The 2019 LPGA Tour season is halfway complete with this week’s event, the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, marking the 18th of 32 official events on the schedule. As the summer season continues in the Midwest, let’s reflect on the first half of the year and the progress towards the tour’s major awards.
There have been 14 wins by players age 25 or younger, with the average age of champion being 23.8 years old. At age 32, Eun-Hee Ji is the only player to win in her 30s through 17 events played. In the last four years, two-thirds of the wins on tour have been by players age 25 or younger with just eleven percent of the wins (13) recorded by players age 30 or older.
Rolex First-Time Winners
Three of the last six events in 2019 have been won by Rolex first-time winners including Jeongeun Lee6 (age 23) at the U.S. Women’s Open and Hannah Green (age 22) at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. In each of the last four years, two of the five major championships have been won by Rolex first-time winners. With The Evian Championship and AIG Women’s British Open set to be played in late July and early August, we could see that number increase for this year.
Four players recorded aces on the par-3 15th hole at Blythefield Country Club during the first round of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. This is the greatest number of holes-in-one recorded in a single round on the LPGA Tour since 1992 (the earliest year with available hole scores). The previous record was three aces in a single round scored on three different occasions (2014 Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic – Round 1; 1999 Mercury Titleholders Championship – Round 3; and 1997 Los Angeles Women’s Championship – Round 2).
Carlota Ciganda has recorded 11 eagles in 14 starts. She ranks 10th in driving distance at 275 yards and eighth in putts per greens in regulation at 1.77. If Ciganda keeps this pace up, she has an opportunity to tie or even pass Laura Davies who holds the record for most eagles in a season with 19 in 2004.
Average Driving Distance
Anne van Dam is currently driving the ball 286 yards off the tee, 25 yards farther than the average driving distance for LPGA Tour players at 261 yards. Three players are averaging more than 280 yards on the season. In tour history, only two players have ever ended the season above this mark – Joanna Klatten in 2016 and Karin Sjodin in 2006.
Race to the CME Globe
The average age of the top 20 players in the Race to the CME Globe is 25 years old. Jin Young Ko has led the race the last three months. She’s one of three players with multiple wins this season and one of seven players with six or more top 10s. Three players have won the Race to the CME Globe since it began in 2014 – Lydia Ko (2014, 2015), Ariya Jutanugarn (2016, 2018) and Lexi Thompson (2017). The winners averaged 3.6 wins and 15 top-10 finishes in a season.
Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year
Jeongeun Lee6 has separated herself from the rest of the rookie class and is on pace to take home the trophy, becoming the fifth consecutive Korean player to win this award. Lee6 has earned 889 points in 12 starts that include five top-10 finishes with no finish worse than a tie for 33rd. More than 500 points separates Lee6 from second-ranked Kristen Gillam (385) and third through fifth in the standings is near a 700-point differential. The average points earned by the previous four winners was 1,441.
Rolex Player of the Year
The player of year accolade is far from being decided. However, Jin Young Ko’s performance of six top-5 finishes early in the season still stands as the best. Five players trail Ko by less than 50 points in the Rolex Player of the Year standings. Only 33 points separate second-ranked Sung Hyun Park from Ko. With points awarded for top-10 finishes – a win worth 30 points – and all points doubled at majors, anyone could emerge as the winner.
Rolex ANNIKA Major Award
Jeongeun Lee6, Hannah Green and Jin Young Ko are contending for the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award which will go to the player who has the most outstanding major championship record. Since the award’s launch in 2014, the pathway to victory for the five previous winners – Michelle Wie (2014), Inbee Park (2015), Lydia Ko (2016), So Yeon Ryu (2017) and Ariya Jutanugarn (2018) – has included either a win or third place at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Lee6 holds the notable win this year at the U.S. Women’s Open and a sixth-place finish at the ANA Inspiration. Both Lee6 and Ko have prior success in the majors. Each has been ranked once before in the award standings, having earned points in their first major starts of their careers. In these final award standings, Ko finished in a tie for 13th in 2015 and Lee6 finished in a tie for 26th in 2017.
Keep watching as skill, desire and the competitive spirit of each LPGA player on the roster drives this season to be one of the best on record.