Asian stars fight for honors at LPGA season finalORLANDO, Florida - World number one Shin Ji-yai, money leader Choi Na-yeon and Player of the Year pace-setters Ai Miyazato and Yani Tseng will fight for year-end honors when the LPGA Tour Championship opens Thursday.
The $1.5 million showdown at Grand Cypress Golf Club finds itself with every major award up for grabs as a host of Asian stars hunt for top honors as well as a $225,000 top prize in the season finale.
Koreans Shin and Choi, Japan’s Miyazato, Taiwan’s Tseng, Norway’s second-ranked Suzann Pettersen and third-ranked American Cristie Kerr all have a chance to finish the season as the world’s number one on Sunday night.
Shin, coming off the LPGA money title and Rookie of the Year honors in 2009, has been on top of the rankings for three weeks but Pettersen jumped from fifth to second last month in Mexico with her sixth second-place finish in a so-far winless 2010.
Kerr has a slight edge on Tseng for third with No. 5 Choi just ahead of Miyazato.
In the Player of the Year hunt, Tseng - a two-time major winner this year - leads with 188 points followed by Miyazato with 179 and Choi with 174 - Kerr is another point back and Shin another three.
With 30 points going to the champion of this weekend’s tourney, the fight could reach the final holes. Miyazato has admitted that the chase for season-long honors has become a distraction in a season in which she has collected five titles.
“I’m going to do my best and not think about the awards and see what happens,” Miyazato said.
Choi, the only woman who could sweep all four main awards, is the woman to beat on the money list with $1,814,558.
Defending champion Shin is $34,790 behind and the only rival who can catch Choi.
Choi also leads in quest of the Vare Trophy for low scoring average with 69.77, while Kerr is the only rival who can deny her, trailing with 69.86 entering the LPGA Tour Championship.
“I would be lying if I say I do not care much about winning awards,” Choi said. “I have no control over the outcomes. What I can do is control myself.
“Even if I come up short, I wouldn’t be disappointed and I wouldn’t regret anything because I will do my very best.”
The field will be cut to the low 70 and level after 36 holes and a second cut after 54 holes will trim the lineup to the low 30 and level for the final 18 holes.