Lewis’ continued rise
Stacy Lewis’ runner-up finish in the Evian Masters last week was her third second-place finish this season to go along with two victories. Lewis expanded her lead in the Rolex Player of the Year race (141 points to Yani Tseng’s 120) and moved into first in Earnings ($1,200,169 to Ai Miyazato’s $1,095,723) and Top-10 finishes (10 in 15 starts, 67 percent). She also regained the No. 2 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, supplanting U.S. Women’s Open champion Na Yeon Choi behind No. 1 Tseng.
Lewis is also ranked in the top five in the following statistical categories: Birdies (first, 211), Eagles (first, seven), Greens in Regulation (third, 74 percent), Putts per Green in Regulation (second, 1.75), Scoring Average (third, 70.42) and Rounds Under Par (fifth, 33).
Lewis finished second at the Evian Masters for the second consecutive year.
“I actually played really good,” Lewis said. “I had probably four or five putts that I thought I made and just lipped out. I just couldn't really get anything going, and then finally at the end to make some birdies. … I'll keep knocking on the door here and get it sometime.”
Streaking Park, Miyazato
Inbee Park has missed only one cut this season and is riding a streak of five consecutive tournaments with top-10 finishes. These include the Wegmans LPGA Championship (T9), Manulife Financial LPGA Classic (second, playoff loss to Brittany Lang), Walmart NW Arkansas Championship (T4), U.S. Women’s Open (T9) and the Evian Masters (win).
Mika Miyazato had recorded four consecutive finishes of seventh or better before a 73-71 weekend at the Evian Masters resulted in a T16 finish.
Feng on a roll also
Shanshan Feng hasn’t let her first major championship victory and a publicized trip home to China get in the way of her golf.
The Chinese star holed a bunker shot on the final hole of the Evian Masters last week to join a tie for fourth. It was her seventh top 10 of the season and her fourth in the last five starts. She won the Wegmans LPGA Championship in early June to start the successful stretch of play and then went home to China prior to the Evian Masters.
“I was home for two weeks totally and it was so busy – the schedule was nonstop for 10 days in a row,” Feng said. “It started when I arrived at the airport in Beijing. Every time when I went home before only my parents will come and pick me up. This time when I just arrived I saw so much media from China and Korea, too. They were waiting and had the big poster of my picture and were taking pictures and I had interviews. I felt like a star.”
Feng said she may have underestimated her impact on the nation.
“A lot of juniors now say they believe they can be a pro and they want to come out of the country and play maybe in the States or Europe or Japan,” Feng said. “I didn't think that my win would do too much. I want to try to do something, but golf is still not very, how do you say, not very popular in China yet.”
Natalie Gulbis’ T4 at the Evian Masters was her best finish since a T4-T3-2 stretch to end the 2007 season. That was also the year that she captured her only LPGA title at the Evian Masters.
“I have been healthy which – knock on wood – has been great,” Gulbis said. “I’ve made a couple caddie changes. I will be looking forward to this next year.”
South Korea’s 17-year-old amateur Hyo Joo Kim finished T4 at the Evian Masters in an attempt to become the first amateur to win on the LPGA since JoAnne Carner won the 1969 Burdine’s Invitational. Carner shot even par at the Country Club of Miami in the 54-hole event that began the 1969 season. Kim won as a 16-year-old on the Korean and Japan tours earlier this year.
Other amateur winners on the LPGA have included Polly Riley, 1950 Tampa Open; Pat O’Sullivan, 1951 Titleholders Championship; and Catherine LaCoste, 1967 U.S. Women’s Open.
After an off week, the LPGA resumes its schedule next week with the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in Sylvania, Ohio, kicking off a three-week stretch of tournaments. The Jamie Farr tournament was off the schedule in 2011 after beginning in 1984. … The Jamie Farr Toledo Classic will mark a third consecutive week for professional golf in Ohio following last week’s Web.com event in Columbus, Ohio and this week’s PGA Tour event in Akron, Ohio. … South Korea’s Jiyai Shin returned to action last week at the Evian Masters, with a T31 finish, after undergoing wrist surgery earlier this summer. Shin’s previous LPGA start came in mid-May at the Sybase Match Play Championship. She leads the LPGA in Driving Accuracy (83.8 percent) … Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, made her first career LPGA cut last week at the Evian Masters. Woods credited rooming with and being paired with friend Danielle Kang as helping her to relax. She finished T50 after firing three rounds below par before a final-round 78 (that ended with two consecutive birdies). ... Yani Tseng has gone eight consecutive events without a victory (including missed cuts in two of the last three starts), her longest victory drought since 2010 when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and nine events later won the Ricoh Women’s British Open. … With the Summer Olympics taking place in London this summer and golf set to return for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, the results of the Evian Masters displayed the level playing field of women’s golf worldwide. The top 10 included South Korea, Australia, the United States, China, Sweden and Spain.