LPGA 2012 Season Kicks Off Down Under

by on December 18th, 2010
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As the 2012 season kicks off this week for the LPGA in Melbourne, Australia; fans of ladies golf have many reasons to be excited about the upcoming year. The first of twenty-seven tournaments begins February 9th at Royal Melbourne Golf Club most recent site of The Presidents Cup, which was staged there last November. One of five new tournaments added to the schedule, the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open will be co-sanctioned with Golf Australia and the ALPG (Australian Ladies Professional Golf). Here are the players that you should keep an eye on as the tour kicks off its 2012 season.

The Top Ten:

Yani Tseng: The defending champion (as an ALPG event) looks to continue the record setting pace that she ended 2011 with. The number one player in the world had twelve worldwide wins last year, two of which were majors. She also led the money list as she collected close to three million dollars. No reason to expect the Taiwanese player to continue to do anything less but continue to dominate the tour as she begins her year.

Suzann Pettersen: The number two player in the world had a solid 2011 with two LPGA wins as well a win on the LET (Ladies European Tour). Pettersen also had a fantastic Solheim Cup finishing 3-1-0 for the Euros’ while leading them to a victory over the USA. One of the most fit players on the tour, Pettersen is also one of the few players that can keep up with Yani from tee to green.

Cristie Kerr: 4th in the world and the highest ranked American in the Rolex rankings, one would expect that Kerr will be looking for a win early in 2012. Last year marked the first time in seven years that Kerr did not record a win on tour. Coupled by a disappointing Solheim Cup, anticipate one of the most consistent players in the game to start strong in Australia.

Jiyai Shin: One of four Koreans in the top ten in the world (7th), however 2011 was a down year for Shin compared to the past few years on tour. Former rookie of the year and number one in the world recorded no wins last year and only seven top tens. Look for Shin to bounce back to resemble the player that she was in 2009-10.

Stacey Lewis: Coming off her best year since joining the tour in 2009, Lewis is ranked 10th in the world. She carded her first win last year, which also happened to be at the Kraft Nabisco. The major went a long way to boost her confidence as she finished with twelve top tens on the year and over 1.3 million dollars.

Aussie Watch:

Karrie Webb: Highest ranked Australian player in the field this week, this veteran will be looking to add to her Hall of Fame career. Webb added her 37th and 38th LPGA wins last year and has enjoyed a resurgence in her game the past few seasons. The home crowd will push for one of their own to raise the trophy at weeks end and Webb already holds 12 ALPG victories.

Katherine Hull: Coming off a disappointing 2011 which saw this Aussie notch only one top ten, Hull will be looking to get back to the play that that earned her two LPGA victories between 2008-10. Citing personal problems and a back injury, Hull took an extended break during the offseason which hopefully has served her well as she aims to rebound from an off year.

Rookie Alert:

So Yeon Ryu: Not a name many are familiar with despite the fact that this South Korean player won the 2011 US Open. Though technically a rookie this year on the LPGA, Ryu already has seven victories on the Korean LPGA to go along with her US Open trophy. She also took 2nd place last week at the Australian Ladies Masters, an early indication that her 25th world ranking is soon to jump even higher.

Lexi Thompson: The sixteen year old has been steadily making her mark on tour the past couple years while playing on sponsor exemptions. This year thanks to a win last fall at the Navistar LPGA Classic, the tour has granted her full-fledged membership. To prove that win wasn’t a fluke she added a victory at the Dubai Ladies Masters this past December on the LET, increasing her world ranking to 38th. Her seventeenth birthday falls in the middle of the Australian Open, one can’t think of a better present than the first win of the year.

Danielle Kang: Turned pro last August after a short stint playing at Pepperdine. Kang won both the 2010 and 2011 US Women’s Amateur before qualifying for the LPGA on her first go-round through Q-school. A rookie to keep an eye on who doesn’t seem fazed by the big stage.

Coverage of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open can be found on the Golf Channel, check local listings.

Sources: lpga.com, golfaustralia.org, wwos.ninemsn.com.au

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