The 2000 season began with a seemingly invincible Karrie Webb. The young Australian dominated the Tour in the 1999 season, then gave competitors a run for their money after opening with a 3-0 start in 2000. Webb may have gone on winning if not for the playing efforts of Charlotta Sorenstam. The younger sister of Webb's fiercest competitor surprised everyone by capturing her first win at the Standard Register Ping. Pitted against the goliaths of ladies' golf (Karrie Webb and older sister Annika), Charlotta entered the final round tied for the lead and miraculously finished the victor. Charlotta had joined the winning ranks and no one was happier for her than older sister Annika.
But as the saying goes 'You can't keep a good woman down.'
Karrie Webb proved this was true after making her way back in the winner's circle the very next week. The indefatigable Webb reasserted herself at the Nabisco Championship, capturing the first major title of the year and setting the pace for others to follow.
The Nabisco Championship in many ways foreshadowed what the year held in store. The beloved championship - the 'Dinah,' as it is affectionately known on Tour - lost something near and dear to fans of women's golf when the decision was made to drop Dinah Shore's name from the tournament title. Yet, as fans and competitors alike grappled with this passing, there would be something new added to the feel of the event. That something came in the form of twin girls who made their way into the spotlight and captured our hearts. We found ourselves marveling at the wonder of these two young girls and the advanced golfing prowess already within their possession. At a mere 13 years of age, Aree and Naree Song Wongluekiet became the youngest participants in the history of The Nabisco Championship. For Naree, 2000 would not be the year she made the cut - for Aree it would. Aree Song Wongluekiet continued to boggle our minds by finishing tied for third place amongst the LPGA's top competitors.
Things were heating up with the advent of summer and history was in the making. Janice Moodie made her way into the history books by becoming the second Scot ever to win on the LPGA Tour after capturing the ShopRite LPGA Classic in July. Karrie Webb also made history after capturing her second major of the year at the U.S. Women's Open. Webb not only took home another win at the U.S. Women's Open, she also banked the largest first place check in LPGA Tour history at $500,000. In another historic note, 19-year-old Dorothy Delasin became the youngest LPGA tournament winner since 1975 when she took home the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic trophy after winning a playoff against Pat Hurst.
In July, history closed the books on the du Maurier Classic. The event came to a quiet end - the result of legislation passed by the Canadian government banning title sports sponsorship by tobacco companies. With the passing of the du Maurier Classic, the LPGA Tour was faced with finding a replacement or resigning itself to three majors a year instead of four. But 2000 was the year for growth, not retraction, and to everyone's relief the LPGA Tour announced, just two months later, that the Weetabix Women's British Open would become the fourth major.
As fall was ushered in so were two first-time winners. Lorie Kane, often referred to as 'the bridesmaid of golf,' captured her long-awaited first title in August at the Michelob Light Classic. It took some four-plus years for her to win on the LPGA Tour, and with her first victory the floodgates opened. Kane went on to win two more times in the next two months (New Albany Golf Classic and Mizuno Classic). Another newcomer in the winner's circle, two-year Tour veteran Laurel Kean, had cause to celebrate after becoming the first Monday qualifier to win in LPGA history. Her win, at the State Farm Rail Classic, was achieved by carding rounds of 66-66-66.
But achievements in women's golf were not isolated to the Americans. Interest in the sport has become truly global, reaching unprecedented heights throughout the world - and America, it seems, is no longer the dominating force. Never was this more evident than at the 2000 Solheim Cup. On Scottish ground, the European team, captained by Dale Reid, regained the Cup for only the second time in the history of the event. The Solheim Cup was not the only disappointment for the Americans. Another upset was waiting right around the corner. Just three weeks later, after a 16-year drought, the JLPGA ousted the LGPA from the winner's circle at the CISCO World Ladies Challenge.
The year was about change yet, ironically, at year's end, it was Karrie Webb finishing right where she began - on top. Without fail, Webb has once again set the benchmark by creating a single-season earning record after winning $1,876.853. In the process, Webb took home her second consecutive Rolex Player of the Year and Vare trophy honors. The Australian's seven victories, including two majors, made her the first player since Beth Daniel in 1990 to win seven times in one season. The season also featured seven Rolex first time winners ranging from first year rookies to long time veterans. They included Charlotta Sorenstam, Sophie Gustafson, Grace Park, Janice Moodie, Dorothy Delasin, Lorie Kane, and Laurel Kean.
In a twist of fate, 2000 marked the first year that superstar Se Ri Pak would not win an event. But for most, there was cause to celebrate as the season closed. Three veterans in particular had good reason - Judy Rankin, Beth Daniel and Juli Inkster became the newest members in the Hall of Fame when they were inducted Nov. 20th at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL.
Fulfilling the requirements for the Hall of Fame is a difficult process - yet to no one's surprise, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam earned the necessary points for the Hall of Fame and now wait to fulfill the 10-year Tour membership requirement - Karrie will be inducted in 2005 and Annika in 2003. 2000 was truly a historic year.
Upon reflection, the LPGA Tour, now 50 years strong, entertained, awed, and endeared. There are new benchmarks, new hopes, and yes, new life has been breathed into women's golf. For every ending there was a beginning and as a result the new millennium shows every indication that it will be an exciting and innovative time in women's golf.