Lewis leads historically low race for Vare Trophy
As the 2013 season winds down with two tournaments remaining, one of the most hotly contested statistical races is the competition for the Vare Trophy, which goes to the player with the lowest scoring average for the year.
Stacy Lewis leads with a 69.54 stroke average, followed closely by Suzann Pettersen (69.59) and Inbee Park (69.93). Over the final 144 holes of the season, if Pettersen betters Lewis by seven strokes, she would take over first place in the standings. Park’s task is much more monumental as she would need to outscore Lewis by 32 strokes. All three players are entered in this week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational and next week’s CME Titleholders.
The trio is in place to mark the first time since at least 1982 that three players have finished below 70 in scoring average, the continuation of their domination this year. Park must play the final two tournaments 12-under par to achieve a sub-70 average. There have been multiple occasions where two players finished below 70 for the season but not three according to LPGA records. Park, Pettersen and Lewis have won 13 of the 26 tournaments thus far this year and are ranked 1-3 in Rolex Player of the Year, earnings and stroke average categories.
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.
Here’s a look at their stroke averages this season:
Note: The Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic did not count because of its abbreviated course due to heavy rain.
Player of Year race
The Player of the Year race could be finalized this week as Park holds a 38-point lead over Pettersen (290-252). Pettersen must earn at least eight points this week (a top-three finish) and Park none for Pettersen to have a shot at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders next week.
Pettersen has won three times and recorded two thirds in her last five starts (and four wins on the season). She hasn’t finished worse than seventh since the U.S. Women’s Open in late June. Park won six times by mid-summer, including three majors, but has only one top-10 since that last victory in the U.S. Women’s Open.
As for the final two tournaments, Pettersen has two career top-10s, including a second at the Lorena Ochoa in 2010, and Park has one top-10, finishing second behind Cristie Kerr last year in Mexico.
Player of the Year points are awarded for top-10 finishes in tournaments: 30 for first, 12 for second; nine for third; seven for fourth; six for fifth, five for sixth, four for seventh, three for eighth, two for ninth and one for 10th.
Rookie of Year very tight
Germany’s Caroline Masson may have an opportunity to control her position atop the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year standings this week. She is the first alternate for the limited-field event and second-place Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand is not playing.
Masson’s lead in the competition has dwindled to 11 points over Jutanugarn, the co-medalist at last year’s Qualifying Tournament, after Jutanugarn finished T30 last week in Japan and Masson finished T60.
Both are in the field next week at the season finale, the CME Group Titleholders, in Naples, Fla.
Last week’s announcement that Grand Rapids, Mich., will be the site of the Meijer LPGA Classic next August marks the first time since 2000 that the LPGA has played in Michigan (Oldsmobile Classic in East Lansing). The first LPGA event in Michigan was the May 1955 Wolverine Open at Forest Lake Country Club in Detroit, won by Fay Crocker. … I.K. Kim really likes Mexico. She has played in five Lorena Ochoa Invitationals, never finishing worse than 12th, recording a victory in 2010 and three other top-10s and totaling a cumulative 46-under par. … Guadalajara Country Club was originally designed by Texas course architect John Bredemus in the 1940s and redesigned by Bill Love in 2005. … Whoever won the Mizuno Classic in Japan last week was in for a new feeling. Taiwan’s Teresa Lu won her first LPGA event after finishing second three times on the Japan LPGA, including twice in playoffs, this year. South Korea’s Chella Choi came within two strokes of her first LPGA win.