Altvater: ‘Big 3′ dominate LPGA Tour in 2013Written by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
A new “Big 3” has taken over women’s golf. Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis have dominated the LPGA Tour this season.
Park, Pettersen and Lewis have accounted for 12 LPGA Tour wins, including all five major championships this season.
Park set the golf world buzzing earlier in the year by winning the first three majors on the LPGA Tour. Only Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Babe Zaharias won the first three majors of the golf season. Tiger Woods won three consecutive majors in 2000, but he did not win the Masters that year.
In addition to her three majors, Park had three wins on the LPGA Tour. She won early and often collecting her first win of the year at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. Her second win came at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the year.
Park finished fourth in the Lotte Championship, won the North Texas Shootout and was seventh at the Kingsmill Championship before missing her only cut of the season at the Pure-Silk Bahamas Classic.
She won her next three starts, the Wegman’s LPGA Championship, WalMart NW Arkansas Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack.
After winning her third consecutive major title at the U.S. Women’s Open, the media pressure on Park became stifling. She finished T-42 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, T-67 at the Evian Championship and has only had one top-10 finish in her last eight events.
Park ascended to the No. 1 spot on the Rolex Rankings and with over $2.3 million in earnings also leads the LPGA Tour money list.
World No. 2 Pettersen began her run of strong play last fall when she won the KEB HanaBank and the Sunrise Championships back-to-back in October.
She continued to dominate this year and has 14 top-10 finishes in her 21 starts. She finished T-3 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, won the Lotte Championship, finished third in Texas and was runner-up at Kingsmill in consecutive starts.
Pettersen was third at the Wegman’s LPGA Championship, missed the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open and finished T-4 in the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Her real run of dominance began with a win at the Safeway Classic at the beginning of September. In her next start she won the final major of the year at the Evian Championship in France.
She continued with T-3 finishes at both the Sime Darby Championship in Malaysia and the KEB HanaBank Championship in China. Pettersen also successfully defended her title at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship last week.
Four wins, one a major, 14 top-10 finishes and $2.2 million in total earnings this year have firmly established Pettersen as a dominant force in women’s golf.
Lewis had four wins in 2012, topped the LPGA Tour money list and was the first American named LPGA Tour Player of the Year since 1994.
She continued her strong play this year with two wins in March at the HSBC Women’s Champions and the RR Donnelley Founders Cup. She moved past Yani Tseng to become the No. 1 ranked player in the Rolex Rankings and held the top spot for four weeks before Inbee Park began her major run.
Lewis added the second major title of career at the Ricoh Women’s British Open in August. She has been the most consistent player on the LPGA Tour with 16 top-10 finishes in 23 starts and has accumulated over $1.7 million in total earnings.
Park leads Pettersen and Lewis by over 200 points in the world rankings. These three have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the world. They lead the fourth spot, Lydia Ko, by over 250 points.
The LPGA Tour season is winding down and Pettersen is still seeking to beat Park for the tour money title.
These three ladies seem to be pushing one another to improve and golf fans are the beneficiary of their great play.