Altvater: Marathon Classic field full of Major winners, top-ranked golfersWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Even though the 2014 Marathon Classic is sandwiched between a major championship, the Ricoh Women’s British Open, and the new team event, the International Crown, it has drawn a quality field of the top names in women’s golf.
Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko, former Marathon Classic winner, Paula Creamer and the winner of last week’s Women’s British Open, Mo Martin, are all in Toledo this week.
Lewis is the No. 1-ranked woman player in the world with three wins, and 13 top-10 finishes in 16 starts this season. With nearly $2 million in earnings, she leads the LPGA Tour money list and the Race to the CME Globe.
Lewis was born in Toledo and the city claims her as one of its own.
Wie is finally beginning to fulfill the tremendous potential predicted for her since she was a teenager — although she missed the cut after today’s round at the Marathon Classic. Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open in June at Pinehurst and is behind only Lewis on the money list.
Thompson won the first major championship of the year at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and is ranked No. 5 in the world. At just 19 years old, she is one of the young stars that is making a mark on the LPGA Tour.
Ko was the No. 4 ranked player in the world when she turned professional last October. She already has a win in 2014 and has moved to No 2 in the Rolex Rankings.
Creamer, always a fan favorite, won the Marathon Classic in 2008 and finished as runner-up last year. She has a win this season at the HSBC Women’s Champions in March.
Lewis, Ko, Thompson and Wie give the Marathon Classic four of the top-six ranked players in the world. Add 2012 Marathon Classic winner, So Yeon Ryu to the list and five of the top-10 ranked players can be seen at Highland Meadows this week.
With Ko and Thompson both still teenagers, the LPGA Tour has a strong youth movement pressuring the veterans to keep pace and fight for their spots at the top of leaderboards every week.
Last year Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Lewis won all five major championships and dominated the LPGA Tour. They were dubbed the “Big 3” and between them won 13 events, combined for 45 top-10 finishes and earned over $6 million.
Lewis has continued her success this season, but Park only has one win in 2014 and Pettersen, who has battled a sore back most of the season, has yet to win this year.
In the past, Asians and Europeans dominated the major championships and the LPGA Tour. 2014 is a different story, however. Five different Americans have won 10 tournaments this season and American-born women have won all three majors.
The best women golfers in the world are playing a much different golf course at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania this week than they played at Royal Birkdale last week.
Tree-lined fairways put a premium on accuracy off the tee and small greens require laser-like iron shots and a deft touch.
Marathon has helped generate a new buzz around the annual LPGA Tour event at Highland Meadows and allows the tournament to continue the tradition of generating over $300,000 annually for local children’s charities.
Fred Altvater offers golf tips and videos at www.toledoohiogolflessons.com. Email him at BackNine@toledofree press.com or follow him on Twitter @tolohgolfr.