As promised THP is here to review the 2009 LPGA Tour season, everything from Michelle Wie breaking onto the scene full time to the girls calling for the resignation of their commissioner and the subsequent announcement of a new one, a Solheim Cup like nothing youâ€™ve never seen before and everything in between. 2009 was certainly an interesting year on the ladies circuit; it wasnâ€™t all negative even as the tour was losing events and sponsorships. Through all the ups and downs of 09, everyone who is a fan of womenâ€™s golf should be just as excited as ever for what lies ahead. Try to keep up as we retrace who did what and look at what happened where on what might be the most exciting and emotional professional golf organization anywhere on the planet.
After all the fanfare surrounding her golfing life it ended up being that Michelle Wie earned her way onto the fairways of the LPGA Tour the old fashioned wayâ€¦.she earned it! Last December Wie made it through the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament to earn her 2009 playing privileges and she has barely looked back since. She finished 2nd in her very first event as a real deal professional golfer and went on to a solid season, while she never found the winnerâ€™s circle she did earn herself just under $700,000 in winnings, good enough 17th on the money list as of this article. One other thing that Wie earned in 09 was the respect of her fellow tour players and the fans that follow the sport. Her play earned her a captainâ€™s selection for the Solheim Cup team and if you remember, she was nothing less than spectacular as she rolled to an overall record of 3-0-1 helping the U.S. team hold off Europe and win another Solheim Cup. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™m Nostradamus here, but Iâ€™m going to go out on a limb and say that weâ€™ll see Wie win soon and once she does itâ€™ll happen A LOT. Sheâ€™s clearly the future face of the LPGA Tour, who knows, maybe sheâ€™ll be that Tiger of the LPGA Tour after all.
Worldâ€™s #1 Lorena Ochoa carded 3 wins on the LPGA Tour in 2009, all in all a pretty good showing right? Well consider this, she didnâ€™t win a major and before her recent win at the Navistar LPGA Classic she hadnâ€™t hit pay dirt since April when she won the Corona Championship in her native Mexico. Whatâ€™s going on with Ms. Ochoa? Maybe we all just got used to her winning every other week and in some cases even more often than that, the fact that she still sits 6th on the money list with over $1.2 mil in winnings tells me that sheâ€™s just fine. Before we start coming up with a list of whatâ€™s wrong with Lorena Ochoa letâ€™s consider that the fields are deep on the LPGA Tourâ€¦.very deep. Of the 25 events in 2009 weâ€™ve seen 18 different winners with nobody winning more than Ochoa and Jiyai Shin of Korea who both have 3 wins and just so happen to be ranked #1 and #2 in the world respectively. Make no mistake, these girls are good, a lot of them. The days of seeing a player win every week like we saw in the recent past with Ochoa are a thing of the past.
When I recall ladies golf in 2009 the first thing that comes to mind is the 2009 Solheim Cup. You might remember the 3 part Solheim Cup piece THP did a little while back, this was the epitome of team spirit and patriotism at its finest. As mentioned above this was a coming out party for Michelle Wie but she wasnâ€™t the only one who would enjoy a stellar week to help the girls of the USA notch yet another victory over their European rivals in the biannual team competition. The girls from both sides of the pond came to play in 2009 and it wasnâ€™t until the Americanâ€™s somehow stole momentum during single play on Sunday that the eventual outcome would be clear. 2011 will be a different looking team for both sides Iâ€™m sure and with the event taking its turn in Europe Iâ€™m positive weâ€™ll be in for another awesome Solheim Cup next time around.
The LPGA Tour has certainly dealt with its share of difficult times in 2009, it seems not much more than a few weeks pass without word of another lost event surfaces. Right now there are less than 20 events on the schedule for next year, but with some recent sponsorship renewals I donâ€™t think weâ€™ll be seeing the LPGA go the way of the Dodo Bird anytime soon. New LPGA commissioner Michael Whan will start his job in January and rest assured that heâ€™ll hit the ground running to shore up what might look like an uncertain future right now. Described as a seasoned marketing executive Whan might be just what the LPGA Tour needs right now to get the ship back on track for 2010 and beyond. If Whan needs any assistance in sealing the deal with potential sponsors all heâ€™ll have to do pop in a tape of Michelle Wie and company at this yearâ€™s Solheim Cup, I know that event captivated me and millions of other people around the world. The product that the LPGA Tour puts on TV and live in person around the world is simply too exciting not to prosper. 2009 will go down as the year Michelle Wie finally earned her place in golf and in the process will help to build a very successful LPGA Tour future for all of us to enjoy.
Here is to keeping in the short grass