The LPGA Tour will culminate its 2010 season at the LPGA Tour Championship at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. With year-ending awards and a first-place prize of $225,000 on the line, the season finale will likely put a punctuation mark on the end of an exciting and highly competitive LPGA Tour season. The top-nine ranked players in the world – Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jiyai Shin, No. 2 Suzann Pettersen, No. 3 Cristie Kerr, No. 4 Yani Tseng, No. 5 Na Yeon Choi, No. 6 Ai Miyazato, No. 7 In Kyung Kim, No. 8 Song-Hee Kim and No. 9 Paula Creamer – will join Rolex Rankings No. 15 and defending champion Anna Nordqvist in the 120-player field.
The 72-hole event will feature a total purse of $1.5 million and a unique two-cut format. The field will be reduced to the low-70 players and ties after 36-holes and to the low-30 players and ties after 54 holes. Nordqvist fired rounds of 70-68-65 at last year’s rain-shortened event to post a two-stroke victory over Lorena Ochoa. Nordqvist, however, will defend her title at a new venue this year. The tournament moved from the Houstonian Golf and County Club in Richmond, Texas, to Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando.
Several year-end races will be decided this week. The LPGA money list title, Vare Trophy and Rolex Player of the Year are still up for grabs. Choi and Shin are locked in a two-player battle for the top of the LPGA official money list. Choi, who leads Shin by$34,790, is searching for her first money list title, while Shin is looking to post the honor in back-to-back years. Choi also currently leads the Vare Trophy contest with a scoring average of 69.77. She holds a slim .09 shot advantage over Kerr who averages 69.86.
Five players, including Choi and Kerr, still have the chance to become the 2010 Rolex Player of the Year. Tseng currently leads the Player of the Year race with 188 points. She holds a nine-point advantage over her closest competitor Miyazato who has 179 points. Choi stands in third place with 174 points, while Kerr is hot on her heels with 173. Shin rounds out the Player-of-the-Year contenders with 170 points. With a win carrying a point value of 30, any of the four players giving chase to Tseng can emerge Sunday as the Rolex Player of the Year.
The LPGA Tour Championship will also decide who finishes the 2010 LPGA Tour season as the Rolex Rankings No. 1. The battle for the top spot in the Rolex Rankings has been hotly contested all year. Shin arrives in Orlando as the Rolex Rankings No. 1 for the fifth consecutive week. The top spot has been traded nine times since Lorena Ochoa retired as the No. 1 back in May. Shin, Miyazato and Kerr have all taken their turn at the top, while Pettersen, Tseng and Choi continue to be embroiled in the mix each week.
This week’s season finale is not just a battle for the year-end awards. Many LPGA Tour players are jockeying for key positions on the LPGA money list. The top-80 players on the money list at the end of the week will be placed into the coveted Category 1 on the 2011 LPGA Priority List. Players finishing 81st -100th will be in Category 11, while players no. 101-125 will be seeded in Category 15. Players outside of the top 125, who do not fall into the priority list based on previous years’ performance, will not maintain status on the 2011 LPGA Tour.
The LPGA Tour Championship will air all four days on Golf Channel. LPGA Tour veteran and 20-time LPGA Tour winner Laura Davies will wear a microphone for the first round of play. Davies, who has won five times on the LET this year, is only two points shy of earning a spot in the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame.
Golf Channel times:
December 2 – 1:30-3:30pm ET
December 3 – 1:30-3:30pm ET
December 4 – 7:30-9:30pm ET
December 5 – 7:30-9:30pm ET
Topics: Tournament Preview