Just more than three months ago, Inbee Park went to St. Andrews with a shot at becoming the first golfer to win four straight majors in one year. She was No. 1 in women's golf by any measure — world ranking, money list — and it wasn't even close.
But as the LPGA Tour goes into the final two weeks of its season, there's a chance Park won't win any of the major awards.
And she might even lose her No. 1 ranking.
Suzann Pettersen, who had only one win after the Women's British Open the first week in August, might have a mathematical chance to overtake Park at No. 1 in the world if she were to win the Lorena Ochoa Invitational this week in Mexico.
Pettersen is only $93,613 behind on the money list with two events left, including the season-ending CME LPGA Titleholders, which pays $500,000 to the winner. The LPGA player of the year is based on points. Park leads 290-252, but with 30 points awarded for a win, that's not out of Pettersen's range.
The other big award is the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. Park has fallen to No. 3 behind Stacy Lewis (69.54) and Pettersen (69.59).
How did it happen?
Pettersen got hot. Park did not.
The 32-year-old from Norway won the Portland Classic and two weeks later captured the Evian Championship, the fifth major of the year. She also won in Taiwan, giving her three wins in her last five tournaments. Park won for the sixth time this year at the U.S. Women's Open, her third straight major. She has played eight tournaments since then with only one top-10 finish, third place in China.
Both are playing the final two weeks of the year.
Q-SCHOOL TUITION: The PGA Tour qualifying tournament is nothing like it used to be except in one respect — the entry fees.
For the first time, Q-school no longer offers a player direct access to the PGA Tour. Instead, cards will be awarded only for the Web.com Tour. The entry fee, however, remains at the same level.
Players who have to go to pre-qualifying pay $2,500, and then an additional $2,700 to $3,500 (depending on how close they file to the entry deadline) if they advance. The fee for the first stage is between $4,500 and $6,000. Those exempt into the second stage pay between $4,000 and $5,000, while the final stage costs $3,500 to $4,500.
Even though the prize — a PGA Tour card — is not the same, it doesn't sound like the fees are coming down.
"Right now, we continue to have an entry fee at the same level," said Andy Pazder, the tour's chief of operations. "One of the factors in setting that is making sure only the high-caliber player enters Q-school who legitimately is competitive at a high level. In some ways, we're making a player in his mind ask himself if his game is ready to make this kind of commitment."
Another change this year is the prize money. D.H. Lee won Q-school last year and earned $50,000 (in addition to his PGA Tour card). The winner of this year's Q-school earns only $25,000.
SEMINOLE: These are good times for American amateurs who are good enough to be selected for the Walker Cup. Golf Digest reported on its website this week that Seminole Golf Club is the latest classic to host the Walker Cup in 2021.
For Seminole, the Donald Ross design along the Atlantic Ocean in South Florida, it will be the first time for a public competition since it opened in 1929.
The course is not long by modern standards — 6,836 yards all the way back — but the wind and difficult greens make it a strong test for even the pros. Ben Hogan used to prepare for the Masters every spring at Seminole. The club has a pro-member event each spring, and Rickie Fowler has the low score at 65.
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