Reviewing the historic 2013 LPGA season


Inbee Park turned her putter into a scepter.

She ruled over women’s golf with it this year.

Stacy Lewis turned her 5-iron into a magic wand.

She used it to hit one of the great shots in major championship history on her way to winning at the birthplace of golf.

Suzann Pettersen turned the second half of the LPGA schedule into her personal playground. She won three of her final seven starts, including a major, in a run so hard she nearly overtook Park as the Rolex world No. 1 at year’s end.

With Park, Pettersen and Lewis combining to win all the majors and nearly half of the tournaments on the 2013 schedule, they established themselves as the LPGA’s Big Three. They’re 1-2-3 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, respectively.

Still, they left more than crumbs in a season filled with delicious storylines.

Here are the highlights:

Queen Bee reigns – Park ran away with the Kraft Nabisco Championship in a four-shot victory, nearly collapsed at the Wegmans LPGA Championship before beating Catriona Matthew in a playoff and then cruised to another four-shot victory at the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack. No woman had won the first three majors in a season since Babe Zaharias in 1950. Park would go on to win six LPGA titles overall, claim the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the LPGA money title and rise to No. 1 in the Rolex rankings. She is the first South Korean to be the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year.

Euro shocker – Europe pulled the year’s great upset, knocking off the United States in a rout to win the Solheim Cup for the first time on American soil. The 18-10 shellacking was the largest margin of victory since the event made its debut in 1990. Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall became the first player in Solheim Cup history to win five matches and England’s 17-year-old Charley Hull won a name for herself with her shot-making and charm. Captain Liselotte Neumann’s quiet confidence and Suzann Pettersen’s fiery leadership were a perfect combination.

Road Hole magic – Stacy Lewis set up her win at St. Andrews with a brilliant 5-iron into the wind at the Road Hole, one of the great shots in major championship history. She birdied that hole, No. 17, then birdied the 18th to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open, where Park’s bid to become the first man or woman to win four professional majors in a season ended.

Sizzling Suzann – With Park racing to six wins in the first half of the season, three of them majors, it seemed inconceivable anybody could challenge her No. 1 ranking before the year was out. Pettersen did just that, winning three times in her last seven starts, including her second major title, the Evian Championship in September. Going into the year’s final event, Pettersen had a chance to overtake Park with a first- or second-place finish, but fell just short. She’ll begin 2014 with a chance to push Park some more.

You Ko girl! – Lydia Ko stunned the women’s game by winning three professional titles as a 16-year-old this year. She won the CN Canadian Women’s Open as a 15-year-old two seasons ago, becoming the youngest winner in LPGA history. And she won it again this past summer. She started her year winning the New Zealand Women’s Open on the Ladies European Tour and ended it winning the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters on the Korean LPGA Tour. In between, she nearly won a major, pushing Pettersen to the end at the Evian Championship. Ko didn’t surprise anyone turning pro near year’s end and getting a waiver of the LPGA’s rule requiring members be at least 18. She will end the 2013 season as the No. 4 player in the Rolex rankings. She’ll start 2014 as a 16-year-old LPGA member.

Another teen wonder – With two late-season victories, Lexi Thompson, 18, leaped back into the spotlight. After winning an LPGA event as a 16-year-old, she reminded what promise her game possesses. Victories at the Sime Darby Malaysia in October and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November helped her climb among the top 10 in the Rolex rankings.

Shanshan’s storybook win – Playing under enormous pressure in the first LPGA event in mainland China, Shanshan Feng delighted her fellow countrymen in October, winning the Reignwood Classic in a duel with Lewis. Feng came from behind with an eagle at the last to win. Feng made a statement adding another title at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders.