Race for Rolex Rankings No. 1: Who will claim the position?

CRISTIE KERR

With the race for No. 1 heating up this week at the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont Country Club, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Cristie Kerr is determined to hold onto the top spot. Kerr, who has fourteen career victories including two major championships, has held the No. 1 position for the last two weeks. Kerr ascended to the top of the Rankings after overwhelming the field by 12 shots at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans. The victory was her second in a three-week stretch. She also won the 2010 LPGA State Farm Classic. Kerr has carded three other top-10 finishes this year. She tied for fourth at the season-opening Honda PTT Thailand, second at the HSBC Women’s Champions, and tied for fifth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Kerr is attempting to add a second U.S. Open trophy to her mantel this week. She won the tournament in 2007 and has finished in the top 13 six additional times. Kerr has not missed a cut in an LPGA major championship in her last 35 starts, dating all the way back to 2001. Kerr has been one of the most consistent top performers on the LPGA in the last ten years. She has finished in the top 15 on the money list nine out of the last ten seasons.

Kerr’s game is well-suited to the rigors of a U.S. Open set-up. She is an excellent ball-striker who can hit it long and straight. She currently ranks tied for fifth in greens in regulation, tied for 32nd in fairways hit and tied for 22nd in driving distance. To complete the package, Kerr is also one of the best clutch putters on Tour. She ranks tied for first in greens in regulation putting average. Add to that experience and a determined mind and Kerr will be tough to beat.



 

AI MIYAZATO

Rolex Rankings No. 2 Ai Miyazato is fighting this week to regain her No. 1 status atop the Rolex Rankings. With 23 of the top 23 in the Rankings playing this week at the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont Country Club, the rankings look to be shaken up by week’s end. Miyazato ascended to the No. 1 position after winning the ShopRite LPGA Classic three weeks ago. The reign was shorter than Miyazato had hoped. She held the No. 1 spot for one week before Cristie Kerr won the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans and snatched the top spot from Miyazato.

Miyazato is one of only two multiple winners on Tour this season. The 25-year old from Japan has won four times already this year. She became the first LPGA player in 44 years to win the first two tournaments of the season when she captured the Honda PTT Thailand and the HSBC Women’s Champions. Her third victory came at the Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico. She won for the fourth the day after she celebrated her 25th birthday at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. The victory was her first on American soil. Miyazato is currently leading the LPGA money list.

Miyazato, who has 15 international victories on her resume, became a Rolex First-Time winner at the 2009 Evian Masters. The victory was long-awaited and anticipated for the player who has “rock-star” status in Japan. Miyazato came to the LPGA as a rookie in 2006 with high expectations. With four wins under her belt in 2010 she is playing with renewed confidence and focus.

Miyazato is an exceptional putter. She currently ranks second in putting average and fourth in scoring with an average of 70.07. Miyazato also hits over 75 percent of her fairways, a stat which should serve her well at Oakmont this week. Look for the steady Miyazato to be a factor come Sunday.

 


 

JIYAI SHIN

Rolex Rankings No. 3 Jiyai Shin strives to regain the No. 1 position this week at the U.S. Women’s Open. Shin held the coveted No. 1 spot for seven consecutive weeks after Lorena Ochoa retired from LPGA competition. Shin, who withdrew from the LPGA State Farm Classic for emergency appendectomy surgery, sat out two events only to find her No. 1 ranking taken by Japan’s Ai Miyazato. Miyazato stayed atop the rankings for one week before Cristie Kerr ascended to the top after claiming the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans.

Shin’s return a mere two weeks after surgery has been impressive. She finished tied for third at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans. She then finished fifth at last week’s Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger. Shin has carded three other top-3’s this season and currently ranks sixth on the LPGA money list.

In 2009, Shin had a stellar rookie campaign. She won three times, led the LPGA money list and was the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year. She nearly became the first player since Nancy Lopez in 1977 to lead the money list and earn both the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors. Shin won three LPGA events, including the 2008 RICOH Women’s British Open, as a non-member in 2008.

Shin has played in three U.S. Opens with a career best sixth at the 2007 championship. She has finished no worse than T19 in her previous starts. Nicknamed “Chalk-line” for her accuracy off the tee, Shin’s game should be well-suited to a U.S. Open setup. Shin is also known on Tour as the “Final-round Queen” for her ability to close out tournaments on Sunday. Shin has not been shy about wanting to take the No. 1 ranking back.

 


 

SUZANN PETTERSEN

Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen looks to make a charge to the No. 1 position this week at the U.S. Women’s Open. With 23 of the top 23 in the Rankings teeing it up at Oakmont, the Rankings look to be shaken up by week’s end. Pettersen has been one of the dominant players in 2010 and has been in the thick of the Race to No. 1 all season. She had a chance to supplant Jiyai Shin as the Rolex Rankings No. 1 back in May at the Bell Micro LPGA Classic. Pettersen found herself in a playoff with Brittany Lincicome and SeRi Pak and could have taken over the No. 1 position with a win. Pettersen eventually lost in the playoff for her third runner-up finish of the year.

