Park, Pettersen or Lewis?
World Nos 1, 2 and 3, Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis will headline the field when the 2013 LPGA Tour reaches its climax at the CME Group Titleholders in Florida this week.
The season’s grand final, set to be played at the the Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida, is limited to the top-three finishers from each of the 28 events on the LPGA Tour schedule this year, and it would be no exaggeration to say that Park, Pettersen and Lewis are all over-qualified.
It’s not for nothing they currently sit so high up on the tree of success.
Park, strangely enough, is not the bookies’ favourite this week. They like Pettersen at 11/2 and Lewis at 15/2 better, and have relegated the Korean to No 3 favourite at 10/1, but she especially, has made 2013 a spectacular year to remember.
Ranked fourth in the world when the season started, Park quickly took steps to begin her relentless march up the rankings by winning the early-season Honda LPGA Thailand title.
That victory seemed to set her off for there was simply no stopping her after that. Park went on to capture five additional victories, including the first three majors of the year as she became the first player since Babe Zaharias in the 1950s to capture such a haul.
She didn’t win last week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico, but her fourth place earned her more than enough points to ensure she became the first Korean to clinch the Rolex Player of the Year award.
With 39 points more than nearest pursuer Pettersen, she cannot be overtaken at the CME Titleholders this week.
Pettersen won’t be too unhappy, though. The striking, 32-year-old Norwegian has, after all, elevated herself to No 2 in the world thanks to five stunning victories.
In March, she won the Mission Hills World Ladies Championship, in April, the LPGA Lotte Championship, in September the Safeway Classic and the Evian Championship, and in October, the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship.
Lewis, in the meantime, didn’t quite reach the levels she did last year when got to No 1 on the Rolex Women’s World Rankings list and earned the Rolex Player of the Year Award, but the slender American did pick up back-to-back victories in the HSBC Women’s Champions and the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, and in general spent a lot of her time on the upper sectors of LPGA leaderboards.
It’s very possible, of course, that in an event with a field as strong as this one, neither of the world’s top three will win the season’s biggest first prize of $700 000 on Sunday.
And it’s just as possible that a fast-rising star like New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko will pull off a famous victory – or even that some hitherto little-known star of the future will burst out of the wings where she has been waiting and upstage all of the hot favourites.
And why not.
It’s this very unpredictability that makes golf the game it is.
THE BOOKMAKERS’ TOP 20
>Here were the top 20 favourites being quoted by Sky Bet on Tuesday afternoon. For all the bookmakers latest odds you should go to Oddschecker.com
Suzann Pettersen 11/2
Stacy Lewis 15/2
Inbee Park 10/1
Lydia Ko 12/1
Lexi Thompson 14/1
Shanshan Feng 14/1
So-Yeon Ryu 16/1
Na Yeon Choi 16/1
Amy Yang 25/1
Chella Choi 25/1
Anna Nordqvist 25/1
Paula Creamer 28/1
In-Kyung Kim 33/1
Karrie Webb 33/1
Cristie Kerr 33/1
Azahara Munoz 35/1
Caroline Hedwall 50/1
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