Punch Shot: Who is the LPGA Player of the Year?

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2014, 10:00 pm

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.

Getty Images

After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

Getty Images

Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

Getty Images

Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

Getty Images

Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry