Yani Tseng picks up season’s top honors,
Rookie Seo also in spotlight at season-ending LPGA Rolex Reception
ORLANDO, FLORIDA, Nov. 18, 2011 – The LPGA celebrated significant achievements from the 2011 season at last night’s Rolex Reception, hosted at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress following the first round of play at the CME Group Titleholders. LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan and Peter Nicholson, Director of Communications, Rolex Watch USA, officially presented Yani Tseng with her second-consecutive Rolex Player of the Year award and her first-ever Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. Tseng clinched the Rolex Player of the Year with five events remaining on the 2011 schedule. She is the youngest player in LPGA history to win the award twice.
“At the beginning of this season, I don’t think anyone in this room could have predicted that a player would dominate the way Yani has this season,” said Whan. “On behalf of the LPGA, I would like to congratulate Yani for her impressive accomplishments this season and thank her for being such a great global ambassador for the game.”
Tseng, who currently has 11 worldwide wins this season including seven LPGA victories and two major championships, has spent the last 39 weeks as Rolex Rankings No. 1. She leads the Vare Trophy race by more than a full point entering the weekend at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders.
With 12 career LPGA victories, five major championships, two Rolex Player of the Year honors and the 2011 Vare Trophy, Tseng has 20 points toward the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame. She needs just seven more points – and 10 years as a member of the LPGA – to qualify for what is considered one of the toughest Halls of Fame to enter.
LPGA Founder Louise Suggs presented the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award to Hee Kyung Seo, who earned the honor on the strength of five top-20 finishes this season including a second-place finish at the U.S. Women’s Open, where she lost in a three-hole playoff.
Prior to joining the LPGA Tour, Seo played on the KLPGA where she recorded 11 victories including three major championships. In 2009, Seo, whose nickname is “The Supermodel of the Fairway,” was named the Korean LPGA Player of the Year and was the Tour’s leading money-winner.
In 2010, Seo won the Kia Classic as a non-member to earn fully exempt status for the 2011 LPGA Tour season and finished fifth at the Ricoh Women’s British Open and 21st at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Seo’s other top-20 finishes this season included a tie for fourth at last week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational, a tie for sixth at the Avnet LPGA Classic, a tie for 17th at the Sybase Match Play Championship, a tie for 20th at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and a tie for 18th at the Navistar LPGA Classic.
Rolex First-Time Winners Sandra Gal (Kia Classic), Stacy Lewis (Kraft Nabisco Championship) and Momoko Ueda (Mizuno Classic) were also honored.
The Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, named for LPGA Founder and LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Louise Suggs, was established in 1962. Seo is the ninth player of Korean descent to win the award.
The Vare Trophy, named for six-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Glenna Collett-Vare, is awarded each year to the LPGA player with the lowest season scoring average. Established in 1953, the Vare Trophy is one of the most prestigious and coveted LPGA honors and carries the added bonus of a valuable point towards entry into the LPGA Hall of Fame.