The 2018 LPGA Tour season featured 32 official events played in 13 countries. The average age of LPGA winners in 2018 was 24.6 years with 23 events won by a player aged 25 years or younger.
At age 19, Nasa Hataoka was the youngest winner on Tour this year. Hataoka followed up her Rolex first-time win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G with a win in her home country at the TOTO Japan Classic.
Since the start of 2011, there have been 30 wins by teenagers; including four wins at major championships, which is 13 percent of the wins on Tour in the last eight years.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
In total, eight wins were by players in their home country which is one more than 2017. Since 2016, 16 wins have been won by players on home soil.
Notable home country wins this year included: Georgia Hall capturing the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club to become a Rolex first-time winner in her rookie year, Brooke Henderson winning Canada’s national championship, CP Women’s Open, at the Wascana Country Club, and Lexi Thompson’s emphatic win on the final day of the season at the CME Group Tour Championship in front of friends and family at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
THE REPORT CARD IS IN
Earlier this season, we looked at the following statistical categories – birdies, eagles, top 10s and sub-par rounds – and made projections as to who would be most likely to lead each of these statistics once the season was complete.
The report card is in and the projections accurately identified the player who would lead eagles and top 10s. Birdies and sub-par rounds were close to the projected numbers, but the players were slightly different due to Ariya Jutanugarn’s dominant and consistent performance down the stretch.
After these projections were run following the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, Jutanugarn compiled six top-5 finishes in her next 10 starts. Jutanugarn finished no worse than 36th down the stretch.
By season’s end, Jutanugarn rewrote the LPGA awards history by sweeping all season-ending awards to become the first player in LPGA Tour history to accomplish this feat. She won the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award, Rolex Player of the Year, Vare Trophy, Money Title, LEADERS Top 10 competition and the Race to the CME Globe.
Jutanugarn joined Lorena Ochoa (2007, 2008) and Yani Tseng (2011) as players who have won the Vare Trophy, Money Title and Rolex Player of the Year in the same season and were ranked Rolex Rankings World No. 1 during the season-ending event.
Jutanugarn broke her previous top-10 record of 16 in a season in 2016 by ending 2018 with 17 top-10 finishes. She averaged a top-10 finish every 1.65 events played.
Jutanugarn made 470 birdies in 2018, which is a single season LPGA record. She also passed her sister on the list of most sub-par rounds in a season with 80, which is three more than her sister Moriya Jutanugarn had in 2017 at 77. Stacy Lewis holds the record for most sub-par rounds in a season with 85 in 2014.
Lexi Thompson played in eight events after the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Thompson added an additional five eagles to bring her season total to 15 eagles in 20 events played, ranking fourth most in a season in LPGA history. She averaged 0.75 eagles per event.
Thompson’s win at the CME Group Tour Championship continued a trend for her of at least one win in six consecutive seasons. She finished the season ranked second in greens in regulation percentage at 75.69% behind only Jin Young Ko and has not been ranked outside the top 4 in GIR since 2015.
Jin Young was awarded the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors with four events remaining in the 2018. She ended the season ranked 10th on the official money list with five other rookies ranked in the top 80 – Georgia Hall, Yu Liu, Emma Talley, Hannah Green and Maria Torres.
Lydia Ko’s winless streak since her win at the 2016 Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I ended at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship in Daly City, California. Lydia recorded her 15th LPGA Tour win at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she’s now won three times in her professional career (2014 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, 2015 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic presented by JTBC).
Sei Young Kim set a new 72-hole LPGA scoring record (31 under par) at Thornberry Creek at Oneida in Wisconsin. She surpassed her previous record of 27 under par, set in 2016 at the JTBC Founders Cup that also tied Annika Sorenstam at the 2001 Standard Register PING.
Twenty-eight holes-in-one were recorded in 2018, which is the most since 2016 when there were 27 aces. Hataoka and Daniela Darquea each recorded two eagles during the middle of the season.
The 2018 season produced many notable moments as 26 different winners from 10 countries won events with 10 of the players being Rolex first-time winners. This ties the record for the greatest number of different winners in a season (1991).