||LPGA LOTTE Shot second-round 64|
|T4||Mobile Bay LPGA Classic Shot final-round 68|
|1||Sybase Match Play Beat Stacy Lewis 5 and 4; never played 18th hole|
|T3||ShopRite LPGA Classic Played last 42 holes without a bogey|
• Lexi Thompson - After a mediocre start to the season, the 17-year-old LPGA rookie has come on in her last two starts, finishing second at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic three weeks ago and T5 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic last week. Those finishes concluded with a 65 and 67, respectively, the low final rounds of the tournaments.
Here's a look at some of Thompson's top statistics:
|Driving Distance||274 yards||5|
|Greens in Regulation||74 percent||3|
|Rolex Rookie of Year||222 points||2|
Winning before Wegmans
Stacy Lewis should be encouraged about her chances of going back to back this week. Since 1955, there have been nine occasions where the winner the week before the Wegmans LPGA Championship also captured the major championship in the following tournament. The last time this occurred, Annika Sorenstam won the 2005 ShopRite LPGA Classic by four and the Wegmans LPGA Championship by three. That's the same double Lewis is aiming for.
These consecutive winners include:
|1956||Marlene Bauer Hagge||Won Triangle Round Robin, Va. Beach, Va.|
|1963||Mickey Wright||Won Mickey Wright Invitational, La Jolla, Calif.|
|1970||Shirley Englehorn||Won Lady Carling Open, Baltimore, Md.|
|1971||Kathy Whitworth||Won Lady Carling Open, Baltimore, Md.|
|1974||Sandra Haynie||Won Lawson's LPGA Open, Medina Ohio|
|1990||Beth Daniel||Won The Phar-Mor, Vienna, Ohio|
|1994||Laura Davies||Won Sarah Lee Classic, Old Hickory, Tenn.|
|2003||Annika Sorenstam||Won Kellogg-Keebler, Aurora, Ohio|
|2005||Annika Sorenstam||Won ShopRite LPGA Classic|
Woods in Wegmans again
After uncle Tiger Woods won the Memorial Tournament last week in Dublin, Ohio, niece Cheyenne Woods will be in the spotlight this week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Woods, a recent graduate of Wake Forest and the daughter of Tiger's half-brother, Earl Jr., will make her professional debut this week at Locust Hill Country Club thanks to a sponsor exemption.
Woods played in the 2009 Wegmans as an amateur and shot 75-74 to miss the cut by three strokes. She impressed tournament organizers by putting on a clinic and visiting a hospital in Pittsford, N.Y., during the week. She holds the Wake Forest school record for lowest career scoring average at 73.71. Woods went to the same high school, Xavier College Prep in Phoenix, as LPGA member Amanda Blumenherst.
Woods, 21, received more good news last week when she shot 74-72 in Sanford, N.C., to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, scheduled for July 5-8 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisc. She has another similarity to her famous uncle as she is represented by agent Mark Steinberg at Excel Sports Management.
Wegmans LPGA Championship Sites
The Wegmans LPGA Championship dates back to 1955 when Beverly Hanson won the first title at Orchard Ridge Country Club in Fort Wayne, Ind. It is the second-oldest event on the LPGA (behind the U.S. Women's Open, which began in 1946). The tournament has been played at 14 sites since. To avoid confusion, an LPGA event has been played at Locust Hill Country Club since 1977, with the LPGA Championship moving under the Wegmans sponsorship and to major championship status at Locust Hill Country Club in 2010.
Here is a listing of the courses where the major championship has been conducted and the years:
|Orchard Ridge CC, Fort Wayne, Ind.||1955|
|Forest Lake CC, Detroit||1956|
|Churchill Valley CC, Pittsburgh||1957-58|
|Sheraton CC, French Lick, Ind.||1959-60|
|Stardust CC, Las Vegas, Nev.||1961-66|
|Pleasant Valley CC, Sutton Mass.||1967-68, 70-74|
|Concord Championship GC, Kiameshia Lake, N.Y.||1969|
|Pine Ridge GC, Baltimore, Md.||1975-76|
|Bay Tree GC, Myrtle Beach, S.C.||1977|
|Jack Nicklaus Sports Center, Kings Island, Ohio||1978-89|
|Bethesda CC, Bethesda, Md.||1990-93|
|DuPont CC, Wilmington, Del.||1994-2004|
|Bulle Rock, Havre de Grace, Md.||2005-09|
|Locust Hill CC, Pittsford, N.Y.||2010-current|
Wegmans Hall of Fame streak
The Wegmans LPGA Championship has been won by 15 World Golf Hall of Famers since its inception in 1955. That includes a streak from 1998-2006 when only Hall of Famers captured the title. Those winners included:
|Se Ri Pak||1998|
|Se Ri Pak||2002|
|Se Ri Pak||2006|
Rankin's nine-hole resurgence
Reilly Rankin made heads turn on Friday in the first round of last week's ShopRite LPGA Classic. Rankin shot a first-nine 31 (on the back nine) to jump up the leaderboard. She fell back with a 40 on the next nine for a 71, but came back the next day with a 33 on the front nine to start off a second-round 70. Rankin eventually shot a final-round 77 to finish tied for 59th.
Rankin was a three-time All-American at Georgia before suffering a broken sternum and back in June 1999 after jumping off a cliff into a lake. After two years of rehabilitation, Rankin helped the Lady Bulldogs win the 2001 NCAA Championship.
This week marks the 45th anniversary of Kathy Whitworth's victory at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. The 1967 victory at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, Mass., was Whitworth's first of three LPGA Championship titles…Yani Tseng has been ranked No. 1 in the Rolex Women's World Rankings for 69 consecutive weeks…Cristie Kerr (2010 winner) is the only American winner of the Wegmans LPGA Championship in the last 10 years. The previous American winner was Juli Inkster (1999 and 2000)…Lexi Thompson's oldest brother, Nicholas, qualified on Monday for next week's U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.