Inbee Park teed off at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex on Thursday the clear front-runner in the Rolex Player of the Year race, but not yet the winner. Park, with 290 points, was leading Rolex Ranked No. 2 Suzann Pettersen by 38 points. Pettersen could catch Park and pass her only by winning both the Lorena Ochoa Invitational or the CME Group Titleholders next week. That didn’t happen.
South Korean Inbee Park played a smart, conservative game at the Lorena Ochoa, making few mistakes. She shot 68, 68. 72, 69, and finished the tournament at 11 shots under par, in 4th place. That took her to 297 points for the year.
Park says she started thinking about the prestigious award when she won the US Women’s Open in June.
. . . no matter how much effort I put into trying not to think about it, I think about it. I have thought about it every week and watched the stats, looked at the numbers, I’ve been watching for Stacy (Lewis) and Suzann (Pettersen) . . .
By tee time at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Stacy Lewis was ranked No. 3 by Rolex and with only 203 points was trailing too far behind both Park and Pettersen to be a threat to either, no matter how she performed in the final 2 events of the season Ironically, Lewis finished the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in 2nd place, ahead of both Park and Lewis.
Pettersen, however, went into the Lorena Ochoa Invitational with 252 points and still had a chance to pass Park in the Player of the Year race. It was something she wanted badly. Perhaps she wanted it too much?
The Norwegian shot 70, 68, 70 and 70, always trailing Park. Her aggressive game never came out of her bag, and in the final round on Sunday, perhaps letting the pressure of the stakes take control, she stumbled several times. In the end, she finished the Lorena Ochoa 10 shots under par and in 5th place. That took her to 258 points.
With one event remaining on the LPGA calendar and a maximum of 30 points still on the table, the race is over. Inbee Park has again made the history books, becoming the first South Korean to achieve Rolex Player of the Year.
Park will be presented this year’s Rolex Player of the Year trophy at the Rolex Awards Celebration which will take place Friday, November 22nd at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida. Now she needs to start worrying about her acceptance speech!