Lewis closing on Vare Trophy title
Stacy Lewis has a career-best 69.483 stroke average, but she will need to keep the pedal down this week in hopes of securing the Vare Trophy, which goes to the player with the lowest scoring average.
Second-place Suzann Pettersen (69.587) must beat Lewis by nine strokes this week at Tiburon Golf Club to ease past her in the scoring race. Third-place Inbee Park (69.900) must beat Lewis by more than 30 strokes to come close.
Since at least 1982, there have never been three players to finish below 70 in scoring average in one season. Park must finish 1-under par this week to achieve a sub-70 average.
If she maintains her pace, Lewis’ current average would be the lowest since Lorena Ochoa’s 69.2 in 2006 and she would be the first American winner since Beth Daniel in 1994. The lowest scoring average for one season, 68.696, was established by Annika Sorenstam in 2004.
Since the U.S. Women’s Open, Lewis has recorded nine consecutive finishes of T8 or better (including a withdrawal at the CN Canadian Women’s Open). That includes a win at the Ricoh Women’s British Open and losses by one stroke on the final hole at the Reignwood LPGA Classic in China (to Shanshan Feng) and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico (to Thompson).
Lexi Thompson’s family affair
It’s all in the family for Lexi Thompson. This week, she will be closer to her home of Coral Springs, Fla., when the CME Group Titleholders tees it up in Naples. Plus, her brother Curtis, who plays college golf at LSU, is scheduled to be her caddie. Other family members are sure to be on hand.
Thompson, 18, moved to 10th in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week after claiming her second victory of the year last week at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. It marks the first time since late May that two Americans are in the top 10. Stacy Lewis is currently third. Cristie Kerr was ranked 10th on May 27.
CME Group course
Tiburon Golf Club will be the third different course to host the season-ending CME Group Titleholders. Tiburon Golf Club is a 36-hole facility designed by World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman.
The first CME Group Titleholders was held at Grand Cypress near Orlando in 2011 and moved to Naples and TwinEagles Golf Club in 2012.
Tiburon will host the LPGA this week and the PGA Tour Dec. 9-15 with the men playing the Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout, a two-man competition that is an unofficial event. Last year, TwinEagles hosted both the Champions Tour (ACE Group Classic in February) and the LPGA’s CME Group Titleholders.
And the winners are…
With one tournament remaining this season, here are the nationality totals of the 2013 LPGA winners:
- South Korea (10): Jiyai Shin, Inbee Park (6), Ilhee Lee, Hee Young Park, Amy Yang
- United States (7): Stacy Lewis (3), Cristie Kerr, Jennifer Johnson, Lexi Thompson (2)
- Norway (4): Suzann Pettersen (4)
- Spain (2): Beatriz Recari (2)
- Australia (1): Karrie Webb
- New Zealand (1): Lydia Ko
- China (1): Shanshan Feng
- Taiwan (1): Teresa Lu
With Inbee Park securing the Rolex Player of the Year points title, every major category on the LPGA has been won by a South Korean (earnings, stroke average, Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year). The CME Group Titleholders also has a distinct South Korean flair as both winners (Hee Young Park in 2011 and Na Yeon Choi in 2012) are from South Korea. … The first Titleholders tournament was held in 1937 in Augusta, Ga., at Augusta Country Club, which sits adjacent to Amen Corner. Patty Berg won the first of seven Titleholders that season. … The winner receives $700,000 this week, the largest first-place payout on the LPGA. … Defending champion Na Yeon Choi has a successful record in this event – a T4 two years ago, a win last year and a cumulative total of 20-under par.