LPGA Tour Rises Again

The LPGA Tour kicked off their 2012 campaign last week in Melbourne, Australia, in the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open. They played it at historic Royal Melbourne and the golf course and the winds gave the girls all they could handle. But in the end, they put on one great show.

In case you’re still recovering from Phil’s amazing Pebble Beach victory and you’re just now coming up for air, you missed something special. There was an LPGA Tour record-breaking, six-way playoff for the title.

At the end of regulation, six players were tied at 3-under. I told you the course played tough. But just as tough for the men when they played the Australian Open; the best they could do was Greg Chalmers’ 13-under with Tiger in third at 11-under.

The six in the playoff were: So Yeon Ryu, winner in a playoff of last year’s U.S. Womens Open; Hee Kyung Seo, loser of that playoff, but winner of millions of new fans of the “Supermodel of the Fairways;” Stacy Lewis, winner of the Kraft Nabisco; Britanny Lincicome, a five-time Tour winner and very long driver of the ball; Julieta Granada, the Paraguayan “Mighty Might” who’s been on the Tour six years and won once; and some 19-year-old kid named Jessica Korda beginning her second year on Tour.

The kid won. Not only did she win, she did it in impressive fashion.

How do you even run a six-way playoff? Pretty much everyone wanted to know the answer to that one because it had never happened before. Once all six players were gathered back on the 18th tee, they drew numbered strips of paper. The first three players, Ryu, Seo and Lincicome, went off in the first threesome, with Lewis, Granada and Korda in the second.

The first three players all made pars with Lincicome lipping out a birdie putt from three feet. They then waited greenside until the other three played the hole. They all made pars too; back to the 18th tee. It had all the makings of a very long playoff.

But on the next round, Korda had a 25-footer for birdie which she made and Granada missed hers from 12 feet. What looked to be something that would take quite a while longer was suddenly over. And a brand new starlet has emerged on the LPGA Tour.

But it largely happened because she had such a lackluster rookie year in 2011 and that really woke her up and motivated her.

A lot of the hard work I put in in the off season, all the times I was down last year, it is all worth it. It made me grow up. It made me realize that you’ve got to change your life to live out here and this is proof. I know that all the hard hours I put in and will keep putting in are really worth it. Every moment.

As I’ve said before, there are a lot of lessons in failure.

Noteables were Yani Tseng who finished two stokes back and would have won without a completely uncharacteristic, second-round quadruple bogey and Suzann Pettersen who finished eight back with a rust-encrusted first round 80.

But the great thing about playing on professional golf tours as an exempt player is that if this week doesn’t work out, there’s always next week.

That would be this week and with it the arrival of the Honda LPGA Thailand. They’ll be playing on the Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course, in Chonburi, Thailand. It’s another short-field invitational with 70 players, but it includes the best of the LPGA.

The defending champion is Yani Tseng and nobody would take a bet that she’d make another quad. So it will be interesting to see how all the other elite players fare now that they have at least a dent in the off-season rust.

The first round is Thursday on the Golf Channel at 12:30 PM (ET).

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