A Last Look at 2010
The LPGA ended 2009 in a cloud of uncertainty. The induced departure of former Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, the loss of sponsors, and the difficult economic climate left the organization facing some difficult challenges as it headed into a new season.
But 2010 proved to be the dawn of a new era. A new commissioner took over and new stars emerged, while others stepped away from the game. Here, in more or less chronological order, are some of the most historically significant developments in women’s golf in 2010.
Mike Whan Becomes the LPGA’s Eighth Commissioner – Even before officially assuming his post in January, Whan demonstrated a unique ability to connect with golf’s various constituencies, while making it clear the LPGA belongs to its members. Talk to the players or LPGA staffers without a tape recorder running and you’ll get an idea of just what kind of impact Whan has made in just a year on the job.
Yani Tseng Emerges – At 21 Tseng is the LPGA Player of the Year. She recorded three wins in 2010, including two majors, the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the RICOH Women’s British Open. The youngest player in LPGA history to win three majors, Tseng’s bubbly disposition is making her a fan favorite.
Lorena Ochoa Retires – Her playing record, which includes 27 wins and two major titles, is only part of what Ochoa brought to the game. Her fan friendly demeanor made her popular with galleries and her humanitarian efforts off the course symbolized what is possible with energy and commitment. At 28, she was the same age as Bobby Jones when he retired. Fittingly, Ochoa received the Bob Jones Award from the USGA at year’s end.
Cristie Kerr Wins the LPGA Championship – Kerr’s performance in Rochester was one of the most dominating on the LPGA Tour in recent years. Her margin of victory was a record 12 shots. At 33 Kerr has won 14 times and still seems to have a considerable amount of competitive fire.
Meg Mallon Leaves the Stage – For more than two decades Mallon epitomized all that is good about golf and the LPGA Tour. She closed her career with 18 wins including four majors; two of those were U.S. Women’s Opens. An eight-time Solheim Cup player, Mallon is certain to be a U.S. Solheim Cup captain one day.
Paula Creamer Wins the U.S. Women’s Open – Even before she turned professional Creamer had to carry the burden of other people’s expectations. Her Open win at Oakmont, the most demanding layout many of the players had ever seen, removed all doubt about her ability to deal with the pressure of a major championship.
Alexis Thompson Goes Pro – Is age 15 too young to turn professional? Cynics abound, but Thompson, who made her debut at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June, has seemingly limitless potential.
The Globalization of the LPGA Tour Continues – By year’s end the question of who was number one in the world was almost a moot point. A group of six players, Tseng, Kerr, Na Yeon Choi, Ai Miyazato, Jiyai Shin and Suzann Petterson, had separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The six hail from five different nations. Entering 2011 the LPGA is much a global organization as there is in any professional team sport.Written by Rick Woelfel
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