ORLANDO, FLORIDA | Blessedly, the LPGA
these days is not a place where a rogue
caddie feuds publicly with a controversially
The LPGA is a place blessed to have
a dominant player named Yani, whose
monstrous future is now, and a budding
phenom named Lexi, whose professional
future has no horizon.
Fifty-nine of the best women golfers
in the world convocated in Florida last
week for the season-ending CME Group
Titleholders, which paid an eye-widening
$500,000 to little-known winner, Hee Young
That number – 59 – is never lost on
anybody who pays any attention to women’s golf. It’s the watershed score Annika
Sorenstam posted 10 years ago at the
Standard Register Ping in Phoenix. And it
is arguably the best round ever played by a
Annika is gone from the competitive
scene now, working and raising a family.
Her immediate successor, Lorena Ochoa,
is radiantly pregnant in her native Mexico
and also retired, for the time being, from
So 22-year-old Yani Tseng, of Taiwan,
and 16-year-old Lexi Thompson, of Coral
Springs, Fla., are currently the top hit-get-ters if you Google women’s golf.
That may not be fair to major championship winners Suzann Pettersen, Paula
Creamer and Cristie Kerr, to name a few.
But it’s the reality of the moment.
(And, by he way, I’ve got a dozen brand-
new premium golf balls if you can tell me
the exact date that Michelle Wie’s name
dropped out of this conversation. In her
defense, she did post a top 10 at CME.)
said she “enjoyed” winning a pre-round bet
with her caddie that she would shoot
3 under or better in the third round.
Tseng arrived in Orlando with 11 worldwide victories this year, a number even
more remarkable when you consider the
economy-dented LPGA schedule contained
just 13 U.S. events in 2011, down from 24
Proud and powerful world No. 2
Pettersen didn’t hesitate to give Tseng her
“You can’t do anything but applaud what
she’s done,” Pettersen said of Tseng’s
season. “It makes me work even harder. I
don’t feel that there’s a huge gap between
me and Yani.”
Women’s golf will benefit in 2012 from a
challenge to Tseng’s current supremacy.
And there are people in high LPGA places rooting for that challenge to come from
Thompson, who aside from being gifted at
golf, is photogenic and American.
“Think about Jack Nick-
laus and Greg Norman in
their primes, think about
the young Tiger Woods;
It was awe-inspiring
to watch them swing
the club,” respected
instructor Jim McLean
told SI about his star
pupil. “That’s Lexi.
You stand near her
on the tee and you
feel the power.
The sound of the
ball being compressed – wow!”
For her part, Thompson still hasn’t
completely wised up to the fact that an
LPGA career is more work than play. And
that’s nice to see.
Yani Tseng and Lexi Thompson could
be destined for intertwined careers.