Stacy Lewis was the LPGA’s triple-crown winner in 2014, having won the Tour’s Player of the Year race, money title and the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. That Lewis was able to eke past Inbee Park and Lydia Ko in all three categories is telling, for Lewis’s season was one of the best ever for an American player since International stars came to dominate the Tour in the last 15 or so years. But Park and Ko had monster years themselves.
All three golfers earned more than $2 million in 2014, the first time three players reached that milestone in the same year. Each player won three tournaments. Lewis was second six times, no doubt the edge she needed in the POY race. With 10 top-3 finishes, she slid past Park and Ko by a 10 to 9 to 8 margin. Of the trio, only Park missed a cut this year (Airbus LPGA). With 77 starts between them, the trio combined for 50 top-10 finishes.
Lewis might have won the three awards, but Ko and Park don’t head into the holiday season empty handed. Ko won the CME Globe season-long points championship (and the $1 million bonus, which doesn’t count toward her season earnings). Park is the current No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings.
How the LPGA’s top three players compare: Tournament finishes
The top five finishers in the LPGA season-long competitions
|Rank||CME Globe points||Vare trophy
|Player of the Year||Rolex Ranking
(as of Nov. 24)
|1||Lydia Ko||Stacy Lewis||Stacy Lewis||Inbee Park|
|2||Stacy Lewis||Inbee Park||Inbee Park||Stacy Lewis|
|3||Michelle Wie||Michelle Wie||Lydia Ko||Lydia Ko|
|4||Inbee Park||So Yeon Ryu||Michelle Wie||Suzann Pettersen|
|5||So Yeon Ryu||Lydia Ko||Shanshan Feng||Shanshan Feng|
Made in America
Lewis is the first American to sweep the LPGA’s season awards since Betsy King in 1993. Just as impressively, she is the first American to earn more than $2 million in one year. Her $2,539,039 ranks eighth on the Tour’s all-time single-season list. Park, who has surpassed $2 million for three straight years, is ninth (2013), 11th (2012) and 12th (2014) on that list. Ko, in her first year as a professional, ranks 13th. (**The LPGA website credits Ko with earnings of $2,089,033 this year, not counting the $17,621 from her T-19 at the Honda Thailand LPGA. That figure would rank 15th on the single-season money list.)
LPGA single season money leaders
Major moments are few and far between
If the threesome had any disappointments in 2014 it came in the majors. Of the trio, only Inbee Park won a grand-slam event this year, taking the LPGA Championship in a playoff over Brittany Lincicome. She also had the biggest disappointment in a major, having lost the Women’s British Open with a final-round, windswept 77 at Royal Birkdale.
That Sunday stumble, which saw Park fall from first to fourth, two strokes back of winner Mo Martin, would eventually cost her a second-straight Player of the Year award. It also marks the second time that Lewis was able to win season honors without winning a major championship. It’s the ninth time since 1990 that the LPGA’s player of the year did not win a major (coincidentally, King’s 1993 season is also on the list).
Ko, Park and Lewis in the majors in 2014
|Player||Kraft||U.S. Open||British||Wegmans LPGA||Evian|
|Winner||Lexi Thompson||Michelle Wie||Mo Martin||Inbee Park||Hyo-Joo Kim|
LPGA Player of the year honorees who did not win a major: 1990-2014
Park’s 77 at Royal Birkdale will never make anyone’s list for round of the year, but the 26-year-old South Korean did have some of the most noteworthy days on the LPGA in 2014. Her final-round 61 at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic helped her win by three strokes. Later matched by Hyo-Joo Kim’s amazing 61 in the first round of the Evian Championship, they were the lowest rounds of the year on Tour.
Park also shot 62 in the second round of the Fuban Taiwan LPGA Championship. She is the first player since Grace Park in 2004 to have two rounds of 62 or better in the same LPGA season.
Lowest rounds of the year on the LPGA Tour
|Score (to par)||Player||Tournament||Round||Finish|
|61 (-10)||Hyo-Joo Kim||Evian Championship||1||Won|
|61 (-10)||Inbee Park||Manulife Financial||4||Won|
|62 (-10)||Inbee Park||Fuban Taiwan Classic||2||Won|
|62 (-10)||Mirim Lee||Fuban Taiwan Classic||2||13|
|62 (-10)||Chella Choi||Handa Australian Women’s||3||2|
|62 (-9)||Jennifer Johnson||ShopRite Classic||1||T-3|
|62 (-9)||Laura Diaz||Marathon Classic||1||T-18|
Two rounds of 62 or better in the same LPGA season since 2000
|Year||Player||First low score||Second low score|
|2014||Inbee Park||61, Manulife Financial||62, Fuban Taiwan Classic|
|2004||Grace Park||61, Welch’s/Frys||62, Samsung World|
|2003||Juli Inkster||62, Welch’s/Frys||62, Corning Classic|
Lydia Ko’s first season as a professional was an amazing once-in-a-generation performance for the 17-year-old rookie. Her earnings total broke the rookie record of $1,807,334 by Jiyai Shin in 2009, and her three wins matched Shin for the most by a first-year player since Se Ri Pak won four times in her magical year of 1998.
LPGA Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year winners: 2005-2014
|Year||Player||Wins||Top 10s||Money (rank)|
|2014||Lydia Ko||3||15||$2,106.654 (3)|
|2013||Moriya Jutanugarn||0||1||293,158 (47)|
|2012||So Yeon Ryu||1||16||1,282,673 (6)|
|2011||Hee Kyung Seo||0||3||619,429 (21)|
|2010||Azahara Munoz||0||3||402,498 (30)|
|2009||Jiyai Shin||3||12||1,807,334 (1)|
|2008||Yani Tseng||1||10||1,752,086 (3)|
|2007||Angela Park||0||8||983,922 (8)|
|2006||Seon Hwa Lee||1||7||915,590 (12)|
|2005||Paula Creamer||2||11||1,531,780 (2)|
One final thought: Lewis, Park and Ko played the same event 18 times in 2014, finishing together in the top three just once, at the Fuban Taiwan LPGA Classic. Park beat Lewis by two strokes and Ko by five strokes. It was a harmonic convergence for the Tour’s elite players. With Lewis, the oldest of the trio, turning 30 in February, the Tour’s Big Three should battle for LPGA supremacy for seveal more years. Chances are, that glorious week in Taiwan marks the first of many times the trio are together on LPGA leaderboards.
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