South Koreans golfers on an all-time roll
South Korean golfers have been a force on the LPGA for years, but nothing quite like the current streak. These include:
- South Koreans Sun Young Yoo (Kraft Nabisco), Na Yeon Choi (U.S. Women’s Open) and Jiyai Shin (Ricoh Women’s British Open) have won three of the four major championships this year. It is the first time three players from one country have won three major championships in a year since 1999 when Americans Dottie Pepper (Kraft Nabisco) and Juli Inkster (LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open) won three of four.
- China’s Shanshan Feng (Wegmans LPGA Championship) completed the sweep of the majors by Asian players. However, South Korea’s Eun-Hee Ji finished T2 at the second major of the year.
- Six of the last seven LPGA events have been won by South Koreans and eight consecutive LPGA events have been won by Asian players. In order, they include Japan’s Ai Miyazato (Walmart NW Arkansas), South Korea’s Choi (Women’s Open), South Korea’s Inbee Park (Evian Masters), South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu (Jamie Farr Toledo Classic), Japan’s Mika Miyazato (Safeway Classic), South Korea native amateur Lydia Ko (CN Canadian Women’s Open) and South Korea’s Shin (Kingsmill Championship, Ricoh Women’s British).
- Seven consecutive majors have been won by Asian players. American Stacy Lewis (2011 Kraft Nabisco) was the last non-Asian winner.
This week’s course
The Senator Course at Capitol Hill in Prattville, Ala., has been the site of a professional golf event every year since 2001 except for 2006. The course, located 13 miles north of Montgomery, Ala., can play as long as 7,685 yards, which it measured in 2002 for the Web.com Tour’s season-ending event. For this week’s Navistar LPGA Championship, the course will play approximately 6,600 yards and to par 72.
Here is the history of professional golf at the course:
|2001||Buy.com Tour Championship||Pat Bates||-4|
|2002||Buy.com Tour Championship||Patrick Moore||-10|
|2003||Nationwide Tour Championship||Chris Couch||-18|
|2004||Nationwide Tour Championship||Nick Watney||-15|
|2005||Nationwide Tour Championship||David Branshaw||-12|
|2007||Navistar LPGA Classic||Maria Hjorth||-14|
|2008||Navistar LPGA Classic||Lorena Ochoa||-15|
|2009||Navistar LPGA Classic||Lorena Ochoa||-18|
|2010||Navistar LPGA Classic||Katherine Hull||-19|
|2011||Navistar LPGA Classic||Lexi Thompson||-17|
Shin’s busy final days
Jiyai Shin has won two consecutive tournaments by playing a combined 62 holes on the scheduled final day – 63 if you consider the one playoff hole on Monday to win the Kingsmill Championship.
She played eight sudden-death playoff holes at Williamsburg, Va., on Sunday, Sept. 9, followed by the winning one hole on Monday, Sept. 10. She departed for England that night, and played 36 holes in the weather-plagued Ricoh Women’s British Open last Sunday, Sept. 16. Shin returned to her native South Korea this week.
She is riding another streak. Her French caddie, Florian Rodriguez, started working with Shin at the Kingsmill event and is 2-for-2 on Shin’s bag.
Shin missed two months of the season because of left hand surgery in late May. She returned to the LPGA at the Evian Masters in late July.
Paula Creamer is not in the field for this week’s Navistar LPGA Classic, but the veteran has had quite a two-week stint. She lost in a nine-hole playoff at the Kingsmill Championship and then fought through difficult weather conditions to shoot a final-round, even-par 72 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Creamer and Lexi Thompson were the only two players in the field to shoot par or better during a rainy, windy final round. Creamer was 4-over for the day through 14 holes at Royal Liverpool Golf Club and finished birdie-eagle-par-birdie to get back to even for the day.
“It was like we were standing under a shower,” Creamer said. “That’s the best way I can describe it. It was hard, my goodness gracious.”
Playoff or blowout
The LPGA has experienced a feast or famine with close finishes this season.
The season began in February with two large playoffs (six players and four players) and a one-stroke victory. 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).
The last month had one glimpse at a close finish, a near-record nine-hole sudden-death playoff between Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer at the Kingsmill Championship two weeks ago. There were two other routs – So Yeon Ryu by seven strokes at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic one month ago and Shin by nine at last week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open (a record victory margin for that event).
This week’s Navistar LPGA Classic marks the final U.S. event on the LPGA schedule for two months. The LPGA begins play Oct. 11 in consecutive weeks in Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Mexico before returning to Naples, Fla., for the season-ending CME Group Titleholders Nov. 15-18. … Last week’s T8 finish at the Ricoh Women’s British Open was Stacy Lewis’ season-leading 13th top-10 finish in 20 starts. So Yeon Ryu is second with 10 in 18 starts. … Lewis expanded her lead in the Rolex Player of the Year standings with the finish at Royal Liverpool. She is more than 30 points (the amount for a win this week) ahead of second-place Yani Tseng. Both are in the field at the Navistar LPGA Classic.