Golfers with roots in South Korea are on a roll on the world golf stage. With South Korean Amy Yang’s victory last week at Honda LPGA Thailand, players of Korean heritage have won eight consecutive and 12 of the last 14 LPGA events. That number includes nine players who currently reside in South Korea, Korean-born New Zealander Lydia Ko (two wins) and Korean-American Christina Kim.
The focus on South Korean success comes as the HSBC Women’s Champions is held this week in Singapore – the fifth event of the 2015 LPGA season. Here are a few statistical items to eye:
- There are 20 U.S. players in the field this week, the most of any of the 20 countries represented. Kim and Austin Ernst (Aug. 31, 2014 Portland Classic) are the only American LPGA winners in the last 19 LPGA events. Americans won 11 of the first 17 tournaments on the 2014 schedule. American golfers Angela Stanford, Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer have won the last three HSBC Women’s Champions.
- There are 18 South Korean players in Singapore this week. Since American Mo Martin’s victory at the Ricoh Women’s British Open last July, South Korean players have won 10 times, including two victories by Mirim Lee.
- Many players are already focusing on the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. The men’s competition is scheduled for Aug. 11-14, 2016 at Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janiero and the women follow the next week, Aug. 17-20, on the same course in separate 72-hole competitions. The top 60 players, determined by the Official World Golf Ranking and Rolex Women’s World Rankings on July 11, 2016, will make up the fields for men and women. The top 15 world-ranked players will be eligible, with a limit of four players from one country. Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the rankings, with a maximum of two players from each country that doesn’t already have two or more players in the top 15.
Before finishing T2 at last week’s Honda LPGA, there were signs that Yani Tseng was emerging from a prolonged drought. She recently began working with instructor Claude Harmon III – the grandson of 1948 Masters Tournament champion Claude Harmon and the son of noted instructor Butch Harmon – and trainer David Donatucci – who also works with Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis.The T2 finish was confirmation of the work and also put her in a rare position early in the season. Tseng leads the LPGA in Driving Distance (286.5-yard average) and Putting (24.17 putts per round).
Her Driving Distance statistic is startling. Last week in Thailand, she averaged 325 yards in the first round and 288.13 for the week.
The T2 was Tseng’s best finish since a solo second at last May’s Kingsmill Championship. Her last of 15 career LPGA victories came in March 2012 at the Kia Classic.
Accuracy deluxeAmerican Mo Martin is well on her way to another Driving Accuracy category first. The reigning Ricoh Women’s British Open champion has hit a remarkable 187 of 200 fairways thus far season (93.5 percent), trailing only Hyo Joo Kim, who has played one event and hit 53 of 56 (94.6 percent) fairways.
Martin’s accuracy over 14 rounds includes four rounds where she didn’t miss a fairway (twice at the season-opening Coates Championship). The only round where she missed more that one fairway this season came in the opening round of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic where she missed three fairways en route to a missed cut.
Martin’s last three seasons display her overall accuracy: 83.9 percent in 2012 (ranked third), 85.7 percent in 2013 (first) and 86 percent last season (first). Mika Miyazato hit a record 86.2 percent of fairways in 2011 to set the all-time mark.
Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie are paired together in Thursday’s first round of the HSBC Women’s Champions. Wie is 25, Thompson turned 20 in February and Ko turns 18 on April 24. … After her victory in last week’s New Zealand Open on the Ladies European Tour, Ko is riding a streak of 19 consecutive rounds under par, beginning with the 2014 LPGA season-ending victory at the CME Globe Championship. She has finished in the top nine in eight consecutive starts, including three wins, a T2 and a third. She also shot her career low round, a second-round 61, in winning in New Zealand. … Today (Tuesday, March 3) is National Pancake Day, a noteworthy day for Brooke Pancake, who has a sponsorship agreement with Waffle House. … After this week’s HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, the LPGA takes a week off before resuming play with 15 consecutive events in North America – 14 in the United States. … Golf Channel will televise Thursday’s first round live from 11 p.m.-3 a.m., and the other rounds will be on tape delay (4:30-7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 5-7:30 a.m., on Sunday). Singapore is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.