The first major of the LPGA season, the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, CA is over and in the books…The champion? None other than 18-year-old, Lydia Ko. The same 18-year old who won the prior week at the Kia Classic also in California. I suppose it’s safe to say that golf’s new Golden Girl, Lydia Ko must love the Golden State. At least, we know California loves her.
Ko edged out second place finishers Charley Hull and In Gee Chun by a stroke, with a final day score of 69… four-day total -12, for the major win. It was hard to watch longshot, Ariya Jutanugarn, the Thai player stumbled on the last few holes to essentially lose the major but nevertheless, it was a great showing from Jutanugarn. It was also unfortunate to see my prediction for Player of the Year, Lexi Thompson falter early to lose her share of the lead on the final day. But, overall, it was another fine performance from Lexi and she earned herself a solid 5th place. My dark horse pick for winning the ANA, Gerina Piller, came in T6 right behind Thompson. Go GP! I’m giving myself props for such a solid pick!
But let’s get back to talking about how GOOD Lydia Ko is. She is SO GOOD! Her back to back wins have skyrocketed her to her current position at world number one. Let’s take a closer look at Ko’s stats…
First of all, it’s money that matters. Ko is the only player who has earned over a million dollars so far this year. World number two, Ha Na Jang, our other two tournament winner on the season, needs $300,000 more to get to a million.
Other stats? It’s been drive for show and putt for dough for Lydia Ko. Despite ranking 120th in Driving Distance with a 248.1 yard average (that’s only a couple yards further than my average folks)… Ko comes in at number one for Putts per Greens in Regulation. In contrast, world number 2 Ha Na Jang ranks 32nd in Driving Distance at 261.98 yards and 24th in Putts per Green in Regulation.
Lydia Ko’s tournament winning approach shot 18th hole, final round, ANA Inspiration
How does Lexi stack up in comparison? Thompson hits it further than any other LPGA player right now, averaging 285.08 yards off the tee (about a yard further than 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson currently). And her putting? Thompson has 1.8 Putts per Green in Regulation and ranks 56th. Her Putting Average is 31.25 putts per round and puts her clear back at 135th. Thompson needs the short stick to heat up a little bit if she wants to be able to battle Ko down to the wire this season.
A few other fun stats for you number junkies out there?…As far as greens in regulation go, Jang is number one at 82.12%, Lexi number two at 81.71%, and Ko number four at 78%. Wow, GIR must be important! Jang also comes in at number one in the eagle hunt with 6 eagles on the year.
These three women are incredible! But let’s not forget all of our stars in the top ten. Of note, we have third on the money list Sei Young Kim from Korea. A little further down, 6th ranked Brooke Henderson is representing Canada while Charley Hull from England comes in at 8th. Yeah, 18-year-old Lydia Ko is number one, 18-year-old Brooke Henderson is 6th, and 20-year-old Charley Hull is 8th. Forget about me being old at 26… Lexi, at age 21 is officially the old one now! Whatever happened to golfers getting to their prime at 30? Just for men?
Oh yeah, and five out of ten players in the current top are Korean, proving that, although they are being challenged from all sides, Korean dominance remains strong.
There’s still a long way to go this season though! Maybe some old folks from the 26 and over crowd will get it going! Until next time- Golf On!
Allie White from Lancaster, Ohio, is a professional golfer and golf journalist. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Journalism at Ohio University. With four years of experience on the Symetra Tour, a cut-made at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open, and a 2016 Ohio Open Championship, White hopes to continue her golf career during her academic breaks.
My two biggest golf dreams are to play in Toledo Ohio’s LPGA event and to make it back to another US Open. I’m still hunting for that first hole in one!”