Ryu’s win latest in a South Korean surge
South Koreans have dominated the LPGA over the past few seasons but were in the midst of a mini-drought that extended back to late 2013. Then came late summer 2014.
Since South Korean-born Lydia Ko won the Marathon Classic on July 20, only Spain’s International Crown victory has kept the South Koreans out of the winner’s circle. And that inaugural event included a sudden-death team playoff where second-seeded South Korea eliminated the top-seeded American team.
Here’s a look at what has taken place over the last three weeks:
- Rookie Mirim Lee used her long-driving prowess to defeat Inbee Park in a playoff at the Meijer Classic on Aug. 10. The victory, her first on the LPGA, kept her within shouting distance of Ko for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award (1194 points for Ko, 590 for Lee). Lee is ranked eighth in Driving Distance at 262.5.
- With her victory in the Wegmans LPGA Championship on Aug. 17, Park has won five career major championships and four of the last nine majors. Nearly half of her 11 career LPGA titles have come in majors. She has also finished 4-2-1-3 in her last four starts.
- So Yeon Ryu finished 23-under par last week to win the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, her first win in two years. Ryu opened with a course-record 63 and has finished in the top 10 10 times this season. Ryu’s win completed a 1-2-3 finish for the South Koreans in the tournament by Ryu, Na Yeon Choi and Park.
- South Korea also stood out elsewhere in August. Two weeks ago, South Korean-born Gunn Yang, 20, won the U.S. Amateur in Atlanta. Last week, the South Korean boys team won the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Back in Portland
The LPGA will be playing in Portland, Ore., for the 43rd time this week, the longest-running non-major on the LPGA. Only the U.S. Women’s Open, LPGA Championship and Kraft Nabisco Championship have a longer lifespan, with only the Kraft Nabisco being played in one city. The first LPGA event in Portland was the 1972 Portland Ladies Classic at Portland Golf Club, won by Kathy Whitworth. The first tournament at this year’s site, Columbia Edgewater Country Club, was in 1974 when JoAnne Carner shot 5-under par to beat Donna Caponi by two strokes.
The Piller Report
Portland is a good place to catch up with golf’s power couple, Martin and Gerina Piller. Martin and the Web.com Tour played at Pumpkin Ridge, just west of Portland, last week. The LPGA headed to the Northwest from Canada for this week’s Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. Both players missed the cut last week, and Gerina is not playing in Portland.
The couple married in early 2011 and that year became the first husband-wife duo in golf history to share a rookie season on the PGA Tour and LPGA. They also have the rare dual professional careers along with the likes of couples Bobby Cole-Laura Baugh, Allen Miller-Cindy Kessler and Frank Beard-Susie O’Connor.
That first magical season had waned a bit in the last couple of years as Martin lost confidence in his short game and thereby his status on the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour. Two weeks ago, he re-earned his place in golf by winning in Knoxville, Tenn., just as Gerina was playing well at the Wegmans LPGA Championship in Pittsford, N.Y.
Tied for fourth entering the final round, Gerina was nervous on the front nine, going out in 42, and came home with a 75 for a tie for 13th finish. Cristie Kerr told Gerina about Martin’s win just after Gerina made birdie on the 14th hole and she cried going down the fairway.
Martin is starting the Web.com Tour Playoffs, which begin a four-tournament span this week in Fort Wayne, Ind., that could lead to a spot on the 2015 PGA Tour.
A comparative look at the Pillers:
|Hometown||Roswell, NM||Dallas, TX|
|2014 Earnings (Rank)||$365,833 (28)||
|2014 Scoring Average (Rank)||71.129 (20)||69.53 (16)|
|2014 Driving Distance (Rank)||270.072 (2)||298.8 (34)|
|2014 Greens in Regulation (Rank)||74.3% (7)||72.9% (15)|
|Putting (Rank)||30.87 (124)||29.6 (82)|
* - Combined LPGA/Symetra Tours, includes $1,300,240 on the LPGA
** - Combined PGA Tour/Web.com Tour, includes $163,528 on the PGA Tour
Pettersen getting closer
Even though she hasn’t won on the LPGA this season, Suzann Pettersen has been on the brink of victory during the summer. In her last five starts, Pettersen has finished T6-T2-3-T6-T7. The only drawback has been in two majors where she entered the final rounds down by one stroke. She shot 75 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open and finished T2 and a 76 at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and placed T6.
The LPGA will receive prime-time East Coast coverage for every round this week – 6:30-9:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, 7-9:30 p.m. EDT on Friday and Saturday and 7-9 p.m. EDT for Sunday’s final round, all on the Golf Channel. … The LPGA will take next week off as players travel from the northwestern United States to France for The Evian Championship, the final major championship of the season, scheduled for Sept. 11-14.
Topics: Stats and Stuff