Pettersen in the spotlight in Taiwan
With No. 1-ranked Inbee Park and No. 3 Stacy Lewis taking the week off, No. 2 Suzann Pettersen has a good opportunity to make up some ground in the Rolex Player of the Year race.
Pettersen is the defending champion in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship and is the hottest player on the planet, with two wins and two thirds in her last four starts. She hasn’t finished worse than seventh since the U.S. Women’s Open in late June. In 26 rounds beginning at the Manulife Financial Classic, Pettersen’s stroke average is 68.2 and only two rounds were over par.
Pettersen has moved within 68 points of Park for Player of the Year. However, Pettersen will need to finish strong as there are only four tournaments remaining on the 2013 schedule. At this point, she would need to win twice and have another top-five finish and hope that Park doesn’t have a top-10 finish. Points are awarded for top-10 finishes in tournaments, ranging from 30 for first to 1 for 10th.
Pettersen also has a goal of reaching the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings (11.98 for Park, 11.09 for Pettersen).
“I keep an eye on it but it’s not like I wake up and the first thing I glance at is the world rankings,” Pettersen said last week in South Korea. “But I know if I play well towards the end of the year and I win tournaments I can possibly take it from her by Christmas. That's what I’m shooting for but I’m not going to be disappointed if I don't get it. There's a chance, an opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Park has fallen off her lofty pace from earlier this year when she won six times, including three majors. Park placed T28 last week in South Korea and has earned Rolex Player of the Year points only once (a T3 in China two weeks ago) since capturing the U.S. Women’s Open.
Here’s a look at how the top three stand in the race for the Rolex LPGA Player of the Year award:
|Player Points Last Week|
|Inbee Park||290||Finished T28 (0 points)|
|Suzann Pettersen||222||Finished T3 (9 points)|
|Stacy Lewis||200||DNP (0 points)|
Wie’s big comeback
Much has been made about Michelle Wie’s unusual putting style where she bends at the waist and gets as close to the ball as possible. The 24-year-old’s putting style must be working, as she took 26 putts in a bogey-free, final-round 66 last week in South Korea to move from T22 to a T3 finish, her best finish since a T2 at the 2011 CN Canadian Women’s Open.
Wie is ranked 51st in Putting Average (29.85) this season. Where she needs the most improvement is Driving Accuracy, where she is ranked 160th (60 percent).
Wie has three top-10 finishes this season, her most since seven in 2011. The T3 in South Korea had an unusual ending on the par-5 18th at Sky 72 Golf Club. She eagled the hole in the first round, double bogeyed it in the second round and birdied it in the final round.
Yang continues home country trend
When Amy Yang, 24, won for the first time last week in South Korea, she continued a trend at the fall tournament on the LPGA. South Koreans have won eight times in the 12-year history of the tournament, with the only non-South Korean winners being Taiwan’s Candie Kung (2008) and Yani Tseng (2011) and Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (2007 and 2012).
Three players have aced the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan with two top-10 finishes – home country hero Yani Tseng (win and a third, including a cumulative 31-under par), Anna Nordqvist (T4 and T6) and Azahara Munoz (T2 and T8, cumulative 19-under). … ESPN named Nancy Lopez the most influential Hispanic woman in sports during Hispanic Heritage Month. Lorena Ochoa was ranked fifth. A Lopez biography is due in 2014. … All four rounds of the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship will be shown on tape in the United States from noon-3 p.m. on the Golf Channel. … Next week’s Mizuno Classic in Japan is the final 54-hole event of the season. This week and the final two events (Lorena Ochoa Invitational and CME Group Titleholders) are 72-hole tournaments.