Inbee Park moves to No. 1 during off week
Despite not playing last week, Inbee Park enters the Lotte LPGA Championship this week as the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women's World Rankings. Park, 24, moved past Stacy Lewis, whose No. 1 ranking lasted four weeks, during an off week following her victory in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Park is the second South Korean, after Jiyai Shin in 2010, and the eighth player overall to reach No. 1 since the rankings were introduced in 2006. Her time atop the rankings may also be short lived as Lewis, Yani Tseng and Na Yeon Choi are close behind. It could create a weekly No. 1 hot seat similar to 2010 (see chart below).
Players earn points over a rolling 104-week period with points weighted more heavily for the most recent 13 weeks. The LPGA still calculates world ranking points even during LPGA off weeks.
Here's a listing of the No. 1-ranked players since the first ranking was released on Feb. 21, 2006. Annika Sorenstam officially became the World No. 1 at that time. Since then, eight players (including Park now) have held the top spot, alternating 14 times between them. They include:
|Player||Time at No. 1|
|Annika Sorenstam||61 weeks|
|Lorena Ochoa||158 weeks|
|Ai Miyazato||12 weeks|
|Cristie Kerr||5 weeks|
|Jiyai Shin||25 weeks|
|Yani Tseng||109 weeks|
|Stacy Lewis||4 weeks|
Here is a look at the 2010 season when the No. 1 position rotated 11 times among five players:
|Lorena Ochoa||April 23, 2007-May 2, 2010||158|
|Jiyai Shin||May 3-June 20, 2010||7|
|Ai Miyazato||June 21-27, 2010||1|
|Cristie Kerr||June 28-July 18, 2010||3|
|Ai Miyazato||July 19-25, 2010||1|
|Jiyai Shin||July 26-Aug. 15, 2010||3|
|Cristie Kerr||Aug. 16-Aug. 22, 2010||1|
|Ai Miyazato||Aug. 23-Oct. 24, 2010||10|
|Cristie Kerr||Oct. 25-31, 2010||1|
|Jiyai Shin||Nov. 1, 2010-Feb. 13, 2011||
Visiting Hawaii in the spring
This week's tournament site will be familiar as the Ko Olino Golf Club on Oahu was the previous site of the LPGA's Hawaiian Ladies Open (1990-95) and the LPGA Fields Open (2006-2008). The LPGA had an event in Hawaii nearly every year from 1982 through 2009, including four seasons where three events were played in the 50th state, before returning to the schedule in 2012 with the new LPGA LOTTE Championship.
Winners in Hawaii at Ko Olino have included Beth Daniel, Patty Sheehan, Lisa Walters twice, Marta Figueras-Dotti, Barb Thomas, Meena Lee, Stacy Prammansaudh, Paula Creamer and defending champion Ai Miyazato.
The first Hawaiian event was held in 1982 at the Women's Kemper Open on the Royal Kaanapali North Course on Maui, won by Amy Alcott.
Lewis' last missed cut
Stacy Lewis had a disappointing Hawaii vacation last year at the first LPGA Lotte Championship. She shot 77-73 and missed the cut, her only missed cut in the last two years. She has rebounded from that with the best stretch of her career, with six wins, 16 top-10s and no missed cuts to date. Additionally, her normal caddie, Travis Wilson, missed the LPGA Lotte because of a death in the family and Stacy's father, Dale, stepped in.
"It didn't go very well and we kind of sat down afterwards and figured out what I needed to do off the course and needed their help a little bit to just get me more balance and figure things out," Lewis said last year after winning the Navistar. "So that's kind of the reason that he (Dale Lewis) wasn't there for the first two wins this year. And I didn't want him to get a complex thinking that without him there - I could only win without him there. It's awesome to have my dad here and for him to be able to share in this. He gave me a hug afterwards and he was shaking, so that's why he's not on the bag anymore. But he lives and dies with what I do and he's always keeping track of it, so I'm just glad he could be here to share this one with me."
Youth served in pairing
One of the most interesting first-round pairings this week involves three players not old enough to vote in the United States. New Zealand's 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko (the only amateur in this week's field) is paired with 17-year-old South Korean Hyo Joo Kim and 17-year-old Thai Ariya Jutanugarn. Ko, who turns age 16 next Wednesday, April 24, won the CN Canadian Women's Open last year. Jutanugarn won on the Ladies European Tour in March and placed second at the Honda LPGA Thailand earlier this year on the LPGA. Kim finished 12th at the LPGA Lotte last year and also finished T4 at the Evian.
Ariya's older sister Moriya, age 18, is also in this week's field and is paired with defending champion Ai Miyazato and Stacy Lewis in the first round.
This week's LPGA Lotte Championship will be played Wednesday through Saturday with the Golf Channel showing all rounds live (6:30-11 p.m. on Wednesday and 6:30-9 Thursday through Saturday). … Nate Freiman, Amanda Blumenherst's husband, hit a three-run homer, the first of his career, in Monday night's victory by the Oakland Athletics over the Houston Astros. Freiman has played as the A's first baseman and designated hitter. … In six tournaments this year, only one winner has shot an over-par round - Beatriz Recari a 74 in the final round of her Kia Classic victory three weeks ago.