Notes and nuggets for the LPGA's closing stretch

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The PGA Tour’s youth movement has nothing on the LPGA’s.

Of course, if you follow the LPGA, you’ve been watching the women’s game get younger for a long time now.

But have you checked out the Rolex Women’s World Rankings lately?

Yes, 18-year-old Lydia Ko tops the rankings, the youngest No. 1 in the history of the men’s or women’s game, but she has a lot of youthful company. Five of the top 17 players in the women’s world rankings are LPGA rookies. And Ko’s not even a rookie. If In Gee Chun had claimed tour membership after her U.S. Women’s Open victory, six of the top 17 in the world would be LPGA rookies. That’s absurd, but it speaks to the remarkable strength of this year’s LPGA rookie class, which has claimed six titles this season.

Some news, notes and nuggets with just three events left on the 2015 LPGA schedule:

More on youth being served – Sei Young Kim is 22 years old, but she’s the old woman among the four winners on the fall Asian swing so far. Ko, 18, won in Taiwan, Lexi Thompson, 20, won in South Korea and Jessica Korda won in Malaysia. Korda is a month younger than Kim, who won in China.

• The average age of a PGA Tour winner this calendar year is 30.2 years old.

• The average age of an LPGA winner is 23.6.

• The average age of the top 10 men in the Official World Golf Ranking is 32.6 years old.

• The average age of the top 10 women in the Rolex World Rankings is 23.5 years old.

By the way, here are those five LPGA rookies among the top 17 in the world rankings: No. 7 Sei Young Kim, No. 9 Hyo Joo Kim, No. 15 Minjee Lee, No. 16 Ha Na Jang and No. 17 Brooke Henderson.


Lewis leads the field in Japan – Lewis returns to a course she has conquered before as she seeks to claim her first victory this season in the finale of the fall Asian swing. Lewis won the Toto Japan Classic in 2012 at Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club when the event was played as the Mizuno Classic. 

Though Lewis hasn’t won this season, she is third on the LPGA money list with $1,832,425 in earnings. That’s a tour record for the most money any woman has won in a season without a victory. Lewis has six second-place finishes and three third-place finishes this season.

The field this week includes three of the top 10 players in the world with No. 4 Lexi Thompson and No. 9 Hyo Joo Kim joining No. 3 Lewis. Michelle Wie, Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer and Yani Tseng are among other headliners playing.


Who’s on the CME Globe top-three points bubble? – The top three players on the points list are guaranteed to win the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot if any of the three wins the season-ending Tour Championship.

Ko has clinched the No. 1 spot for the points re-set in Naples, Park has clinched the No. 2 spot and Lewis is still in a little tussle with Sei Young Kim and Lexi Thompson for the No. 3 spot, though Lewis could clinch that in Japan this week.

Lewis is third in CME points with Kim trailing her by 243 points and Thompson trailing her by 683. The winner of an LPGA tournament gets 500 points, second place gets 300 points and third 190 points with points awarded through 40th place.

Kim isn’t playing in Japan this week but will play Lorena Ochoa’s event next week in Mexico. Lewis isn’t playing in Mexico. Thompson is playing in both Japan and Mexico.

If Lewis finishes second or better in Japan, Kim can’t catch her. If Lewis wins in Japan, neither can Thompson.


Who’s on the CME Globe top-nine points bubble? – Only the top nine players after the points re-set at the Tour Championship have a shot at winning the $1 million jackpot.

Shanshan Feng holds the ninth spot in this week’s points standings, but she’s vulnerable. She isn’t playing in Japan or Mexico. Every player sitting 10th through 18th in points has a chance to pass Feng. Also, Chella Choi at 20th remains mathematically alive for a top-nine spot in the re-set because she’s playing in both Japan and Mexico. So are Azahara Munoz at 32nd and Pornanong Phatlum at 33rd, but Munoz and Phatlum will have to win in both Japan and Mexico to pass Feng.


A Wie bit close to the top-72 bubble – The top 72 in CME points qualify for the Tour Championship. So do any players tied for 72nd.

Min Lee holds the 72nd spot in points, but the most notable story near the bubble is Michelle Wie. She enters the Toto Japan Classic 65th in points, and she isn’t guaranteed a spot in Naples just yet.

There are 10 players competing in Japan who trail Wie in CME points. If eight of them pass her this week, Wie gets bumped to 73rd on the point list. Wie isn’t playing the Lorena Ochoa Invitational next week.

Yes, it would take an unlikely cosmic alignment of the stars for Wie not to qualify for the CME Group Tour Championship, but the LPGA doesn’t divide up CME points for players who finish in ties, the way it does for money. For example, if Mina Harigae, Marina Alex and Maria McBride all finish tied for second in Japan, they’ll each get the 300 points that comes with a second-place finish. That’s why Wie isn’t mathematically guaranteed a spot just yet.