Stacy Lewis won the LPGA's Player of the Year award based on points. But would she have prevailed over Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie in a vote? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with who they would have choosen as the 2014 LPGA POY.
BY RANDALL MELL
If the Rolex Player of the Year Award were decided in a vote by players, this year’s choice might be one of the toughest decisions in the history of such balloting.
Stacy Lewis swept the LPGA awards historically considered the most important in the women’s game. Her near omnipresence on leaderboards is testament to her all-around skills and unrelenting tenacity. Nobody logged more top-10 finishes (18) than Lewis did this year.
This becomes a hair pulling exercise when you dissect the year because Inbee Park and Lydia Ko matched Lewis for most victories this season (3). Park actually led the way the tour measures top-10 finishes. She led the statistical category with 74 percent top-10 finishes. She had one less top-10 than Lewis but also had five fewer starts. Ko won the CME Globe, another measure of season-long excellence.
Yet when this dissection comes down to the category that carries the heaviest weight in measuring a great year, the scales tip to Park. She’s the only player among this trio who won a major championship. While majors haven’t been the same weighty measurement of greatness that they have in the men’s game over the years – because the events designated as majors in the women’s game have changed so often – majors are becoming just as highly coveted on the women’s side. That’s why as painful as it is choosing among these players, Lewis’ own words decide the vote for me.
“I’m not saying it was a great year,” Lewis said. “I would have liked to have won a major. That would have made it a great year. This makes it almost a great year.”
Park gets my vote in this gut wrenching exercise because her LPGA Championship title separates her from Lewis and Ko.
BY JASON SOBEL
The truth is, you could take the quartet of Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko, put their names in a hat and pick one - and you'd get a deserving winner.
Not to ride the fence or the LPGA company line, but there's no wrong answer here. Lewis was the tour's most consistent player; Park continued her reign as a ruthless champion; Wie earned style points with her maiden major; and Ko continued to impress as a 17-year-old world-beater.
Force me to pick only one and I suppose I'll echo the LPGA's own points system and go with Lewis. She put together another superb season worthy of all the accolades.
Really, though, you can't go wrong with any of 'em. Which is a major reason why the LPGA was so entertaining this year.
BY RYAN LAVNER
Can you really go wrong with any of these candidates: Lewis, Park, Ko? They each had three wins. They each cleared $2 million in earnings. They each factored in a handful of majors.
Unlike Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis was major-less. Unlike Lydia Ko, Lewis didn’t win the season-long race. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t have the best season. She had more top finishes, earned more prize money (by more than $300,000) and had more consistent play in the majors, with top-20s in all five Grand Slam events, including three in the top 6. There was the runner-up at the Kraft. There was the solo third at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Park won the Wegmans LPGA, but she also finished outside the top 35 in a pair of majors. Ko was third at the Wegmans, but she also had forgettable weeks at the Kraft and Women’s British, and finished fifth in scoring.
This is nitpicking, we know, but that’s how close this race has been. Lewis won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average and won Player of the Year honors based on the points system, which is good enough for us. In a year defined by three stars – OK, four, if you include Michelle Wie’s resurgent year – Lewis was just a tiny bit better.
BY REX HOGGARD
Lydia Ko was 2014’s Rookie of Everything and the newest member of the millionaire’s club. Inbee Park collected her fifth major championship, is the game’s top-ranked woman and a three-time LPGA winner this year.
Despite those impressive resumes, however, it’s Stacy Lewis who is the LPGA’s player of the year.
Lewis traded the top spot in the Rolex rankings with Park throughout the season and took the season-long money title following what was by any definition a dominant year.
Where Lewis edges Park is in her consistency. Like Park, Lewis had three victories in 2014 and although she didn’t collect her third major, it wasn’t from a lack of effort.
Lewis finished third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, second at the U.S. Women’s Open and sixth at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. She also remained consistent throughout the season, finishing inside the top 10 in 18 of her 28 starts.
But perhaps most impressive is how Lewis finished her year. Despite two of her worst tournaments of the season coming down the stretch, she opened with a 3-under 69 at the season finale on her way to a tie for ninth to claim the money title and the Vare Trophy, closing out an unmistakable player of the year campaign.