All Eyes On The Finish Line at the LPGA's Season-Ending CME Group Titleholders
NAPLES, FLORIDA, Nov. 12, 2012 - At the beginning of the 2012 LPGA season, it was a runaway. Coming off a year where she won seven times on the LPGA and 12 worldwide, Yani Tseng was the no-doubt-about-it frontrunner in women's professional golf. Add to that wins in three of her first five tournaments, and Tseng was really sprinting away from her peers.
Fast forward to May, where Stacy Lewis leapt onto the scene with a win in Mobile, and then, just like that, another win in Atlantic City which vaulted her to the goal she had set in January. The girl who spent seven-and-a-half years in a back brace battling scoliosis became the top-ranked American golfer in the world. And in the meantime, while Lewis continued to chase Tseng for the top spot on the Rolex Rankings, a funny thing happened… a race for the Rolex Player of the Year broke out, and Lewis had company.
Enter Inbee Park, who recorded one of the most prolific 10 event stretches in LPGA history between June and October, where she compiled a résumé that sounds more like a great season: two wins, 10 consecutive top-10 finishes, more than $1.8 million and a shot at Player of the Year… if Lewis would just relent. But the 27-year-old American saved her best for last, adding wins in September and October and eventually clinching Rolex Player of the Year - the first American to do so since Beth Daniel in 1994 - last week.
In the midst of a long and arduous Player of the Year race, Shanshan Feng brought the eyes of China - more than one billion strong - to the LPGA with her history-making win at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Feng became the first Chinese-born player to win on the LPGA in what some believe will be the "Se Ri Pak" moment for Chinese golf.
Later in the season, a player known for her fitness traveled to Asia and lapped the field - twice - winning back-to-back events in Korea and Taiwan. Suzann Pettersen, the Norwegian with the textbook swing, jumped onto the scene in October, just 13 months after her memorable fight for The Solheim Cup in Europe.
This week, Park and Lewis will continue the race toward the Vare Trophy with Park holding a slim margin. She holds a good-sized lead in the LPGA Official Money List race, too, but the CME Group Titleholder's $500,000 first-place check is enough to keep Lewis' hat in the ring.
As the players race to the finish line in 2012, one question looms: is the race ending, or just beginning?