The Back Nine: 5 women who could challenge Yani Tseng at the Kraft NabiscoWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Yani Tseng has won four of the last eight women’s major championships. She has won three of the first five events of 2012 and has been the No. 1 ranked player for 59 weeks.
Is there anyone on the horizon who can give her some competition?
Alexis Thompson is only 17 years old and should be picking out prom dresses instead of deciding which iron to pull from her golf bag.
LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan granted Thompson a special exemption giving her LPGA Tour membership for the 2012 season after she won the Navistar LPGA Classic in September even though she was still under the mandatory LPGA age requirement of 18.
Thompson also picked up a win on the Ladies European Tour (LET) at Abu Dhabi in the fall. She has been qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open since she was 12.
Lexi has not challenged in the four LPGA events that she has played in thus far in 2012. She has two top 25 finishes to go along with a T-37 and T-51 in her four starts.
She has the length off the tee, the putting game and the desire to provide strong competition for Yani. At 17 it may take her a little time to become accustomed to the constant grind of travel and the demands made on her time.
Another young lady that could offer some problems for Tseng is Michelle Wie. She just graduated from Stanford this spring. Maybe a degree from that esteemed center for higher learning will help her improve her putting.
Wie is 22 and was a child golf prodigy. She turned professional in 2005 at the ripe old age of 15. Her phenomenal game and prodigious length off the tee made her an instant sensation and brought her sponsor’s exemptions to play in some men’s events on the PGA Tour.
Wie became a media darling more than a serious golfer. The LPGA’s age restriction kept her from competing regularly on the LPGA tour. She was forced to accept invitations to whatever events would have her.
Nike, as well as other deep pocket corporations, paid her millions of dollars to hawk their products. She has become wealthy but her brilliant golf ability has not been realized.
Wie is a big girl now. It is time for her to dedicate herself, step up her game and become a strong American presence on the LPGA.
The LPGA started the 2012 season with the Australian Women’s Open held at one of the most iconic golf courses in the world, Royal Melbourne. Still a teenager, Jessica Korda collected her first LPGA win as an 18 year old.
Korda was forced to survive a six-woman playoff for the win at the Australian Women’s Open.
She had an outstanding amateur career. Jessica made the cut in both the 2008 and 2009 U.S. Women’s Opens and was runner-up in the 2010 U. S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
Korda has professional sports in her bloodline. Her father, Petr Korda, was a world class professional tennis player and won the 1998 Australian Open Tennis Championship.
Jessica Korda will be a name to watch on LPGA leader boards for many years to come.
Stacy Lewis is the defending champion at the Kraft Nabisco and always seems to perform well in the big events
She had an outstanding amateur career. In 2007 she won the NCAA Division 1 Championship and was named Golf Digest Amateur of the Year.
Lewis even won the rain-shortened 2007 LPGA NW Arkansas Championship as an amateur.
She officially joined the LPGA Tour in 2009 and won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco, her only LPGA win thus far. She has had top 10 performances at the U.S. Women’s Open and the LPGA Championship. Stacy shows up on leader boards on demanding golf courses.
Paula Creamer is ranked eighth on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and she has won nine LPGA titles including the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.
Coming off wrist surgery in late 2010 she did not have a win but finished in the top 10 eight times.
Paula is a proven commodity and already a star on the LPGA. She is a steady performer and could have a big year in 2012.
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