Only once in the five-year history of the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award has the winner taken home two of the five LPGA major championships and that was 2015 when Inbee Park won both the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open. Who will be the next to grab this prestigious award with multiple titles?
With her victory June 2 at the U.S. Women’s Open, Jeongeun Lee6 joined ANA Inspiration winner Jin Young Ko as champions of the first two majors of 2019. And with 70 points to 60 by Ko, Lee6 moved out to a slim lead with three majors coming up in the next two months.
Trailing Lee6 and Ko are Lexi Thompson with 42 points; So Yeon Ryu, Angel Yin and Mi Hyang Lee with 24 and Carlota Ciganda and In-Kyung Kim at 14. As of now, only Lee6 and Ko can take home the title since to win a player must win a major, no matter how many points they have.
“Jeongeun Lee6’s maiden victory at the U.S. Women’s Open was very impressive,” said Annika Sorenstam, the woman for whom the RAMA was named. “She played superbly and hung in there down the stretch to beat some great players. 6’s story is amazing and I’m very happy for her. This will be a life changer for her.”
Sorenstam should know. The U.S. Women’s Open changed her life when she won it in consecutive years 1995-96 and then a third time in 2006, making it the last of her 10 LPGA major championships.
While Park is the only one of the five RAMA winners to capture two majors in the same year she won the award, three of the other four RAMA winners also have multiple major titles -- Ryu, Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko. The fifth winner was Michelle Wie in 2014.
The RAMA expands a decades-long relationship between Rolex and the LPGA and added this award to the Rolex Player of the Year, Rolex Rookie of the Year and Rolex Rankings as honors for players to chase.
“I am very proud to have this award with Rolex and the LPGA,” Sorenstam said. “It’s an honor. We have had amazing players win the first five years, which is what it is all about. The cream should rise to the top in majors.”
Sorenstam certainly rose to the top in the majors. Her total of 10 trails only Patty Berg (15), Mickey Wright (13) and Louise Suggs (11) on the LPGA career list.
“Rolex began its association with women’s golf in 1980,” said Arnaud Boetsch, Director of Communication and Image for Rolex. “The establishment of the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award aligns perfectly with our philosophy of rewarding exceptional achievement.”
With three more majors to go before this year’s honor is determined after the AIG Women’s British Open, the 2019 champ could be a fresh face or the first two-time winner. Lee6 and Ko certainly have a leg up on the honor that will be presented at the Rolex Awards dinner in Naples during the CME Group Tour Championship.