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Stats and Stuff: Big week for Ko to conclude epic April

Lydia Ko
Photo Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Imagess

Lydia Ko of New Zealand celebrates after her final putt in the Final Round to win the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at the Lake Merced Golf Club in San Francisco, California.

April 29 2014, Ward Clayton

Big week for Ko to conclude epic April
Lydia Ko’s big week concluded on Sunday with a final-hole birdie to capture the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic by one stroke over Stacy Lewis. The week was monumental for a number of reasons:

1. Momentum: Ko’s victory completed an epic April for the LPGA. Lexi Thompson (age 19) won the year’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, in a battle with Michelle Wie to begin the month. Wie (24) came back to win her home state LPGA LOTTE Championship two weeks ago and then Ko (17) beat world No. 3 Lewis on Sunday for her first professional LPGA title. All three occurred in prime time on Golf Channel on the East Coast of the United States since the venues were on the West Coast and in Hawaii.
2. Ranking: Ko moved up two spots to second in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings behind No. 1 Inbee Park with Lewis standing pat at No. 3 as Suzann Pettersen fell to No. 4. Ko is taking this week off as Park, Lewis and Pettersen tee it up at the North Texas Shootout in Dallas.
3. Time: Time Magazine put Ko among its “100 Most Influential People in the World” in this week’s issue. Ko is the only golfer in the listing and stood alongside other athletes Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer), Jason Collins (basketball), Richard Sherman (football) and Serena Williams (tennis). World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam wrote the profile on Ko, who was the second-youngest person chosen (only Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, 16, is younger).
4. Caddies: Ko has taken the unusual path of having a different caddie for all three of her victories. If you’re local caddie for a LPGA stop, you too could be lucky. In Ko’s two victories in the CN Canadian Women’s Open, she hired a local caddie to help her win. In 2012, it was Vancouver Golf Club member Brian Alexander. In 2013, it was Bruce MacMillan, a 20-plus year Royal Mayfair member. Last week, longtime Lake Merced junior member Domingo Jojola was her caddie. He worked for her at the 2012 U.S. Junior at Lake Merced, where she reached the semifinals. Jojola was Ko’s fourth caddie in the 2014 season – maybe the fifth, if you include her father working for her in the final round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship two weeks ago.
5. Youth: Ko turned 17 during the first round last week. She was born 11 days after Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters Tournament. Here’s a look at the youngest winners in LPGA history, a category Ko dominates but also points out the youth of today’s LPGA (Ko and Lexi Thompson compose six of the eight youngest wins in LPGA history):
. Youngest winners in LPGA Tour history
  Player  Tournament Holes Age
  Lydia Ko 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open 72 16 years, 4 months, 1 day
  Lexi Thompson 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic 72 16 years, 8 months, 8 days
  Lydia Ko 2014 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic 72 17 years, 3 days
  Marlene Hagge 1952 Sarasota Open 18 18 years, 14 days
  Marlene Hagge 1952 Bakersfield Open 18 18 years, 2 months, 15 days
  Lexi Thompson 2013 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 72 18 years, 8 months, 3 days
  Lexi Thompson 2013 Lorena Ochoa Invitational 72 18 years, 9 months, 7 days
  Paula Creamer  2005 Sybase Classic 72 18 years, 9 month, 17 days
  Morgan Pressel  2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship 72 18 years, 10 months, 9 days
  Jessica Korda 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open  72 18 years, 11 months, 16 days
  Paula Creamer 2005 Evian Masters  72 18 years, 11 months, 18 days

Lexi Thompson returns in Dallas
Since winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship on April 6, Lexi Thompson has been busy at home in Florida and making promotional visits. This week, she returns to the LPGA at the North Texas Shootout in what promises to be another busy week.

Thompson’s first major championship victory brought her new attention. She played golf at home with her brother Curtis in Florida and traveled to Europe to visit sponsor Puma’s headquarters in Germany and film a commercial in Milan, Italy.

She also saw her brothers have some success. Older brother Nicholas was in contention at the PGA TOUR’s RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, S.C., and finished T12 two weeks after her Kraft Nabisco victory. Last week, Curtis finished T13 in the SEC Tournament at Sea Island (Ga.) Golf Club. He shot 67 in the final round as LSU shot 17-under 263 to place second behind Alabama.

In addition to her return to the LPGA this week, Thompson will have a big event next Monday in Dallas. “Red Bull Tee Time” will feature Thompson at TopGolf in suburban Dallas, giving insight into her career, offering golf tips to attendees and playing a couple games at the golf entertainment complex, which features a nightclub atmosphere adjacent to a practice range with dartboard-like targets in the ground. She will have similar events in North Carolina and Florida during the summer.

Park closing on marks for No. 1 ranking
Inbee Park, the North Texas Shootout’s defending champion, is in her 55th consecutive week as the No. 1-ranked player in the world. She took over No. 1 on April 15, 2013 and has been on top since. She is one of only eight players who have been No. 1 since the ranking debuted on Feb. 21, 2006 and is closing on Annika Sorenstam’s 61 weeks at No. 1, which is third behind Yani Tseng (110 weeks) and Lorena Ochoa’s record (158 weeks).

Here the No. 1s in the history of the rankings:

Player Weeks No. 1
Annika Sorenstam 61 weeks
Lorena Ochoa 158 weeks
Ai Miyazato 12 weeks
Cristie Kerr  5 weeks
Jiyai Shin  25 weeks
Yani Tseng 110 weeks
Stacy Lewis 4 weeks
Inbee Park 55 weeks

Unique format
This week’s North Texas Shootout doesn’t follow the normal 72-hole, medal-play format. After the first two rounds, the field is cut to the top 70 players followed by a second cut to the top 50 for Sunday’s final round. Additionally, high school and college qualifiers were held in advance of the tournament to give the field even more of a rah-rah feel with two high school and two college players earning invitations.

Dewi Schreefel of The Netherlands will never forget the 12th hole at Lake Merced Golf Club. Schreefel aced the hole in the final round of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic to earn a $100,000 reward from the China Trust Bank. She finished T30 and earned $12,983. Her combined earnings (ace and purse) was greater than every player in the field except the top three. … A rookie to watch out for: Denmark’s Line Vedel finished fourth at the Swinging Skirts, her best career LPGA finish. The 25-year-old is third in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race (Ko is first with 501 points, Mirim Lee second with 195 and Vedel third with 135). … Las Colinas will be a familiar name by the end of May. The LPGA plays Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas this week and the PGA Tour plays around the corner May 15-18 in the HP Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas.

Topics: North Texas LPGA Shootout, Stats and Stuff

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