Suzann Pettersen, The Race to #1
This was a very big weekend for Norwegian Suzann Pettersen. She successfully defended her Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship title, passed the $2 millions mark in 2013 earnings, and inched closer to overtaking Korean Inbee Park at the top of the Rolex Rankings as well as the race to be named Rolex Player of the Year race and hit the top of the LPGA Official Money List.
This is not Pettersen’s first shot at the #1 Rolex Rank. Over her 11-year career Pettersen has been #2 to some golf legends, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, and Yani Tseng, and now Inbee Park. This time Pettersen has a solid string of tournament wins and top-10 finishes on her resume that have put her within striking distance of the top spot on the Rolex Rankings.
Three tournaments remain on this year’s LPGA Tour schedule, The Mizuno Classic, November 8-10 in Shima-Shi, Mei, Japan, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, November 14-17 in Guadalajura, Mexico, and the CME Group Titleholders, November 21-24 in Naples, Florida. Pettersen will play in all 3 events. And she must keep up the pace she’s set since The Evian Championship to take that coveted number one spot in the Rolex Rankings.
If her performance at the Sunrise Championship previewed Pettersen’s end-of-season performance, we can expect her to play aggressive golf with a laser focus. Pettersen is a quintessential competitor. We’ll witness some fine golf shot coming off her clubs over the next month!
The Mizuno Classic
The Mizuno Classic, played at the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club November 8-10. is a 54-hole tournament with a $1.2 millions purse that’s played without a cut. Stacy Lewis is the defending champion at the event was first played in 1973.
With Inbee Park again not playing, Suzann Pettersen will seemingly have a clear shot at another win. But Rolex Ranked #3 Lewis is not likely to relinquish her championship without a fight.
Since her victory at the Women’s British Open in August Lewis hasn’t finished outside the top-10 and she’s played in the Safeway Classic, The Evian Championship, the Reignwood LPGA Classic, and the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. Despite Lewis’s widely publicized sour grapes tweet following her loss to Shanshan Feng at the Reignwood, she, like Pettersen is a determined and persistent competitor.
The Mizuno field contains some viable challengers to both Lewis and Pettersen. This is not likely to become a 2-player tournament. Rolex Ranked #7 Shanshan Feng, now rested, will also play in the Mizuno, as will Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Chella Choi.
Ryu, ranked #5 by Rolex, comes into the Mizuno with 8 top-10 finishes but no wins in 2013. She’s due a victory and she has the game in her bag to collect one. Rolex Ranked #31 Choi has 6 top-ten 2013 finishes and she is also winless, but has been playing right above and just below the top-10 in all the LPGA Asian events. Feng, Ryu and Choi are all on my list of likely challengers at the Mizuno.
Aussie Karrie Webb, ranked #8 by Rolex, is always a contender. Webb plays steady, consistent, exquisitely executed golf and she always bears watching. Pettersen and Lewis will be facing a strong field of players who would also like to win the Mizuno Classic.
At this time Golf Channel coverage of the Mizuno Classic has not been publicly announced. I’ll monitor the schedule and if coverage is planned will include that information in my pre-tournament post on Wednesday.