The LPGA 2013 season played out to a grande finale ending that needed only a few drum rolls and some crashing cymbals to make it perfect! Carding 4 rounds of 68, 74, 67 & 66, China’s darling Shanshan Feng went from 3rd to 9th to 4th to the top of the leaderboard at the CME Group Titleholders on a roller coaster ride to her 2nd Tour victory this year and a $700K paycheck that pushed her 2012 earnings just over $1.7 millions.
That’s not even close to Inbee Park‘s $2.45 but it’s certainly edging up on Stacy Lewis‘s $1.96 millions. Feng finished the season in 4th place on the LPGA Official Money List; and this win is projected to move Feng from 7th to 4th in the Rolex Rankings.
Feng has had a terrific LPGA season and her final round today, a bogey-free 66, was a lovely ending. She entered 19 events in 2013 and made 18 cuts. She recorded 8 top-10 finishes including 6 top-5’s and claimed a victory at the Reignwood LPGA Classic to euphoric cheers of Chinese fans. She became a Rolex First-Time Winner and the first-ever Chinese winner on Tour at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. There could be just a bit more glory waiting for her, however. Feng’s defending her 2012 title at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters December 1-7.
Still Chasing an LPGA Tour Victory
Gerina Piller went to the clubhouse one shot short of Feng’s -15 for a solo 2nd place finish. The stats tell the tale. Feng completed the 72 hole event with 114 putts, Piller with 124. But for Piller, who started the 4th round at -11 and a share of the lead, those final holes were a disappointment. She was chasing her 1st Tour win and thinking about paying off the mortgage on her new house.
Pornanong Phatlum and Natalie Gulbis, who were sharing the lead with Piller going into the Sunday round Phatlum carded 70 and finished at -13, 2 shots behind Feng and in 3rd place. She and Piller both collected paychecks in excess of $100K, not shabby wages for 4 days’ work. Gulbis, however, took a long, hard tumble from her top starting position all the way down to a tied 29th place finish. Her final round was simply one disaster after another.
Germany’s Sandra Gal, who took the early lead and set the pace at the Titleholders, finished at -12 and in 4th place, one shot ahead of Inbee Park. The South Korean superstar played a solid, steady game on Sunday, climbing from a 9th place start to a 5th place finish; and she rivaled Feng’s putting, recording only 110 putts in 72 holes.
Christie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, and Sun Young Yoo finished together at -10 in a 3-way tie for 6th place. Kerr and Yoo came up and Lewis went down a couple of notches on the board during the final round but none of them struggled with any major disasters. Lewis fired off an impressive eagle on the par-5 17 hole, which was a lovely way to bring her season to a close.
How Did The Youngsters Fare?
American Lexi Thompson and New Zealander Lydia Ko, the youngest players on the LPGA Tour, have both shown enormous promise this year. Thompson’s victories at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational and Ko’s successful defense of her title at the CN Canadian Women’s Open have golf fans holding their collective breath in anticipation of what’s to come.
Thompson wasn’t able to sustain the momentum of her promising 2nd round, which put her in 4th position at the start of the 3rd round. By the end of the 3rd round she’d fallen back to 9th place and her 4th round score of 74 took her out of contention for the top of the board.
The Titleholders was Lydia Ko’s professional debut, and she labored under an umbrella of public expectations throughout the tournament. To her credit, Ko played a steady game and appeared unaffected by the hype that preceded her first shot off the first tee and followed her through her final putt.
Neither Ko, who’s Rolex Ranked No. 6, nor Thompson, who’s Rolex Ranked No. 10, played at peak capacity at the Titleholders. And yet both played true gritty golf, managing their mistakes gracefully, getting themselves out of trouble and back into the short grass. They are both a joy to watch.
Scotland’s Catriona Matthew put the icing on the Titleholder cake when she aced the par-3 5th hole today!
The CME Group Titleholders closes the 2013 LPGA Tour season. I’ll stay on the job, however, bringing you additional news about women’s pro golf on the Ladies European Tour and the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour as well as news and updates on LPGA players as they prepare for the 2014 season.