The LPGA’s best made 2014 something to shake your hips about.
From Mo Martin’s little shimmy in the 18th fairway after nearly holing a 3-wood for double eagle on her way to winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open, to Michelle Wie’s gravity-defying twerking at a victory party following her U.S. Women’s Open vwin and Paula Creamer’s high-stepping jig after holing a monster eagle putt to win the HSBC Women’s Champions in a playoff, the LPGA’s best couldn’t help dancing their way through this year.
The women’s game delivered a year worth celebrating with one compelling twist and turn after another.
A look back on the highlights from 2014:
Here Wie go again – Wie reignited excitement over the possibilities in her game winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2, maybe the biggest stage in the history of women’s golf with the women playing the same U.S. Open venue as the men for the first time in back-to-back weeks. She boosted NBC TV ratings to almost double what they were for the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open a year earlier. She also won near her Hawaiian home, taking the Lotte Championship outside Honolulu, and she created a dreamy matchup losing to Lexi Thompson in dramatic final-round duel at the season-opening major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Wie ended the season talking about chasing world No. 1 next year.
Stacy’s sweep – Stacy Lewis swept the Rolex Player of the Year, Vare Trophy for low scoring average and LPGA money title, becoming the first American since Betsy King in 1993 to do so. She has become practically a fixture on leaderboards, winning three times in 2014 while racking up a tour-best 18 top-10 finishes.
1-2 punches – Inbee Park and Lewis stoked their budding rivalry in dramatic fashion, facing off in a head-to-head duel in Taiwan late in the year, with Park prevailing just a week after retaking the Rolex No. 1 world ranking from Lewis. These two have waged a classy battle for supremacy in the women’s game, taking turns holding the top ranking for the last 90 weeks. Park won the Wegmans LPGA Championship in August, her fourth major in two seasons, setting up a late-season run that got her back to No. 1 in the world.
Ko-mania continues – Lydia Ko ended her brilliant rookie year with an exclamation mark. The 17-year-old took home $1.5 million at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, which ranks as the richest payday in the history of women’s golf. She took home $1 million as winner of the season-long Race to the CME Globe and another $500,000 as winner of the CME Group Tour Championship. Her three victories equaled Lewis and Park as the most LPGA titles in 2014. All of this helped her become the youngest Rookie of the Year in tour history.
Mighty Mo’s magical finish – Martin was golf’s Cinderella story in 2014, making her first LPGA victory a major championship. At 31, after toiling on the Symetra Tour for six years to make it to the LPGA, she won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in her third LPGA season. She did so with one of the best shots in major championship history. She rattled a 3-wood off the flagstick at the 72nd hole, making eagle to finish off the year’s most enchanting round.
Lexi’s breakthrough – Big-hitting 19-year-old Lexi Thompson bombed and gouged her way around Mission Hills at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in ways you don’t normally see women do, launching drivers with impunity while breaking through to win her first major championship in an intriguing Sunday duel against Wie. The matchup was electric.
The putt heard ‘round the world – Creamer’s 75-foot eagle putt to win the HSBC Women’s Champions went viral on video almost as much for Creamer’s emotional celebration as it did for the amazing putt itself. The big-bending putt won Creamer the title on the second playoff hole against Azahara Munoz, ending Creamer’s frustration after so many close calls in the four years since she last won at the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont.
Christina’s human fireworks show – Emotions came bursting out of Christina Kim like fireworks after she holed out to win the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in a playoff, claiming her first LPGA title in nine years. She overcame daunting obstacles to win again, overcoming back and arm injuries and even emotional injury, making her battle with depression public a couple years ago. She was one of the year’s best feel-good victories.
Spain’s royal foursome – The Spanish quartet of Munoz, Beatriz Recari, Belen Mozo and Carlota Ciganda won the captivating new International Crown with a flair and bravado that would have made Seve Ballesteros proud. With a staggering sweep of all four of their Sunday singles matches, they ran away with the new international team event. This was after Recari sized up the International Crown trophy at the opening gala and proclaimed: “We’re taking that home with us.”
An American resurgence – When Jessica Korda won the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic, it set up a run that American women’s golf hasn’t seen since the turn of the century. The Americans won 13 LPGA titles in 2014, more than in any single year since 1999. Lewis would win three of those titles for the Americans, Wie and Korda two apiece.
Still slinging Webbs – Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, whose reverence for tour history is unsurpassed among active players, claimed the JTBC Founders Cup for the second time, giving her two LPGA titles this year, the 40th and 41st of her career. The Founders Cup honors the tour’s founders and pioneers.
Multiple winners – The year saw eight players win multiple times: 3 – Lewis, Park and Ko; 2 – Wie, Webb, Korda, Anna Nordqvist and Mirim Lee.