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Stats and Stuff: Halfway leaders

Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Na Yeon Choi of South Korea is sprayed with champagne by players and friends after her four-stroke victory at the 2012 U.S. Women's Open on July 8, 2012 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin.

July 10 2012, Ward Clayton

With the U.S. Women’s Open marking the start to the second half of the 2012 season (15th of 28 events), take a look at some of the trends that have shaped the first half of the season:

Korean dominance: South Koreans have taken the LPGA by storm throughout the first half of the year. With Na Yeon Choi’s U.S. Women’s Open victory, four of the last five U.S. Women’s Opens have been won by a South Korean golfer. Two of the three major championships this year have also been won by South Koreans – Sun Young Yoo at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Choi last week. Additionally, South Koreans lead in the statistical ranks with first place in Greens In Regulation (Yoo, 75 percent), Putting (Inbee Park, 28.5 putts per round) and the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year (So Yeon Ryu, 692 points).

Miyazatos rule: Even though they are not related, Japan’s Ai Miyazato and Mika Miyazato do share something. Ai leads the Money List with $1,059,311, just ahead of Yani Tseng ($1,016,059), in Stroke Average (70.35), Rounds Under Par (28 of 40) and is tied with Tseng for Top-10 Finishes (both at 8-for-12, 67 percent). Mika leads the LPGA in Driving Accuracy (83.8 percent). Ai has two wins this season and Mika has four consecutive finishes of T7 or better.

Long hitter: Canadian rookie Maude-Aimee Leblanc, a 2011 Purdue graduate, has a hold on the Driving Distance category, averaging 282 yards. Brittany Lincicome is second at 278. Leblanc has made four consecutive cuts through the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Lewis’ consistency: Stacy Lewis leads the Rolex Player of the Year race (129 points to Tseng’s 120). She has eight top-five finishes, including victories at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Lewis also leads the LPGA in Birdies (193, 12 more than So Yeon Ryu and Suzann Pettersen).

China’s first victory: After making the cut in all 11 starts this year, including China’s first LPGA victory at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, Shanshan Feng is headed home to China this week for her first visit with friends and family since the June victory.

Hot and cold: Yani Tseng began the 2012 season as if she would establish all types of records, capturing three of the season’s first five tournaments. While she remains the only three-time winner on the LPGA this year, she hasn’t won in her last seven starts and has failed to break par in her last 11 rounds.

Ages: Jessica Korda, at age 18, was the youngest winner of the season when she won the ISPS Honda Australian Open to open the season in early February. Angela Stanford, at age 34, is the oldest winner this season when she won the HSBC Women’s Champions.

The Most: There are 28 players who have played in all 14 official events (the 36-hole HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup is an unofficial event). Just four players have played in every round (50 rounds): Brittany Lang, Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist and Beatriz Recari. These players also played in Brazil, giving them 52 rounds played of a possible 52 on the schedule thus far.

Diversity: Winners this season have hailed from the United States (Korda, Stanford, Lewis twice and Lang), Taiwan (Tseng three times), South Korea (Yoo and Choi), Japan (Ai Miyazato twice), Thailand (Pornanong Phatlum), Spain (Azahara Munoz) and China (Feng).

Choi headed home

U.S. Women’s Open champion Na Yeon Choi returned to South Korea on Monday to see her parents and celebrate the victory at Blackwolf Run. With South Korea being 14 hours ahead of Central Daylight Time in Kohler, Wis., family and friends in Seoul, South Korea watched the conclusion live on Monday morning.

Choi plans to spend a week in South Korea, possibly play in a Japan LPGA event and then on to the next LPGA tournament, the Evian Masters July 26-29 in France. Then she will stop off in London to watch some of the Summer Olympic Games.

Choi received a boost at the Women’s Open from caddie Shane Joel, who caddied for Mark O’Meara on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour for seven seasons and was once rumored to be in the running to replace Steve Williams on Tiger Woods’ bag. The Women’s Open was Joel’s second week working for Choi.

When Choi made a triple bogey on No. 10 in the final round, Joel and Choi started talking about “what airplane tomorrow, or about the car or about the vacation” instead of golf, according to Choi. She steadied herself and went on to record her first major championship title.

 Back and forth

Because of the Summer Olympic Games in London, two LPGA visits to Europe are split up this year. The Evian Masters (July 26-29) normally precedes the Ricoh Women’s British Open. But this year’s Summer Games forced the Women’s British to be pushed back to mid-September. As a result, players will go to France, take a week off and come back to North America for four tournaments before going to Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England Sept. 13-16. The Evian Masters, the next event on the LPGA schedule, had preceded the Ricoh Women’s British on the LPGA schedule since 2003.

Topics: Stats and Stuff

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