Altvater: American women dominating LPGA Tour this yearWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
If you are looking for a reason to attend the Marathon Classic at Highland Meadows next week, here is a good one: American women golfers have won 10 of the 16 LPGA Tour events held thus far in 2014.
This is much different than in recent seasons when Asian and European ladies captured most of the big checks and trophies passed out on the LPGA Tour.
Annika Sorenstam from Sweden and Australia’s Karrie Webb were the dominant players from 1995-2008. Lorena Ochoa from Mexico took a turn as the leading lady golfer until she retired to raise a family.
Yani Tseng from Taiwan was the No. 1 player in the world for 109 consecutive weeks in 2011-13 and won five major championships.
Last year, South Korean Inbee Park won six tournaments including three consecutive major titles and jumped over Toledo-born Stacy Lewis to become the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
The Americans were even outplayed at the 2013 Solheim Cup on their home turf in Colorado. On paper the U.S. team led by Captain Meg Mallon was clearly superior to the Europeans. But games aren’t played on paper, and the Europeans soundly defeated the Americans 18-10 for their first-ever win on American soil.
In a recent interview with Lewis, I asked her why Americans were winning this season on the LPGA Tour.
“I think this trend of the Americans winning goes back to the Solheim Cup last year. We just got flat-out outplayed by the Europeans. It was a big wake-up call for us. On paper we looked like this great team, but they just flat-out out played us,” Lewis said.
“The thing is, we had the talent and I kept telling everyone American golf is in a great place. A few of the girls were pretty young and just needed experience. I think you are seeing even though they are still young they have that one or two years of competition under their belts and are learning how to win and play under pressure.”
Twenty-one-year-old Jessica Korda was on that losing U.S. Solheim Cup team. She started out the season with a win at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and added a second win at the Airbus LPGA Claissic in May.
Nineteen-year-old Lexi Thompson won the first women’s major title of the year at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March and Lizette Salas got her first tour victory at the Kingsmill Championship.
Paula Creamer, one of the most popular American players on the LPGA Tour, had not won on the LPGA Tour since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open, but won the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore in March. Creamer finished a close second to Spain’s Beatriz Recari at the Marathon Classic last year.
Perhaps the most exciting American woman to win this year on tour has been Michelle Wie. Golf fans have been waiting for her to be a consistent winner on the LPGA Tour for several years and it appears she is ready to accept the challenge.
She has two wins and 10 top-10 finishes in her 14 starts this season. She won her first major title at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst last month and was the only woman to break par at that iconic venue.
Wie has moved up to No. 6 in the Rolex Rankings and is No. 2 behind Lewis on the LPGA Tour money list and the Race to the CME Globe.
Not to be outdone, Lewis regained her No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings with three wins and 13 top-10 finishes in 15 tournaments this season. She also leads the LPGA Tour money list and the Race to the CME Globe.
Lewis also finished third at the Kraft Nabisco and runner-up to Wie at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Veteran Cristie Kerr does not have a win this season, but has two runner-up finishes this year and is on the verge of finding the winners circle again.
With Lewis (No. 1), Thompson (No. 5), Wie (No. 6) and Kerr (No. 10) all in the Top 10 of the Rolex Rankings, American women hold four of the Top 10 positions in the world.
Thompson and Wie have won the first two major tournaments contested this season and Korda, Lewis and Wie all have multiple wins on the LPGA Tour.
Prior to Wie’s win at the U.S. Women’s Open this year at Pinehurst, South Korean women had won five of the last six U.S. Women’s Opens contested.
Women’s collegiate golf programs are developing golfers that are ready to compete and win on the LPGA Tour. We are seeing the results from the junior golf programs and excellent coaching that American women receive at a young age.
Women’s golf in the United States is growing and is in a good place right now. The proof is in the winning and American women are winning in bunches on the LPGA Tour.
All of this talent will be on display this week at Highland Meadows Golf Club in the Marathon Classic.
So if you need a good excuse to come on out to the golf course, do your daughters, granddaughter and other young ladies in your life a favor and show them what is possible if a young girl dares to dream.
Fred Altvater offers golf tips and videos at www.toledoohiogolflessons.com. Email him at BackNine@toledofree press.com or follow him on Twitter @tolohgolfr. The full Stacy Lewis interview can be heard at http://bit.ly/backninelewis.