The LPGA is organization for female golfers that as founded in 1950 by 13 golfers, the most notable Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias and Louise Suggs. The LPGA took over following a four year run of the Women’s Professional Golf Association, which went from 1948 to 1949. The LPGA is most known for the LPGA Tour, which features the best female golfers from around the world. An affiliate of the LPGA, which hosts events for players 45 and over, the Legends Tour, started in 2001 as the Women’s Senior Golf Tour.
The LPGA Tour grew considerably over the years in terms of notoriety, number of events and prize money. There was a decline from 34 events in 2008 to 24 in 2010, which resulted in lower prize money as well. Although the number of tournaments declined, the LPGA events held in other parts of the world remained constant. The tour rebounded from a few down seasons to 33 events in 2016 and a record prize money of over $70 million dollars for the 2019 season.
For the vast majority of the first 40 years, American players were at the forefront of the LPGA Tour. In fact, it wasn’t until thee late 1960’s that the first non-American player earned a card for the tour. In a bit of a shocking manner, no American has claimed the money title on tour since 1993 and Americans won only nine of 40 Major Titles in the first decade of the 21st century.
Much of the reason for the foreign success has been the influx of dominant players born in Korea. The first of such was Se Ri Pak. By 2010 there were far greater than 100 players on the LPGA Tour from outside of the United States, including nearly 50 from South Korea, followed a distant second from Sweden, Australia, UK, Canada and others.
To further illustrate the dominance of Korean players, in 2006, Americans won just seven events compared to 11 from Korean-born players. In 2008, the United States tied Korea with nine victories but failed to claim a major championship. The 2009 campaign saw 11 wins from Koreans and only five with a single major by United States born players.
If you look at the top players in the world, according to the Rolex Golf Rankings, is dominated by players born in the far east. Jin Young Ko, Sung Hyun Park, Nasa Hataoka, Jeongeun Lee6, Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson, Nelly Korda, Minjee Lee, Ariya Jutanugarn and Inbee Park compile the top ten. Only Thompson and Korda (USA) and Henderson (Canada) are not from the far east.
The annual majors on tour are the ANA Inspiration, US Women’s Open, Women’s PGA Championship, Ricoh Women’s British Open, and The Evian Championship. It must be noted that some events are co-sanctioned with the European Tour and LPGA of Korea and LPGA of Japan tours.
One of the most anticipated event in women’s professional golf occurs every two seasons at the Solheim Cup. The best from the United States takes on the top from Europe in a three-day match play format. The first Solheim Cup took place in 1990 and the United States has won 10 of the 16 cups, however losing this year in Gleneagles, Scotland.
There are several end of season goals for the players on the LPGA Tour, one of which is he CME Group Titleholders. During the course of the season players earn points for how they perform in each event. The season ending winner of this race pockets the $1 million bonus.
The Rolex Player of the Year is given to the player with the most points based on victories and top-ten finishes. The Vare Trophy is awarded to the player with the lowest scoring average for the year and the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is given to the rookie who compiles the highest point total for the season.
As is the case individual sports, players are ultimately rated by number of victories. On the LPGA Tour, Kathy Whitworth is tops in all-tome victories with 82, followed by Mickey Wright (82), Annika Sorenstam (72), Louise Suggs (61), and Patty Berg (60). Karrie Webb leads active players with 41 victories, good for 10th all-time.
Major championship victories hold an even higher standard. Patty Berg is the all-time leader with 15. Mickey Wright is second with 13, followed by Louis Suggs with 11 and Annika Sorenstam with 10.
The 2019 LPGA Tour season is entering the home stretch with next week’s Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA in Chinese Tapei followed by the TOTO Japan Classic and the CME Group Tour Championship held in Naples Florida, November 21-24. Lexi Thompson, who had 11 career victories, is sixth in the CME Race to the Globe and fifth in the Rolex Rankings, is the defending champion.