"Quite simply, there has never been a more competitive time on the LPGA Tour," said LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan. "We have players from very different places who are all striving for the very same goal -- to be the best in the world. Whether it's Yani's push for the record books, Cristie's push to put America back on top or whether we are about to experience "Suzann's time," every tournament will make a huge difference and the next six weeks are going to answer a lot of questions."
This week's Wegmans LPGA Championship kicks off a stretch of three majors in six weeks on the LPGA Tour. The U.S. Women's Open will follow at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Col. on July 7-10 and on July 28-31 the storied Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland will host the RICOH Women's British Open for the first time. Additionally, although not a major, the Evian Masters is slated for July 21-24 in Evian-Les-Baines, France and features a purse of $3.25 million.
As the LPGA Tour gears up for three majors in the next six weeks, here is a look at where things currently stand:
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng continues to maintain a strong grasp on the world's top spot this season, although No. 2 Cristie Kerr and No. 3 Suzann Pettersen each have a chance to take over as the world's best this week. Following Tseng's seventh career victory at the 2011 LPGA State Farm Classic, she will now have three opportunities to become the youngest golfer in history to secure four major titles, a record currently held by Se Ri Pak (24). Tseng, 22, fell just shy of achieving that distinction in March when she finished runner-up to Stacy Lewis at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Although still chasing four, Tseng is the youngest player in LPGA history to win three majors by capturing the 2008 LPGA Championship, 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship and the 2010 RICOH Women's British Open.
Becoming the youngest golfer to four majors isn't the only feat that Tseng will be chasing over the upcoming stretch of majors. A victory at this year's U.S. Women's Open will complete Tseng's quest for the Career Grand Slam, a feat accomplished by only Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright, Pat Bradley, Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam. She would also become the youngest ever to complete the Career Grand Slam, beating out Webb who was 26 years, 6months and 3 days when she accomplished the feat.
Tseng has held the title of Rolex Rankings No. 1 since the start of the LPGA season and capped off a streak of four straight victories world-wide at the season-opening Honda LPGA Thailand. But she certainly has plenty of challengers vying for that top spot, including Cristie Kerr, who last week jumped to No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings following her third straight runner-up finish at the LPGA State Farm Classic. Kerr fell one shot shy of her 15th career victory the previous week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and she lost to Suzann Pettersen in the finals of the Sybase Match Play Championship in mid-May.
Kerr will attempt to overtake Tseng in the race for the top spot in the Rolex Rankings this week when she tries to defend her title at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Last year Kerr won her second career major by a record-breaking 12 shots at Locust Hill Country Club. Kerr is the only American who has ascended to No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, having held the spot for five weeks in 2010.
In addition to chasing Tseng for the top spot in the Rolex Rankings, Kerr is also pushing her for the lead on the 2011 LPGA Official Money List. Tseng currently is first in earnings this season with $905,725 in 2011 while Kerr is second with $716,760. With two victories and seven top-10 finishes in nine events this season, Tseng also has a stronghold on the race for the 2011 Rolex Player of the Year. She is currently 37 points ahead of her nearest competitor, leading with 109 points while Webb, the only other player to win twice on the LPGA Tour this season, is in second with 72 points. But points for the race will double during each of the three major tournaments.
Hee Kyung Seo currently leads the race for the 2011 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year. Seo has 201 points, having played in eight events, while Christel Boeljon is second with 106 points in three events. But there is a cluster of rookies not too far behind them including Jennifer Song (69 points), Stephanie Sherlock (66), Jenny Suh (62), Jenny Shin (49), and Jessica Korda (47). So this is a race that likely won't be decided until much later in the season.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing races that will unfold over the new few weeks is the race to make the U.S. Solheim Cup team. The competition for a spot in the top 10 is heating up and the look of the 2011 team is still very much up in the air. Kerr, a five-time member of the U.S. team, continues to dominate the race with 612 points. Morgan Pressel (363.5), Michelle Wie (358), Angela Stanford (356), and Kraft Nabisco Championship winner Stacy Lewis (335.5) currently round out the top five. But with three major championships coming up and double points available at each, there is plenty of time for other players to earn their way into the mix.
Right now there are eight players within 100 points of Christina Kim, who currently sits in 10th place. Six total tournaments remain for players to earn points before the team is announced following the conclusion of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. U.S. Captain Rosie Jones will add two captain's picks to the 10 points qualifiers to round out the 12-player team that will take on Alison Nicholas and the Europeans, Sept. 23-25, 2011 at Killeen Castle in Ireland.