Pettersen has carded six top-10 finishes this year and has been knocking on the door of the winner’s circle all season. She finished second at the season-opening Honda PTT Thailand, tied for third at the HSBC Women’s Champions, second at the year’s first Major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship and tied for second at the Bell Micro LPGA Classic. Pettersen finished in tie for 11th two weeks ago at the LPGA Championship. She currently sits sixth on the LPGA money list.

Pettersen would relish the chance Sunday to add another Major championship trophy to her collection. She claimed her first Major at the 2007 McDonalds LPGA Championship. Pettersen has five other LPGA victories. Her best career finish at the U.S. Women’s Open is a tie for sixth which she posted at last year’s tournament at Saucon Valley Country Club.

Pettersen is a powerful player with an exceptional iron game. Given the hard, fast greens at Oakmont this week, precise approach shots will be one of the keys to winning. Pettersen is a determined, focused and fiery competitor who knows how to win. A victory this week will help take the sting out of the tough loss suffered at the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year.

 


 

YANI TSENG

The race for the coveted Rolex Rankings No. 1 position heats up again this week at the U.S. Women’s Open. With 23 of the top-23 in the Rankings competing this week, the Rankings look to be shaken up by week’s end. One of the players vying for the No. 1 spot atop the Rankings is current Rolex Rankings No. 5 Yani Tseng. With two major championship trophies on her mantel already, the 21-year old from Taiwan is a Major contender this week at Oakmont.

In her third year on Tour, Tseng is enjoying a successful season in 2010. She has carded four top-10 finishes, including a win at the year’s first Major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She finished third at the season-opening Honda PTT Thailand, tied for third at the HSBC Women’s Champions and tied for fifth at the Sybase Match Play Championship. She currently sits fifth on the LPGA money list.

Tseng was equally impressive in 2009. That year she won the Corning LPGA Classic, recorded 14 top-10’s, and finished seventh on the LPGA money list. In her 2008 rookie campaign, Tseng won the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. She became a Rolex First-Time winner at the 2008 McDonald’s LPGA Championship and finished second five times that season.

Tseng is a powerful and aggressive player with a gentle touch around the greens. She currently ranks fifth in driving distance with an average of 265.9 yards. Expect Tseng to attack the short par-4 holes at Oakmont this week. Watch out come Sunday if she is close to the lead. Tseng shot 68 in the final round of each of her major championship victories.

 


 

ANNA NORDQVIST

Rolex Rankings No. 6 Anna Nordqvist looks to add a second major championship trophy to her collection this week at the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont Country Club. The 23-year old Swede became a Rolex First-Time winner last year when she captured the McDonald’s LPGA Championship. She added another victory to her resume by winning the year-ending LPGA Tour Championship Presented by Rolex in Houston, Texas.

Nordqvist, who finished second behind Jiyai Shin in the 2009 Rolex Rookie of the Year race, continues to make her presence known among the world’s best. Nordqvist has not missed a cut since turning professional and currently sits 14th on the LPGA money list. She has carded two top-10s this season, including a tie for second at the LPGA State Farm Classic. She also won the unofficial Mojo 6 Raceway Golf event earlier this year.

Widely known among her peers as a one of the Tour’s best putters, Nordqvist ranks first in greens in regulation putting average and 13th in overall putting average. Nordqvist’s deft touch will be put to the ultimate test on the sloped, ultra-quick greens at Oakmont. Nordqvist’s calm and confident demeanor on the golf course could also play to her advantage this week. Oakmont County Club is being touted as one of the most difficult U.S. Open venues of all time.

Nordqvist credits her early success on the Tour to hard work, perseverance, a good team and her two years at Arizona State University. Spending time in college helped Nordqvist become more independent and self-reliant, and also helped her to adapt to American culture and the English language. Nordqvist’s team includes swing instructor Henry Reis, mental coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, and fitness trainer Kai Fusser.

 


 

SONG-HEE KIM

The race for the coveted Rolex Rankings No. 1 position heats up again this week at the U.S. Women’s Open. With 23 of the top-23 in the Rankings competing this week, the Rankings look to be shaken up by week’s end. One of the players vying for the No. 1 spot atop the Rankings is current Rolex Rankings No. 7 Song-Hee Kim. The 22-year-old from South Korea has delivered one stellar performance after another this season. In 11 events, Kim has posted 10 top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at last week’s Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger.


Kim has all the artillery to become a Major champion. She finished no worse that T-21 in an LPGA Major in 2009 and she has already carded a third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and a second at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans this year. Kim is an excellent ball-striker who ranks first in greens in regulation with a scoring average of 69.50. Kim is the highest ranked player in the Rolex Rankings without an LPGA victory. In her four years on the LPGA Tour she has carded 29 top-10s and four runner-up finishes. Kim graduated to the LPGA in 2007 after finishing first on the 2006 Duramed FUTURES Tour money list with five wins and FUTURES Tour Rookie of the Year honors.

Topics: Rolex Rankings

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