LPGA Tour 2010 Season Wraps in Orlando

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Yani Tseng - LPGA Player of the Year

All of the LPGA’s major awards were up for grabs over the last four days in Orlando, and an exciting finish saw Maria Hjorth take a 1-stroke victory over Amy Wang in the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship.

In doing so, this meant that Yani Tseng became the first player from Taiwan to win LPGA player of the year; South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi won the year’s money title as well as the Vare Trophy for the year’s lowest scoring average; and South Korean Jiyai Shin kept her No. 1 ranking to become Rolex Rankings No1. edging out American Cristie Kerr, despite shooting 12 over par, 17 shots behind Hjorth.

At the end Hjorth commented:  “Every win is emotional for me.  But being a mother and coming back after giving birth is definitely something that I’ve been hoping for.  It’s nice to prove that it’s possible.”

An emotional Yani Tseng said: “Yeah, actually it’s my honor to be the Player of the Year and when at the announcement, “Yani Tseng is Player of the Year,” the emotion just — it’s kind of — because I never thought I would be holding the trophy, winning Player of the Year.  Because I was always holding the trophy in a tournament, but just one week, but this feels like I’m holding for a year, I’ve been working so hard to chase this title.”

Cristie Kerr & Nigel Worrall

3rd placed Cristie Kerr paid tribute to Tseng : “Yani had a great year.  Besides winning the two majors, she won one more, Arkansas.  That was the difference.  I knew that I had to win probably three tournaments to win Player of the Year, and I just fell short, a little bit short.  Not much.  Not enough to hang your head on.”

It’s  nice to see so many Korean born players on the tour and how at home they seem to be here in Orlando. Shin spoke of the help she received from fellow Orlando resident Annika Sorenstam: “Yeah, I think it’s probably beginning of the year when I talked to Annika.  Because I think she really helped me a lot and she always e-mails me to encourage me when I was in the British Open or this week or some other weeks when I needed. She’s always, saying, you know where I live, you can just stop at my door and just ask me a question.  But I was shy to go ask (laughing).  I knocked on her door one time because I want to give her a card, and then I was glad she’s not at home because I don’t know what I’m going to say, I was so nervous (laughter). But she’s just so nice, such a nice people, and I’m really happy that she’s enjoying her life right now and still supporting the LPGA, supporting golf and to help everybody out.”

So that wraps up the 2010 season and it’s been a great one. Instead of just one player running away with everything, we’ve seen a close run race for every title and that’s what has made the ladies tour so interesting. It’s also been great for Orlando golf to host the final championship of the year and with so many of the leading players coming from the area, it also gives it a nice homely feeling.

Se Ri Pak and Nigel Worrall

What was also nice to see, was the availability of all the ladies to meet and greet the fans. The men could learn from this as all of the ladies were happy to spend time signing autographs and posing for pictures after their rounds. I was particularly pleased to spend a few moments with woman’s legend Se Ri Pak, the woman who has arguably done more to widen the appeal of the game of golf than even Tiger Woods.

Pak made her debut on the LPGA Tour in 1998. There were no South Koreans on the tour back then. Today eleven players from South Korea, a country of about 48 million, one-sixth the size of the United States, are ranked in the top 30 of the Rolex world rankings, more than the United States (eight), Japan (five) or any other country.

Further, South Koreans have won 8 of this season’s 17 L.P.G.A. events and even more remarkable is the depth of the talent; the eight events were won by eight different women, all of them under 30. Today there are 32 South Koreans on the tour and another 36 playing on the Futures Tour. So, that’s it for this year… we have a lot to look forward to as we look to next season.

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